Moving the goods: Performance measures and the value proposition for transportation projects

Joseph Schofer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper addresses the challenges of implementing transportation projects and policies. Despite advances in data, analysis tools, and technologies, the difficulty of making the case remains for transportation actions where the values of those actions are perceived by key stakeholders as less than commensurate with the costs that they are asked to pay. This perceived inequity occurs when citizens who bear the impacts of transportation actions are not the beneficiaries, when the benefits are characterized in aggregate, and when projects do not appear to be salient to the majority of stakeholders. In such cases, there is a need to construct a more explicit value proposition, a statement of promised results that fosters belief on the part of stakeholders. Promised results should be presented in credible forecasts of outcomes from actions that improve transportation performance. They should be described in terms that are specific enough to address the what's-in-it-for-me question. And they should be built on agency credibility earned by a record of delivering results. Freight projects are particularly difficult to advance because the economic and social benefits of freight performance are largely invisible to citizens, underscoring the need to make the value proposition for freight project outcomes relevant to individuals and communities. The relationships between transportation investments and their outcomes, the quality of forecasting tools, and the credibility of transportation agencies can be advanced through systematic, balanced, post-project audits (including before-after evaluations) to learn and to demonstrate the actualized value of transportation projects and policies. These ideas are entirely consistent with, and supportive of, the concepts of performance-based management advanced under MAP-21.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-11
Number of pages7
JournalTransportation Research Record
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering


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