SALT LAKE CITY -- Improving transportation infrastructure for Utah's 2.8 million residents does not come without a price tag -- a $54.7 billion bill, to be exact.
But according to a recent study, that price pales in comparison to the potential economic benefits of investing in Utah's Unified Transportation Plan -- a proposed 30-year plan for roads, transit and other modes meant to meet the needs of a population estimated to grow by 60 percent in the same time.
The Salt Lake Chamber and the newly formed Utah Transportation Coalition on Monday released the results of this study -- conducted by Economic Development Research Group of Boston -- which Salt Lake Chamber President Lane Beattie said has made Utah "a transportation icon of our nation."
The continued expansion of Utah's transportation infrastructure has a direct impact on the quality of life of those in the Top of Utah, said Cory Pope, Utah Department of Transportation program development director.
"People need to have alternatives that can get them from one place to another efficiently," he said. "It's also important that we have a solid transportation infrastructure to facilitate economic growth."
Natalie Gochnour, the Salt Lake Chamber's chief economist, said the study more thoroughly evaluated the economic impact of implementing the transportation plan than most other similar studies.
The study measured the impact of increased transportation efficiency, improved market access, increased business attraction and construction spending impacts, she said.
As a result of Utah's strong economic standing, Gochnour said, the state is on track to generate an estimated $43.4 billion in revenue to put toward funding the plan, leaving another $11.3 billion of investment needed to implement it.
The study concluded that, if this $11.3 billion is invested over the next 30 years, it will result in 183,000 new jobs in that time.
"That is an important contribution to our economic health," Gochnour said of the impact of implementing the plan.
"If we invest, it will create jobs, income and business output for Utah."
The transportation coalition will work in the coming years to secure funding for the remaining $11.3 billion needed to implement the plan.
Coalition co-chairman David Golden hailed the study and ensuing transportation plan as the new "national model for transportation planning."
Beattie said, "This is absolutely the best transportation plan in the nation."