AASHTO Stimulus Report Omits Jobs Data Comparing Transit With Roads

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the trade group representing state DOTs in Washington, yesterday unveiled a website and report billed as a one-year "progress report" on the White House's $34.3 billion in formula-based transportation stimulus spending.

cityroom_20090914_ahill_85420_Mino_large.png(Photo: WBEZ)
AASHTO's report, citing data furnished to Congress, noted that 77 percent of the stimulus' formula money has been spent on contracts "out to bid" and estimated that 280,000 "highway and transit jobs" were directly created by the transportation spending.

Interestingly, the group's chart [PDF] 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. 

"Although transportation received only 6 percent of total [stimulus] funding, it represents more than 24 percent of the jobs created by the Act so far," AASHTO executive director John Horsley wrote in his introduction to the report.

But the group made no direct call for an end to the stalemate over long-term transportation policymaking, supporting only an end to the short-term extensions of the 2005 infrastructure law that have occupied Congress since the fall. With the political climate crying out for a deal on transport financing that can drive broad reform of the existing, bloated system, AASHTO's priorities appear squarely in favor of ... maintaining that system.

From its report (emphasis mine):

[S]tates are hopeful that Congress will turn its attention away from temporary funding streams and toward the longer-term solutions that are desperately needed. Even with the stimulus, states have barely been able to keep up with continually rising traffic demand, and no one expects the country to lose population or see a reduction in vehicle miles traveled any time soon.