Assessing the economic effects of context sensitive main street highways in small cities

Principal Investigator(s):

Camila Fonseca Sarmiento, Director of Fiscal Research, Humphrey School of Public Affairs


  • Zhirong Zhao, Former U of M Faculty, Humphrey School of Public Affairs

Project summary:

This project is assessing the economic effects of Complete Streets projects on small town businesses during construction and after project completion. The project team is working with a technical advisory panel (TAP) to select 6 to 8 study sites and conduct multiple case studies about the impacts of Complete Streets projects on businesses.

The team also is using difference-in-differences (DID) to estimate the economic impacts of Complete Streets on business activities. This method compares business sales from a group of small cities with Complete Streets projects along their main streets to a comparable control group without Complete Streets.

In addition, the project team is developing a consistent set of economic metrics, with both qualitative and quantitative measures, that MnDOT and local governments can use to evaluate and communicate the impact of Complete Streets projects along context-sensitive main street highways.

Complete Streets is a transportation policy and design approach that requires streets to be planned, designed, operated, and maintained to enable safe, convenient, and comfortable travel and access for users of all ages and abilities regardless of their mode of transportation. Proponents argue that designing streets that are more accommodating of pedestrians, bicyclists, and those utilizing public transit can lead to changes in transportation patterns, consumer behavior, and the overall desirability of an area. This, in turn, can have a positive impact on business activity, home prices, and public and private investment in an area.

There have been multiple studies on Complete Streets in metropolitan areas, but little is known about the impact of Complete Streets in small towns.

Project details: