Senator Lisa Murkowski today proposed the Project Delivery Improvement Act to strengthen and streamline the road construction and improvement process nationwide. "Alaska has over 15,000 thousand miles of public roads, nearly all of which could see faster improvements with this bill," said Murkowski. "Just as Alaska enters our summer construction season, I'm hopeful this bill will create a smoother road to safe and vital transportation in future years."
The Project Delivery Improvement Act takes the responsibility for determining the necessity and safety of transportation projects -- currently a collaborative effort among many agencies, adding several bureaucratic steps -- to the Federal Highway Administration. It would also require groups that file lawsuits to halt suggested work, provide proof of their claims, instead of the current system where the federal government bears the burden of proof. The window of time to file legal challenges to construction proposals would be cut in half from 180 days to 90.
"In Alaska, we only have a few months a year to get our roads made, paved and fixed -- there's no time to add courtroom visits created by frivolous lawsuits," Murkowski added. "Every legitimate legal challenge is a crucial part of the process, but our state infrastructure can't be held hostage by hollow legal challenges. Alaska needs more construction and less obstruction."
With across-the-board cuts looming for federal budgets in the foreseeable future, this will result in less money in the highway trust fund for infrastructure. Senator Murkowski's bill would allow Congress to make construction projects cheaper and more efficient.