The U.S. should look at the long-term economic benefits of transportation when making infrastructure investments, the two authors of a new Bipartisan Policy Center study said Friday.
Douglas Holtz-Eakin, president of the American Action Forum, and Martin Wachs, senior principal researcher with the RAND Corp., said that with the limited financial resources the country has for transportation investment, policy makers should look for the greatest economic returns for the transportation investment they make.
"We have to put economic growth at the center of our transportation thinking. That's an appropriate and necessary federal role," Holtz-Eakin said.
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It's common to see transportation infrastructure spending in terms of the number of construction jobs it creates, but Holtz-Eakin said, "It should be more than construction jobs. You have to have a richer vision of the way that transportation influences the economy, and we need to use our dollars wisely."
Wachs noted the profound changes in the economy that were the result of the Interstate highway system. "The true economic effects of the interstate highway system are enormous. It's more complex than the creation of jobs in the short term."
The report is part of the center's National Transportation Policy Project. A center official said the next report, which includes legislative recommendations, is expected to be finished in April.
The current report, "Strengthening Connections Between Transportation Investments and Economic Growth," is available online.
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