Assessing the Effects of Highway Improvements on Adjacent Businesses

Status:  Complete
Report Date:  09/26/2023


Highway projects can improve the driving experience and increase access to businesses. Some smaller establishments, however, may suffer negative impacts both during and after construction. During construction, access may be temporarily more difficult or undesirable for patrons. After construction, improvements and increased traffic may entice larger chain stores to move in, which often displaces smaller enterprises. MnDOT has new evidence to help target assistance to vulnerable businesses before and during road construction projects. Using multiple data sets, researchers looked back nearly two decades at business sales, employment and closures in areas that experienced significant highway projects. Analyses of retail stores, restaurants and personal services establishments showed that larger chain businesses saw some benefits when highway projects improved traffic flow. Smaller, single-location establishments in urban areas were the most vulnerable to some aspects of the construction process. Comparing these results to previous research on transit projects, researchers found that transit infrastructure construction tended to have greater impacts to nearby businesses than did highway projects

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