The Impacts of Transportation Investments on Economic Growth in the Twin Cities

Principal Investigator(s):

Jason Cao, Professor , Humphrey School of Public Affairs


  • Michael Iacono, Former Research Fellow, Civil, Environmental and Geo-Engineering
  • David Levinson, Former U of M Professor, Civil, Environmental and Geo-Engineering
  • Andrew Owen, Lead Researcher, Acc. Obsv., Center for Transportation Studies

Project summary:

The transportation system plays a critical role in fostering economic growth. Although previous studies have shed light on the impacts of transportation investments, their results are not readily adapted to predicting economic impacts of individual transportation projects. This study aimed to (1) investigate the impacts of transportation investments on economic growth (wages and employment) in the Twin Cities and (2) develop a method that practitioners can apply to predict economic growth resulting from investments in individual projects (as well as disinvestments). The capacity of such predictions is critical for the economy of the Twin Cities because transportation infrastructure lasts for decades once built. The method is expected to be used by practitioners of planning, programming, and finance at the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) and Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), as well as at the Metropolitan Council. This study contributes to the base of knowledge by offering new empirical evidence on intra-urban patterns of agglomeration based on small-scale geographic data on job density from the Twin Cities. The study findings indicate that, in general, urbanization effects tend to dominate localization effects across a range of industries.

Project details: