A nonpartisan government reform coalition is calling for a two-year permitting process to reduce costly delays in building roads and bridges, ports and airports, and other public infrastructure critical to the U.S. economy.

In “Two Years, Not Ten Years: Redesigning Infrastructure Approvals,” Brooklyn, New York-based Common Good says that a six-year delay in construction projects costs the nation over $3.7 trillion, or more than double the $1.7 trillion in investment needed by 2020 to modernize America’s aging infrastructure.

“Decrepit infrastructure is dangerous, costly, and environmentally destructive. It drags down the economy,” the report says. “Even with funding, modernizing infrastructure is very difficult to achieve under the current system. Any objector can unilaterally delay a project for years.

The 40-page report recommends four major policy changes:

  • Solicit public comment before formal plans are finalized;
  • Designate an environmental official to determine the score and adequacy of environmental review;
  • Eliminate the fear of litigation by requiring legal challenges to be brought within 90 days of when permits are issued, and balancing impacts against overall benefits; and
  • Replace multiple permits with a “one-stop shop” approach.

“The upside of rebuilding infrastructure is as rosy as the downside of delay is dire,” Common Good Chairman Philip K. Howard said in a release. “America can enhance its competitiveness, achieve a greener footprint, and create upwards of two million jobs.”

ARTBA has consistently made accelerating the transportation project review and approval process one of its top priorities for the reauthorization of the federal highway and public transportation programs and has supplied members of Congress with specific proposals to achieve that goal.