THE ECONOMIC BENEFITS ACCRUING FROM THE SCENIC ENHANCEMENT OF HIGHWAYS

TITLE 3 OF THE HIGHWAY BEAUTIFICATION ACT IS CONCERNED WITH THE NEED FOR THE LANDSCAPING AND SCENIC ENHANCEMENT OF HIGHWAY SYSTEMS. THE PROBLEMS INVOLVED IN IDENTIFYING AND QUANTIFYING THE BENEFITS AND COSTS THAT RESULT FROM THE BEAUTIFICATION OF HIGHWAYS ARE INVESTIGATED. ONE APPROACH RECOMMENDED IS CALLED AN ECONOMIC IMPACT STUDY. THIS APPROACH IS A VALID WAY OF MEASURING THE REGIONAL EFFECTS OF SCENIC ENHANCEMENT OF HIGHWAYS ON EMPLOYMENT, INCOME, AND LEVELS OF ECONOMIC ACTIVITY IN THE AREA OF THE ENHANCEMENT PROJECT. HOWEVER, IT FAILS TO MEASURE THE TOTAL NET BENEFIT OF THE PROPOSED ACTION TO THE NATION AND SO DOES NOT REVEAL WHETHER THE PROJECT SHOULD BE UNDERTAKEN IN ORDER TO INCREASE THE NATIONAL WELFARE. A COST-BENEFIT APPROACH CAN BE MADE TO REVEAL THE COSTS OR DISADVANTAGES TO THE NATION AS A WHOLE AND THE BENEFITS OR ADVANTAGES TO SOCIETY OF THE VARIOUS ALTERNATIVE GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS, THUS DEVELOPING A SYSTEMATIC BASIS FOR ANALYZING THE DESIRABILITY OF PUBLIC EXPENDITURE ON A SCENIC ENHANCEMENT PROGRAM. THE MAIN PROBLEM ON UTILIZING THE COST-BENEFIT APPROACH IN A STUDY OF THE EFFECTS OF A HIGHWAY BEAUTIFICATION PROGRAM IS IN CORRECTLY ENUMERATING AND EVALUATING THE BENEFITS AND COSTS INVOLVED. EXISTING LITERATURE IS REVIEWED ON THE ECONOMIC IMPORTANCE OF SCENIC BEAUTIFICATION OF HIGHWAYS. POSSIBLE BENEFITS DERIVED FROM SCENIC ENHANCEMENT OF HIGHWAYS APPEAR TO FALL INTO THE FOLLOWING CATEGORIES: (1) VISUAL PLEASURES THAT MAKE A TRIP MORE ENJOYABLE, (2) A POSSIBLE IMPROVEMENT IN SAFETY, AND (3) A POSSIBLE DIFFERENCE IN HIGHWAY MAINTENANCE COSTS. DATA RELATED TO THE AESTHETIC BENEFITS DERIVED FROM SCENIC ENHANCEMENT SEEM TO BE ALMOST ENTIRELY LACKING. THEREFORE, DATA COLLECTED FROM VARIOUS SOURCES FOR OTHER PURPOSES WERE UTILIZED TO ENUMERATE AND EVALUATE THE PERSONS WHO ENGAGED IN DRIVING FOR VISUAL ENJOYMENT, AND TO SEE IF DIFFERENCES IN ACCIDENT RATES COULD BE STATISTICALLY ASSOCIATED WITH SCENICALLY ENHANCED HIGHWAYS. IT HAS BEEN SUGGESTED THAT SCENIC HIGHWAYS ARE SAFER HIGHWAYS. AN ATTEMPT WAS MADE TO TEST THIS HYPOTHESIS USING DATA RELATED TO THE NEW JERSEY HIGHWAYS AND THE HIGHWAYS OF WASHINGTON STATE. THESE DATA TOOK STATISTICAL ACCOUNT OF FACTORS SUCH AS VOLUME, SPEED LIMIT, TRAFFIC SIGNALS, AND MEDIANS. THERE WAS NO RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SCENIC HIGHWAYS AND REDUCTION IN ACCIDENTS, INJURIES, AND FATALITIES. THE ANALYSIS DEFINITELY INDICATES THAT: (1) THERE IS A SIGNIFICANT NEGATIVE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SCENIC HIGHWAYS AND INJURIES, (2) THERE IS SOME EVIDENCE OF A NEGATIVE (LOG) RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SCENES AND ACCIDENTS, ALTHOUGH A LINEAR ARITHMETIC RELATIONSHIP IS NOT READILY DISCERNIBLE, AND (3) THERE IS NO OBVIOUS RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SCENIC HIGHWAYS AND FATALITIES. THE ESTIMATED ANNUAL REDUCTION IN INJURIES PER MILE AND THE CAPITALIZED COST SAVINGS (BENEFITS) THAT WOULD RESULT FROM SCENICALLY ENHANCING ONE-MILE SEGMENTS OF HIGHWAY HAVING DIFFERENT ANNUAL TRAFFIC VOLUMES ARE PRESENTED IN A TABLE.

Media Info

  • Media Type: Print
  • Features: References; Tables;
  • Pagination: pp 117-131
  • Monograph Title: Transportation economics
  • Serial:

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00201720
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS, TRB
  • Created Date: Nov 24 1994 12:00AM