U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta announced Sept. 23 that four priority transportation projects, some of which previously were held up for years now are moving forward as a result of an executive order by President Bush on environmental stewardship and transportation infrastructure reviews. The four are among 13 highway, transit and airport projects receiving special attention from a task force appointed by the President.
The four projects are Interstate 80 in Nebraska; the North/South Alignment for the Community and Environmental Transportation Acceptability Process (CETAP) in Riverside County, CA; the Chittenden County Circumferential Highway in Vermont; and the Louisville-Southern Indiana Ohio River Bridges Project in Kentucky and Indiana.
“Successful resolution of issues surrounding these projects demonstrates that leadership and partnership can help advance important environmentally sound transportation projects,” Secretary Mineta said. “The President’s executive order provided the
impetus and structure for us to resolve important issues that resulted in unnecessary delays of much-needed projects.”
To mark the progress, Secretary Mineta and James L. Connaughton, Chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, presented plaques to each of the project sponsors. They included Congressman Doug Bereuter on behalf of the state of Nebraska; Cathy Bechtel, Director of Transportation Planning and Policy Development from the Riverside County Transportation Commission; Patricia McDonald, Vermont Secretary of Transportation; James L. Codell, Kentucky’s Transportation Cabinet Secretary; and Bryon Nichol, Indiana Commissioner of Transportation. Congresswoman Anne M. Northup (KY), was recognized for her support of the Louisville-Southern Indiana Ohio River Bridges Project.
The executive order established a Cabinet-level task force reporting to the President through the chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality to ensure that environmentally sound projects are not held up unnecessarily by inefficient review procedures. The task force members in addition to Secretary Mineta include the U.S. Secretaries of Agriculture, Commerce, Interior and Defense plus the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Chair of the Advisory Council on Historic
Preservation and the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality.
With successful resolution, the four projects were advanced to a Project Transition List and removed from the task force’s Project Priority List, leaving nine projects still to be cleared. The Priority List includes projects selected on Oct. 31, 2002 and
Feb. 27, 2003 from among 80 nominated since the Sept. 18, 2003, executive order. Governors, local authorities such as airport directors and metropolitan planning organizations, and other transportation leaders, submitted nominations.
Additional information about President Bush’s executive order, “Environmental Stewardship and Transportation Infrastructure Project Reviews,” is on the Internet at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/stewardshipeo/index.htm