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Economic Development Research Group Blog

The Evolution of Transportation + Economic Development: Ten Takeaways from I-TED 2018

ITED_GW Glen Weisbrod Presenting at I-TED 2018
The I-TED Conference on Transportation and Economic Development has now concluded. Judging by the reaction of all the participants with whom I’ve spoken, it was a tremendous success.  Here are some personal observations. The field of Transportation and Economic Development has really matured.  I’ve been going to this conference series since they started in 1989, and we’ve come a long way since then.  A dominant focus of presentations at the 1989 conference was showing how transportation investment supports jobs.  At this conference, in contrast, we had speakers talking about how economic development is (or should) factor in transportation decision processes for asset management, right sizing, maintenance and repair, finance, operations and programming, prioritization, long term planning and resilience evaluation. The speakers and poster session offered a substantial set of examples of how various transportation agencies are now carrying out such processes. The conference was also organized in a way that...
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Planning for Rapid Technological Change in Transportation and Mobility Services

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Hardly a day passes without websites, newspapers, and TV news trumpeting our entry into an era of “self-driving cars” and “smart everything.” More and more, our everyday lives are digitally connected and facilitated, enabling us to shop from our phones, have up-to-the-minute travel information, and instantly share information with anyone, anywhere. As the digitization of our society grows and computing power becomes more portable and affordable, we continue to rush headlong into a future of both technological promise and societal challenges. Within this context of technology-enabled and driven innovations and opportunities, the nation’s transportation needs are similarly rapidly evolving. The advances in information technologies and business processes are enabling new forms of integrated transportation services that span multiple modes providing both passenger and freight services. At the same time, planners and researchers need to recognize that the rapid pace of technological change and digital information systems in transportation is occurring...
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TRANSIT’S ROLE IN HIGH TECH ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

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The advertisement of Amazon searching for a new location for its headquarters has brought to the forefront the specific search criteria that the company is using to evaluate potential locations. In response to this advertisement, the New York Times wrote an article, "Dear Amazon, We Picked Your New Headquarters for You," applying their search criteria, including economic data, to estimate which city has the highest likelihood of being selected. One specific criteria mentioned is the availability of mass transit. In their own words “An Amazon priority is mass transit, and it has asked applicants to provide their traffic congestion rankings during peak commuting hours. These remaining metro areas are among the top 15 in the country in the share of workers who commute by transit, according to the American Community Survey.” A reason for this request is likely because continued growth in technology-oriented businesses in urban locations will require increasing...
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A Balanced Examination of HSR and National Transportation Needs

It’s time for a balanced dialog on infrastructure investment needed to support our nation’s economic vitality for the future. We need to get beyond advocacy arguments where someone first decides the answer and then selectively picks facts to bolster it. Let’s learn from the article on high speed rail by columnist Robert Samuelson that was recently published in Newsweek[1]It is useful because it illustrates all three classic elements of erroneous reasoning that many of us learned in school debate and statistics classes:

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