New Project: Assessing the Economic Effects of Context Sensitive Main Street Highways in Small Cities

Complete Streets is a transportation policy and design approach that requires streets to be planned, designed, operated, and maintained to enable safe, convenient, and comfortable travel and access for users of all ages and abilities regardless of their mode of transportation.

Proponents argue that designing streets that are more accommodating of pedestrians, bicyclists, and those utilizing public transit can lead to changes in transportation patterns, consumer behavior, and the overall desirability of an area. This, in turn, can have a positive impact on business activity, home prices, and public and private investment in an area.

There have been multiple studies on complete streets in metropolitan areas, but little is known about the impact of complete streets in small towns.

In a new project, researchers will assess the economic effects of complete streets projects on small town businesses in Minnesota during construction and after project completion.

A University of Minnesota research team will work with a technical advisory panel to select 6-8 study sites and conduct multiple case studies about the impacts of complete street projects on business activity.

The team will also use difference-in-differences (DID) to estimate the economic impacts of complete streets on business activities. This is done by comparing business sales from a group of small cities with complete streets projects along their main streets to a comparable control group without complete streets.

Lastly, the team will put together a consistent set of economic metrics, with both qualitative and quantitative measures, that MnDOT and local governments can use to evaluate and communicate the impact of complete street projects along context-sensitive main street highways.

Project Details

  • Estimated Start Date: 07/20/2020
  • Estimated Completion Date: 09/30/2022
  • Funding: Minnesota Department of Transportation
  • Principal Investigator: Zhirong Jerry Zhao
  • Technical Liaison: Olivia Dorow Hovland

Details of the research study work plan and timeline are subject to change.

To receive email updates about this project, visit MnDOT’s Office of Research & Innovation to subscribe.

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