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Mid-America Transportation Center

Quantifying Economic Benefits for Rail Infrastructure Projects

Final Report
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Researchers

  • Principal Investigator: Suzanna Long (longsuz@mst.edu 573-341-7621)
  • Project Status
    Complete
    About this Project
    Brief Project Description & Background
    Existing U.S. rail plans focus primarily on economic efficiency, and rarely include detailed analysis and metrics for conveying economic impact in meaningful ways to prospective stakeholders (e.g., jobs created, return on investments, and quantified measures of work-life balance). This proposed research uses case data collected during the Missouri Rail Plan effort to identify key stakeholder groups and define key economic impact metrics for each stakeholder group.
    Research Objective
    For this research, key stakeholders are mapped to infrastructure projects required to improve the current Missouri rail infrastructure using a process known as sociotechnical roadmapping (Long et al., 2013). This method maps the project outcomes with the economic development indicators. It is important to note that some social and environmental analyses are qualitative in terms of how projects contribute to economic development. It is sometimes difficult to quantify certain benefits. These can be evaluated in terms of the public’s willingness to spend money for a particular cause, such as funding a firehouse in order to save lives and property.
    Potential Benefits
    This proposed research will result in a validated method for quantifying economic benefits to multiple stakeholders for proposed rail infrastructure projects. Products include a sociotechnical roadmapping report, validated metrics, statistical analysis, and a training protocol developed with LTAP. All products will be contained in the research final report.
    Abstract
    This project identifies metrics for measuring the benefit of rail infrastructure projects for key stakeholders. It is important that stakeholders with an interest in community economic development play an active role in the development of the rail network. Economic development activities in both rural and urban settings are essential if a nation is to realize growth and prosperity. Many communities have developed goals and visions to establish an economic development program, but they often fail to achieve their goals due to uncertainties during the project selection and planning process. Communities often select a project from a vast pool of ideas with only limited capital available for investment. Selecting the right project at the right time becomes imperative for economic and community development. This process is significantly hampered by limited methods for quantifying the economic benefit to key stakeholders. 
    Project Amount
    $ $29,800