At an October 8 Capitol Hill news conference with Senate Environment & Public Works Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and leaders from other organizations relating to the impacts of the government shutdown, American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) President and CEO Pete Ruane said that due to furloughs in the environmental and resource agencies resulting from the government shutdown, the approval process for transportation projects is encountering more obstacles. This outcome is the exact opposite of the goals of MAP-21’s streamlining provisions.
“Improving the efficiency of the environmental review and approval process was one of the signature achievements of the 2012 surface transportation law – MAP-21,” Ruane said. “Achieving this goal was a clear priority for members of Congress from both parties and chambers. Major highway and bridge projects can take between nine and 19 years to complete – largely due to inefficiencies in the review process that delay needed mobility and safety improvements.”
Non-transportation agencies that play major roles in the review process for transportation projects include the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, Army Corps of Engineers, Environmental Protection Agency and the Fish and Wildlife Service.
“To put this in context, the Federal Highway Administration states that as of August 22 there are 129 projects from 35 states currently undergoing the Environmental Impact Statement process,” Ruane said. “There are two things the construction industry needs to deliver the transportation network that moves our economy – adequate and reliable funding and approved projects. The fact remains that if environmental regulators can't do their job, we can’t do ours.”