President Trump on Aug. 15 signed an executive order that set a two-year goal for the federal government to complete the permitting process for infrastructure projects.
Designed to speed up the lengthy construction approval process, which can stretch as long as 10 years, the order also establishes one lead agency for each project as a means of creating accountability for federal agencies in the review process.
Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said DOT already had identified more than two dozen policies and rules that will fast-track environmental permitting and delivery of infrastructure projects.
Immediately following the announcement, the Alliance for Toll-Free Interstates, of which NATSO is a founding member, said reducing bureaucratic red tape and permitting can speed up infrastructure projects, cut projects costs and allow states to avoid having to rely on alternative revenue sources such as tolling.
During his campaign and since the election, President Trump has promised a $1 trillion infrastructure plan. Although the Administration has been light on details, it repeatedly has called for an increase in public-private partnerships, which can lead to tolling and commercial rest areas, both of which NATSO strongly opposes.
“A reduction in bureaucratic red tape and permitting can allow us to more quickly start working on improving our infrastructure – something everyone can agree needs to happen,” ATFI said in a statement. “Cutting red tape reduces project costs, thus allowing states to avoid having to rely on alternative revenue sources like tolls. Tolls are counterintuitive to building a lasting transportation network. History has shown that the public rejects the notion of the private sector imposing tolls to operate our roads.”
The Aug. 15 executive order marks the latest in a series of steps aimed at speeding up the time table for critical infrastructure projects.
President Trump in January signed an executive order instructing the Chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) to create expedited procedures and deadlines for environmental reviews for high-priority infrastructure projects.
In June, the President announced a new office within CEQ to streamline federal, state and local procedures to help communities modernize aging infrastructure.
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