BTS Helping Local Communities Make Informed Decisions
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), was signed into law on November 15, 2021. The BIL’s $1.2 trillion investment in the Nation’s infrastructure was intended to rebuild America’s roads, bridges, and rails; upgrade and expand public transit; modernize the Nation’s ports and airports; improve safety; address the climate crisis; advance environmental justice; and invest in communities that have too often been left behind. With the intent to drive job creation and to grow the economy sustainably and equitably, the BIL assigns the Department of Transportation (DOT)’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) with the mission to provide a work plan to support local decision-makers.
IIJA Section 25003, titled "Federal support for local decision-making," requires BTS to determine the data and analysis tools that would assist planning and infrastructure decision-making officials in units of local government, and to develop a work plan for the Federal Government to enable local communities to access the necessary data and analyses tools to make their infrastructure investment decisions. To implement the Work Plan, BIL Section 25004 authorizes appropriation of $10,000,000 for each fiscal year 2022-2026.
After listening to 385 local decision makers in 18 listening sessions in 2022, local decision-makers prioritized the following needs to be provided by the Federal Government:
- Providing Data-focused technical assistance—ranging from basic assistance on data collection and project development to understanding the correct data and tools to use for different decision-making goals;
- Developing Complete, timely, and granular benchmark data to tell the stories of their communities, to inform planning and infrastructure investment decisions, and to measure and deliver better investment outcomes; and
- Continuing tool refinements to keep pace with technology advancements and mounting decision-making priorities.
On July 30, 2023, the Secretary of DOT approved the work plan which highlights the following recommendations for data and tools to support local decision makers as they look to improve upon:
1. Asset Management, including: maintenance, rebuilding infrastructure to a state of good repair, and strengthening resilience. Data and tools to support programs include:
- Local Asset Condition and Performance Program
- Road Network and Equipment Program
- GIS and LIDAR Development and Training Program
2. Economic Impact and Development that drives new infrastructure development and the data local decision-makers identified to grow an inclusive, sustainable, and competitive economy. Tools and data available include:
- Transportation Benchmarking Data Program
- Environmental Life Cycle Assessment and Training Program
3. Freight and Supply Chains that establish freight plans and accompanying infrastructure that connect the community to supply chains with data local decision-makers identified to establish their freight plans and infrastructure for more resilient and reliable supply chains. Programs include:
- Commodity Flow Survey + eCommerce
- Estimates of Middle- and Last-miles
- National Multi-modal Freight Network Analysis Program
- Freight Community Data exchange/sharing
4. Transportation equity with a focus on increasing options for communities to improve access to jobs, affordable housing, schools, medical services, foods, and other essential community services. Data includes:
- Transportation Equity Data Initiative
- Data and Tools on Land Use, Access, and Travel Demand
- Equity Investment and Performance Evaluation
- Active Transportation, Transit, and Shared Mobility Data
Going forward, BTS will continue collaborating with local decision-makers on advancing the work plan implementation. BTS identified elements of the work plans that can be implemented faster and more easily, to help local communities jumpstart the process. BTS has already begun follow-up coordination sessions to focus on:
- Further refining work plan recommendations and prioritizing implementation of workplan identified data and analyses tools;
- Participating at various 2023-2024 technical and strategic sessions to explore effective ways for work plan implementation; and
- Develop scope and proposals for the prioritized data and tools recommended in the workplan.