Washington Report: Airport projects to be accelerated

 - May 9, 2008, 7:27 AM

Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta has asked governors, local officials–such as airport directors and metropolitan planning organizations–and other transportation leaders to nominate high-priority projects that the Transportation Department can give expedited agency reviews for permits.

In an executive order, President Bush instructed the Cabinet to form an interagency Transportation Infrastructure Streamlining Task Force to accelerate environmental reviews of specific, high-impact transportation construction projects–airport, highway, transit and intermodal.

The DOT said the average environmental review time for airport runways, including decision time, is more than three years, or about one-third of the 10-year planning time for a new commercial service runway. The total time required for a major new highway or airport to go from planning to opening averages 13 years for highways and 10 years for airports.

“Too many transportation projects become mired for too long in the complex web of clearances required by federal and state law,” said Mineta. “This initiative is intended to make our transportation investments more efficient, helping to ease congestion and reduce pollution.”