In an effort to accelerate job growth and strengthen the country’s transportation systems, President Barack Obama recently announced plans to cut timelines in half for various infrastructure projects.
During a visit to the dredge equipment manufacturer Ellicott Dredges in Baltimore in May, the president emphasized the need to cut through the red tape that has prevented construction project progress, and noted the importance of securing funding to carry out the process. He signed a Presidential Memorandum and explained that accelerating infrastructure projects will put Americans to work faster and set a foundation for future economic growth.
“Construction workers will get back in the jobs faster; more money [will] go back into the local economies and it means more demand for more dredging equipment that is made right here in Baltimore,” the president said of his plan.
In 2012, the president issued an executive order to “improve the efficiency of Federal review and permitting of infrastructure projects,” which included the recent approval of the Tappan Zee Bridge replacement project in New York, according to the Office of the Press Secretary.
Funding for infrastructure development remains an issue. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) estimates, the nation’s infrastructure needs $3.6 trillion in investments by 2020 to meet quality standards by improving the physical conditions of numerous transportation systems. In March 2013, ASCE’s 2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, gave the nation’s infrastructure a D+, based on state by state assessment of physical conditions and necessary investments for various improvements and repairs. U.S. infrastructure received a D grade in 2012.
“We’ve had a little bit of difficulty getting our Republican friends to work with us to find a steady funding source for these projects that everybody knows needs to happen. But in fairness, one of the problems we’ve had in the past is sometimes it takes too long for projects to get off the ground,” the president said during his Baltimore visit.
The president’s initiative has already affected the city of Baltimore, where the approval process for the Red Line rail transit corridor was expedited by six months.
For additional information on the initiative, see the White House statement here.