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Prospectus Blog Transportation Report Calls for Discipline and Focus

Transportation policy specialists at the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) have released a new report that offers guidance for future transportation spending. The report, “Strengthening Connections Between Transportation Investments and Economic Growth,” critiques the current thinking about the correlation between infrastructure investments and job creation. The report’s authors, Douglas Holtz-Eakin and Martin Wachs, provide suggestions on how the federal government should move forward.

“The future of transportation policy is central to economic policy. Despite what has long been argued, investments in transportation infrastructure are not guaranteed to create jobs and simultaneously grow the economy. We must ruthlessly focus on economic growth, immediately and in the future,” said Dr. Holtz-Eakin. “The need for investment is clear: our roads are deteriorating and our transportation systems are not equipped to handle increasing capacity. Still, we cannot devote additional dollars, much less borrowed dollars, to transportation programs that provide an uncertain number of jobs and no lasting economic benefit.”

The official release announcing the report (the full report can be accessed from the BPC’s National Transportation Policy Project site), summarizes three key suggestions for transportation planners:

  • “…no new funds (should) be allocated to existing transportation programs if they provide questionable job-creation, unclear long-term benefits or if the programs are solely an effort to increase short-term employment.”
  • “…investments should be directed to programs that are both “shovel-ready” and provide long-term benefits.”
  • “…federal transportation investments should not be constrained by the silos and restrictions that dominate the federal government’s existing surface transportation program.”

“Strengthening Connections Between Transportation Investments and Economic Growth” is the latest in thoughtful policy direction coming from the BPC’s National Transportation Policy Project. And it’s sure to stir debate and, hopefully, forward-thinking policy. In 2009, the group released its plan for reforming the nation’s surface transportation system. Former U.S. Senator and Discovery Institute board member Slade Gorton helped write the Project’s 2009 report, “Performance Driven: A New Vision for U.S. Transportation Policy,” and he and other leaders held the first national field forum in Seattle in August 2009 to unveil those recommendations.