The financing of rural roads and bridges is an issue which has a great deal of importance at the national level. Local county and township officials nationwide are faced with a dilemma. The quality of rural roads and bridges is deteriorating rapidly, and the migration of rural residents to urban counties is resulting in a lower tax base in rural areas. Local officials now face a choice of increasing local finances for the maintenance and rehabilitation of rural roads and bridges, consolidating road services with other localities, or abandoning and reducing maintenance of some roads and bridges. This study examines consolidation of road services by local governments, and explores the optimal mix of roads for rural counties. A methodology for measuring economies in the provision of local road services is presented. This methodology is unique in two ways: (1) it better accounts for relevant variables that explain expenditures so that economies of size can be more accurately measured; and (2) it does not require an extensive data set, so economies can be measured by region or state. A methodology for optimizing the mix of gravel and paved roads by local governments is also presented. This methodology measures the costs and benefits of converting gravel roads to paved, and paved to gravel. In applying the methodology for measuring economies of size to counties in North Dakota, significant economies of size in the provision of county road services are shown. This suggests that some consolidation of county road services in North Dakota may be beneficial, particularly for very small counties. The benefit-cost analysis applied to North Dakota counties shows that there are several improvements that could be made in the mix of road services provided. Counties with very high traffic levels may benefit from converting some gravel mileage to paved, while those with very light traffic levels may benefit from converting some paved mileage to gravel. Further research is needed in the provision of rural road services. More study is needed in modeling local official behavior, creating data collection and management systems at the county government level, and reducing the costs of providing rural road services.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: Appendices; Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 101 p.

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00634421
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: MPC Rept No. 92-13
  • Files: TRIS, ATRI
  • Created Date: Jul 30 1993 12:00AM