To streamline the process of greenlighting state infrastructure, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed an executive order May 19 that creates an “infrastructure strike team” to identify and expedite key projects through better coordination among government agencies. He also unveiled plans to introduce a series of 11 trailer legislative bills that would speed up state review processes and reduce time for legal challenges to approved projects.
The move is intended for California projects to gain a greater share of funding from federal legislation such as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the Inflation Reduction Act, Newsom said at a press conference. He estimates the state will invest $180 billion, including state and federal funding, in infrastructure projects over the next decade.
“It’s about saving time, saving money and addressing bureaucratic malaise,” Newsom said.
According to the order, the strike team consists of state officials who include the secretary of transportation, finance director and planning and research director.
The initiative focuses on projects in areas such as broadband and clean energy supported by the new federal funding laws, according to Antonio Villaraigosa, Newsom’s infrastructure advisor. The executive order directs the strike team to create working groups geared to expediting projects in transportation, energy, hydrogen, environmental remediation, broadband, water, the federal CHIPS and Science Act and zero-emission vehicles.
The legislative package would promote project delivery strategies such as progressive design-build, as well as permit reform and changes to state administrative records laws and the California Environmental Quality Act.
Peter Tateishi, CEO of Associated General Contractors of California, praised Newsom's efforts to make CEQA more effective by limiting lawsuits that have in some cases delayed projects for years.
"We look forward to reviewing the proposal's details and scope and stand eager to partner with the governor and legislators to move projects faster and keep Californians working on necessary infrastructure and housing our state desperately needs," Tateishi said in a statement.
Newsom’s announcement came the day after Villaraigosa and the group California Forward released a report with a series of recommendations to accelerate state infrastructure projects
“Things are taking 33 months that we know only have to take 11 months,” Newsom said. “We actually want to get it down, ultimately, to six months.”
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