Infrastructure: A Tangle of Red Tape

By Julia Baumel — May 15, 2019

Many of our bridges are 50-100 years old and our outdated facilities are polluting air and water. We can and must do better. America's decaying infrastructure is costing jobs, it is costing lives, and it is long past due for an overhaul.


Our Solutions In Brief

1. Improve Procurement Processes

The federal government could introduce a program that incentivizes states and localities to streamline and improve their procurement processes and take such procedural steps that will speed up the delivery and lower the costs of vital infrastructure projects.

2. Streamline Infrastructure Review Authority

The president and Congress could increase the effectiveness of every dollar of funding by creating a single entity with the authority to coordinate disparate infrastructure review processes and to resolve disputes among agencies and levels of government in a timely fashion.

3. Reintroduce Legislation

Congress could reintroduce S. 3017 and S. 2585 to improve on current permitting legislation and ensure that review processes for infrastructure projects are as quick and efficient as possible.

4. Increase Flexibility for States

Too much federal infrastructure funding is allocated with overly prescriptive rules as to where states should spend the money. States could be given more flexibility to spend federal infrastructure funding on the projects that they deem to be most important.

5. Focus on Essential Projects

In a time of constrained resources, the federal government could benefit from focusing investment on the infrastructure projects that are most essential to public safety and economic competitiveness.

6. Expand the Permitting Dashboard

The Permitting Dashboard website is a valuable tool that provides transparency to the public about the status of certain infrastructure projects. The Department of Transportation could expand it to include all types of infrastructure projects under NEPA review.

Download paper

Facts At-A-Glance

  • Four to Six Years

    The average time it takes to complete an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

  • 50-100 Years

    Average age of bridges in the United States

  • 5% Increase

    In project cost each year a project is delayed

  • Infrastructure Grade: D+

    Report card rating on America's infrastructure from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).

  • $200 Billion

    Infrastructure funding gap per year

  • 59 Potential Environmental Impact Permits

    Needed in order to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)

Download paper
More publications
View more