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February 11, 2011

Linking Transportation Investment with Economic Growth

On January 21, 2011, the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) released a report, "Strengthening Connections Between Transportation Investments and Economic Growth." It is a product of the BPC's National Transportation Policy Project, a group of experts and business and civic leaders working to "create a dynamic and enduring vision for the future of federal surface transportation policy." The report is a guide for the 112th Congress in charting "a national direction to address critical infrastructure needs while generating real job benefits." Given that not all transportation infrastructure investments create the same amounts of jobs and economic, the short- and long-term benefits of such investments are important to analyze and address.

The report focuses on three issues:

  • The need to focus on returns from public investments.
  • Job creation and public investment in the current policy context.
  • The "multiplier" as a method for estimating job impacts.

The report recommends the following policy changes:

  • Borrowed funds should not be put into existing channels for transportation spending in an effort to increase short-term employment.
  • Funding for transportation infrastructure that is intended to create jobs should focus on investments that are "shovel-ready" and provide long-term benefits.
  • Federal transportation policy should be flexible on the "how" while being specific about outcomes.