WASHINGTON — President Obama signed a presidential memorandum Friday that the White House said will modernize the Federal infrastructure permitting process, cutting timelines in half for major projects.
The memorandum expands on a presidential order issued March 22 that aims to create a more efficient permitting process by increasing coordination between federal agencies and state, local, and tribal governments.
Administrative “red tape” has been the bane of transportation industry professionals for years, with some telling Congress during last year’s transportation bill debate that the long times for permit approval and environmental review could kill a project in its early stages.
“Reliable, safe, and resilient infrastructure is the backbone of an economy built to last,” the memorandum reads. “Investing in our nation’s infrastructure serves as an engine for job creation and economic growth, while bringing immediate and long-term economic benefits to communities across the country.”
The memorandum applies to many types of commonly bond-funded infrastructure including: surface transportation, such as roadways, bridges, railroads, and transit; aviation; ports and related infrastructure, including navigational channels; water resources projects; renewable energy generation; conventional energy production in high-demand areas; electricity transmission; broadband; pipelines; and storm water infrastructure.
“We also recently expedited Federal approval for the Tappan Zee Bridge replacement project in New York,” the White House said. “By speeding up the approval process, Federal agencies trimmed up to three years off the timeline for this multi-billion dollar project.”
The White House also released the administration’s first annual report to the president and an infrastructure permitting dashboard, which is a tool that allows the public to review the federal permitting process.