Business Impacts of Access Changes

Some types of geometric improvements that Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has proposed, such as the reduction in the number of arterial access points, the replacement of a traditional four-way intersection with a roundabout or a restricted crossing u-turn (RCUT), or left-turn prohibitions, have elicited expressions of concern from businesses that operate on property adjoining the improvements. The concern is that the improvement, by creating more circuitous access for motorists, will reduce customer traffic, thereby reducing revenue or the value of the affected commercial parcel. Furthermore the recently passed Senate Bill 666 requires consideration of these business impacts in those cases where the improvement requires the taking of land from a private business. VDOT has never compiled a data set of quantitative, Virginia-specific information regarding how access changes have affected adjacent businesses. This study seeks to fill that deficit by estimating the impacts of changes in access using a Virginia-specific data set. Three options will be explored: (1) measuring changes in economic activity more or less directly (via customer counts, night-time illumination, etc.) at affected businesses before and after an improvement that affected access to adjacent real estate parcels; (2) measuring changes in customer traffic indirectly by changes in revenue (or taxable sales) before and after; and (3) measuring changes in customer traffic even less directly by changes in parcel value. The goal is to retrieve information from a sufficient number of projects to permit an estimate of the impact that a commercial establishment can expect when VDOT investment changes motor vehicle access to the establishment’s property.