White House looks to speed up infrastructure permitting process
May 20, 2013
The theme of leveraging infrastructure to spur economic growth was front and center in an announcement made by the White House last week.
That announcement was that President Obama will ink a Presidential Memorandum that the White House said will “modernize the Federal infrastructure permitting process, cutting timelines in half for major infrastructure projects while creating incentives for better outcomes for communities and the environment.”
The White House said in a statement that by eliminating red tape and cutting years off the time it takes to approve major infrastructure projects, construction will be able to start sooner with the subsequent benefits being the ability to create jobs earlier and more quickly fix the nation’s infrastructure.
It also referenced President Obama’s March 2012 Executive Order for a government-wide initiative to improve the efficiency of Federal review and permitting of infrastructure projects which has since seen the expedition and permitting of 50 major projects for bridges, transit projects, railways, waterways, roads, and renewable energy.
This effort is very much in sync with the President’s infrastructure plan entitled “Rebuild America Partnership” rolled out in February that will attract private capital to build the infrastructure U.S. businesses need most.
One component of the plan is the “fix it first” policy, which he cited during February’s State of the Union address. This policy, according to the White House, calls for an investment of $50 billion towards U.S. transportation infrastructure, with $40 billion targeted to the most urgent upgrades and fixing highways, bridges, transit systems, and airports that need repair.
Speeding up the permitting process for infrastructure projects has long been a “to do” item in the Nation’s Capital. That was noted by Matt Rose, chairman and CEO of BNSF Railway at last month’s NASSTRAC Annual Conference, whom told attendees in his keynote address that the project permitting process can
take ten-to-12 years and be incredibly costly.
Fixing the nation’s infrastructure has been a core focus for the Obama administration.
And regardless of your political affiliation, there is truth in that statement. As an example, there is the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which provided $48 billion to more than 15,000 transportation infrastructure-related projects. Other examples cited in a fact sheet released earlier this year include:
-American workers improving more than 350,000 miles of U.S. roads and replaced more than 20,000 bridges since early 2009 through Recovery Act and core infrastructure funds; and
-the Department of Transportation has built or improved more than 6,000 miles of rail, 40 rail stations and purchased 260 passenger cars and 105 locomotives.
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