c/p from this article.
There’s at least one big reason for that disconnect that has frustratingly little to do with local government — federal bureaucracy. It takes at least twice as long, and in some cases more than 10 times as long, to build a new piece of transportation infrastructure as it does to build a new residential development, even in a city like Charleston with an extensive permitting and review process for new buildings.
Consider, for example, the process of constructing a new mass transit system, something the Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments is currently hard at work on. Regardless of COG’s efforts to move mass transit forward, it’s still going to take a long time because of federal red tape.
First, it takes two years of review and community input to come up with a plan. We’ve already done that part. But then the federal government gets involved and requires another two years of planning, input and environmental review. Then, engineers work on yet another, more detailed final plan, which also requires input and review over a roughly three-year period.
Then, assuming there are zero snags along the way — which is a big, big assumption — the project can break ground seven years later, with another two or three years of construction before the first passengers step on board.
That’s about a 10-year process. Ten years.
It can take as little as two years for an apartment complex to go from the permitting process to taking in tenants.
Of course, there’s a reason that new infrastructure projects are vetted before construction. They impact a lot of community members and neighborhoods, can have detrimental environmental effects and shape the way that entire cities grow for better or for worse. Thorough review can stop bad projects before they get underway.
But the federal government needs to streamline the revi