Every day, nearly 140,000 vehicles cross over the Hudson River via the Tappan Zee Bridge. One of the east coast’s busiest routes, the bridge is nearly 60 years old and traffic volumes have increased by about 30 percent since 1990. Today, the bridge is being replaced with one that will improve mobility, reduce congestion, and make travel safer. And thanks to the Administration’s modernized Federal infrastructure permitting process, it’s happening much faster – at least 18 months faster.
In 2012, the President launched a Government-wide initiative to cut review and permit decision-making timelines, while improving outcomes for communities and the environment. Since then, agencies have expedited the review and permitting of over 50 major infrastructure projects across the country. We created a committee of agency Deputy Secretaries (or equivalent) to better coordinate and streamline agency reviews. We established senior officials at each agency to ensure that there is a central point of accountability for meeting established timelines. And we launched the first-ever Permitting Dashboard so businesses, State, local, and tribal governments, and the public can easily track major infrastructure projects as they go through the permitting process.
These efforts were further codified when the President signed the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act into law in December 2015.
Building on this progress, today the Office of Management and Budget and the Council on Environmental Quality issued new guidance for agencies to carry out responsibilities under Title 41 of the FAST Act (FAST-41). The guidance implements changes designed to improve the environmental review and authorization process for major infrastructure projects. These changes include:
Additionally, the guidance released today introduces a framework for tracking the environmental and community outcomes of covered projects on the Permitting Dashboard, resulting in increased transparency, accountability, and collaboration.
Today’s release builds on steps this Administration has already taken to lay significant groundwork for future progress. This includes working with Congress to include reforms in FAST-41, and announcing this past September the first set of covered projects that would be publicly tracked on the Permitting Dashboard. If approved, these 32 projects would improve the nation’s transmission capacity by thousands of megawatts, increase natural gas transportation services in multiple states, and deliver renewable energy to millions of American homes, among other benefits.
The FAST-41 implementation is consistent with other Administration efforts to improve transportation infrastructure. Transportation is a critical engine of the nation’s economy, and the American people expect and deserve a first-class transportation infrastructure in which the bridges, waterways, railways, roads, and other projects they use on a daily basis are built safely, efficiently, and responsibly. Investments in the national transportation network over the country’s history, and especially the last half-century, have been instrumental in developing the world’s largest economy and most mobile society. Coupled with this ambitious, comprehensive effort to modernize the Federal infrastructure permitting process, cutting through red tape and getting more timely decisions while protecting our communities and the environment, we’re setting a strong foundation that will allow States, local and tribal governments, and private developers to start construction sooner, create jobs quicker, and build a 21st century infrastructure system for our country.
We’re proud to leave behind a more modern, effective, and efficient Federal infrastructure permitting process for communities across the Nation to benefit from, and look forward to seeing the progress to come as a result.