State transportation agencies, like other public and private organizations, have struggled with limited workforce capacity. DOT leaders have long been concerned about staffing shortages and their ability to retain quality employees, especially in response to increased funding provided by the IIJA. A new study crystalizes that concern, finding that the staffing issues faced by DOTs may be costing states in the long run by driving up the price tag on highway projects. Investing in more and higher-quality staff can help avoid delays and associated cost increases.
As with many organizations, the COVID pandemic prompted state transportation agencies across the country to embrace greater flexibility in where, when, and how employees work. For large organizations with diverse staff—from road maintenance crews to administrative support—the transition presents many challenges. A new NCHRP report outlines how several agencies have approached those challenges and offers guidance for those still trying to find their way.
Research from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) finds that strategies such as providing parking cash-outs, offering commuter benefits, and eliminating subsidized parking could drastically reduce commute VMT in cities. The study also concluded that the implementation of these strategies and the resulting decline in VMT could reduce congestion, emissions, and serious traffic crashes.
Safe, reliable, and frequent public transit matters. It matters for public health, it matters for our environment, and it matters for creating more equitable communities. Yet, transit agencies around the country are facing declining revenues and increasing uncertainty in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Transportation engineering is a highly skilled job. Not only does it require the obvious technical expertise, but it also requires working closely with the public, speaking their language, and knowing how to assess tough tradeoffs in meeting their needs. Most engineers only learn these skills on the job, which raises important questions about how the educational system can leave them better prepared.
From implementing federally funded projects to keeping highways clear of snow, state DOTs are in need of additional staff capacity and technical expertise to keep the country moving.
Transit continues to face challenges from low ridership and workforce shortages. Several places are successfully tackling these obstacles while offering key insights into their strategies and opportunities.
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is a more than $850 billion historic investment in support of state and local government work to increase access and safety while redressing inequities across the country. However, a recent article by Brookings contributors Ellory Monks and Shalini Vajjhala points out that the existing structure of federal and state grant application processes may inhibit the fair allocation of the funds.
A small but growing number of state DOTs are putting planned highway expansion projects on hold as they work to stretch their available funds and assess how to meet ambitious environmental goals. Certain environmental organizations, cities, and equity-focused advocates interested in rebuilding communities damaged by urban freeways are among those pressuring DOTs to change their long-standing practices.
Transcending Oil, released in April 2018, describes Hawaii’s path toward meeting its ambitious clean energy goals by 2045. The report was commissioned by Elemental Excelerator and prepared independently by Rhodium Group and Smart Growth America. It focuses mainly on transitioning the electrical grid to renewable energy while moving large numbers of vehicles to electric power but also points to the importance of managing overall travel demand through transportation policies and investments. This technical guide describes the methods and findings behind Transcending Oil’s travel demand forecasts, developed by SSTI and Smart Growth America.