Highway Improvements and Land Development Patterns in the Greater Twin Cities Area, 1970-1997: Measuring the Connections


Laura Smith, John Adams, Julie Cidell, Barbara VanDrasek

February 2003

Report no. CTS 02-03


Economics, Planning

This report uses statistical methods to measure the relationships between improvements in highway transportation and patterns of land development in suburban and exurban areas of the greater Twin Cities. The methods used measure the timing and levels of residential, commercial, industrial, and esidential land development as indicators of the strength and causality of those relationships. The report investigates the key question of leads and lags between highway improvement and land development. Findings of the report suggest that the impact of major highway improvements on land development patterns took one form in the 1970s, another in the 1980s, and still other forms in the 1990s. Findings also illustrate how the lead-lag relationships differ by development type. Although statistical relationships describing correlations of leads, lags, and contemporaneous change were found to be highly significant, the measures of those relationships seldom were constant. They changed from one time period to the next, from one type of development to another, and from one location to another within specific time periods.

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