With limited funding and an increased emphasis on fiscal accountability and information transparency, transportation improvements are being analyzed to show that they provide the best ‘bang for the buck’. The Texas Legislature, in fact, called for such an approach in approving the state budget in 2011, requiring that highway projects have the greatest possible impact on a combination of factors, including safety, pavement quality, and economic benefits, in addition to addressing congestion.
This research effort demonstrates how data from several sources can be layered, so that decisions ensure the best use of available resources. Researchers examined data that illustrated congestion levels, crash frequency, pavement quality, bridge quality, and freight value to create the TOSTADA (TOol using STAcked DAta). A roadway safety project, for example, may also provide improvements in congestion, bridge and pavement conditions and value of freight moved.
The stacked data analysis can provide for more comprehensive information for public engagement, improve the understanding of the relationship between transportation costs and benefits and lead to better project comparison and selection processes.