M.S. (Master of Science)
Department of Earth, Atmosphere and Environment
The presence of interstate highways in rural areas improves access to nearby rural
communities and changes those communities’ spheres of influence. Research into
understanding how improved access from interstate highways affects rural communities
is needed. This case study was designed to investigate how rural communities changed
on the basis of population, vacancy, median home value, and median contract rent in the
short term after an interstate highway was completed nearby in the early 1990s.
The communities included in this study are incorporated cities, towns, villages
and census-designated places in non-metropolitan counties with at least one incorporated
city, town, village and census-designated place within 12 miles of an interstate
exit/entrance ramp on interstates that were completed in the mid-1990s. These include
83 rural communities in Illinois, 40 communities in Louisiana, and 6 in Missouri.
Using multivariate analysis of variance, I examined how rural communities
changed in the short term after an interstate highway was completed nearby. Using a
geographic information system and remotely sensed imagery, a more detailed analysis of
the changes experienced by the rural communities in the northern Illinois area of my
study was conducted. The results of the study suggest that the establishment of interstate
highways near rural communities in the early to mid-1990s did not drastically change the
rural communities close to the highways in the short term on the basis of population,
median home value, vacancy rate or median contract rent. These results are contrary to
what some politicians who advocates for building rural highways for economic
development purposes claim will happen after a rural highway is completed. These
results are consistent with recent research by Voss and Chi suggests that interstate
expansion did not necessarily bring prosperity with it, and it may at best simply serve to
support growth trends which were in place before the highway expansion began.
Metelko, John Paul, "The Short-Term Effects of interstate Highways on Small Rural Communities: A Case Study of I-39, I-49 and I-72, 1990 to 2000" (2019). Graduate Research Theses & Dissertations. 7436.
Northern Illinois University
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