Assessing the Effects of Highway Improvements on Adjacent Businesses

Highway improvement projects may positively affect nearby businesses as better and safer roads induce increase travel and roadside business activities. However, highway improvements could also induce commercial gentrification – the process by which long-standing small businesses are displaced by newer small firms or chain businesses. The project aims to understand how trunk highway improvements in the Twin Cities metropolitan area affect the business composition of nearby and adjacent commercial corridors. Examining all of MnDOT’s major highway improvements (equal to or in excess of $15 million), we employ econometric tools such as matching and difference-in-differences analysis to analyze a 20-year panel dataset of businesses in the Twin Cities between 2000 and 2019. This project relies of methodology and data funded by the FY2020 Transitway Impacts Research Program (TIRP) project titled “Transitway Development and Commercial Gentrification”. We will synthesize the results from this project and the TIRP project to compare at both the neighborhood and corridor levels how the impacts of highway improvements on nearby businesses differ from those of transitway improvements. Additionally, to ensure a wide dissemination of the research results and inform the public about the differing impacts of highway and transitway improvements, we will visualize the predicted highway and transitway impacts on nearby businesses in an interactive online map. The map will also help to identify neighborhoods and corridors at high risks for commercial gentrification, i.e. areas with high concentrations of businesses likely to be negatively affected by nearby highway or transitway improvements (i.e. at-risk businesses).