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The National Academies

NCHRP 20-24(62) [Completed]

Communication Strategies To Increase Understanding of Funding and Revenue Needs for the Nation’s Transportation System
[ NCHRP 20-24 (Administration of Highway and Transportation Agencies) ]

  Project Data
Funds: $362,785
Research Agency: PB Consult, Inc., with Maslansky Luntz + partners
Principal Investigator: Wayne McDaniel
Effective Date: 10/8/2008
Completion Date: 6/30/2010
Comments: This project was part of the initial NCHRP 20-24A task-order procurement.

Federal and state transportation agencies and the public face critical decisions about future funding for our Nation’s transportation systems. Discussion focused largely on the cost to users often does not fully capture either the benefits of the system or the consequences of underinvestment. In notable instances, state departments of transportation (DOTs) or other public sector agencies  conducted successful campaigns to raise public awareness of strategic transportation issues that resulted in voter support for new fundiing mechanisms, increased taxes, or other support for transportation.   Examples include the Utah Litter Campaign, the Washington DOT Nickel Tax Increase, the Colorado Transportation Expansion Project, (T-Rex) and New Mexico’s GRIP (Governor Richardson’s Improvement Program).

The objectives of this research were to identify and describe the essential characteristics of marketing campaigns and outreach efforts that have enhanced public and key stakeholder support for transportation projects and programs, and to document case studies to assist DOT executive leaders to create new efforts to reach key stakeholders and secure support for continued and additional revenue.  The  research sought to identify key social, political, or other  factors influencing the success of such campaigns and outreach efforts.

The research team conducted interviews with key policy makers in selected state agencies to explore how actions at the executive leadership level can build positive awareness for national and local transportation systems and enhance public support for sustained and increased transportation funding.  Building on these interviews, the team undertook to describe the essential characteristics of “outreach,” “education,” and “marketing,” the advantages and limitations of each activity, and situations for which each activity is well or poorly suited as a means for building positive awareness for national and local transportation systems and enhancing public support for sustained and increased transportation funding.  The product is effectively guidance for senior executive leadership, presenting information on successful outreach, education, and marketing efforts and case studies; key lessons learned about factors influencing the success of such efforts; and advice from experiences of policy makers interviewed in this project.

Products: The research team's final report of the first-phase work was delivered to AASHTO and may be viewed on that organization's web site by clicking here. (3 Mb PDF file)  A second-phase effort explored additional cases and the language that stakeholders respond to in discussions of the vallue of funding transportation infrastructure.  The report of that work is presented in two volumes and a short summary that may be downloaded from the AASHTO web site by clicking here.

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