At the CG/LA Global Infrastructure Leadership Forum Dan Slane, the director responsible for infrastructure in the Trump Transition Team, described his report which he completed and delivered January 20 this year. In his view the only way to get the U.S. economy going again, by improving productivity and delivering 4 million high quality jobs (paying $60-80 000 for high school graduates), is infrastructure investment. Slane said that the the biggest impediment to infrastructure development is permitting. In the U.S. on average it requires 9.5 years to get the necessary permits in place for an infrastructure project. It involves many federal and state agencies and can take up to 15 years. The U.S. presidential term is 4 to 8 years, which means that presidents are not able to show significant results during their term in office from focussing in infrastructure. Their successor reaps the benefits politically.
The biggest hurdle Slane saw to getting these 52 projects underway in the next few years is overcoming the permitting roadblock. Dan Slane's proposal was that the president issue an executive order mandating that federal agencies complete the permitting within four months of some major projects that Slane had proposed. That proposal may not have been perceived as practical.
Now an advisory council advising U.S. President Donald Trump on infrastructure and led by Richard LeFrak and Steve Roth has proposed an arbitration-style pilot program to significantly reduce the 9.5 years it takes on average to complete permitting. The idea is not to get around environmental and other regulations but to speed up the process using an arbitration approach. According to Reuters the advisory council made the suggestion to Trump and others in the White House last week.