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Transportation Asset Management Case Studies
Economics in Asset Management: The New York Experience

Was it Worth it?

Over the last decade, NYSDOT has made important strides in improving the condition and efficiency of its infrastructure. For instance:

  • Pavements rated in good or excellent condition were 68 percent in 2002, up from 54 percent in 1990. Less than 6 percent were categorized in poor condition in 2002, compared to more than 12 percent in 1990.
  • Deficient bridges have decreased from 37 percent in 1990 to 27 percent in 2003.
  • Fatal crashes have fallen from 1.4 per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 1990 to 1.0 per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2003.
  • Annual vehicle hours of delay for recurring and incident congestion on State highways fell from 225 million in 1991 to 197 million in 2000, even though vehicle miles traveled increased by 22 percent during the same period.
Economic analysis is contributing to a more dynamic and accountable decision-making process within NYSDOT. At the program and project levels, economic methods will play an essential and larger role within the TAM framework.

NYSDOT has not, however, completed a formal study of the specific contribution attributable to economic analysis techniques to this improved performance. The application of economic analysis to infrastructure investment decisions has developed gradually over time, making it difficult to define a before-and-after case study. In addition, it is problematical to separate the impact of economic analysis from important managerial and process reforms and higher funding levels introduced during the last 15 years. Finally, a significant innovation made by NYSDOT--the TAM Tradeoff Model--has not yet been incorporated into the decision-making process.

There is recognition within NYSDOT, however, that economic analysis is contributing to a more dynamic and accountable decision-making process. In May 2003, five years after the development of its "Blueprint," NYSDOT announced the adoption of TAM as the framework for managing all infrastructure investments. Economic methods at both the program and project levels will play an essential and larger role in this framework.

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Updated: 11/14/2012