Isn’t it strange how quickly a shopping center or a neighborhood can be built? Maybe you notice construction starting on the way to work. A few months or even a year pass without you thinking about it again. Then one day you see cars coming and going and you realize it’s finished.

Now think about the way federal government projects progress — a new Mississippi River bridge or a major flood protection project like the Comite River Diversion, for example. Completion of either isn’t sneaking up on anybody.

Why is there such a big difference, and does there have to be? I don’t think so, and that’s why we recently introduced a bill in Congress called the BUILDER Act: Building U.S. Infrastructure through Limited Delays and Efficient Reviews.

The BUILDER Act is designed to apply private sector efficiencies to federal projects and to take advantage of the principles and practices that recognize time is money. Our bill cuts the red tape that ties up progress, streamlining the process so we can start turning dirt sooner.

Nobody benefits from projects until they are done. Yet we often waste years, or decades, studying projects instead of building them.

In the 1970s, a law called the National Environmental Policy Act was enacted to support a productive coexistence between people and a healthy environment. In the early years, NEPA reviews would take a few weeks at most to complete. By 2016, the average timeline was five years — and it’s even longer today. Of course, this isn’t the only obstacle to new infrastructure, but the fact is hundreds of projects across the country are waiting on NEPA review to get started.

Lengthy environmental reviews prolong coastal environmental damage by delaying restoration projects. That's a flawed bureaucracy. We can do better.

The only way to get the economic and environmental benefits of projects is to complete them. The BUILDER Act will help us to do that.

GARRET GRAVES

U.S. representative

Baton Rouge

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U.S. Congressman Garret Graves spoke to those gathered for the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Southside Campus in Denham Springs in September.