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Economic Development Highways Initiative - Public Briefing

In the process leading to the FY 2000 DOT Appropriations, Congress developed legislative report language that directed the FHWA to carry out an Economic Development Highways Initiative. The language is contained in Senate Report 106-55 and House of Representatives Report 106-355. The Senate report noted that the Committee [on Appropriations] is "...interested in some recent studies that demonstrate the degree of new and sustainable economic development generated by new or substantially improved highway facilities through economically disadvantaged regions. . ." Subsequent discussions with staff of this committee indicated that the 'recent studies' referred to in this language was the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) report "Linking the Delta Region with the Nation and the World". This FHWA report was completed in 1995 and circulated within the lower Mississippi Delta in 1996 but became more widely known in subsequent years. The House report made funds available for the Initiative. Further correspondence was received from Congress indicating that it was intended that a substantial amount of the work would be for study of US 80 and US 43 in Alabama.

In September 2000, FHWA entered into a contract with KPMG Transportation Group (who subsequently were purchased by AECOM) who in turn, led a consortium of other consultants e.g., Wilbur Smith Associates, Hickling Lewis Brod, ICF Consulting, Louis Berger Group, Wharton Economic Forecasting Associates, Jack Faucett Associates, Parsons Brinckerhoff. In September 2001 Alabama State University, Tuskeegee University, and Stillman College were added to the consortium. The contract involved studies of corridors in the following States: Alabama (1) or (2), California (3) or (4), Louisiana (5) or (6), Montana (7), North Carolina (8), Pennsylvania (9), South Dakota (10), Texas (11) and West Virginia (12).

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Click on a study area (number) to see a discussion of issue(s) in that area.

The studies are to be carried out in consultation with advisory committees in each State. The committees may be comprised of local officials representing portions of the corridor, officials of the State Department of Transportation and officials from the FHWA Division Office in the State.

A workshop was held in Montgomery, Alabama in August 2003 with attendees from most of the corridors including several elected officials including a U.S. Congressman. A selection of quotes and images from the study has also been collected.

The overall purpose of this work is to further refine the FHWA understanding of the economic development potential of certain highway corridors. The work may also result in development of supporting documentation associated with the statewide planning and/or NEPA process related to such corridors. Additionally, the work may provide necessary data for the FHWA analysis of future legislative proposals relating to Economic Development Highways and to the impact of highway improvements on economic growth, interstate commerce, and regional availability of well paying jobs. The work is to be completed by the spring of 2004. Several hundred federal, state and local officials (several dozen of these latter officials were elected mayors, commissioners, tribal officers, etc.) gave their time to advise the FHWA headquarters in the studies listed below. The FHWA deeply appreciates the contribution of all these officials.

Final contractor reports for individual corridors are available here. The FHWA considers the reports to be factual and to factually represent the views of the local agencies cited in the report. However, opinions and recommendations in the report are not necessarily those of the FHWA, nor does anything in the report constitute a policy, standard or specification of the FHWA.

Updated: 04/23/2012
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