John R. Mullin, Chair - Elisabeth Hamin, Member
The passage of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) of 1991 represented a major shift in federal transportation policy. ISTEA recognizes the interrelated nature of the country's transportation network, and the benefits of coordinating multiple transportation modes. More importantly, for the first time states could spend their share of federal transportation money (raised from gasoline taxes) on public transportation projects.
The ISTEA legislation gave priority to transportation projects that could spur economic development. In Massachusetts and across the country intermodal transportation centers were planned to facilitate efficient transit connections and to help revitalize cities and towns. Intermodal transportation centers have recently opened in Boston, Worcester and Pittsfield. In western Massachusetts new centers are planned for Greenfield, Holyoke, Westfield, and Springfield. In each case, the project is part of an effort to revitalize the downtown area.
New facilities are being built even though the link between transportation and economic development is far from clear. Recent literature and case studies describing the impact that transportation has on economic development show mixed results. The two major goals of the Master's project are to describe the debate surrounding transportation and economic development, and to showcase a successful case study in order to illustrate the context that must be set in order to achieve success.