By on August 16, 2017

road works construction sign

President Trump announced on Tuesday that he had signed an executive order to eliminate and streamline Obama-era regulations that might hinder the construction of U.S. roads and bridges. Absent, however, was any legislation regarding previous promises of allocating a trillion dollars revitalize the nation’s infrastructure.

While the press conference was mired by the weekend’s violence in Charlottesville, the topic eventually returned to roadworks and the aforementioned funding. “We will end up getting health care, but we’ll get the infrastructure, and actually infrastructure is something that I think we’ll have bipartisan support on,” Trump told reporters. “I actually think Democrats will go along with the infrastructure.”

Backed by Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Trump presented the media with a flow chart purporting to show the permitting regulations required to construct a highway in an unnamed state he claimed took 17 years under existing regulations. 

“This is what we will bring it down to — this is less than two years,” the president said, as he unveiled a smaller chart representing the new process. “We used to have the greatest infrastructure anywhere in the world, and today we’re like a third-world country,” he said. “No longer will we allow the infrastructure of our magnificent country to crumble and decay.”

According to Reuters, various business groups praised the regulatory streamlining, while environmental groups criticized the executive order — claiming  it would lead to riskier projects, unsafe conditions, waste taxpayer dollars, and result in a “climate catastrophe.”

“It’s going to be quick. It’s going to be a very streamlined process. And by the way, if it doesn’t meet environmental safeguards, we’re not going to approve it, very simple,” Trump said at a press conference at Trump Tower in New York.

The National Association of Home Builders approved the Trump administration’s move, saying the laundry-list of rules had raised the cost of housing. The American Petroleum Institute also praised the decision, and released a statement suggesting the order reflects recommendations the oil-industry lobby group submitted to the Commerce Department back in March.

Likewise, Representative Ralph Abraham of Louisiana, a Republican who sponsored legislation that would have blocked President Obama’s flood standard, said he was pleased by Mr. Trump’s decision.“We had more than our share of tragedy down here with the water, but we already have problems meeting requirements,” Mr. Abraham told The New York Times. “The [Obama-era] plan would make it so costly for my Louisiana residents.”

He estimated the rule would have increased the cost of a home by 25 percent to 30 percent in Louisiana because most of the state would be put in a federal flood plain. The same would be true of any roadways or rail-networks.

The Obama administration had previously estimated that its more stringent standards would increase construction costs by 0.25 percent to 1.25 percent and not pertain to private contracts. However, the rule would affect states differently — as lower elevations would be affected more often.

Environmental groups are concerned the order would silence communities with safety and ecological concerns about major projects works projects, especially oil pipelines. “If Trump has his way, we’ll be facing a fossil fuel buildout that locks America into climate catastrophe,” said Janet Redman, U.S. Policy Director at Oil Change International.

The executive order rolls back numerous standards set by former President Barack Obama that requires the federal government to account for climate change and sea-level rise when building infrastructure.

“The Trump administration’s decision to overturn this is a disaster for taxpayers and the environment,” said Eli Lehrer, president of the R Street Institute, a free-market think tank in Washington. Lehrer described the Obama order as a common-sense measure to prevent taxpayer money from being wasted on projects threatened by flooding. Rafael Lemaitre, former director of public affairs at FEMA, issued similar comments following Trump’s press conference.

The White House has responded to those allegations by explaining the new order reinstated the previous flood management standard, issued by President Jimmy Carter, and did not prohibit any state or local agencies from using more stringent standards if they chose to.

The order would set a two-year goal for completing permits needed on major infrastructure plans, and create a “one Federal decision” protocol that would appoint a lead federal agency to work with other agencies to complete the environmental reviews and permitting for infrastructure projects.

“We used to have the greatest infrastructure anywhere in the world, and today we’re like a third-world country,” Trump said on Tuesday. “No longer will we allow the infrastructure of our magnificent country to crumble and decay.”

Ending the conference, the administration proposed $200 billion in government funding over 10 years as part of a goal of getting $1 trillion in public and private infrastructure spending.

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55 Comments on “Trump Changes Regulatory Rules on Infrastructure, U.S. Waiting on Trillion Dollar Roadworks Plan...”


  • avatar
    ash78

    “Janet Redman, U.S. Policy Director at Oil Change International.”

    You think I’m going to trust a lady who still tells me “every 3,000 miles”?

    Seriously, though, I always thought all of our infrastructure talk was focused on fixing our current system, not so much towards some major expansion that would cause people to drive a lot more. If anything, better/smoother (and sometimes larger) roadways help keep traffic moving at a more efficient pace, so I would wager this would be a positive toward reducing climate change, not a negative.

    Good infrastructure just takes some of the pain–and terror–out of our necessary travel. Choosing not to travel is a different discussion, IMO (I was fortunate to begin full-time telecommuting over a year ago. Driving is fun again.)

    • 0 avatar
      brettc

      Infrastructure projects to me mean things like safe water lines, safe gas lines, roads and bridges that aren’t crumbling. Sounds like Donnie doesn’t want to do those things.

      • 0 avatar
        MrGreenMan

        You can probably rely on the plain English definition of the word to avoid sounding like Peggy Hill at Fan Fair with your own personal definition.

        Dictionary.com’s top two definitions show that yours may be a bit too narrow:

        2. the fundamental facilities and systems serving a country, city, or area, as transportation and communication systems, power plants, and schools.
        3. the military installations of a country.

        Searching leads to Wikipedia, which has a reasonable definition:

        “public works infrastructure”, referring to:

        “… both specific functional modes – highways, streets, roads, and bridges; mass transit; airports and airways; water supply and water resources; wastewater management; solid-waste treatment and disposal; electric power generation and transmission; telecommunications; and hazardous waste management – and the combined system these modal elements comprise. A comprehension of infrastructure spans not only these public works facilities, but also the operating procedures, management practices, and development policies that interact together with societal demand and the physical world to facilitate the transport of people and goods, provision of water for drinking and a variety of other uses, safe disposal of society’s waste products, provision of energy where it is needed, and transmission of information within and between communities.”

        So, infrastructure is a pretty expansive term.

        • 0 avatar
          ash78

          Thanks for the clarification…I never knew it was so broadly defined. I supposed the big focus on roads and bridges are because those are almost entirely in the hands of government, while many of the other involve (or are reliant on) private firms, as well. Or maybe just because “roads and bridges” are always the first thing brought up by politicians and leaders in that context.

      • 0 avatar
        ClutchCarGo

        Trump’s been floating the notion of public/private partnerships, which means the projects need a means to monetize the results in order to provide a return for the private money. Fixing up existing infrastructure doesn’t do that but new infrastructure can, e.g. toll roads and bridges, and private money doesn’t want to wait for tedious environmental studies. They want a quick return on the investment.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          @ClutchCarGo – In BC where I live the previous government was big on private/public partnerships. A private entity builds the public structure (bridge/hospital etc.) and the public leases it from the builder. It ends up costing the public the same if not more in the long run and from what I’ve seen in BC, it is a great way to hide public debt since it doesn’t get put on the books as debt.

        • 0 avatar
          Lorenzo

          Fixing existing infrastructure also means increasing road capacity to meet current and future traffic. Since I’m a retired highway engineer, I can name several public roads improved with private money, and it wasn’t monetized the way you might assume.

          Several developments were required to improve roads where they were to be developed, and the cost of paying the state and county for those road improvements was spread over the residential and commerical property prices charged.

          There were environmental requirements for the road improvements and the private developers paid for that too, either in remediation or land set-asides. The holdup in the environmental portion was inter-agency regulations.

          The federal EPA agreed in writing that a riparian area impacted would require a 3:1 set aside, and the state’s Department of Fish and Game later wanted 4:1. The only area impacted was a bridge over a dry creek, less than an acre, but the project was held up for nearly 5 months until the state F&G backed down.

          If the streamlining eliminates picayune arguments over less than one acre of replanting, it’ll speed up the design/construction process. There have been too many people/entities with the power to delay or say ‘no’ until their demands are met, or more often overruled after much time has gone by.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        “We’re going to be spending trillions to make every road, bridge, tunnel, overpass, sewer line, electrical line, municipal water line, storm drain, fiber optic line, train track, airport, and other piece of infrastructure really, really great. These things will be great and beautiful like you can’t imagine, okay? Believe me, we’ll spend 17% of what it would have taken under Obama, because I’m a super successful and incredible business person and negotiator, who knows all the best people, okay, and we’ll have the world’s best infrastructure in 2 to 4 months, max, okay? It’s going to be a wonderful, beautiful, yuuuge, quickly built, efficient build out, okay, and we’ll get the best prices and everyone will be very happy, believe me.”

        I’ve never heard or seen anyone who just threw out 1/1000th of the most inane bull$hit that Trump does on a fairly regular basis, that has no basis in fact whatsoever, and is actually far closer to acid tripping, all with the ability to state it authoritatively with a veneer (however thin) of semi-believability for the low IQ folks as Trump. He’s a phuking clown.

        Oh, and bump the way, we have 20 trillion in national debt, but Trump’s also going to expand military spending many trillions, not touch social security benefits, prefecture massive tax cuts for corporations and individuals, and balance the budget while significantly reducing the national debt.

        And everyone will get a pony, too.

        • 0 avatar
          Lorenzo

          A trillion here, a trillion there, etc.

          Trump has been talking like that all his life, but he’s produced many condos, hotels and the like, by bringing money people, engineers, and marketing people together to actually make those projects happen.

          Of course he doesn’t actually own those properties, he just has his name on them, because his BS talk got the principals together to make the projects work, and his name sells. So he’s following the same tactic, acting as a catalyst to get the infrastructure project process started.

    • 0 avatar
      tylanner

      Your climate argument makes sense on the surface but we should be mindful of the how production of the physical building material may negate any potential climate benefit….especially when we are talking enhancement of already functional roadways as you begrudgingly noted.

      “The cement industry is one of the primary producers of carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas.”

      Is it acceptable to quote Wikipedia nowadays?

      Anyways, I don’t think we have to worry…I’m 100% sure that Trump will take into account all possible factors before making such an expensive and long-term investment.

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    This to me is the sort of thing that’s the biggest opportunity for a President like Trump. He’s a backwards gorilla in a lot of ways, but let’s face it, this country needs someone willing to take a hard look at the bureaucratic and regulatory sprawl that holds things hostage all too often int his country. If he can knock down barriers and force in some efficiency (here, and in things like the tax code and business regulations, etc), that would truly be steps towards Making America Great Again.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Know what’s sad about this guy? He spends so much time with his mouth open, spewing garbage, that his actual policy proposals end up on the back pages. It sounds like there’s stuff in here that’s at least worth discussing (though there’s no info on where the $200 billion a year comes from, or how far that kind of money would go in fixing infrastructure problems). Too bad.

    If he’s not careful, he’s going to talk his way right out of office before any of his “yuuuuuuuuuge, great, you’ll see” ideas even get into committee.

    • 0 avatar
      ash78

      I’m convinced he uses Twitter as little more than a red herring to keep the media off his back about getting anything accomplished. If you look at his initial plan as President, there were actually some good, reasonable ideas in there that we could all agree on (well, better than what he was saying out loud, anyway).

      The media feed right into it his trick, as well. Yesterday’s infrastructure press conference was a perfect example. It went exactly as he probably hoped. He’s a master manipulator and the mass media don’t even seem to realize it…or they’re just riding his coattails to increase their own ratings in turn.

      • 0 avatar
        Fordson

        It’s all going exactly according to Trump’s master plan…too bad he doesn’t have a mustache to twirl, right?

        Yeah, he’s a little rough around the edges…and I’m sure that will all buff RIGHT out.

      • 0 avatar
        shaker

        I think people give a small, vindictive, racist man too much credit for having some sort of “master plan”.

        The media won’t leave him alone because he’s one of the worst human beings to ever hold the office.

  • avatar
    beachy

    Republicans generally use public office to steer enormous amounts of money to their supporters and friends. Trump likes to steer the ca$h to himself, so look to Trump Inc., as well as Russian business interests as beneficiaries.

    • 0 avatar
      bking12762

      Ahhhh, TTAC where I can go to get away from politics….

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        Everything car and road and transportation related is pure politics. There’s no way to avoid involving politicians and political machinations. New York tried to keep politicians out of it by hiring a master planner in Robert Moses, who at one time held twelve appointive positions simultaneously.

        He ended up putting roads and bridges in their most likely places, ripping out historic neighborhoods in the process. Of course ,those historic neighborhoods had by then become decrepit slums that were inexpensive land to acquire, lowering the cost of the improvements.

        It was the reaction to Moses and others who followed his style that caused the buildup of regulatory delays built into public works processes. The bottom line was that New York would be a mess without the projects Moses built, and he wouldn’t have been able to build them with the process in place now.

      • 0 avatar
        shaker

        Beetlejuice… Beetlejuice… Beetlejuice!

    • 0 avatar
      bking12762

      And “generally” where do Democrats steer cash and use public office for?

  • avatar
    jmo

    “Likewise, Representative Ralph Abraham of Louisiana, a Republican who sponsored legislation that would have blocked President Obama’s flood standard, said he was pleased by Mr. Trump’s decision.“We had more than our share of tragedy down here with the water, but we already have problems meeting requirements,” Mr. Abraham told The New York Times. “The [Obama-era] plan would make it so costly for my Louisiana residents.”

    Keep in mind this means the next time there is a flood they will be expecting their usual FEMA bailout and they fully expect their federal flood insurance subsidies to remain in place.

    • 0 avatar
      chuckrs

      “The [Obama-era] plan would make it so costly for my Louisiana residents.” Meaning it might not get done at all. Is keeping all the DC regulators employed more important than keeping NO residents from drowning?

    • 0 avatar
      carlisimo

      I design buildings and my wife designs bridges, so I thought I’d clarify a few things.

      Projects have to look at an appropriate storm depending on how critical they are – a house might get designed to stay above water in a 100-year storm, but a hospital for, say, a 500-year storm. But we’ve also been adding sea level rise on top of that number. If your project has a 50-year design life, add a few inches to the height of the first floor. (Of course, most things meant to last 50 years will probably get used for 100.) That’s one rule that will no longer be mandatory at the federal level. A lot of engineers will continue to follow it though, because the liability is on us once we stamp the design and we tend not to be risk-takers just because we want something to not be true.

      More importantly, this doesn’t add much time to the design process. If you’re in Florida or Louisiana, it can definitely add cost, but you’ll save it on the back end unless physics and chemistry turn out to be wrong.

      In buildings, the real time-waster is that neighbors can use the environmental review process to shut down a project because they don’t like the clientele it will attract, or the aesthetics of the building, etc. Cities around here are starting to consider changes to how that works because it’s as limiting as it sounds.

      In infrastructure projects, you have that too, but even worse because these projects tend to be geographically long and can piss off tens of thousands of people in multiple cities. You also have genuine environmental issues, some of which clash (e.g. wind power’s good if you’re worried about climate change, but bad for animal lovers). Sometimes those environmental issues are big money, like when they’d hurt fisheries. And then there’s the slow process of using eminent domain to buy property for expanding a road in a built-up area. And there aren’t many areas that aren’t built-up. It’s also a pain the ass to work with a railroad company when you need to build a road overpass across a railway. There are so many players involved, many of whom are annoyed and don’t have any reason to be helpful, that it’s hard to speed things up. I’m all for trying, though.

    • 0 avatar
      shaker

      Maybe spend some money building some sort of WALL to keep the water out.

      Make the Russian oligarchs pay for it.

  • avatar
    zip89123

    Unlike Obama who talked about it for 8 years, hopefully Trump gets something accomplished before Obamanites and his Sierra Club ilk shop judges to block progress.

    • 0 avatar
      Charliej

      Trump is right about the infrastructure problems but wrong about the reasons for the problems. Congress must allocate money for infrastructure and they have consistently refused to do so for many years. In the budget for next year, there is no money allocated for infrastructure. If we were trying to build the interstate highway system today, it would never get done because republican congressmen would not allocate money for it.

      • 0 avatar
        zip89123

        Not in CA where I’ve lived. The Democrats want carpool lanes, mass transit, electric car rebates, higher tolls, more illegal aliens, but no new highway construction. Meanwhile, in NV the Republicans get roads built.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          “Meanwhile, in NV the Republicans get roads built.”

          Setting aside all the environmental questions, it’s a lot easier and cheaper to build a road through Reno or Las Vegas (or the desert) than it is through Los Angeles County or San Francisco. You could probably send men to Mars for what it would cost to build a new freeway through L.A.

          That’s why Nevada is building roads and California isn’t.

          • 0 avatar
            ash78

            Don’t forget that some states (NV, AK, etc) are very much unlike the rest of the country. Nevada is artificially propped up by casino and tourism revenues, which is not something the rest of us can use as an example on how to do things. It’s not party politics at all. It’s not like people in NV are that much different than over the border in CA…they’re just flush with cash and (like you said) have a huge landscape with low population density.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        @Charliej;

        It ain’t just the Republicans – it’s the VOTERS in general. I’ll give you an illustration. Some years back here in Colorado, voters were asked to fund a) an expansion of I-25 (which had become a complete s*it show) through Denver, and b) and a new stadium for the Broncos. Both measures were on the same ballot.

        Guess which measure got approved?

        We eventually had to finance the I-25 improvements with bonds, so instead of our state tax bill going up by $37.43 a year for a few years, we get to pay interest on the bonds until sometime in the 27th century.

        And how’s the state “building roads” now? By turning them over to private companies and allowing them to charge whatever toll they want to drivers, with no voter approval or input whatsoever. And the companies collecting the tolls are foreign, to boot.

        Plenty of voters got incredibly upset about that. But they’d be in full Ferguson mode about their state tax bill going up by $37.43 a year.

        Infrastructure plans don’t happen for a simple reason: voters are dumb. Hate to say it, but that’s what it boils down to.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          “We eventually had to finance the I-25 improvements with bonds, so instead of our state tax bill going up by $37.43 a year for a few years, we get to pay interest on the bonds until sometime in the 27th century.”

          There are no coincidences, this happened as intended.

      • 0 avatar
        shaker

        Well, Obama got health care (based on GOP ideas, but not with their support) done, the GOP certainly wasn’t going to give him money (at zero percent interest) to add infrastructure to his legacy.

  • avatar

    I think America is hopeless. It is an old sclerotic society where nothing can be accomplished because of NIMB and Americans/political parties cannot agree on anything to build anything. I voted for high speed rail in CA more than decade ago. And where is high speed trains after tens of billions already spent? Nowhere, project is dead. New Bay Bridge in SF – it took decades to build it and they chose to buy Chinese steel and made costly mistakes because of incompetence. Bridge is already started to rust in most critical places and will not last for long. Eventually it will be scrapped. And we are talking about “enlightened” California. Compare that with what can be done and is done in Japan or Europe and how fast and for much less.

  • avatar
    tonycd

    Tim, this is the kind of post that several of us were talking about in reply to your introductory story. This is political clickbait excused by a slender reed of a connection to cars and driving. I, personally, don’t view TTAC as the place I visit to read it.

    I’m not suggesting this story isn’t news. But I am saying it is not The Truth About Cars. Hell, given the figure at the center of the story, it’s arguably not even about the truth.

    Please, less of this and more about automobiles and the industry that builds them.

    • 0 avatar
      tod stiles

      So we shouldn’t have articles about the roads and bridges we drive on, the railroads that deliver the raw materials and parts to build them and then deliver them. No articles about the ports that ship and receive cars and parts. No articles about the dealers who sell them or the people who buy them, or the natural resources used to make and maintain them.

      Sounds a little limited to me. But OK, whatever wags your (non-political) tail.

      • 0 avatar
        tonycd

        So, tod, you want TTAC to have articles about roads and bridges, railroads, ports, consumers, and the mining and refining of metals and plastics.

        And presumably, in the remaining space, articles about cars. You’ve pretty much made my argument for me.

  • avatar
    FOG

    Blah, Blah, Blah… President Donald Trump is bad because he doesn’t do what I want him to.

    Blah, Blah, Blah… Barry was great because he was black…

    Blah, Blah, Blah… I can present an opinion without any actual details because that is what journalism has become.

    Personally haven’t cared for either candidate, but I just wish people would start following some standards for journalism rather than blatantly bashing anyone who doesn’t view life through the same tunnel they do.

    • 0 avatar
      tonycd

      FOG, you’re not getting away with that false equivalence.

      People who supported the previous president didn’t all do so because of his race. People who are critical of the current one don’t feel that way solely because his ideology isn’t the same as theirs.

      This “both sides are equally bad” rhetorical stunt is exactly the same one the president himself tried to use when he tried to excuse one side’s criminality in Charlottesville by spreading the blame over everybody because, well, both sides disagreed with the other.

      By this logic, if a widow makes a victim impact statement at the sentencing phase of the trial for her husband’s murderer, she’s as wrong as the murderer because, well, they both hate each other and they’re both talking about crime.

      But they’re not equivalent at all. Want “facts”? This president is a criminal by his own testimony. He’s guilty of obstruction of justice (Comey), financial fraud (Trump University, others), sexual assault (“grab them by the p***y”), and he publicly condones violent rioting to intimidate non-white American citizens into submission. This is not the same as someone whom people supposedly considered “great because he was black.” (Although the current president also ultimately admitted he repeatedly lied about the birthplace of the previous president.)

      Admit you’re not neutral. You’re a supporter of this president, and you agree with his preference for white people. Stop faking neutrality, stand up for your actual beliefs and take the consequences like a man.

      • 0 avatar
        FOG

        @tonycd,

        What a diatribe of meaningless crap. “By his own admission…” You clearly didn’t read what I wrote.

        Here is one fact. Over 90% of blacks in Detroit voted for Obama both times he ran. The first time, these same people were interviewed after and couldn’t correctly identify his VP running mate or his stand on key topics. Fast forward to 2016, Trump won Michigan because enough black voters in Detroit DIDN’T EVEN VOTE. This is a pretty straight forward example of racism.

        I didn’t say I was neutral. You judged me because I do not say what you want me to say. I didn’t vote for Barack Obama, but I supported him as my president. I will continue to support the president that the people choose and oppose the ignorance that you embody.

        What a leap to say I agree with his preference for white people! You don’t even know my race. Stop faking intellect and start studying. Stop pretending you’re not a manipulator and get help. Your attempt of logic with the Widow example reveals your true ignorance and belligerence.

        • 0 avatar
          Fordson

          “I didn’t vote for Barack Obama, but I supported him as my president.”

          Link? I mean, I see a lot of people throwing out this assertion, but I rarely see them offering their username at Washington Post, Disqus, Facebook, etc. so that anyone could go back over the past 8 years and actually substantiate that the person in question offered support to Obama in his or her online comments.

          To the contrary, I regularly see people making this assertion online, when I know for a fact that they were MF-ing Obama up one side and down the other the entire time he was in office.

          Not trying to be unduly confrontational, but it’s an accepted practice in the online community that when you make an assertion, you provide links or other info to back it up, or allow others to make their own informed assessments as to the truth of the assertion. I see no reason to make an exception in the case of this particular assertion.

        • 0 avatar
          tonycd

          Unfortunately, FOG, I did read what you wrote. Then, even more unfortunately, I read what you wrote afterward.

          “I didn’t say I was neutral.” No, you said something disparaging about each candidate, then said “personally haven’t cared for either candidate.” Evidently I am “ignorant” to interpret this as neutrality.

          As for your Detroit assertion, brush up on the literacy skills you claim are superior to those of Detroit blacks, and you’ll quickly discover those citizens had a little help last fall in “not bothering” to vote:

          http://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/politics/2016/11/04/voter-intimidation/93292458/

          https://www.democracynow.org/2016/12/13/greg_palast_by_rejecting_recount_is

          http://www.inquisitr.com/3784856/recount-2016-alleged-voter-suppression-continues-past-election-day-as-michigan-count-by-county-blocked-by-republicans/

          BTW, if you really want to “continue the support the president that the people choose (sic),” better go dumpster-diving for those Ready For Hillary buttons. Even after voter suppression and uncounted ballots, she beat the current president by nearly three million votes. Guess you meant “the president that the Electoral College system chose.” I’ll assume it was just a typo; you’re usually much more meticulous about your facts than that.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        I think I’ve figured out the mentality of anyone who still supports Cheeto. They see how he uses his position to bully people into doing what he wants, kiss his butt, and fires anyone who makes him mad or tries to tell him what to do.

        then they think to themselves “That’s what I would do if I was president.”

  • avatar
    Erikstrawn

    “He estimated the rule would have increased the cost of a home by 25 percent to 30 percent in Louisiana because most of the state would be put in a federal flood plain.”

    If we keep Louisiana out of the “federal flood plain”, it won’t flood, right? Money saved!

  • avatar
    carlisimo

    I design buildings and my wife designs bridges, so I thought I’d clarify a few things.

    Projects have to look at an appropriate storm depending on how critical they are – a house might get designed to stay above water in a 100-year storm, but a hospital for, say, a 500-year storm. But we’ve also been adding sea level rise on top of that number. If your project has a 50-year design life, add a few inches to the height of the first floor. (Of course, most things meant to last 50 years will probably get used for 100.) That’s one rule that will no longer be mandatory at the federal level. A lot of engineers will continue to follow it though, because the liability is on us once we stamp the design and we tend not to be risk-takers just because we want something to not be true.

    More importantly, this doesn’t add much time to the design process. If you’re in Florida or Louisiana, it can definitely add cost, but you’ll save it on the back end unless physics and chemistry turn out to be wrong.

    In buildings, the real time-waster is that neighbors can use the environmental review process to shut down a project because they don’t like the clientele it will attract, or the aesthetics of the building, etc. Cities around here are starting to consider changes to how that works because it’s as limiting as it sounds.

    In infrastructure projects, you have that too, but even worse because these projects tend to be geographically long and can piss off tens of thousands of people in multiple cities. You also have genuine environmental issues, some of which clash (e.g. wind power’s good if you’re worried about climate change, but bad for animal lovers). Sometimes those environmental issues are big money, like when they’d hurt fisheries. And then there’s the slow process of using eminent domain to buy property for expanding a road in a built-up area. And there aren’t many areas that aren’t built-up. It’s also a pain the ass to work with a railroad company when you need to build a road overpass across a railway. There are so many players involved, many of whom are annoyed and don’t have any reason to be helpful, that it’s hard to speed things up. I’m all for trying, though.


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  • Mark Baruth, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States