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Economic Development Impacts of Transportation Strategies

Sponsored by the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) through the Joint Transportation Research Program (JTRP)

Completed April 2019

A multi-year effort, this project produced three separate reports, summarized and accessible below.  Please contact the authors of those reports for more information.


EconWorks Tools for Assessing the Wider Economic Benefits of Transportation Implementation Assistance

The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) is undertaking efforts to assess the potential economic benefits associated with highway corridor improvements at the middle-stage planning level.  The primary objective of this research is to demonstrate and document the use of the EconWorks W.E.B. (wider economic benefits) tools for assessing the wider economic benefits (reliability, accessibility, and intermodal connectivity) of transportation projects in the State of Indiana.  A parallel analysis of selected projects using TREDIS was also conducted in order to compare the relative merit or synergies between the tools.

In the short term, the implementation of this study will consist of a set of training sessions for INDOT and MPOs.  These sessions will cover the theoretical background as well as demonstrate the use of the EconWorks W.E.B. tools.  In the long-term, INDOT plans to use the EconWorks Connectivity tool on projects that provide linkages to multimodal facilities.  INDOT has also identified future studies where the economic impacts of recommended strategies can be estimated using the EconWorks W.E.B. tools.  Available staff resources and staff training in economic modeling were indicated as key challenges to a wide implementation of these tools.

Read the full report: EconWorks Tools for Assessing the Wider Economic Benefits of Transportation Implementation Assistance

Related Publication: Tools for the Wider Economic Impact Assessment of Corridor Improvements: Lessons Learned from the FHWA Implementation Assistance Program in Indiana


Economic Development Impact of Corridor Improvements

In recent years, the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) and other state transportation agencies have increasingly implemented non-capacity expansion projects or strategies due to their benefits in improving flow, safety, and reducing delay in the transportation network at low capital, operations, and maintenance costs.  The quantification of the benefits of these strategies has also become very important due to increasingly challenging local and regional fiscal conditions.  With this in mind, this project developed a framework and a tool for the evaluation of economic development impacts of corridor improvements at the sketch-level of planning.  The resulting framework and tool, called "Tool for Operations - Economic Impact Analysis" (TOPS-EIA), is based on a framework and tool from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) called Tool for Operations Benefit Cost Analysis (TOPS-BC).  TOPS-EIA takes the expected impacts of each strategy on corridor performance and translates them into business cost savings and economic development impacts through a set of statewide economic multipliers.  TOPS-EIA is subdivided into four modules: arterial signal coordination (ASC) strategies, traffic incident management (TIM) strategies, work zone management (WZM) strategies, and access management (AM) strategies.  Additionally, a qualitative tool for road diet (RD) strategies was developed.  To demonstrate TOPS-EIA, two case studies of ASC strategies were conducted.  The results showed that this type of strategies could provide not only significant user cost savings, but also economic development impacts, expressed as gross regional product, job-years, and real personal income.  The proposed methodology and tool can assist DOTs, Metropolitan and Rural Planning Organizations (MPOs and RPOs) in assessing the benefits of non-capacity expansion projects at the early and middle stage planning processes, and therefore, contribute to better-informed decisions.

Read the full report: Economic Development Impact of Corridor Improvements


Economic Development Impact of Preservation Projects

Preservation and maintenance activities protect pavements and bridges, extending the life of these assets and guarantee the safety of users. Because rebuilding a road in poor condition can cost ten times as much as work needed to keep the road in good condition, these activities also represent significant savings to taxpayers. In addition to these benefits, preservation activities can also have wider economic benefits in the form of reduced user costs related to vehicle operation, travel time, and safety.

This project aims to develop sketch planning tools for assessing the economic development impacts of pavement and bridge preservation projects to meet the needs of INDOT’s Division of Asset Planning and Management. To accomplish these objectives, the following tasks were undertaken: a literature review, an evaluation of existing tools that could address some aspect of the study topic or be used as guidance for the development of the project tools, the development of the tool, and the preparation of guidance materials and documentation.

Read the full report: Economic Development Impact of Preservation Projects