White House cuts red tape for transportation projects

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor | Monday, May 20, 2013

Truckers are saying every little bit helps after President Obama signed a memorandum to cut red tape for road and bridge projects and other infrastructure.

The president’s memo, signed Friday, May 17, calls for federal agencies to shorten the time it takes to build infrastructure projects.

“Anything they can do to speed the process is worth doing,” said Todd Spencer, executive vice president for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.

The memo is a follow-up to a 2012 executive order issued by the president to review and improve performance.

“The quality of our infrastructure is critical to maintaining our nation’s competitive edge in a global economy and to securing our path to energy independence,” the memo reads. “In taking steps to improve our infrastructure, we must remember that the protection and continued enjoyment of our nation’s environmental, historical, and cultural resources remain an equally important driver of economic opportunity, resiliency, and quality of life.”

The current highway bill, MAP-21, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century, also streamlined parts of the review process for projects in an effort to speed up completion.

A major project that federal agencies recently took steps to expedite is the $5.2 billion replacement of the longest bridge in New York – the Tappan Zee Bridge – which carries Interstate 87 and I-287 as part of the New York State Thruway mainline.

“By speeding up the approval process, federal agencies trimmed up to three years off the timeline for this multibillion-dollar project that will help put Americans back to work.”

The Tappan Zee carries a separate toll from the rest of the Thruway. Once the replacement is built, truckers could pay dearly to cross it.

Trucks currently pay between $6.75 and $32.75 per trip depending on direction. Early plans for toll rates could nearly triple those rates.

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