Expressing the "ExPDITE Act"

News ARTBA October 10, 2002
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In recent testimony before the House Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, American Road & Transportation Builders Association

In recent testimony before the House Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, American Road & Transportation Builders Association Brian Holmes said Congress needs to more clearly define the applicability of federal historic preservation laws in transportation planning and also set time limits for challenging transportation plans and projects in court in order to speed up project delivery.


Holmes, executive director of the Maryland Highway Contractors Association, said both of these issues would be appropriately addressed by H.R. 5455, the "Expediting Project Delivery to Improve Transportation and the Environment Act" (ExPDITE). ARTBA endorsed the bill, which was introduced Sept. 25 by House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman Don Young (R-Alaska).


Holmes pointed out that a Transportation Research Board study has quantified that deliberations over historic preservation issues under Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act of 1966 and Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act are causing the greatest number of delays in the transportation project environmental review process. These sections of law, which, Holmes said, are vaguely written, are increasingly being invoked by transportation project opponents to delay the planning, design and construction processes.


"We are concerned that this situation could get even worse as Interstate Highway System structures turn 50 years old, thus making them eligible for consideration of historic designation status," Holmes said. "If that were to happen, the resulting delays in improving aged structures could threaten the nation's productivity and economy."


The ARTBA spokesman pointed to a U.S. General Accounting Office study that found it now takes nine to 19 years to plan, gain approval of and construct a major, federally funded highway project.


"Current law and regulations require about 200 major steps for moving a project forward," Holmes said. "The process involves dozens of overlapping state and federal laws. While H.R. 5455 maintains the integrity of these processes, it attempts to minimize choke points and delays by injecting a holistic approach to the approval of transportation projects."



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