|Economic analysis plays a critical role in Transportation Asset Management, providing information that allows planners and engineers to identify the most beneficial of competing investment alternatives.|
Transportation Asset Management (TAM) is a strategic approach to maximize the benefits from resources used to operate, expand, and preserve the transportation infrastructure. It takes a long-term perspective of infrastructure performance and cost, and considers investment options in a comprehensive and informed way. TAM integrates the various disciplines related to infrastructure management, including planning, engineering, economics, and budgeting. It is systematic and fact based, and therefore dependent on good information and analytical capabilities. Economic analysis plays a critical role in TAM by facilitating tradeoff analysis, in which the net benefits of competing investment options are compared in terms of their "dollars and cents" impact on the public. Information from the analysis feeds back to planners and engineers, allowing them to identify the most beneficial investments.
New York State has long recognized the need for a comprehensive approach to infrastructure management that incorporates economic principles. The State has used economic analysis methods in some form for more than 40 years. More recently, the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) developed the foundations for a TAM system, including a prototype model to assess program-level tradeoffs among its pavements, bridges, safety, and mobility goal areas.
Accordingly, the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA's) Office of Asset Management has selected NYSDOT as a case study for applications of economic tradeoff analysis in transportation decision making. NYSDOT personnel represent an important national resource of expertise and practical experience in this area. They have also produced significant documentation of NYSDOT's progress in developing economic analysis tools. The following case study summarizes this experience, highlighting both the challenges and the promise of the successful implementation of economic analysis methods in TAM.