Modern Project Prioritization For Transportation Investments

Project ID: CTEDD 019-19

Author(s): David Noyce, University of Wisconsin – Madison

Co-Author(s): Chris McCahill, University of Wisconsin – Madison; Eric Sundquist, University of Wisconsin – Madison

CTEDD Funding Year: 2019 General RFP

Project Status: Complete

UTC Funding: $84,969

End Date: December 31, 2020

Historically, transportation agencies’ main priority has been to fund, build and expand highways to safely meet the growing demand for vehicle travel. Their project prioritization processes, therefore, have focused primarily on improving capacity along the most congested major routes. Many of these agencies, however, have experienced a shift in priorities toward the maintenance of existing infrastructure, the facilitation of multi-modal transportation, and the operations and management of existing infrastructure—applications that can be more challenging to fund.

This study aims to advance the practice of modern project prioritization among transportation agencies. By working closely with state DOTs and MPOs, we will identify emerging needs and constraints related to how agencies allocate limited transportation funds and gain a better understanding of how different agencies currently allocate funds. We will then survey existing best practices, referring both to current practice and academic literature, and recommend guidelines for modern project prioritization and specific performance measures that rely on readily available data.

A major focus of this work will be to facilitate major shifts taking place within the industry, such as the movement away from capacity-building toward accessibility, operations and state of good repair. This study fills a critical need among the largest and most influential stewards of our transportation system—charged not only with meeting the public’s transportation needs, but also supporting economic development, health, livability and environmental justice—by providing tools and guidelines for making more informed and cost-effective decisions and investments.