When transportation systems are efficient, they provide economic and social opportunities and benefits that result in positive effects such as better accessibility to markets, employment and additional investments.
Four Levels of Analysis
At the national level, highway-related economic development is focussed on the question: how much do our nation's highways help the national economy? Decisions and enchancment funds are then channelled down to the states and regions where it will have the greatest impact.
Many states have economic development highway programs. Some of these concentrate on improving or constructing short sections of highway that connect employers to regional highways. Some concentrate on connecting urban areas with 4-lane highways. Some are essentially State contributions to projects that come from local economic development programs.
Planning at this level helps neighboring communities determine what kind of transportation investments should be implemented throughout the region to optimize its economic growth. Local communities united in a regional vision will help connect sometimes disparate and isolated areas into connected and robust centers of economy. In addition, solving region-wide traffic problems attracts new businesses and residents alike.
Understanding the links between travel and economic growth is best at the local level where the day to day causes and effects of highway initiatives are well known. Input at this level is paramount to determining which highway and transit improvements will help improve business on main street.