Highway Projects -- Can They Be Done in Half the Time?

by Corinne S. Bernstein, Asst. News Ed.; Civil engineering --ASCE, 345 E. 47th St., New York, NY 10017,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1983, Vol. 53, Issue 9, Pg. 50-54

Document Type: Feature article


Delays in highway construction projects result from time-consuming federal and state review procedures, public opposition and funding restrictions. The majority of delays in highway projects occur in the preliminary planning and design stages. In 1975, highway officials estimated that the °typical° highway project required 7-8 years from the request for project approval to the completion of construction. In 1976, Congress passed a bill requiring the US secretary of transportation to conduct a demonstration study to see how much a °typical° project could be speeded up. For the demonstration project to construct a highway bypassing Everett, Pa., the Federal Highway Administration and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation set up rigid timetables and review procedures based on federal law, rather than regulatory or policy requirements that tend to complicate the review process. Federal and state administrators set out to initiate design, right-of-way acquisition and relocation activities quickly and early in the environmental review process. Together, they studied ways to expedite right-of-way acquisition and design, ensure the timely availability of critical materials and schedule completion of the project's interim phases to provide the earliest possible use of the highway. Using these techniques enabled the project to be completed 3 years, 7 months after its inception--six years less than the average project of this type and size in Pennsylvania. Based on the Everett, Pa., demonstration project, recent legislation provides for setting up a program to facilitate acceleration of highway projects through special techniques.

Subject Headings: Infrastructure construction | Federal government | Highway and road design | Highways and roads | Project delay | Traffic delay | Land use | Financing | United States | Pennsylvania

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