The Obama Administration has announced the selection of 14 infrastructure projects around the US (listed below) that will be expedited swiftly through permitting and environmental review processes. A White House statement said the “job-creating projects” would “move as quickly as possible from the drawing board to completion”.
The announcement follows a Presidential Memorandum issued in August in which the President called for the fast-tracking of high priority projects “that will create a significant number of jobs, have already identified necesssary funding, and where the significant steps remaining before construction are within the control and jurisdiction of the federal government and can be completed within 18 months”.
The statement said the public would be able to track the progress of the projects, including the new $5.2 billion Tappan Zee Bridge in New York, through one central website from the end of November.
Obama made infrastructure a central plank of his $447 billion jobs stimulus plan launched in September. But his claim that “this [jobs stimulus] isn’t about political grandstanding” appears to have done little to prevent bipartisan feuding over the issue between the White House and Republican-controlled Congress.
Political rivalries have also been ignited over the fast-tracking announcement, with Repubicans saying the measures don’t go far enough and should be applied to projects generally rather than a selected handful.
“When the entire infrastructure project process is mired in red tape, the Administration’s plan is a drop in the bucket compared to what must be done,” said John Mica, Florida Republican and chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, in a statement.
The 14 infrastructure projects selected for expedited review are as follows:
Tappan Zee Bridge, New York: a new bridge to replace a deficient link in the regional transport network.
Crenshaw/LAX, California: extension of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s existing Green Line light rail nearer to Los Angeles International Airport, and linking with the Expo Line light rail.
Whittier Bridge, Massachusetts: an existing I-95 bridge over the Merrimack River will be replaced by a new multi-modal bridge with new lanes, including bicycle and pedestrian lanes.
Provo Westside Connector, Utah: a new arterial roadway between Provo Airport and Interstate 15 to improve road linkage in southwest Provo.
Baltimore Red Line: a 14-mile rail transit line connecting suburban areas west of Baltimore to downtown Baltimore, the Inner Harbor and Falls Point areas, and the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center Campus.
Next Generation Air Transportation System Infrastructure Project, Texas: a Federal Aviation Administration pilot project to create Next Generation aviation procedures, including the implementation of new more efficient routes, for two airports in Houston.
Navajo Gallup Water Supply Project, New Mexico: the building of two new water treatment plants and the delivery of water through pipelines, pumping plants and water regulation and storage facilities to bring a clean and sustainable water supply to the Navajo Nation in northwestern New Mexico.
Denver Mariposa Housing Project, Colorado: the revitalization of a distressed housing project located in South Denver.
City Market at ‘O’ Street, District of Columbia: a mixed-use property comprising 400 market-rate residential units, 16,000 square feet of retail space and a 57,000 square feet supermarket.
Arroyo Sequit Watershed and Qwuloolt Estuary Coastal Habitat Restoration Project, California: the removal of existing physical barriers, including two dry weather crossings and a check dam, along the Arroyo Sequit watershed in northern Los Angeles County; and the restoration of 350 acres of currently isolated floodplain in the Qwuloolt Estuary, Washington State.
West Coast Coastal Habitat Restoration Project, California and Washington: Four habitat restoration activities including Sears Point Tidal Restoration in California; Napa River Salt Marsh Restoration in California; Riverside Ranch Restoration in California; and the Salt Creek Estuary Reconnection in Washington State.
Cleghorn Ridge Wind Project, California: a line of 52 wind turbine generators aligned in a general east-west direction along the ridgeline at Cleghorn Ridge in the San Bernardino National Forest.
Deerfield Wind Power Project, Vermont: 15 two-megawatt turbines in the towns of Searsburg and Readsboro in the Green Mountain National Forest in Vermont.
Dakota Prairie and Little Missouri National Grasslands, North Dakota and South Dakota: 80 filed oil and gas applications for wells and ancillary facilities such as pipelines and power lines in the Dakota Prairie and Little Missouri National Grasslands.