Managing Decisions Regarding Rural Expressway Routes and Associated Bypasses

Project Details









Iowa Department of Transportation
Midwest Transportation Consortium

Principal Investigator
Reginald Souleyrette
Co-Principal Investigator
Chris Albrecht
Co-Principal Investigator
David Plazak
Student Researcher(s)
Joshua Hochstein

About the research

For several years, the Iowa Department of Transportation has constructed bypasses along rural highways. Most bypasses were constructed on the state?s Commercial Industrial Network (CIN). Now that work on the CIN has been completed and the system is open to traffic, it is possible to study the impacts of bypasses. In the past, construction of highway bypasses has led community residents and business people to raise concerns about the loss of business activity. For policy development purposes, it is essential to understand the impacts that a bypass might have on safety, the community, and economics. By researching these impacts, policies can be produced to help to alleviate any negative impacts and create a better system that is ultimately more cost-effective.

This study found that the use of trade area analysis does not provide proof that a bypass can positively or negatively impact the economy of a rural community. The analysis did show that, even though the population of a community may be stable for several years and per capita income is increasing, sales leakage still occurs. The literature, site visits, and data make it is apparent that a bypass can positively affect a community. Some conditions that would need to exist in order to maximize a positive impact include the installation of signage along the bypass directing travelers to businesses and services in the community, community or regional plans that include the bypass in future land development scenarios, and businesses adjusting their business plans to attract bypass users. In addition, how proactive a community is in adapting to the bypass will determine the kinds of effects felt in the community.

Results of statistical safety analysis indicate that, at least when crashes are separated by severity, bypasses with at-grade accesses appear to perform more poorly than either the bypasses with fully separated accesses or with a mix of at-grade and fully separated accesses. However, the benefit in terms of improved safety of bypasses with fully separated accesses relative to bypasses with a mixed type of accesses is not statistically conclusive.

Funding Sources:
Iowa Department of Transportation
Midwest Transportation Consortium