We are on day 9 of the federal government shutdown with no end in sight, and our nation’s critical infrastructure is starting to feel the impact. At a press conference yesterday Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman, Barbara Boxer (D-CA), joined transportation stakeholders to stress the effects the shutdown is having on the nation’s critical infrastructure.
At this time the shutdown is stalling almost 130 highway and bridge projects in 35 states due to the furlough of more than 90 percent of Environmental Protection Agency employees who are responsible for the expedited review of hundreds of road projects. The expedited review process was a hallmark of last summer’s surface transportation authorization, MAP-21, but the current shutdown is defeating one of the legislation’s primary purposes: streamlining project delivery.
Faring better are the nation’s critical lock and dam systems, although that might be debatable to unpaid employees. While hundreds of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers personnel have been furloughed and operations like some of the recreational parks the organization runs are closed, the roughly 240 employees who operate the locks have been deemed essential, meaning they have stayed on the job. Keeping the nation’s lock and dam operators on the job once again illustrates the fact that our nation’s waterways are vital to our economy and overall quality of life. Unfortunately, while the locks remain open, the debate on the government shutdown has delayed any further progress on the Water Resources and Reform Development Act moving through the House. At this point the critical legislation is on the back burner until the shutdown is over and the debt ceiling is raised, meaning we do not expect to see WRRDA pass out of the House before late October or early November at the earliest.
ASCE will continue to keep you updated on the impacts of the shutdown as the federal government remains shuttered!
Leave a Reply