This project was initiated as an NCHRP 20-24 project to develop an approach for estimating the economic and employment benefits of highway investments during economic downturns and recoveries. The NCHRP Project 20-24 panel envisioned the research would entail (a) review of the literature and expert opinion on the economic impact of spending for transportation and other infrastructure projects, (b) consideration of data being reported or that might be collected on employment and other economic consequences of projects developed with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 funds, (c) specification of analysis methodology that may be used to analyze these data and the uncertainties associated with the analysis, and (d) assessment of the degree to which analysis will yield robust and reliable results to inform public policy discussions.
Because the issues inherent in the project are larger than the specific case of ARRA and bears on matters of the extent of knowledge regarding impact of transportation investment on regional and national economies, the study was conducted under the usual procudres of the National Research Council, with additinal funding provided from internal sources, by a committee of experts appointed under those procedures. The project was conducted to provide information useful to state and federal transportation administrators, as well as to Congress and administration officials, who might consider an economic stimulus program in response to an economic downturn. The committee held its initial meeting in October 2011. The committee's report was published in 2014 as TRB Special Report 312 Transportation Investments in Response to Economic Downturns.