RELEASE: New CAP Briefs Reveal Costly, Unnecessary ‘White Elephant’ Transportation Projects, Highlight Lack of Accountability With Federal Transportation Funds

Washington, D.C. — Three new briefs from the Center for American Progress analyze three infrastructure projects—or “white elephants”—that epitomize the worst of the United States’ current policy approach to infrastructure. With Congress undertaking only short-term highway bill extensions, the debate around transportation has focused very heavily on just funding—with not enough focus on policy, reform, or the outcomes and impacts of the money being spent. The briefs look at two projects in Florida and one in Wisconsin.

The first project CAP analyzed—located in Panama City, Florida—supports a parkway where there is little population growth, increase in driving growth, or economic development to support its construction. The second project, the West Bay Parkway—also near Panama City—again uses faulty population growth and congestion relief claims to support its construction. The third project, which would expand Wisconsin State Highway 23 in central Wisconsin, is based on unsubstantiated projections of population, economic, and travel demand growth. CAP’s analyses show how faulty rationalizations can be used to justify the spending of significant amounts of federal resources that could have been redirected to worthier projects or to support public transit.

“The most recent highway bill reauthorization doubles down on money for big highways but doesn’t include adequate oversight to ensure those funds are well spent. What these three snapshots demonstrate is that when money flows without accountability, bad, inefficient, or unnecessary projects advance,” said Kevin DeGood, Director of Infrastructure Policy at CAP. “These snapshots illustrate why more money should be distributed on a competitive basis—where project sponsors must demonstrate value—and that states that build costly projects that underperform should receive less formula money in the future.”

Click here to read “White Elephant Watch: Vol. 1: Gulf Coast Parkway, Bay County, Florida” by Kevin DeGood.

Click here to read “White Elephant Watch: Vol. 2: West Bay Parkway, Bay County, Florida” by Kevin DeGood.

Click here to read”White Elephant Watch: Vol. 3: Wisconsin State Highway 23″ by Kevin DeGood.

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, contact Allison Preiss at or 202.478.6331.