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Helping governors save money and attract talent through a fresh approach to transportation

A new guide released today by Transportation for America shows governors and their administration how a fresh approach to transportation is fundamental to creating quality jobs and shared prosperity while running an efficient government that gets the greatest benefit from every taxpayer dollar.

With new governors set to take office in the new year and scores of incumbents returning and setting their agendas for 2017, it’s crucial that they consider how transportation can be a valuable tool for achieving their policy goals — whether producing savings in the budget, attracting and creating jobs, giving taxpayers greater benefit for each dollar, or building healthy and safe communities.

Transportation failures — whether excessive time that people or freight are stuck in traffic, decreasing air quality, flawed implementation of mega-projects, or the perceived and real inefficiencies of government bureaucracy — are a drag on the economy and quality of life for residents.

Many state departments of transportation just aren’t well calibrated to solve today’s challenges. Planning is isolated from development and other infrastructure decisions, state programs have a narrow focus on building highways to the exclusion of building unified, holistic systems, and the most efficient solutions are often overlooked in favor of overbuilt or ill-conceived mega-projects.

And above all, the recipe for successful local and regional economic development has changed significantly.

In the past, economic development was focused on recruiting and luring large employers and expecting new workers to follow the jobs. But younger workers are choosing where to live and then looking for jobs. Economic development now depends on building great places that draw and anchor talent. Quality of life, vibrant communities, and transportation choices are no longer simply nice add-ons, they are essential to economic growth and prosperity in communities large and small. And employers are making the same shift to stay competitive, seeking communities with these features precisely because they attract talented workers.

Yet the transportation policies and bureaucratic practices in so many states often fail to provide the infrastructure that helps build these kinds of places that businesses are now flocking too. Instead, many state agencies are continuing to offer transportation strategies more suited to solving yesterday’s problems. State policymakers need to change the focus of transportation spending in order to realize the full potential from these investments.

This new guide offers best practices to help state leaders achieve greater benefits and avoid costly pitfalls in their transportation programs, including several examples of states solving problems by instituting reforms within their transportation programs.

  • Virginia developed a new system to pick projects based on benefits and better communicate the benefits of each state investment.
  • Tennessee saved millions of dollars by right-sizing and reconsidering projects that had long been in their pipeline. One $65 million project became a $340,000 project, with nearly the same benefits.
  • Colorado built a new, multimodal corridor with tolled lanes and bus rapid transit to provide commute options.
  • California has launched a new, all-electric car share program in disadvantaged neighborhoods.

As new governors begin their terms and new legislatures are seated, it is a critical time to evaluate state transportation spending and how we can get greater benefits from these programs. The examples in this guide from around the country show how governors, administrations, and state DOTs have solved problems by reforming policies and practices. Download it today.

We can help states achieve these changes through tailored technical assistance and through START network policy support. Find out more and join this network today.


1 Comment

  1. Donald Jasmin

    8 years ago

    Dear Governor,

    I would like to recommend more or redirected transportation accessibility for all Floridians no matter where they reside in this great state. I am a Regional Mobility Transportation Manager for five counties, and I am discovering a lot of the disadvantaged, retired (medicare/medicaid), retired military and low income and unemployed citizens are not able to have quick access to transportation. Especially, those who found jobs in the urban area and live in the rural area. We need to assist all these good citizens find accessible public transportation!