An important consideration when identifying and implementing transportation investments is the prospect of economic development. Government agencies are faced with the challenging task of efficiently allocating scarce resources in order to satisfy the physical needs of the state and its communities. The Indiana Department of Transportation has the difficult task of prioritizing projects involving urban and rural transportation investments while attempting to satisfy both local and state needs. Typically, urban settings provide the greatest opportunity for economic development, due to population density, public infrastructure, and ready markets. Consequently, rural areas may get left behind, becoming more isolated and unattractive from a business and even residential standpoint. Therefore a study is needed to identify the methodology that can accurately evaluate the economic impacts of a transportation investment, with emphasis on rural Indiana.

A variety of performance measures could be used when evaluating a potential investment. This study has sought to identify and assess economic development performance measures to be used when evaluating transportation investments in rural Indiana. A list of the twelve most promising performance measures has been compiled, with a corresponding list of their advantages and disadvantages. The list provides a useful framework for economic analysis of rural transportation investments.

This study recognizes that further research is needed in order to provide a more robust conclusion regarding the link between transportation investment and economic development. The additional research would include individual case studies, county-level data analyses, and quality of life studies. Individual case studies would provide a ‘real world’ application for the economic development performance measures identified and can validate their use. Conducting a county-level data analysis would allow for quantitative comparisons to be made among counties based on need for economic development as well as the probability of development. The quality of life study would help to address issues that complement the economic development factors in a rural area. At the time this study was stopped, these investigations were underway. While the performance measure study provides a good beginning for economic studies, the additional research can help to enhance and refine the use of these measures.

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economic development, performance measures, transportationinvestment, rural Indiana, Indiana Department of Transportation, quality of life, SPR-3098

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Performing Organization

Joint Transportation Research Program

Publisher Place

West Lafayette, Indiana

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