We have all heard the joke in Wyoming that we have three seasons: summer, winter, and road construction, and that last season seems to get longer and longer every year. Construction projects funded by the federal government seem to be especially slow. Red tape, endless litigation, and mountains of paperwork make that even worse. And why is this? The simple answer is outdated technology.
This week, I introduced the Interactive Federal Review Act with Senator Mark Kelly (D-AZ), and Representatives Dusty Johnson (R-SD) and Greg Stanton (D-AZ) to direct the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to select a minimum of ten federal highway projects to demonstrate the use of interactive, digital, cloud-based platforms in carrying out the environmental analysis and community engagement processes required in FHWA projects. Wyoming currently has eight FHWA projects that would be eligible for this program.
This legislation would address one of the root causes of the delays of environmental reviews for infrastructure projects by moving the development of National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) documents from trading static PDFs over email to interactive, cloud-based platforms. These digital tools are estimated to shorten the cumulative amount of time spent reviewing documents on traditional schedules for large projects by 50% through real-time, concurrent reviews by agencies and more transparency of the NEPA process for impacted communities and individuals.
People in Wyoming should not have to wait for the better part of a decade for improvements to the roads they rely on every day. We use streamlined technology for nearly every part of our lives, so it only makes sense that the environmental review process saves some paper and occurs online as well. I am grateful for Senator Kelly, Representative Johnson, and Representative Stanton for their collaboration and leadership on this legislation.