Study shows transportation projects would grow economy

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Research conducted by a George Mason University professor shows that if 16 infrastructure mega-projects being considered by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) were in operation last year, they would have added $4.1 billion to Virginia’s economy and supported 56,798 additional jobs.

Stephen S. Fuller, director of the Center for Regional Analysis at GMU’s School of Public Policy, conducted the study, which was supported by a contract with the Virginia Secretary of Transportation. Fuller calculated the post-construction impact of 16 public-private partnership projects to Virginia’s economy, including the gross state products, workers’ personal earnings and job creation. The study showed that benefits generated by the projects would exceed costs and generate an additional $2.9 billion in new taxable earnings to Virginia’s income base.

“If the direct state costs of funding these highway improvements were 25 percent of total construction costs, with the remainder being paid for by toll collections, it would require less than two years of this additional economic growth to equal the State’s cost share of these [Public-Private Transportation Act] mega projects,” Fuller said in his report.

Fuller concluded that economic benefits for the projects would offset costs. Benefits for state businesses include lower transportation costs, lower prices, less spending on vehicle maintenance, reduced energy costs and higher worker productivity. Costs of the projects include tolls and loss of sales as individuals reduced spending to accommodate for tolls.

“This report recognizes that these types of investments not only impact our quality of life, reduce congestion and make Virginia more attractive to businesses looking to grow in the commonwealth, but they have a direct impact on out economy and support job growth in these times when Virginia needs it most,” Gov. Bob McDonnell said in a statement.

The 16 projects included projects currently under construction to those that haven’t entered official planning stages. They include: Route 495 HOT Lanes, I-95/395 HOT Lanes, Norfolk/Portsmouth Downtown/Midtown Tunnel, Coalfields Expressway, I-64 from Richmond to Hampton Roads, Hampton Roads Third Crossing, Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel, Route 460 Corridor Improvements, I-66 HOT Lanes, Southeast Parkway & Greenbelt, Route 17 – Dominion Boulevard, Route 895 – Airport Connector, Route 58, I-81, Route 73 and Route 28. 

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