Introduction: In section 1105(e)(5) of the ISTEA, as amended, Congress has designated a number of mostly rural future Interstates (all or portions of several Congressional High Priority corridors defined under 1105(c) of the ISTEA, as amended, e.g., I-73/74 and I-69). A listing of these Congessional High Priority Corridors is at: www.fhwa.dot.gov/planning/national_highway_system/high_priority_corridors/hpcor.cfm.
The FHWA has sponsored research (conducted from 2003 to 2004) that was designed to show some of the economic effects of previously constructed, mostly rural Interstates (or near Interstates). This was done to assist in highway project development and related economic development for the Interstates designated by Congress. The FHWA believes that the Congress designated these routes substantially due to the desire for economic development. The research was done for corridors that are mostly rural in nature (however some portion of each corridor is urbanized) and where it was likely that data would be available. This research is essentially a starting point and framework that State and local officials can use to design further investigations specific to these selected corridors (or sub corridors). The FHWA suggests further investigation be done on these specific corridors to determine what economic effects were due partially or mostly to the interstates and which were exogenous to the effect of the interstate. The FHWA also suggests that States which wish to use new interstates as a economic development tool do their own research to determine which non-highway economic development actions should accompany the new interstate.
The FHWA does not suggest this research be used by itself to make economic development comparisons of freeways in one part of the country with freeways in other parts of the country, non interstate freeways with interstate freeways, or similar comparisons. The FHWA also does not suggest that regional economic development was the only or even the most important contribution that resulted from the improvement of these highway corridors. Finally, the FHWA does not suggest that the economic benefit of these interstate highways is confined to the counties along the highway corridor.