On February 13, the Wall Street Journal published these words:
“Speed Limits Await Infrastructure Spree. Environmental, historical and other rules will likely delay ….”
If a peace officer knocks on my door, ordering me and 188,000 of my neighbors to evacuate within one hour because of imminent risk of dam failure, deferring a fix for a three-year environmental review of the impact on snails, is perhaps not in the best interest of the public.
I am all in favor of protecting the public health, safety, property and welfare by use of environmental reviews, but we do need to consider priorities. What we need is an overriding law which places a small group of professional engineers in a position to bypass any other law which may defer urgent repair to existing infrastructure.
The American Society of Civil Engineers already has a list of infrastructure requiring upgrade or repair. Where existing infrastructure works but could be improved, we should consider all elements of the improvement including environmental and historical values. However, where the ASCE report card suggests less than a C- grade, the select team should weigh the current danger of injury to the public of delay, and if warranted act to prioritize over the longer term and often aspirational goals.