Skip to content U.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Highway AdministrationU.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Highway Administration
Skip to content

Easier-to-use tools for improved economic analysis

Economic Analysis Tools (C03/C11)

Challenge

Strengthening the economic vitality of a region (jobs and income) is one of the primary reasons for investing in highway capacity. Governments and taxpayers need to know whether a region will be better off economically as a result of proposed transportation investment. Current tools for estimating economic impacts of highway capacity projects are often complex and their outcomes can be difficult to explain to decision makers and the public. Planners need estimation methods that are more transparent and that provide a more complete understanding of the economic impacts of highway projects.

Solution

The Bundle: Transportation Project Impact Case Studies (C03); and Tools for Assessing Wider Economic Benefits of Transportation (C11)

The SHRP2 C03-Transportation Project Impact Case Studies and C11-Tools for Assessing Wider Economic Benefits of Transportation, are two products culminated in a new bundle of economic analysis tools including web-based sketch planning tools, statistical models, case studies, and a practitioners’ handbook. This product bundle helps planners make broader-based, more realistic assessments of the wider economic impacts of highway capacity projects, which in turn leads to better decisions, more prudent investments, and – ultimately – a more robust economy at the local, regional, and national levels. These products were bundled together because of their technical and subject-matter commonalities as a result of an executive review committee consisting of AASHTO and FHWA leaders.

Transportation Project Impact Case Studies (C03)

Transportation Project Impact Case Studies (T-PICS) is a web tool that planners can use to quickly see the range of economic development impacts that occur as a result of different types of projects in different settings. T-PICS includes 100 detailed case studies of already-built highway capacity projects and their economic development impacts. Each case study includes pre- and post-project economic and land development data and local interviews that together portray the actual, observed economic development impacts of those projects, as measured at least five years after project completion. T-PICS results can help refine public debate about highway projects by establishing boundaries of the likely positive and negative impacts that typically occur from such projects. Understanding what changes in productivity result from improvements in market accessibility, intermodal connectivity, scheduling, logistics, and international competitiveness helps communities and transportation agencies identify transportation options to meet their goals.

Tools for Assessing Wider Economic Benefits of Transportation (C11)

SHRP2 has also developed a suite of new spreadsheet-based analysis tools that will provide the range of reasonable economic impact expectations for a proposed highway project. The new tools also enable a wider economic analysis by integrating four components: travel time reliability, connectivity to intermodal facilities for freight and passengers, access to labor and product markets, and an accounting tool that integrates the other three components and creates benchmarks to the local area. By considering net effects, SHRP2 tools provide decision makers with better information for answering the question of whether a region will be economically better off because of a transportation investment, and if so, by how much. The outcome of this process describes the project’s ultimate economic impact in terms of direct effect, total local effect, and total national effect.

Benefits

Highway capacity improvements can support economic vitality by providing better access to markets and the labor force, saving time and money otherwise spent as a result of traffic delays, improving safety, reducing pollution, and supporting a higher quality of life. The question is: Which improvements actually make a difference and how do we make accurate projections about that? Better understanding how changes in productivity, such as improvements in market accessibility, intermodal connectivity, scheduling, logistics, and international competiveness, help identify transportation options that meet community goals.

In the Field

State Project Description Activity Contact
California Implementation Assistance Program – Awarded to the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) to implement Tools for Assessing Wider Economic Benefits of Transportation (C11). Caltrans is currently developing the California Freight Mobility Plan (CFMP), and is using the best practices in this bundle to assess the effectiveness in measuring the economic impacts from freight projects. This bundle will also provide policy and decision makers with the means to assess and prioritize freight projects by type and mode and lead to a more comprehensive CFMP. Lead Adopter - Tools for Assessing Wider Economic Benefits of Transportation (C11) Barry Padilla
barry.padilla@dot.ca.gov
Connecticut Implementation Assistance Program – Awarded to the Connecticut Department of Transportation (ConnDOT) to implement Tools for Assessing Wider Economic Benefits of Transportation (C11). ConnDOT is using the best practices of the C11 tool to explore the economic impacts of transportation investments as part of its long-range strategic plan, TransformCT, and to develop staff resources to conduct economic analyses in the future. The C11 tool is also being used for the prioritization stage of the planning process. Lead Adopter - Tools for Assessing Wider Economic Benefits of Transportation (C11) Stephanie Molden
stephanie.molden@ct.gov
Illinois Implementation Assistance Program – Awarded to the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) to implement Transportation Project Impact Case Studies (T-PICS) (C03). IDOT will integrate economic analysis into its policy and planning procedures. They will use their experience with T-PICS to facilitate the ongoing use of economic analysis in transportation planning, document its usefulness, and reach out to communities and IDOT staff. User Incentive - Transportation Project Impact Case Studies (C03) Bola Delano
bola.delano@illinois.gov
Indiana Implementation Assistance Program – Awarded to the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) to implement Transportation Project Impact Case Studies (C03). INDOT is using the C03 tool to assess policies, evaluate the impacts of intermodal facilities, analyze different types of transportation facilities, pre-screen alternatives, and to communicate results with elected officials, the general public, and stakeholders. User Incentive - Transportation Project Impact Case Studies (C03) Emmanuel Nsonwu
ensonwu@indot.in.gov
Indiana Implementation Assistance Program – Awarded to the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) to implement Transportation Project Impact Case Studies (C03). INDOT will evaluate the tools from this bundle to assess whether they can provide consistent results across multiple project types for extended project screen capabilities; apples-to-apples comparisons; and region-specific output. Lead Adopter - Tools for Assessing Wider Economic Benefits of Transportation (C11) Emmanuel Nsonwu
ensonwu@indot.in.gov
Massachusetts Implementation Assistance Program – Awarded to the Southeastern Regional Planning and Economic Development District (SRPEDD) to implement Tools for Assessing Wider Economic Benefits of Transportation (C11). SRPEDD is responsible for transportation, land use, and economic development. They will use the C11 tools to examine wider, productivity-related economic impacts of specific changes in transportation conditions. SRPEDD will examine economic impacts driven by positive local changes in travel time reliability, intermodal connectivity, and market accessibility, along with congestion, safety, and mobility improvements associated with projects in this small MPO. Lead Adopter - Tools for Assessing Wider Economic Benefits of Transportation (C11) Stephen C. Smith
ssmith@srpedd.org
Rhode Island Implementation Assistance Program – Awarded to the Rhode Island Statewide Planning Program (RISPP) to implement Transportation Project Impact Case Studies (C03). The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) will work with RISPP (the State’s only MPO) to use the C03 tool for early-stage screening of in the development of the Rhode Island State Freight and Goods Movement Plan. By estimating the economic impacts of projects proposed through the plan, the tools will provide the State with the information needed to develop the State’s Transportation Improvement Program. User Incentive - Transportation Project Impact Case Studies (C03) Chris Witt
chris.witt@doa.ri.gov
Rhode Island Implementation Assistance Program – Awarded to the Rhode Island Statewide Planning Program (RISPP) to implement Tools for Assessing Wider Economic Benefits of Transportation (C11). RISPP will work with the Rhode Island Department of Transportation to use the C11 tools for the development of the Rhode Island State Freight and Goods Movement Plan in order to estimate the economic impacts of projects proposed through the plan. In the long term, the tools will also be applied more broadly during the development of the State’s Transportation Improvement Program. Lead Adopter - Tools for Assessing Wider Economic Benefits of Transportation (C11) Chris Witt
chris.witt@doa.ri.gov
Utah Implementation Assistance Program – Awarded to the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) to implement Transportation Project Impact Case Studies (C03). UDOT will utilize the tool to analyze different transportation modes within the I-15 Corridor. This is helping with the evaluation of a preferred integration solution set for the corridor and with the development of the Department’s performance-based planning process. User Incentive - Transportation Project Impact Case Studies (C03) Jeff Harris
jeffharris@utah.gov
Utah Implementation Assistance Program – Awarded to the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) to implement Tools for Assessing Wider Economic Benefits of Transportation (C11). UDOT will use the C11 tool to evaluate the reliability and accessibility benefits of different strategies along the Pioneer/I-15 Corridor. This will evaluate a preferred “solution set” for the corridor and to develop UDOT’s performance-based planning process. Lead Adopter - Tools for Assessing Wider Economic Benefits of Transportation (C11) Jeff Harris
jeffharris@utah.gov
Virginia Implementation Assistance Program – Awarded to the Virginia Center for Transportation Innovation and Research (VCTIR) to implement Tools for Assessing Wider Economic Benefits of Transportation (C11). VTCIR will use the C11 tool to review two recently completed Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) projects, as well as to analyze the benefits of two ITS projects planned for I-64. They will use the tool during the planning/prioritization phases, as well as to support the reporting requirements of recent State legislation and to communicate results to partner agencies. Lead Adopter - Tools for Assessing Wider Economic Benefits of Transportation (C11) Paul Szatkowski
paul.szatkowski@vdot.virginia.gov
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000