Trump only wants projects that can break ground immediately, says billionaire infrastructure advisor

US 'behind the curve' on infrastructure upgrading: Richard LeFrak
US 'behind the curve' on infrastructure upgrading: Richard LeFrak

Americans should expect to see major infrastructure improvements under President Donald Trump, said longtime friend and fellow real estate mogul Richard LeFrak.

If ever there was an infrastructure president, it's Trump, the president of The LeFrak Organization told CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Friday. "He has concrete in his blood."

LeFrak and another New York-based billionaire property developer, Steven Roth, are leading a new council to oversee the White House's proposed $1 trillion in infrastructure spending and to foster public-private development partnerships.

Trump held an infrastructure meeting at the White House on Wednesday with LeFrak and Roth, chairman and CEO of Vornado Realty Trust, as well as well other real estate executives and government officials including Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt.

"One thing [Trump] said while we were in the meeting, he said 'don't bring me any projects that you want federal funding for that you can't start and had completed the state approval processes,'" LeFrak said.

That's because "'most of these projects come from the state, in 90 to 100 days. If they're not ready in 120 days, tell them to go back, get finished, and bring it back,' [Trump said]. In other words, he's not going to ... devote the resources to things that he can't implement immediately," he added.

The U.S. is behind the curve in repairing aging roads, bridges and airports, LeFrak said. He cited a report released Thursday by the American Society of Civil Engineers, which gave the state of America's infrastructure systems at D+ and estimated the nation needs to invest $3.6 trillion by 2020.

Tough regulations and an arduous approval process are killing much-needed proposed projects, LeFrak said. But he stressed environmental protections for clean air and clean water will be respected.

Infrastructure approval process insane:  Richard LeFrak
Infrastructure approval process insane: Richard LeFrak

Trump, who campaigned on getting rid of business-zapping regulations, signed an executive order in January aimed at expediting environmental reviews and approvals for all infrastructure projects, especially high-priority ones such as improving the U.S. electric grid and telecom systems.

— Reuters contributed to this report.