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Surface Transporation Approach and Objectives

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Approach and Methodology

Approach and Methodology

In the research for this report, establishing future transportation conditions under present trends were models used by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to determine transportation sufficiency, costs, conditions and performance, and were buttressed by a literature review. For the details of the methods used, see the appendix.

The overall needs and deficiencies found were compared against the investment trends reported in federal highway statistics, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) 2008 Conditions and Performance Report, and the 2007 National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission report for consistency and reasonableness, allowing for different data years and sources. The analysis presented in this report is intended to describe the implications of unmet needs in national economic terms, and is not offered as a substitute for more specific national, state, or metropolitan-level analysis of needs and deficiencies for planning and programming purposes.

Objective and Limits of This Study

The purpose of this study is limited to presenting the economic consequences of continuing investment in America’s surface transportation infrastructure on a trends-extended basis. It is not intended to propose or imply prescriptive policy changes. In recent years, many solutions have been offered to address the deteriorating condition and performance of America’s surface transportation infrastructure. Examples include changing the mix of investment between fixed-rail transit and roadways, expanding “rubber tire” transit (e.g., bus and/or van), implementing variable time tolling policies to limit peak hour highway traffic, demand management strategies to shift the time of travel or otherwise limit demand for the transportation system, leveraging broadband technology to expand telecommuting and reduce commuting traffic, changing land use regulations to generate densities and mixes of land uses that reduce transportation demand, and expanding the nation’s highway network. This analysis is intended to explain the relationship between the failing surface transportation infrastructure and its effect on the U.S. economy. It is clear that some combination of these or other solutions is necessary on multistate, regional, and national levels to address the well-documented needs.

Moreover, because this study’s purpose is to address the consequences of current investment trends, it does not include the potential economic impacts of construction that would be required to, at least in part, address identified surface transportation infrastructure deficiencies. Recent studies have asserted that every $1 billion invested in highway construction generates approximately 30,000 temporary jobs in the national economy, and spending for transit projects generates 24,000–41,000 temporary jobs, depending on geography and blend of spending between new construction, maintenance, and vehicle replacement.4 An analysis that includes the economic impacts of construction and how new investment will affect economic performance will vary depending on the mix of solutions that are implemented.


  1. Federal Highway Administration, 2007;

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For the opportunity to conduct this research, EDR Group wishes to thank Brian Pallasch, Jane Howell and Caroline Macheska of ASCE; and Allison Dickert, formerly of ASCE and ASCE’s Committee on America’s Infrastructure. We gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Ron Horst, Doug Mead, and Jeffrey Werling of the University of Maryland Economics Department. The transportation analysis, which is the foundation of projected economic impact would not have been possible without Christopher Chang and Steve Sissell from the U.S. Department of Transportation, who provided inputs and data for the HERS and NBIAS models; Keith Gates of the Federal Transit Administration and Richard Laver of Booz Allen Hamilton, who provided results from the TERM model; David Hurst of Wilbur Smith Associates / CDM, for assistance in interpreting NBIAS; and Colby Brown of Citilabs, Inc., for assistance in acquiring and applying the FAF network to national traffic patterns.

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