Click here to watch Chairman Barrasso’s remarks.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), delivered the following remarks at a committee oversight hearing on “Infrastructure Project Streamlining and Efficiency: Achieving Faster, Better, and Cheaper Results.”
The hearing featured testimony from Mr. William T. “Bill” Panos, director for the Wyoming Department of Transportation; Ms. Leah F. Pilconis, consultant on Environmental Law & Policy for the Associated General Contractors of America; and Mr. John Porcari, President of U.S. Advisory Services for WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff.
For more information on their testimonies click here.
Senator Barrasso’s remarks:
“Infrastructure is a shared bipartisan priority of all the members of this committee.
“It is also a major priority for the president.
“The largest hurdles to starting roadwork is getting the needed government approvals.
“The costs and delays of regulatory red tape can be staggering.
“Washington needs to be smarter about these rules and more aware of the effects they have in communities.
“We need to find ways to get projects started faster, build roads better, and make costs cheaper.
“Simplifying these processes will allow for construction companies to start hiring and for workers to begin building faster.
“It is a common sense way to boost our economy and upgrade our public works.
“If we find ways to streamline review processes, mindful of environmental protection and other public interests, then we can initiate projects more promptly.
“More efficient and streamlined regulation can enable transportation departments to focus on efforts to improve safety, personal mobility, and facilitate economic growth.
“Less time and money and staff effort would be dedicated to regulatory compliance.
“When we find opportunities to streamline regulation, it enables the state department of transportation or other regulated entity to focus more closely on delivering transportation projects and programs and do a better job on them.
“There are many reasons to provide more relief to state DOTs.
“For example, I have concerns with subjecting rural states to the same rules as more densely populated states.
“The idea that we would need to have Wyoming or Alaska, South Dakota, or Oklahoma do traffic congestion studies on roads that are infrequently traveled is a waste of valuable time and taxpayer resources.
“Most importantly, these requirements, meant for more urban areas, impact a rural state's ability to complete projects.
“I also have concerns about barriers that exist at the federal level that might interfere with application of technologies that can accelerate project delivery at lower costs.
“Modifying these requirements to allow for technological innovations that can save valuable taxpayer money and speed project construction is just common sense.
“We also should remember that in most cases regulation in the highway program by USDOT is regulation of state governments.
“A citizen could ask whether it is really necessary to have one government regulate another government.
“State departments of transportation are public sector entities; they are concerned with safety and environmental protection.
“They deserve respect.
“Wyoming Department of Transportation Director Panos' diverse experience makes his participation today particularly helpful to the committee.
“He has served as an environmental regulator, construction program executive, and now as a state transportation agency CEO.
“He has seen these issues from many perspectives.
“As the director’s testimony notes, it is important to move the projects associated with additional funding through the review process promptly, responsibly, and get them built.
“I agree and I think it can be done responsibly.
“I urge my colleagues to work with me in a bipartisan way to find these solutions.”