Matching funds, general support important to DOTs

News AASHTO Journal February 11, 2005
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Public and political support of transportation projects is the deciding factor in project selection most often cited by state d

Public and political support of transportation projects is the deciding factor in project selection most often cited by state departments of transportation responding to a U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) survey.


A total of 43 state DOTs and 20 transit agencies responded to the GAO survey, which was included in a report titled Highway and Transit Investments: Options for Improving Information on Projects' Benefits and Costs and Increasing Accountability for Results. The results of the survey appeared in the report's Appendix II.


Among the notable survey findings were:


Most DOTs (25) placed "great importance" on having public and political support in making decisions to recommend a project among its various alternatives. Another nine used "very great importance" and the remainder replied that their justification required "moderate importance." Of the 20 transit agencies replying to the same question, nine said having "very great importance" was needed in recommending a project; eight rated "great importance" and three said "moderate importance."


Also, 40 of the DOTs replied they perform analyses of the costs and benefits in adding capacity while gauging proposed projects. Nineteen of the 20 transit agencies also conducted the same type of evaluations.


The availability of matching federal funds weighed considerably for DOTs and transit agencies and more so with the latter due to the reliance on New Starts grants from the Federal Transit Administration.


Out of the 43 DOTs that replied, 10 said that matching funds were of "moderate importance," another 15 indicated that factor was of "great importance" and eight placed "very great importance" on receiving such financial support. A combined nine DOTs replied that federal funding played "very little or no importance" or "little importance" in making these decisions.


Seven different transit agencies each placed "great" and "very great" importance on receiving federal transportation matching funds for their projects, while a combined five gave that kind of financial assurance "little" or "moderate" importance.


To view the report and survey, visit the GAO website (www.gao.gov). Select "Reports and Testimony" and browse by date for the Jan. 24, 2005, releases.


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