Synthesizing Highway Transportation, Land Development, Municipal and School Finance in the Greater Twin Cities Area, 1970-1997


John Adams, Julie Cidell, Barbara VanDrasek, Laura Hansen

January 2000

Report no. CTS 00-01

As the Twin Cities emerged as capital of the Upper Midwest region, the pre-World War II highway system serving the Twin Cities linked the area with its region, and provided direction to suburban expansion. Residential development in greenfield areas initially enjoys low local property taxes, but soon the newly arriving households expect and demand a full range of municipal services that must be supplied and paid for, either by the newcomers themselves, or by shifting some portion of incremental capital and operating costs to current residents, which can lead to political tension. The resources available to school districts from local tax sources depend upon the tax capacity supplied by local development, a process that is regulated by local units of government. Major highway infrastructure and improvements have both led and lagged the development process. The location of major routes influences developer decisions on where to place new housing. Major office developments cluster at major transportation nodes, but many important nodes support little or no office development. Industrial development appears to be tied closely to transportation routes in the earlier periods, but in later years the close connection appears to fade. The benefits of land development and transportation improvements accumulate disproportionately within one set of geographical areas, while many of the costs are imposed through time and space on others.

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