Road Builders quantify transportation construction scale, net economic activity

In “The 2015 U.S. Transportation Construction Industry Profile,” American Road and Transportation Builders Association Chief Economist Dr. Alison Premo Black estimates the value of public and private transportation construction and maintenance work at upwards of $275 billion, an investment generating nearly $510 billion in annual economic activity or 1.6 percent of the GDP.


Transportation construction and maintenance ranks larger than U.S. industry sectors such as wireless communications carriers ($254 billion); food and beverage stores ($222.5 billion); insurance agencies and brokers ($219.5 billion); nursing care facilities ($171.1 billion); aircraft manufacturing ($158.3 billion); and, automobile manufacturing ($131.4 billion). To put the ARTBA figure in context, U.S. transportation construction is larger than the annual GDP of 160 nations ranked by the International Monetary Fund.

The association has posted a PDF of the report at a new site,

Dr. Black’s analysis of federal government data also shows how transportation construction and maintenance supports upwards of four million full-time jobs, which generate $155 billion-plus in direct and induced wages—coupled with $10.9 billion in federal payroll tax receipts—while contributing an estimated $17.5 billion each year in state and local income, corporate and payroll tax revenueWithout the infrastructure built, maintained and managed by the nation’s transportation construction industry, virtually all of the major industry sectors that comprise the U.S. economy—and the jobs they sustain—would not exist or could not efficiently and profitably function. “The simple fact is that nearly 63 million American jobs in just tourism, manufacturing, transportation and warehousing, agriculture and forestry, general construction, mining, retailing and wholesaling alone are dependent on the work done by the U.S. transportation construction industry,” affirms Dr. Black.

Among major challenges that threaten the overall efficiency of the nation’s transportation network, she cites a) a U.S. Department of Transportation-pegged  $877 billion highway and bridge construction project backlog; and, b) an August Texas Transportation Institute-INRIX “Urban Mobility Scorecard” finding that traffic congestion has returned to pre-recession levels, causing drivers to waste more than three billion gallons of fuel, or $960 per commuter, and keeping travelers stuck in their cars for nearly seven billion extra hours.

Growth in vehicle miles traveled, nearly doubling between 1980 and 2013, and traffic congestion increases are clearly tied to the improving U.S. economy and creation of new jobs, notes Dr. Black, stipulating: “These trends also underscore once again the importance of having a comprehensive national strategy that significantly boosts transportation investment to address predictable mobility challenges. Congress must do its part this fall by completing action on a long-term highway and transit bill.”