July 2017

Can We All Agree on Common Sense Regulations?

 By Brian Keierleber, PE
       NACE President

Summer is upon us and it’s good to see that family vacations aren’t slowing down the progress of various NACE initiatives.

Richie Beyer and the Legislative Committee is constantly working on streamlining the environmental and administrative rules. We can all be in agreement that more common sense is needed in some of our regulatory matters.

Most recently the committee finalized NACE comments to USDOT, which is reviewing regulations to identify unnecessary obstacles to transportation infrastructure projects. Our thanks to Richie for his dedication in spearheading this effort.

To give an example, Ramon Gavarrete, Alachua County, Florida, Engineer built similar sidewalks, one with Federal funds and one without. The paperwork was almost measured in feet utilizing Federal funds but measured in inches without. Project costs almost seemed proportional to the stack of papers. I bet there is no difference in how long each project lasts. Good engineering principals were incorporated into each of them.

Another opportunity I had to learn about environmental regulations elsewhere was during the Washington State Association of County Engineers (WSACE) meeting in Leavenworth.

I was told that the cost to accommodate environmental regulations often exceeds the cost of the construction project itself. Runoff on the bridges must be captured and treated. There are areas where that is important, but the blanket approach of everywhere may actually be spending more resources than it saves.

I cannot evaluate this, but I think of examples in Iowa where I feel that is the case. A prime example is in a county on the Minnesota Border that receives its permit to construct the bridge from November through March because of a turtle. At that time of year, he burrows down into the ground and hibernates. Wouldn’t he have a better chance of escaping the construction in the summer? In the winter we can catch him sleeping.

We do need regulations, so let’s voice our opinions and assist in developing them based on common sense and not let emotions rule the day.

Have a great day and be safe out there. It’s more fun that way.

 

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