By excessive govt regulation I am talking about the mounds of paperwork required by a variety of different government agencies, none of whom coordinate with each other, in order to get approval to do anything.
Don't take this as being anti-environment, but the example of environmental impact assessments alone is enough to kill most projects that take up only a single location, let alone a rail or road project that will cut through maybe hundreds of different environmental regions. Likewise, other govt agencies will require certification of this or that before the project can move forward. As another example, if the project goes near any sort of school, park, or any area where children may be present, the project will probably need a mountain of documentation proving that the children will not be affected as well as having every employee who may come across children go through a thorough security background check.
By themselves many of these requirements seem like a good idea, but taken together they are a massive barrier to getting anything done at all, due to the federal government trying to babysit and nitpick everything at all times. What happened to the responsibilities of state and local governments to do this stuff? Why is the federal govt putting up so many barriers to any sort of industry or improvements? Under the current regulatory environment, our federal highway system would never have been built, period. It would have taken too long and cost too much just to file the paperwork for approval, and by then the economic situation would have changed enough to make the project impossible to continue.
We're doing it to ourselves. We demand so many restrictions on activities that nothing can ever get done. This restricts YOUR ability to travel just as it restricts the economy as a whole. For more examples, research the phenomena of the "shovel ready" projects and the recent US economic stimulus packages. There were a TON of projects that needed funding, but the paperwork would have taken years to accomplish. So the stimulus money only went to projects that could be started immediately, and some of those projects were frankly pretty stupid compared to the projects that couldn't be funded due to govt red tape. Look it up, since it isn't a problem related to any particular political party even though both major parties try to blame it on the other one. It's a problem with our entire fed govt, especially the non-elected policymakers (cue segue to bitching about the non-elected FCC board that decided to try to regulate the internet against the specific direction of congress and the courts).