The Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) is applauding U.S. Rep. Gary Miller (R-Calif.) for releasing the Breaking Down Barriers Act of 2011 intended to speed up the delivery of transportation projects and put hundreds of thousands of Americans to work.
“In challenging financial times, it’s critical we maximize every dollar spent on improving our infrastructure,” said Miller in an Aug. 4 written statement. “Transportation projects across the nation are slowed down because of onerous regulations, costing our taxpayers time and money. This bill cuts through the red tape and puts Americans to work on vital transportation projects.”
The bill is based on the OCTA’s Breaking Down Barriers initiative, which was launched two years ago to bring together local and national leaders in the transportation industry to identify opportunities for advancing transportation projects.
“From the time we launched the Breaking Down Barriers initiative our goal has been to find ways to accelerate the project delivery process to generate employment opportunities and make much-needed improvements to our highways, roadways and railways,” said OCTA Director Jerry Amante, also the mayor of Tustin.
The national initiative identified more than two dozens changes to existing federal law that will streamline the project delivery process without sacrificing the environment, and expedite the creation of more than 800,000 jobs in the U.S.
“Infrastructure projects are one of the best ways to create jobs and keep America moving, but unnecessary process delays have been preventing work from getting under way,” said OCTA Chair Patricia Bates, also an Orange County Supervisor, in a press release from OCTA. “We thank Rep. Miller for introducing this legislation that will help break through the barriers and move critical projects forward.”
Key provisions in the Breaking Down Barriers Act of 2011 include the following:
- Delegating the responsibility of environmental review to states
- Allowing agencies to move forward with construction activities prior to receiving grant funds
- Making the environmental review process more efficient
- Establishing deadlines for project approvals
Current transportation authorizing legislation expired September 2009 and is being continued through a series of short term extensions. Congress intends to act on a new permanent transportation authorization within the next few months and it is hoped that the provisions contained in Miller’s bill will be considered as a part of that legislation.