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Interstate Histories TASK C - Consultant Report

Plan for Future Augmentation and/or Refinement of Interstate Histories

Introduction

This document presents ideas for augmentation and/or refinement of the nine economic development highway corridor history reports completed to date. For each highway corridor report, ideas are presented for:

  1. Extending the length of time period (adding more years to data time series)
  2. Increasing the breadth of data coverage (through additional data sources)
  3. Increasing the depth of understanding (through more in-depth data collection, especially additional interviews with people knowledgeable about the relationship between transportation and economic development).

Our recommendation on the approach to item (a) above is borrowed from the guidebook Using Empirical Information to Measure the Economic Impact of Highway Investments: Volume 2: Guidelines for Data Collection and Analysis (April 2001) [i] . The Guidebook recommends that reports include, at a minimum, data from four points in time:

  1. conditions prior to any real estate or investment speculation during the pre-project period,
  2. conditions at the start of construction to capture the amount of speculation,
  3. conditions within a year after the project completion to measure the short-term impacts, and
  4. conditions roughly five to ten or more years after project completion to assess long-term adjustments.

The report follows this methodology as closely as possible in the existing highway corridor history reports, but given the constraints of that effort, it was not always possible. Specifically, a major challenge with the highway corridor history reports is the definition of "project completion" (data point #3) for highways that are constructed in stages over many years. New highways generally open in discrete segments of five to 20 miles [ii] . The highway corridor history reports generally defined "completion" as the year when the last major highway segment opened to traffic on the route within the chosen state. This proved to be an imperfect measure because for many highways the first sections opened many years before the final section. (See Appendix 1. Note that opening dates ranged from 1967 to 1978.) As a result, data for a "completion" year represent true short-term impacts for only a portion of the highway.

Level of Effort

The type and level of augmentation and/or refinement of the existing highway corridor studies detailed in the sections below could be conducted at an estimated cost of $15,000 each [iii] .

Data Sources

Many of the proposed augmentations are the same or similar for each corridor. This section discusses identified data sources for some of these augmentations.

One source of localized economic data is ZIP Business Patterns (see http://censtats.census.gov/cbpnaic/cbpnaic.shtml). It provides limited data at the ZIP Code level (total number of establishments in ZIP code; total number of employees in ZIP Code; total first quarter payroll in ZIP code; total annual payroll in ZIP code.) In addition, the number of establishments for nine employment-size categories is provided by detailed industry for each ZIP Code. Years of coverage on CD-ROM are from 1994 to 2001 (only the NAICS-based years, 1998 to 2001, are available on the internet). Data for years prior to 1994 are available as special tabulations on a cost-reimbursable basis. [For more information, contact the Economic Planning and Coordination Division, Register Analysis Branch, Washington, DC 20233. Phone: (301) 457-2580. E-mail: cbp@census.gov.]

Another very good source of local economic data in some states is taxable sales transactions. For example, the California Board of Equalization publishes data by type of business at the city level. (See http://www.boe.ca.gov/news/tsalescont.htm.) Although this source is imperfect because not all retail transactions are subject to the sales tax (e.g. groceries are generally exempt in California) and the definition of taxable items shifts over time, retail sales are very good indicators of economic activity in a selected region.

The Census of Retail Trade is another potential source of sales volume data. For example, see the I-81 Virginia section below for discussion about retail sales in Wytheville, Va.

There are also opportunities for increasing the breadth of localized data coverage through tracking of business start-ups data from commercial databases (such as Dun & Bradstreet) as well as through municipal sources of land development. Due to the cost and level of effort involved in using these sources, we recommend that they be focused on analysis for specific localized areas where local officials have reported major impacts.

Beyond these sources, the interviews with key regional businesses and interviews with additional economic development officials discussed under item (c) for each corridor would significantly enhance the highway corridor history reports. Many key businesses have already been identified (e.g. major seaports, distribution centers).

Specific Corridors

This section presents specific ideas and approaches for the augmentation and/or refinement for each of seven reports following points (a) through (c) as discussed in the Introduction. The augmentation of two additional highway corridor history reports, I -43 in Wisconsin and I-81 in Pennsylvania, are presented slightly differently.

I-16 Georgia

  1. Extend the Length of Time Period. Construction of I-16 began in March 1963. Data collection could be extended to this point.
  2. Increase the Breadth of Data Coverage. Given the economic environment found in the I-16 corridor, the following data elements were identified as being important to the augmentation of this corridor:

In addition to these data elements, aspects of Georgia's developmental highway program could be evaluated. These elements include:

  1. Increase the Depth of Understanding. Additional interviews could be conducted to help answer the following questions or issues highlighted by the I-16 highway corridor history report.

In order to address these questions, contact the following agencies:

I-26 South Carolina

  1. Extend the Length of Time Period. The first grading contract on I-26 in South Carolina was awarded in 1957. This could be considered the project start date unless research reveals a different date.
  2. Increase the Breadth of Data Coverage. The following data elements were identified as being useful to the augmentation and/or refinement of the I-26 Corridor:
  1. Increase the Depth of Understanding. In addition to the many interviews conducted in preparing the I-26 highway corridor history report, the interviewing the following could be done:

I-27 Texas

  1. Extend the Length of Time Period. The Texas DOT Amarillo and Lubbock districts had very little information in their files regarding the construction history of I-27. The TX DOT library at the University of Texas in Austin also had very little information on this topic. The construction history of I-27 needs to be confirmed. A reasonable guess may be to extend back to 1968 because I-27 was authorized through the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1968. Depending on what is learned, it also may be appropriate to extend back to late 1950s when the Canyon E-Way opened between Amarillo and Canyon; although this highway was not constructed to interstate standards, it was integrated into I-27.
  2. Increase the Breadth of Data Coverage. The following data elements could augment the I-27 highway corridor history report:
  1. Increase the Depth of Understanding. In addition to the interviews conducted in the preparation of the I-27 highway corridor history report, the following interviews could augment that report:

I-29 Iowa

  1. Extend the Length of Time Period. I-29 construction began in late 1950s. Data coverage could be extended to this point.
  2. Increase the Breadth of Data Coverage. The following data elements were identified as important to the augmentation of the I-29 highway corridor history report:
  1. Increase the Depth of Understanding. The following interviews could augment the I-29 highway corridor history report:

I-68 Maryland

  1. Extend the Length of Time Period. Need to confirm precisely when construction began on I-68. First segments opened in mid-1960s but this may have been before the route was officially designated as an interstate highway.
  2. Increase the Breadth of Data Coverage. The following data elements were identified as important to the augmentation of the I-68 highway corridor history report:
  1. Increase the Depth of Understanding. Beyond the many interviews conducted in the development of the I-68 highway corridor history report, interviewing key regional businesses such as the Mead Westvaco paper mill in Luke, MD could be done.

I-81 Virginia

  1. Extend the Length of Time Period. The beginning construction date for I-81 in Virginia needs to be confirmed. It was likely in the late 1950s.
  2. Increase the breadth of data coverage. The following data elements have been identified as important to the augmentation of the Virginia I-81 highway corridor history report:

In addition to these data elements, the following books in the University of Virginia collection could be reviewed:

  1. Increase the Depth of Understanding. In addition to the many interviews conducted in preparing the I-81 in Virginia highway corridor history report, the following interviews could augment that report:

Based on the economic trends highlighted in the corridor history report, two industry sectors might well deserve more in-depth study including, (1) the distribution center industry, which exist primarily in the northern part of corridor; and (2) the automotive parts industry; which is located primarily in the southern part of corridor.

Other areas of investigation include:

State Route 99 California

  1. Extend the Length of Time Period. It is difficult to define when the SR-99 project was "complete" in the San Joaquin Valley. Likely, the best measure is when the four-lane expressway was completed throughout the valley -- that was in 1960 - the segment north of Fresno in Fresno County [iv] .
  2. Increase the Breadth of Data Coverage. The following data elements were identified as important to the augmentation of the SR-99 corridor history report:
  1. Increase the Depth of Understanding. Interviews that could be conducted in addition to those conducted for the existing SR-99 highway corridor history report include:

Other recommended areas of investigation included:

I-43 Wisconsin

Augmentation of the I-43 corridor in Wisconsin is discussed in terms of the following issues:

  1. continual tracking over a longer time period
  2. tracking new business locations by interchange
  3. classifying the role of the highway in different areas of the corridor, and
  4. focusing on small area effects.

Each of these is discussed in more detail in the paragraphs below.

  1. Continual Tracking Over Longer Time Period. The time period covered by the economic data could be extended through a continual process of tracking economic development changes in a time series that is updated every 2 to 5 years. This will catch the fact that economic growth does not take place overnight, but rather manifests itself in a series of steps that evolve over time. This will catch the fact that we observed the timing of economic development to shift over time, following a spatial development pattern that appears to move from big cities to smaller towns and cities.

The I-43 Corridorin Wisconsin has shown that new private investment in business locations and new location of jobs have shifted geographically over time. The impacts on new business activity started at the endpoint (City of Green Bay / Brown County), where I-43 is seen as having improved the competitiveness and growth of manufacturing and distribution industries. The impacts evolved over time so that newer impacts are now occurring in the smaller cities located in the middle of the corridor (Cities of Sheboygan and Manitowoc, in the counties with the same name), where hospitality and retail industries as well as manufacturing have expanded in proximity to the I-43 corridor. Even newer development impacts are just now slowly moving to more rural areas, and further data collection will be necessary to identify their occurrence in other intermediate counties.

In order to conduct this analysis, the location of new business activities must be collected, disaggregated by county and distance from major cities.

  1. Tracking new business locations by interchange. Much of the county level aggregate economic statistics were of little value since they were too blunt to capture dynamic changes occurring just along the interstate highway corridor and at its interchange locations. Also, some of the most interesting findings pertained to specific forms of development at interchanges and along other local corridors that feed into the interstate highway interchanges. Thus, the tracking of land development should be done in terms of square footage by type, and should relate the relative increases attributable to the interstate highway with corresponding changes in land development patterns elsewhere in the region.

Specifically, the I-43 Corridorin Wisconsin showed post construction industrial and commercial sales growth focused on specific interchanges. This included:

Further, the Waldo Boulvevard/I-43 and the STH 310/I-43 interchanges areas are expected to develop at some point in the future as a result of the development of I-43/USH 151 interchange in 1980 in Manitowoc County. Therefore, a continual tracking of economic development changes over 2 to 5 years at the Waldo Boulvevard/I-43 and the STH 310/I-43 interchanges may be useful.

In order to conduct this analysis, the location of new business activity locations should be collected over time, disaggregated by industry, interchange location, distance away from the interchange, and distance from major cities.

  1. Classifying the role of the highway in different areas of the corridor. To increase the depth of understanding, the function of interstate highway in the community should be classified and then data collection findings should be link to those different highway roles. Specifically, a relationship needs to be better established between the observed changes in economic development along the corridor, and the role of the interstate highway in serving as a: (1) Local commuting freeway; (2) Bypass for trucks and through car trips; (3) Highway connection or a hub of interconnecting highways; or (4) Connector route linking smaller communities to larger markets and regions. For example, the I-43 Corridorin Wisconsin serves as a local freeway route for commuters coming into downtown Milwaukee, and as part of a circumferential route in Green Bay. On the other hand, it serves as an intercity connector for the Manitowoc and Sheboygan areas. This example of different highway roles illustrates the importance of linking impacts to variations in the role that the interstate highway plays in different areas.
  2. Focusing on small area effects. The existing I-43 highway corridor histories report found that many of the effects were highly localized. Even when a regional-level highway connector increases total regional economic growth, significant economic changes may actually be strongly focused at specific places within the region. This makes it important to keep a more spatially detailed analysis, to see more localized effects: a) At the interchange, b) Away from the interstate highway, but connected to the highway; c) Away from the interstate highway and not directly connected to the highway.

For example, on I-43 in Wisconsin, it was found that the regional distribution centers of retail goods were generally located a little further away from the highway while trucking/transfer centers for manufacturing establishments were usually being located closer to the interstate highway interchanges. Specific locations along I-43 in Wisconsin that might warrant more detailed analysis include:

This analysis would reveal how the pattern of impacts and location for manufacturing, wholesale/distribution and/or retail/hotel developments vary from place-to-place.

I-81 in Pennsylvania

Augmentation of the I-81 corridor in Pennsylvania is discussed in terms of the following issues:

  1. Continual tracking over a longer time period
  2. Monitoring traffic changes by interchange location or highway segments,
  3. Classifying the role of the highway in different areas of the corridor, and
  4. Focusing on small area effects.

Each of these is discussed in more detail in the paragraphs below.

  1. Continual Tracking Over Longer Time Period. The time period covered by the economic data should be extended through a continual process of tracking economic development changes in a time series that is updated every 2 to 5 years. This will catch the fact that economic growth does not take place overnight, but rather manifests itself in a series of steps that evolve over time. This will catch the fact that we observed the timing of economic development to shift over time, following a spatial development pattern that appears to move from big cities to smaller towns and cities.

The I-81 Corridorin Pennsylvania has evolved over 20+ years from being a regional connector to becoming part of a major route for interstate truck transportation seeking an alternative to I-95. This has supported economic growth for both the northern and southern regions, where there are east-west connectors to other major metropolitan areas. The result has been particularly strong for transportation & warehousing, and certain technology-based manufacturing industries. However, stronger and earlier economic development changes were noted in the southern (Harrisburg) part of the corridor than in the more northern (Scranton) part of the corridor, probably because of Harrisburg's more developed role as a hub of connecting highways. New development impacts are slowly moving to more locations outside of these two urban areas.

In order to conduct this analysis, the location of new business activities must be collected, disaggregated by county and distance from major cities.

  1. Monitoring traffic changes by interchange location or highway segments. The I-81 highway corridor history report revealed that traffic growth and economic growth tended to correlate, though the direction of causality went in both directions. However, we were hampered by the fact that each state counts traffic only at sporadically times and places, so that it was difficult to achieve full coverage of traffic trends over time for all segments of the interstate highway corridor. This left a gap. There is a need for earlier designation of corridors where there is an interest in having more systematic counting of traffic trends over time. For instance:

The I-81 Corridor in Pennsylvania showed uneven traffic growth over time along the corridor I-81, with notable variation among stretches of highway around:

Collecting this traffic count data could be done in order to track traffic growth by highway segment and interchange over time, so that traffic growth can be linked to different impacts on changes in manufacturing, retailing and wholesale/distribution activities.

  1. Classifying the role of the highway in different areas of the corridor. To increase the depth of understanding, the function of interstate highway in the community should be classified and then data collection findings could be link to those different highway roles. Specifically, a relationship needs to be better established between the observed changes in economic development along the corridor, and the role of the interstate highway in serving as a: (1) Local commuting freeway; (2) Bypass for trucks and through car trips; (3) Highway connection or a hub of interconnecting highways; or (4) Connector route linking smaller communities to larger markets and regions. For example, the I-81 Corridorin Pennsylvania serves as a local freeway for the Harrisburg and Wilkes-Barre areas, as a regional connector for points north of Wilkes-Barre and South of Harrisburg, and as part of an interstate bypass route to New York City for portions in between those two cities. This example of different highway roles illustrates the importance of linking impacts to variations in the role that the interstate highway plays in different areas.
  2. Focusing on small area effects. The existing I-81 in Pennsylvania highway corridor histories report found that many of the effects were highly localized. Even when a regional-level highway connector increases total regional economic growth, significant economic changes may actually be strongly focused at specific places within the region. This makes it important to keep a more spatially detailed analysis, to see more localized effects: a) At the interchange, b) Away from the interstate highway, but connected to the highway; c) Away from the interstate highway and not directly connected to the highway.

For example, in the I-81 history report, it was found that the regional distribution centers of retail goods were generally located a little further away from the highway while trucking/transfer centers for manufacturing establishments were usually being located closer to the interstate highway interchanges. Specific locations that might warrant more detailed analysis include:

This analysis would reveal how the pattern of impacts and location for manufacturing, wholesale/distribution and/or retail/hotel developments vary from place-to-place.

Note: The terms "Local Study, "Highway Corridor Study" and "Regional Study" refer to the definition of such studies used in the guidebook, Using Empirical Information to Measure the Economic Impact of Highway Investments; Volume 2: Guidelines for Data Collection and Analysis (April 2001).


Appendix 1:

San Francisco Chronicle Article about Opening of Livingston Bypass on SR-99 in 1996

Infamous Blood Alley to Disappear
New bypass around Highway 99 stoplight

- Peter Fimrite, Chronicle Staff Writer
Monday, November 4, 1996

Livingston, Merced County -- When a bypass is completed around the last traffic light on Highway 99 in the San Joaquin Valley next month, it will eliminate one of the most notorious of California's ``blood alleys'' and mark the end of an era.

From Mexico to the Oregon border, California highways were once littered with dangerous stoplights -- and in one ill- conceived project, a two-directional passing lane that invited head-on collisions.

Most of the blood alleys, including those near San Jose and Santa Rosa, were antiquated intersections that were never upgraded when highways became freeways after World War II. The stoplight in Livingston has been there for at least 50 years and is the only remaining signal in 275 miles of highway from Bakersfield to Sacramento.

"It will be a blessing when that light is finally gone. It's just too dangerous,'' said Fred Warden, 73, who has seen almost as much carnage on Highway 99 as he did in the Army in World War II. ``That's `no man's land' out there.''

Residents of the city of 10,000 have been fighting for decades for a freeway bypass that would allow motorists to glide through town. Caltrans completed a bypass for the southbound lanes in September. The northbound bypass will be opened around December 13, and the highway's old roadbed will become a thoroughfare for local traffic.

"It is the last segment of Highway 99 being upgraded to freeway standard,'' said Caltrans spokesman Jim Drago. ``At one time there were lights all up and down 99 because it went through all the valley towns, but times have changed.''

The project, which replaces the lights with on- and off-ramps at Hammatt Avenue and Winton Parkway, has been on the drawing board since 1958, when Caltrans promised the town that a freeway would be built there the next year.

Lack of Concern

But money shortages, other high-profile projects and a general lack of concern among state officials combined to kill the plans every year. Traffic signals in the nearby towns of Keyes and Denair were bypassed or removed by the end of the 1980s, leaving only the Livingston light.

As the rest of Highway 99 was upgraded, the hazard in Livingston increased. Motorists traveling at high speeds over long distances just did not expect to stop and signs warning of a traffic light ahead didn't seem to help.

In the winter, when thick ground fog cuts visibility to almost zero, cars stopped at the traffic light became sitting ducks for rear-end collisions.

Some of the accidents there were so horrific that they are etched into the memories of the locals. People in Livingston still talk about the time years ago when three people were incinerated in a crash between a car and a big-rig. Old-timers remember when the top of a man's head was sheared off in a collision. He somehow survived.

One that really hit home was the day in 1985 when former City Councilman Wilbur Ratzhoff was killed in a collision with a gasoline tanker.

40 DEATHS SINCE '76

In all, 40 people have been killed at the intersection since 1976, and hundreds more injured. The accident rate on that stretch of road is double the statewide average.

Dangerous highways became a major problem after World War II when Americans had a particular hankering for travel. In 1956, gasoline cost about 25 cents a gallon and a new Ford could be purchased for less than $2,000. Consequently, the number of vehicles quickly overwhelmed the state highway system.

Bob Binger, who retired last week as district manager for Caltrans after 44 years with the transit agency, said he remembers holiday and weekend traffic between 1945 and 1955 backed up on Highway 99 for up to 30 miles.

"It was a terrible mess,'' he said. "There were a lot of accidents, so we just had to build bigger highways.''

One particularly ill-conceived effort to relieve traffic congestion was the insertion around 1945 of a single passing lane in the middle of the northbound and southbound lanes of Highway 99 between Fresno and the San Joaquin River. Motorists in both directions used the lane for passing, with a predictable result.

A Game of Chicken

"It was quickly labeled `blood alley' because there were so many serious multivehicle accidents and head-on collisions,'' Binger said. ``It was sort of like a game of chicken out there.'' That six-mile section was replaced with a four-lane freeway in 1956.

And Highway 99 was hardly the only place where there were blood alleys:

-- A congested stretch of Highway 101 between San Jose and Morgan Hill, called Old Monterey Road, was a glorified country lane with 15 intersections and a string of quaint fruit stands. Between 1973 and 1984, there were 69 deaths there and nearly 750 injuries, mostly from cars drifting into oncoming traffic or getting plowed into as they pulled onto the highway from cross streets or after buying fruit.

Caltrans finally put a stop to the carnage in 1985 when a 12-mile bypass was completed.

-- A 22-mile stretch of Highway 152 east of Los Banos was one of the most deadly roads until a four- lane expressway was built in 1967, according to Caltrans officials. That year alone, there were 25 fatal crashes at intersections and from cross-lane head-ons in those 22 miles.

-- Another deadly section of Highway 101 in Cloverdale known as ``Slaughter Alley'' was bypassed in 1994, five years after a truck hauling two empty fertilizer trailers veered into oncoming traffic and crushed a station wagon, killing a Santa Rosa baseball coach, two of his sons and three members of his team.

Havoc on Highway

The crash outraged residents who demanded that Caltrans make good on a 1959 promise to reroute the highway out of Cloverdale, where a stoplight created havoc on the highway.

Traffic lights were bypassed on Highway 101 in Novato in 1974 and Geyserville in 1975 to alleviate gridlocked traffic. The last unimproved section of 101 in Santa Barbara, where a traffic signal left over from 1948 created monumental traffic jams, was bypassed in 1991.

There is still a traffic signal on Highway 50 in Placerville, but the number of accidents there does not approach the level on Highway 99 in Livingston or other highways that were improved.

In the Bay Area, the only roadway still referred to as "blood alley'' is Highway 37 between Vallejo and Highway 121, but the dangers there aren't caused by traffic signals. Most of Highway 37 is a narrow two-lane road that cannot be widened because it is next to protected marshland. Last year, fines were doubled and Caltrans installed a median barrier along much of the stretch in an effort to make the highway safer.

Last Old Highway Link

The Livingston stoplight is the last link to a highway system that connected country towns that sprang up around railroad stations. What is now known as Highway 99 was originally a railroad service road used by horse-drawn wagons.

Binger said portions of 99 are still exactly where they were when it was designated a state highway in 1909 and the pavement in those areas is as much as six feet thick. The retired Caltrans manager said he recently found a chunk of pavement called Warrenite that was used in the 1920s and '30s.

There were traffic signals in every town, and motorists stopped regularly for gas, soda pop or a slice of homemade pie.

"99 has always been THE road that everybody took and it was fun because you got to see all the towns along the way,'' said Warden, the World War II vet. "I wouldn't mind seeing the towns like they used to be, but not the freeway.''

Despite some concern from local business owners that drivers will no longer see them, most Livingston residents say the bypass is the best thing to happen in town since the Foster Farms chicken plant set up shop.

"With the highway bypass we are now as good as any other town,'' said Danny Au, 50, a clerk in his family's store, Bo's Market, for the past 30 years. "We can now forget about our highway problem and concentrate on improving business and making the city better.''


About the Series

Today's "Commuter Chronicles'' continues a weekly series of stories exploring the practical aspects of transportation and commuting in the Bay Area. Each Monday, the series features articles aimed at getting behind the political controversies and real-life vexations that readers face every day on buses, trains and BART, highways and byways.

If you have a question, concern or story idea, please send it to Commuter Chronicles, 901 Mission St., San Francisco 94103, or send e-mail to:

commuter@sfgate.com Page A - 1
URL: http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/1996/11/04/MN24619.DTL


[i] See: http://www.edrgroup.com/hwy-impact.html

[ii] FHWA has a .pdf file called Interstate Histories Appendix 1: "Interstate 16 Dates Opened to Traffic," It shows the chronological opening of I-16 on a map. It was provided by Danny Mummey of the Georgia DOT Jesup District.

[iii] This assumes exemplary cooperation by agencies with data, free interviews and other favorable conditions

[iv] FHWA has a .pdf file called Interstate Histories Appendix 3: New Freeway to Bring L.A. and S.F. Closer which is a copy of a 1962 Newspaper article about I-5.


Updated: 04/19/2012
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