Blog

Trying to get regulatory relief on the road

Attorney Diana Parks has a few ideas

President Trump picked an appropriate locale to renew his infrastructure pitch in early June, the great American city of Cincinnati, where the Brent Spence Bridge over the Ohio River is said to top the list of national infrastructure emergencies.

A threat to public safety and economics alike, it’s so deemed by The Hill—that District of Columbia newspaper much read by the nation’s movers and shakers. Not aging gracefully, the 53-year-old Spence is driven upon by 160,000 vehicles daily—twice what it was built to handle—and the Ohio Department of Transportation foresees that number only increasing.

The cost of a new bridge: $750 million, but only if the project gets underway today.

Which it won’t.

The funding sources have yet to be identified and even if they were, there would be a slew of delays and legal challenges over the demolishing or removal of structures said to be historic, environmental issues stemming from changes to the river, and the rerouting of vehicular and barge traffic.

So motorists on Interstates 75 and 71 to and from Cincy may best be advised to keep their eyes on the road, hands on the wheel, hope no more debris falls from above and, of course, don’t text.

And all of us should listen and think critically while Trump again calls for a long-term, streamlined $1 trillion public and private commitment to infrastructure, the general formula of which calls for $200 billion in federal spending augmented by state and local funds, and tax breaks and assorted incentives for industry.

Diana Parks is giving all of that deep thought.

Trump may mean business

A partner at the Manhattan affiliate of global heavyweight Dorsey & Whitney, Parks is at least somewhat encouraged by what she’s hearing from the White House. She acknowledges that Trump is floating an ambitious agenda with devil-ridden details and no shortage of critics alleging everything from corporate welfare to impracticality to the old line about public-private partnerships, meaning that something public becomes something private.

But give Trump credit, she says: He does have a business mind and that separates him from his predecessors. That’s predecessors as in plural. One would have to go back a long time to name a president who had gotten to the White House via the business route.

“I do think Trump has the business savvy, unlike prior presidents, to make a difference here. I’ve been encouraged about what I’ve seen.”

“I do think Trump has the business savvy, unlike prior presidents, to make a difference here,” says the personable Kansas City Law School grad who, for the past 18 years, has advised public-private partnerships (P3) involving airports, bridges, highways, railroads, dams, platforms and mass transit. “I’ve been encouraged about what I’ve seen. I think we are going to see more streamlining in the federal process and the freeing up of obstacles that have precluded progress.”

Asked which projects should be prioritized, Parks includes the Spence Bridge on a list of substandard infrastructure from sea to shining sea and across the fruited plain.

Back on the rails

There’s the Gateway Program, the planned phased expansion and renovation of the rail line between Newark, New Jersey, and New York City—a $20 billion endeavor with a completion date hoped between 2023 and 2025. When and if complete, capacity would be doubled to an extra 50 trains per hour and enable high-speed rail in a part of the nation where traffic tie-ups and bridge closures—be they necessary or contrived—are legendary.

Unveiled in 2011 and deemed vital by former President Barack Obama and present Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, the project has had a hard time getting off the blueprints, initially set back by Superstorm Sandy wreaking havoc on Hudson River tunnels. Even today, it’s unclear just how it would be funded, as the two states and Washington can’t reach accord. The only certainty is that as long as Gateway is delayed, the more costly it will be.

No happy tune

Though a long way from her normal visits, Parks looks to the northern plains as another area in need of federal investment. That Red River Valley made famous in the cowboy song, well, it seems much less romantic come April when snowmelt mixed with rain causes it to overflow its banks, so inundating the flatlands that over the years Fargo, North Dakota, has had to buy 700-plus houses in low-lying areas.

For years, a diversion project has been advocated, and a $1.5 billion effort continues to be evaluated by multiple government agencies, and well it should. Flood protection in one area can mean more flooding down river—a situation that Louisiana can relate to. But for the folks in Fargo-Moorhead, April brings with it not the sweet smell of spring but the danger and destruction of high water. To some North Dakotans, next spring is never very far away, but relief from their annual trials and tribulations isn’t even on the horizon.

Time’s wasting on the tarmac

Then there are the airports, two of the worst of which Parks knows well, the Californian’s personal and professional lives being on opposite coasts.

That has necessitated Parks using Los Angeles International and LaGuardia and then being stuck in traffic while work proceeds, slowly, on bridges, roads and tunnels.

infrastructure diana parks us builders review

Forbes Magazine says such delays cost Americans 4.8 billion hours of productive time annually. All Parks knows is she’s been saddled with an inordinate number of those hours.

“New York and L.A., those airports all have facilities that were built long before there was a need to accommodate so many passengers,” she says. “I avoid LaGuardia at all costs even though it’s the closest airport to Manhattan. It’s in embarrassingly bad shape.”

It should be noted that pre-Trump, modest renovations were either planned or underway at LAX while a long overdue overhaul was commencing at LaGuardia. But other airports await upgrades, and such projects are always politically sensitive as new or reconfigured runways bring out community opposition. Still, it needs mentioning that abutting residents knew there’d be low-flying planes when they moved into the neighborhood.

When it comes to soliciting commentary on infrastructure, Parks may not be the most objective observer; as a go-to lawyer for infrastructure, she has a vested interest in getting projects moving. But given the ample time she’s been stuck in airports and roads from coast to coast, her views must bear consideration.

“For many years the administrations of this country have acknowledged that we need a much more efficient system for the environmental process in order to bring our country’s infrastructure back to order,” Parks says.

“To date, every major U.S. infrastructure project requires several years to get through the environmental process, and then often only to be faced with the uncertainty of litigation that can linger on for many years. We simply will not get our infrastructure built with this impediment.”

Testimonials

The team at US Builders Review is professional and did a great job with your published article. They asked for and listened to my feedback and responded quickly to any requests I made.
— Susan Courter, Director of Business Development, R.E. Crawford Construction
We are excited to be featured as a case study in US Builders Review and look forward to sharing our company’s story with a national audience.
— Ryan Sanzari, Director of Operations, Alfred Sanzari Enterprises
The final product was an exceptionally well written and thorough story integrated with many of our project photos. It is a great endorsement of our company and our work that we are promoting on our website and through social media. We were impressed with the quality of the editorial and the professional follow-through.
— Susan Howell, Marketing Director for Howell Custom Building Group
Working with Kyle at TrueLine Publishing was a great experience. We are quite pleased with how the article about Souder Brothers turned out. The magazine article and photo spread is going to be a very effective tool to use in our marketing. If you have the opportunity to be featured in a project like this, I would recommend doing it. Kyle and his team made the whole process very smooth and we are happy to have been a part of the latest edition of US Builders Review.
— Corinne Schaffer, Project Manager, Souder Brothers Construction
What a great team US Builders has put in place! Having worked with Victor Martins a few years back, I was pleasantly surprised that he remembered our experience and contacted us again about an updated article. Not only did Victor brainstorm with me about content that would resonate with readers, but he assigned an excellent writer, Molly Shaw, to our account. Her interview with my client, Bardi Heating Cooling & Plumbing, was professional and succinct; as was her writing style. We had very few edits and were pleased not only with the article, but how well it was enhanced by color photos. Much appreciated!
— Karen Bird, Owner of Strategic Marketing Services, Bardi Heating Cooling & Plumbing
I was contacted by the company to write a review on my business. They handled the process very efficient and professional. The pictures came out great and the article was perfect. I am very happy with their work.
— Kirt McGhee, Owner, K4M Construction
On behalf of Alfred Sanzari Enterprises, I would like to thank you for showcasing our company as a cover story in US Builders Review, and express our gratitude for a job well done in putting together an impressive editorial product. We already have received a great deal of positive feedback on the article and are confident it will be a very effective tool for sharing Alfred Sanzari Enterprises’ story, and our new hotel project, with a national audience of industry professionals. Please also extend our thanks to everyone on your team that helped in any way to produce this article. This was truly a collaborative effort.  Your staff listened to our feedback and was incredibly professional and accommodating to our requests throughout the entire process. We welcome the opportunity to collaborate with US Builders Review on future projects.
— Ryan Sanzari, Director of Operations, Alfred Sanzari Enterprises
The process was simple: we were provided questions that the writers wanted to discuss, we were interviewed, and then we got to see a few drafts before the final version went to print. Given the quality of this publication, on behalf of Giroux, I can assure everyone that all of my partners would be happy to participate in similar articles in the future.
— Barbara Kotsos, Director of Marketing & PR, Giroux Glass
Kyle Gahm was instrumental in coordinating this project from beginning to end. He was always available and a pleasure to work with. It would be a pleasure to work with Kyle down the road. Bill Keaton was very impressive in raising money from advertising which resulted in ASE getting the cover story, so thank you Bill. Lia Prysunka and Jeanee Dudley are both very impressive individuals who deserve a lot of credit for this featured piece. They were both very patient and accepting of any changes we suggested. The format, quality, and resolution was awesome. To sum it all up: Our upper management, who never have been high on PR and things of this nature said that it was "absolutely fantastic" and were blown away. They now are requesting multiple copies of the full magazine and are very proud of the work you all put in. Thanks again.
— Ryan Sanzari, Director of Operations, Alfred Sanzari Enterprises
Thank you all your efforts in putting together such a great article about our company in US Builders Review. DH Construction appreciates the professional manner in which your team worked with us to achieve the stateside exposure we were after; especially taking the time to get all of the facts correct. In short, the article was extremely well put together and we have already received a great deal of feedback, interest, and compliments as a result of the piece. Once again, we appreciate all the effort, and without a doubt, we will not hesitate to work with your organization again in the future.
— Daniel Harrigan, Principal, DH Construction

LATEST EDITION

Spring 2018

READ NOW

GET US BUILDERS REVIEW IN YOUR INBOX.

  • * We’ll never share your email or info with anyone.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.