Mayor Benjamin invited to White House for infrastructure talk with POTUS


COLUMBIA, SC (WACH) --- Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin was one of about two dozen officials from around the country meeting with President Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence on Monday.

The president is pitching a $1.5 trillion plan to repair the nation's infrastructure. City Councilwoman Tameika Isaac Devine said the plan includes repairs to roads, bridges and other public infrastructure. "For us here in Columbia, it's very important and South Carolina, it's very important,” Devine said. “That we have the necessary support to be able to deal with our roads and our bridges.”

$200 billion of that $1.5 trillion plan would come from the federal government. The rest would have to come from state and local governments and private investment. "We also want to be able to deal with our crumbling infrastructure as far as water and sewer,” Devine said. “Those are great needs that we have with a city of our age we've got to address those needs as well."

On Monday, the State Department of Transportation applauded the Trump plan in recognizing the importance of infrastructure investments, but not everyone agrees with the proposal.

House Democrats in Washington are proposing another plan that calls for five times the amount of federal money. "Certainly this is probably the first of many meetings that the mayor will have,” Devine said. “I know that he will be a strong advocate for what our needs are but make sure that the needs of our southern cities as well as well as nationally our cities are taking into consideration."

In addition to road and bridge projects, Devine said Mayor Benjamin would push for infrastructure upgrades including broadband services to rural areas. He's also interested in talking about adjustments to railroad services that won't stand in the way of growth in Columbia.

Mayor Benjamin tweeted on Sunday he would be meeting with other state officials to discuss some much needed infrastructure investments.

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