Rebuilding America Quickly: We Need to Cut Red Tape

By Corey Gustafson

On June 17, President Biden visited Philadelphia to survey the collapsed stretch of Interstate 95. Initially, experts predicted it would take months for the freeway to be rebuilt. However, Governor Josh Shapiro announced that he expected temporary lanes to be finished within two weeks of the explosion thanks to the 24/7 work of crews at the site. While all Americans should be happy Pennsylvanian’s traffic nightmare will soon be solved, we must ask why it takes an emergency to see construction expedited in America?

The swift construction we witness after emergencies, when federal and state regulations are eased and rolled back, should not be the exception to the rule in America, it should be the norm. As anyone who currently transits Interstate 15 between Fallbrook and Escondido can attest, construction projects take forever in California. Projects seem to take longer and longer every year. It has not been this way historically in the US or in other parts of the world.

European countries and China build tunnels in hours, not years. 

In 1930-31, The Empire State building was built in 405 days.

Unfortunately, Americans have grown accustomed to slow, bloated and inefficient infrastructure work. A recent VICE article compared and contrasted French and American infrastructure projects. A $38 billion Parisian project started in 2015 and is projected to finish in 2030 and will transform the city’s rail system. According to the article, the project “will fund 68 new stations, four new lines and two existing lines.”

In America, a similar project in the Northeast corridor that will convert a 100-mile section of track to high speed rail is projected to cost over $100 billion dollars. The project does not even include building a new station or line and is scheduled to be completed in 2035.

It’s a sad day when the French (unless it involves croissants or baguettes) beat us.

The reason we don’t build as much anymore is not because of the American people. The American workforce today remains as trained and hard-working as ever before, as we’ve seen in Philadelphia. 

The regulatory environment, and those who created it, should shoulder the blame. Congress can keep passing huge infrastructure bills, but it will not much matter until government at all levels alleviates the massive regulatory burden that paralyzes America’s ability to build fast and efficiently.

Limited regulation is necessary to protect workers and consumers. Excessive regulation costs everyday citizens money, time and opportunity. Californians see this all the time locally.

We chronically suffer from water, electricity, home and transportation shortages. The ruling Democratic Party constantly makes excuses. But it fails to dawn on them that Democratic policies themselves create the red tape and crippling regulation that continue to fuel delay and pot-holed policies.

As Taylor Swift might put it “it’s them. They’re the problem, it’s them.”

Granted, Democrats view the government as a tool to impose the sort of rules they think will benefit the people. While they champion such suggestions, the reality festers in unfulfilled promises, worse standards of living, and misplaced priorities.

Excessive regulations only hurt the people they are trying to help. They actually prevent solutions to our water and electricity crisis in California. They prevent building new desalination and next generation nuclear power plants. The costs of regulation get passed onto the consumer, and it’s natural California citizens and their companies will move out of state–as 500,000 did in the last three years–to find a more accommodating place to live and do business.  

In San Diego, a quarter of the cost of a relatively small expansion of state Route 56 will be spent on complying with environmental regulations. $11 million of the $39 million budget will be spent just for environmental analysis before a shovel even hits dirt. How much analysis must be done when the new lanes will be built on existing medians?

The California Democratic Party wastes so much time, money and effort on the politics of radical social crusades and special interests that it fails to deliver the basic functions of good governance. Governor Newsom’s recent efforts to cut red tape to build his favored clean energy projects should be extended to all construction projects in California, not just projects he is ideologically aligned with.

Americans and Californians yearn for basic government competence. Deregulation will not focus solely on benefiting corporations. More importantly, it will empower citizens to solve the problems of their communities without bureaucrats, politicians and their red tape getting in their way. Can we start building now, please? 

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