APWA on reauthorization: ‘We need to take aggressive steps to eliminate red tape’

American Public Works Association (APWA) leaders recently attended Congressional field hearings and listening sessions in support of accelerating the delivery of federal-aid transportation projects. APWA transportation leaders were present at sessions in the Chicago metro area, Memphis metro area,  and Vancouver, Washington, and also provided key testimony for the joint House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee and the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in Los Angeles, to draw attention to the need to reform and streamline the process for implementing federal-aid transportation projects.

“Expediting the delivery of transportation projects is a top priority for APWA,” said APWA Executive Director Peter B. King. “In today’s economic environment, in which transportation funding is more and more limited, we need to take  aggressive steps to eliminate ‘red tape’ and streamline the process for getting federal-aid transportation projects built, while retaining appropriate protection of our citizens and environment. This involves not only elimination of non-value added requirements, but also making any remaining requirements supportive of more efficient outcomes,” King said.

Local  governments own and are responsible for about 75 percent of the nation’s nearly four million mile roadway network, and nearly 51 percent of the nation’s bridges (nearly 300,000 bridges are under local control), as well as management of about 90 percent of the transit systems.  “As managers of infrastructure projects, we understand from experience how the current process unnecessarily delays projects and wastes taxpayer money.  Our members know practical approaches and cost-effective solutions that can eliminate the overly burdensome process and get projects moving more quickly to put people to work, strengthen the economy, and achieve project benefits in a timely manner,” King said.

APWA’s recommendations for accelerating the project delivery process for state and local governments include the follwing: Providing flexibility for smaller projects to proceed under expedited review processes to remove duplicative oversight; simplifying and  clarifying federal regulations, to provide clear guidance and make the process outcome-based; and providing guidelines, training and assistance to local governments in applying for and implementing projects.

The Congressional field hearings and listening sessions were held around the country by House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica to gather public input on a long-term reauthorization of the nation’s surface transportation programs. The previous multi-year law, known as SAFETEA-LU, expired in 2009.