Synthesis of Information Related to Highway Problems. Topic 45-11. Economic and Development Implications of Transportation Disinvestment

Federal, state and local governments are confronting the daily reality of deciding which elements of the nation's transportation infrastructure network will be triaged as maintenance and investment budgets are shrinking and cuts must be made. Adverse economic consequences will result from a sub-optimally maintained transportation system. Yet, decision makers recognize that moving people and goods with as little delay as possible improves quality of life, reduces travel costs, sustains economic growth through improved accessibility to jobs and reduced costs to firms and reduces the negative environmental impacts of travel. This study will focus on macroeconomic effects, intermodal tradeoffs, and methods for broadly informing disinvestment decision-making in an era of constrained resources. For the purposes of this study, "disinvestment" includes government action or inaction resulting in expenditures that are less than needed and, therefore, decrease the condition and level of service of affected transportation systems. The critical deferred needs of state and local transportation systems have been well-documented. While the economic impacts of investing in transportation systems have been extensively studied and have generally been found to be positive, the impacts of disinvestment have not been widely studied. Given the complex interplay of transportation systems within and between metro and non-metro economies it is difficult to determine how disinvestment affects linkages to key nodal points and capacities of different facets of the transport system. Therefore, it is difficult to assess disinvestment impacts on national and regional economic growth, the distribution of income, and social and environmental sustainability. Moreover, it is not clear that transportation analytical techniques currently being used can ascertain the effects of disinvestment. In an era of constrained resources, decision makers would benefit from new perspectives, new data, and analytical tools to assess the impact of disinvestment in the transport network on growth, business formation and job creation. Work to be performed for this study includes addressing the following topics: (1) Existing and potential data sources to aid in identifying the effects of disinvestment; (2) Methods available to estimate disinvestment effects on transportation system integrity within and across modes in urban areas, regionally, and in non-metro areas, e.g.; (2a) benefit - cost analysis; (2b) economic impact analysis; (2c) travel demand modeling; (2d) network modeling; (2e) freight modeling; (3) Studies and practices that have examined / applied transportation disinvestment scenarios (actual or hypothetical); (4) Summarize the available studies to determine if they provide the strategies, methodologies, and tools needed to assess the impacts of disinvestment decisions. In addition, assess whether these study practices offer analytic techniques to minimize the repercussions on economic growth, and optimize outcomes. This should include a range of outcomes , such as: (4a) network effects; (4b) regional growth; (4c) distribution of income; (4d) access and connectivity; (4e) social and environmental sustainability; and 4f) other measures; and (5) New data and modeling techniques needed to assess disinvestment impacts, including strategies and tools to integrate economic analysis with asset management, risk analysis, long range planning, and programming. Information will be gathered through a literature review and a survey of state transportation agencies, which may identify local agencies that have assessed disinvestments. The survey will go to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Subcommittee on Transportation Finance Policy (chaired by Michael Bridges). The report will include at least 6 case examples across various modes (including multi-modal) from state departments of transportation (DOTs) and regional agencies.


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 20-05, Topic

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590

    American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials

    444 North Capitol Street, NW, Suite 225
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Synthesis

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC    20001
  • Project Managers:

    Williams, Jon

  • Performing Organizations:

    Economic Development Research Group, Incorporated

    Boston, MA  United States 
  • Principal Investigators:

    Duncan, Chandler

  • Start Date: 20131102
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 0
  • Source Data: RiP Project 37746

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01545071
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 20-05, Topic
  • Files: TRB, RiP
  • Created Date: Nov 25 2014 1:01AM