About this report

2014 Economic impacts
of congestion - summary

(1.9MB pdf)
2014 Economic impacts of congestion -
full report
(4.2MB pdf)

In 2005, the Portland Business Alliance, Port of Portland, Oregon Department of Transportation, METRO, and several other public and private sector partners completed a groundbreaking study titled, “The Cost of Congestion to the Economy of the Portland Region.” The study provided key information about the importance of investing in our transportation system, particularly roads and highways, as a critical part of our economy.

The study concluded that geography and past investments have made Portland-metro a sea and air gateway as well as a regional rail and highway hub. As a result, the region’s economic competitiveness is heavily dependent on an efficient and reliable transportation system. The 2005 study found that even with planned improvements, our transportation system would not keep pace with projected increases in freight and general traffic. Failing to adequately invest in our transportation system would result in a potential loss to the regional economy of $844 million annually by the year 2025 – that’s $782 per household per year – and 6,500 permanent jobs.

When completed in 2005, the study gained national recognition. As recently as July 2014, the White House issued a report titled “An Economic Analysis of Transportation Infrastructure Investment” which referenced the study’s findings and the impact of congestion to businesses.

As we have learned through other research, our region and state are uniquely trade dependent. Between 2004 and 2011, Oregon’s trade-related employment grew 7.5 times faster than total employment. In addition, about 90 percent of Oregon exporters are small- to medium-sized businesses. Today, it remains critical to our economy and our quality of life that we adequately invest in improvements that ensure an efficient and reliable transportation system.

This 2014 study provides a better understanding of how congestion and transportation barriers affect the entire state’s economic competitiveness.

It identifies the current economic foundation of the region and the state. It also shows our reliance on the state’s transportation system to move goods, ensure access to labor, and increase productivity, all of which impact revenues accruing to the state for vital public services. The study then compares two scenarios – a congested future based on no additional transportation revenues and an improved future that includes new financial resources. The result quantifies the benefit to the economy and to jobs due to increased investment.

Like the previous study, business interviews were conducted to gain better insight into how businesses are coping with transportation and congestion challenges. Travel models made available from four metropolitan planning organizations around the state, including Portland, mid-Willamette Valley, Bend and Corvallis, were used to show the results.

The study seeks to answer the following questions:

  • What are the impacts of highway congestion on the economic performance of Oregon and major metropolitan areas of the state?
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  • How has congestion affected business transportation decisions and operations in the state?
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  • How have the effects of congestion changed since the 2005 Cost of Congestion study?
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  • What are the effects of transportation investment on the state’s economy?

Congestion can affect a region’s economy by reducing its competitiveness resulting in significant impacts on employment and economic output.

This study was produced by the Economic Development Research Group, Inc., in partnership with the Portland Business Alliance, Associated Oregon Industries, Greater Portland Inc., METRO, Oregon Business Association, Oregon Business Council, Oregon Department of Transportation and Port of Portland.


$300 billion.

Value of all goods moved in Oregon on all modes of transportation in 2012.


Number of transportation-related and transportation-dependent jobs in Oregon in 2013.

36.9 million.

Total annual hours of travel time saved in Oregon if additional transportation investments are made. This equals 27 hours per household.


Oregon jobs generated as a result of additional transportation investments by 2040.

$928 million.

Additional Oregon annual economic output/ sales generated by businesses due to an improved transportation system by 2040.

$1.1 billion.

Annual income and non-monetary benefits of additional transportation investments to Oregon, or $788 per household, by year 2040.


The potential return for every $1 invested in the state’s transportation system.