The American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) harnessed “Big Data” to step up the highway/transit bill grassroots advocacy game this week.
With the House of Representatives facing an Oct. 29 deadline to reauthorize funding for federal highway and transit program investments, ARTBA sent nearly 6,000 association members a “grassroots action alert” to collar their representative while they are home during recess.
But, in ARTBA’s case, it wasn’t just the usual “call your congressman” message.
The association emailed their members a data rich, customized, two-page profile that quantifies just how important federal highway and transit funding is to their representative’s district. And they’ve asked association members to give the profile to their representative with the message to “fix the Highway Trust Fund and pass a long-term highway and transit program reauthorization bill this year.”
“We’ve analyzed and disaggregated multiple, large-scale federal data banks to paint the district situation for every member of Congress and show them what’s at stake,” ARTBA President & CEO Pete Ruane said. “It hasn’t been done before for this program at this level of detail.”
Ruane noted ARTBA has at least one member in all 435 congressional districts.
To create the profiles, ARTBA matched data from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Fiscal Management Information System, Highway Performance Monitoring System, National Transit Data Base, National Bridge Inventory, Fatality Analysis Reporting System, and U.S. Commerce Department and Census Bureau with ZIP code and county data for each congressional district.
Each profile details, for the first time in one place:
- The employment and wages supported by highway and transit investment in the district;
- How much federal highway funding the district has received over the past 10 years, how many road and bridge projects it supported and what the “Top 10” projects were;
- The National Highway System mileage based in the district and how many miles have been rated in “fair” or “poor” by the state transportation department;
- The number of bridges in the district and how many are rated as “structurally deficient” or “functionally obsolete;” and
- The number of motor vehicle crashes and resulting fatalities that occurred in the district during 2013.
The profile also shows the federal share of the state’s overall annual capital investment in roads, bridges and public transportation. And it breaks down how the state allocates its federal highway funding between capital outlays for construction and safety, planning and research, bike and pedestrian walkways and other transportation-related programs.
A sample congressional district profile can be seen here.