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Analyzing AASHTO’s “Projects and Paychecks: a One-Year Report on State Transportation Successes under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act”

Cross posted from my website:

Streetsblog-Capitol Hill’s Elena Schor posted an interesting analysis a report titled Projects and Paychecks: a One Year Report on State Transportation Successes under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (and a website), released yesterday by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the trade group representing state DOTs in Washington.. The report is billed as a one-year “progress report” on the White House’s $34.3 billion in formula-based American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) a.k.a stimulus spending on transportation projects.

The comprehensive study finds that one year after its passage, state DOTs have set an amazing record of speed and efficienc:

  • 77 percent of the $34.3 billion provided for highways and transit out to bid on 12,250 transportation projects.
  • The 9,240 projects under construction total $20.6 billion.
  • One hundred-fifty of these projects are profiled on the companion website at: recovery.transportation.org.
  • As a result of the Recovery Act, 280,000 direct, on-project jobs have been created or sustained across the country.

An excerpt from Elena’s analysis:

Interestingly, the group’s chart [PDF shown below] showing state-by-state progress on transportation stimulus omits the estimates of jobs created by each category of spending — perhaps because a December analysis of those totals showed that transit was a more cost-effective employment generator than road projects.

Overall, the report attempts to make a case for more investment in infrastructure as part of a second round of job-creation legislation, using anecdotes from state DOT officials and local construction workers who claimed a steady paycheck thanks to the stimulus law.

The press release to mark the occasion has the following nugget, which I thought is very interesting: ”With bids running as low as 30 percent below estimates, the study finds that states stretched federal dollars even further, creating more jobs and more miles of improvements. California, Georgia, and Texas awarded more than 90 percent of their highway contracts below original cost estimates.

The report, which includes data from the states, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and the Federal Highway Administration, also found an impressive list of completed projects. As of January 7, 2010, 1,125 bridges had been improved or replaced, 21,400 miles of pavement had been resurfaced or widened, and 1,700 safety traffic management projects had been put into place.”

Making the case for more Transportation investment: “Projects and Paychecks proves just how big a role stimulus is playing to keep Americans working,” said John Horsley, AASHTO executive director. “In January, state DOTs identified more than 9,800 additional ‘ready-to-go’ projects worth $79 billion. Congress needs to move quickly to pass another Jobs Bill. This study proves transportation projects can deliver hundreds of thousands of jobs for America,” Horsley said.

Click here to access the website or here to download the report.


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Keith Moore

Its way too late at this hour to concentrate on such valuable information, but I look forward to reviewing this with a nice cup of coffee in the am.

Thanks so much for your interest in sharing information.


Here is a blog post from the Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood on this report: http://fastlane.dot.gov/2010/02/one-year-later-recovery-act-paying-dividends-and-paving-way-for-the-future.html

If you have an interest in Transportation, I sincerely recommend that you follow Sec. LaHood’s blog and Facebook/Twitter feeds. He and his staff have fully embraced Social Media and use it well to propagate the DOT’s initiatives on a whole host of transportation problems facing our communities.

Darrel W. Cole

With a report like this, with all the data available, there is more than one way to present it. However, from a messaging point of view, you have to be focused in what you present, for consistency sake, and, simply, stick with it. It’s not wrong or bad that some other analysis comes up with different takes. It’s just another way of looking at data. From a purely PR perspective, how they are presenting the information makes a lot of sense and gets their message across that investment in transportation — all transportation — creates/sustains jobs and is making a difference.