WILLIAM NANGLE: Red tape can strangle good ideas

2014-06-15T00:00:00Z WILLIAM NANGLE: Red tape can strangle good ideasBy William Nangle nwitimes.com
June 15, 2014 12:00 am  • 

Bureaucracy: "An unwieldy administrative system burdened with excessive complexity and lack of flexibility."

Northwest Indiana is awash in bureaucracy. It threatens many projects vital to the region's future.

Perhaps the worst case is the Cline Avenue Bridge. The state ordered it closed in December 2009. Then Gov. Mitch Daniels stood beside the unsafe bridge, pledging it would be rebuilt.

So here we are five long years later, and the bridge hasn't been returned as a major artery through the region and into Chicago.

For years, officials of the Indiana Department of Transportation have talked of negotiations with a private company to build the bridge, charging drivers a fee for its use. So far there has been lots of talk by the bureaucrats, but still no bridge.

Then there is the Illiana Expressway, a project designed to relieve traffic congestion in the northern urban area. Both Indiana and Illinois have pledged to see the toll road built. Again, a private company is to come to the rescue.

But just last week the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service raised concerns about how the expressway will affect endangered or threatened species like the sheep-nose mussel and the long-eared bat. Both are no doubt more essential than a much-needed highway project, so some wildlife advocate thinks. And so the call is for yet another study, a further delay caused by some bureaucrats.

Finally, there is the extension of the South Shore commuter line in west Lake County. Most Lake County communities have pledged financial support, but officials in the key cities of Hammond and East Chicago seem to be sitting on their hands, thus delaying a priority project for the region. Hammond wants a study done.

The delay of these projects proves to me that bureaucracy can be found from Washington, D.C., to city halls in Northwest Indiana.

While it is frustrating, it is a practice that has become the usual way of doing the public's business. Delay, postpone and perhaps kill a good idea. That's what comes from our tolerance of bureaucracy.

William Nangle is editor emeritus of The Times. The opinions are the writer's.

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