A quick, bipartisan fix for America’s slow infrastructure permitting
Fixing America’s aging infrastructure is one of the most reliably popular policy ideas out there, so why do we seem to make so little progress on it? In short, we’ve made the process of planning and carrying out infrastructure projects extremely difficult. Building new roads, levees, and rail lines requires conformity to layers of permitting requirements and regulations. While much of the burden comes from local and state approvals, the federal permits needed for large projects can take years to procure and often lead to further delay. To give a sense of the magnitude of the problem, a set of reform proposals released by the group Common Good in 2017 was titled “Two Years, Not Ten Years.” Beyond permitting, other factors, lack of financing, high construction costs, and failed coordination between states and municipalities can all mean concrete never gets poured.