America used to be a country of doers.
We built the roads, bridges, and the entire interstate highway system. Now, instead of building, we’re busy digging through endless piles of paperwork.
A complex highway project takes an average of 7 years to go through the review process. That’s a long time. Think about that for a minute. If a project review starts when your child is in kindergarten, it likely won’t be done until they’re in middle school. That’s all got to happen before we can break ground and start work.
That’s if they’re on average pace. Many of these projects get caught up in paperwork and bureaucracy for decades. These project delays aren’t just frustrating. They have a real cost—$3.7 trillion in foregone economic gains. Ironically, these drawn-out environmental reviews are even bad for the environment. These delays leave Americans stuck in traffic, wasting over 3 billion gallons of gas every year, by some estimates.
It doesn’t have to be like this. There is a better way. Other countries, including Canada, Australia, and Germany, can get these project reviews done in far less time with far better environmental outcomes. We can too. That’s why I was proud to introduce the Building U.S. Infrastructure through Limited Delays & Efficient Reviews (BUILDER) Act with my colleague on the Transportation Committee, Rep. Garret Graves of Louisiana.
The BUILDER Act would streamline the outdated environmental review process, the biggest hurdle for new infrastructure projects getting done on time and on budget. Cutting these unnecessary delays will have the same impact as increasing infrastructure funding, while preserving critical environmental protections. That’s good for the environment, good for taxpayers, and good for everyone that uses our nation’s roadways.
We need to get back to doing, to building things and restoring our infrastructure. The best way to do that is by cutting the unnecessary red tape and bureaucracy that slows down infrastructure projects. We can’t afford just to throw a few bucks at the problem and expect it to go away.
We still embody the spirit of generations past—the builders and doers. We just have to put in the work, look at what we’re doing right, and what we’re doing wrong. Clearly, we need to add some common sense into the environmental review process. If we want to rebuild America’s infrastructure, we should start by fixing that process and getting a bipartisan surface transportation bill done.