Professional and Career Topics

  • 1.  Overcoming Regulatory and Permitting Challenges

    Posted 12-09-2021 09:28 AM

    Regulations and permitting can have outsized impacts on project cost and schedule. While the regulatory and permitting process and timelines run are generally outside the control of a project, what can be done / what have you seen done to speed things up? Additionally, are their best practices for building competency within the general CE discipline for effectively approaching the challenge that regulations and permitting bring to a project?



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    Mitch Winkler P.E., M.ASCE
    Houston, TX
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  • 2.  RE: Overcoming Regulatory and Permitting Challenges

    Posted 12-14-2021 01:08 PM
    I am a Florida-licensed PE, in private practice since 1998. Back then we used to say it took seven years from "concept to concrete" for major projects with substantial environmental impacts. Having managed, or supported, more than a dozen project development studies, I offer two observations. Both the individual and the organization should track/monitor as the "need" for a project develops. For transportation projects I would keep track of local government future land use & comprehensive plan updates & actions on requests for revisions. This includes monitoring the long range transportation plans of the metropolitan planning organizations and regional planning councils. This gives insight into the support or opposition to specific projects, how the region prioritizes projects and how various jurisdictions coordinate development & infrastructure funding.
    Several years ago the Florida DOT instituted "efficient transportation decision making" (ETDM). Supported by an online "environmental screening tool" (EST) each of the department's eight districts maintain an "environmental technical advisory team" with members from all of the agencies with jurisdiction (federal, state, regional & local). In the EST the Department posts a proposed project and asks each of the ETAT members to comment for an initial screening review. This would enable the Department to advance, modify or halt a project before programming funds for preliminary design. I advocate this type of early screening for major infrastructure projects to focus and streamline the subsequent planning, design & construction phases.

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    Fraser Howe P.E., F.ASCE
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