In antiquity, commerce thrived along the royal roads of the great Empires. In our own day, technology growth corridors are identified by the highway that provides them access. Strange then, that there would be controversy on the proposition that transportation improvement has potential for economic growth. Yet controversy exists. Indeed, the controversy is so extensive that the 'transportation improvement brings economic growth' proposition, especially where 'transportation improvement' means 'highway improvement' has been contested on may different, sometimes mutually incompatible, grounds. These challenges are sometimes stated as fact, sometimes as conjecture, sometimes as stories and to some extent have been the basis of statue (e.g., physical capacity increases not being eligible for CMAQ funding). A sample of such challenges, which have been taken from 'anti build' themes of newsletters, seminars and conferences of various groups, follows: Sure transportation improvement brings economic growth, but if it is highway improvements, it is the fast food job growth, suburban sprawl growth, bad growth; Highway improvements make it easier to have economic growth in Mexico and cost jobs in this country; Highway improvements near business centers destroy property values and thus destroy business centers; Highway improvements connecting business just induce travel while destroying business centers; Highway improvements just induce businesses to move and shop for low labor cost thus leaving unemployed workers behind; and Highway improvements just induce more travel and ultimately cost jobs. Along with this, another trend is underway. Many economic development policy interests are finding that other prospective economic development tools, such as preferential taxation mechanisms and regional education initiatives are becoming more problematical. These interests are turning to transportation, usually highway, improvements as a tool to bring commerce to depressed or low job growth regions. One manifestation of this latter trend is the number of highway corridor advocacy groups, some of whom use the interstate shield in their group name as a symbol of their vision for a corridor. To some extent, these visions have also been given a basis in statue (e.g., future Interstate status to certain high priority corridors). A little too ironic, don't you think.


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  • Pagination: 8p

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  • Accession Number: 00778493
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Created Date: Nov 29 1999 12:00AM