Fresh flowers and lettuce in the depth of winter, firefighters on site at a burning house within minutes, a weekend visit with family in a distant city, a cornucopia of choices of new cars and cell phones manufactured in many places, access to top quality medical care and recreation destinations: These are a few of the many benefits of multimodal transportation investments that provide employment, opportunity, and enjoyment to millions of Americans on a scale far beyond what was available to previous generations. Few people would fail to agree, upon reflection, that mobility of people and freight, access to resources and markets, and the free flow of goods and services are fundamental and essential to our economic and social activity and wellbeing.
The various benefits of transportation investment are, however, often difficult to measure and not immediately apparent. The benefits are enjoyed by many people over the course of years and decades after each investment is initially made by a few government agencies and private firms. Keeping pace with changes of population, economic demand and production processes, technology, and societal values and priorities—as well as aging, wear and tear of the transportation infrastructure—require continuing investment. Consequently, most Americans are unaware of the degree to which our economic prosperity, community vitality, and personal wellbeing depend on the services multimodal transportation investments deliver and the reliance of these benefits on continued investment.
The study was undertaken at the request of AASHTO leadership, to develop (A) several themes that AASHTO can use to increase awareness of the role transportation plays in ensuring a robust economy and a high quality of life, and (B) a practical communication plan based on these themes for AASHTO’s use in communicating about the role transportation plays in ensuring a robust economy and a high quality of life. The project report, presenting the themes and communication plan, were provided to AASHTO for that organization's use.