California bill would reduce impact statements1 February 2019
US – California senator Bill Dodd, D-Napa, introduced legislation last week that would allow more California transportation projects to bypass federal regulatory requirements, a move meant to reduce costs and shorten construction timelines.
“My bill would streamline an often duplicative and bureaucratic process, making every transportation dollar count,” Dodd said. “We can use that savings to expand both the number and quality of projects, providing Californians with the good roads they deserve.”
Senate Bill 137 would extend to all California cities and counties a benefit currently in place for smaller communities where more simplified federal review takes place. It would eliminate the federal reviews associated with federal highway funding. Previously, only agencies serving populations under 200,000 were afforded the abbreviated process. SB 137 would waive the review for agencies of all sizes.
The proposal is supported by the California State Association of Counties as well as individual local government agencies. It will be referred to a policy committee in the coming weeks.
If passed and signed into law, the bill would remove the need for both the federal and state environmental analyses on roadway projects when federal money is built into the funding package. A statement from the Southern California Partnership for Jobs (SCPJ) said: "Because California’s environmental safeguards are considered much more stringent than the national requirements, the current process is viewed by policymakers as redundant and unnecessary."
According the SCPJ estimates of the bill's cost savings are of 10 percent or more, depending on the size and scale of a road project.