Report Stresses Long-term Economic Benefits of Transportation Investment

AASHTO Journal, 18 July 2014

In a report released Monday by the White House, economists said investing in transportation carries strong long-term economic benefits and that now is the time to utilize innovations to increase productivity and efficiency to get the most out each dollar.

The report, completed by the President’s┬áCouncil of Economic Advisers and the┬áNational Economic Council, found that investments made now in the nation’s transportation infrastructure will prove beneficial for a long time. For example, investment would reduce road congestion (meaning faster, more reliable travel times for people and products), cut down on product costs (as congestion adds to the cost of products due to longer shipping times, complicated supply chains, or more distribution centers) and result in higher land values and local economic development (as lower transportation costs help grow cities while infrastructure investment raises property values). Additionally, transportation investment creates jobs immediately.

“Infrastructure investment also creates many thousands of jobs in the near-term that are directly linked to the American economy and difficult to ship overseas,” according to the report. “These jobs span across a wide variety of different industries. For example, road building not only requires construction workers, but also grading and paving equipment, gasoline or diesel to run the machines, smaller hand tools of all sorts, raw inputs of cement, gravel, and asphalt, surveyors to map the site, engineers and site managers, and even accountants to keep track of costs.”

The report concludes by stumping for President Obama’s Grow America Act (see related AASHTO Journal story here), which the administration said would provide certainty for states, increase funding by providing $302 billion over four years for transportation infrastructure, and streamline processes and encourage innovation.

Along with the report, the White House unveiled a virtual map highlighting the “condition and consequences for each state’s roads and bridges as well as the jobs that would be at risk” should Congress not act on transportation funding. The virtual map website is similar to the tool unveiled by AASHTO earlier this year that showcases the impact to each individual state should state transportation departments not have the support of the Highway Trust Fund.

The full report can be found here.

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