Highway improvements and land development in Minnesota's greater twin cities area, 1970-1997

Laura J. Smith, John S. Adams, Julie L. Cidell, Barbara J. VanDrasek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


As increased traffic congestion becomes an issue in more and more cities across the country and especially in rapidly growing suburban areas, the following questions are often asked. How are improvements in highway transportation and patterns of land development in suburban and exurban areas related? Do road improvements encourage land development, or vice versa? The key question of leads and lags between transportation and development within cities and townships of the greater Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area was investigated for five time intervals between 1970 and 1997. Correlation and regression analyses were used to measure the strength and causality of relationships between highway improvements and the timing and levels of residential, industrial, commercial, and office development. Although statistical relationships describing correlations of leads, lags, and contemporaneous change were found to be highly significant, the measures of those relationships were seldom constant. They differed from one time period to the next, from one location to another within specific time periods, and from one type of development to another. The weakest relationships occurred in the most recent era (1990s) for all development types. Generally, industrial development seemed to be most influenced by transportation and location over the eras, followed by office and commercial construction. New housing seemed to be least affected by transportation and location; this finding may have major implications for addressing issues of traffic congestion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)48-55
Number of pages8
JournalTransportation Research Record
Issue number1885
StatePublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering


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