While cities have no control over whether or not they get a bypass, they can control how much research they put into predicting the impacts the city will face and prepare the community. Proper research can be done by speaking to other cities for advice and information, browsing online articles or forums and committing to a complete analysis of the business and economic benefits. Whether it’s business or a sense of community, protecting the core of the city is the primary concern.
Research and predictions
City Administrator Chris Nosbisch from Mount Vernon, Iowa, stated that they have interacted with other communities within the same state and similar area to gain a better understanding of how the bypass will impact them. Mount Vernon’s bypass is expected to be completed in 2020. Nosbisch commented that the best way to handle the situation is to get out in front of the project, take charge and plan for it.
“A lot of misconceptions are out there when it comes to a bypass,” elaborated Nosbisch. “A lot of perceptions are that a bypass will hurt and take business away from the community. Those are some perceptions we’re fighting right now.”
It’s important to remember that every city is different, making every outcome vary. The city council plans to have a discussion to look at all potential issues so a plan can be put in place before the construction process starts. Mount Vernon will be planning three years ahead so that it will be well prepared in dealing with the situation.
The bypass in Lancaster, Ohio, was completed in 2006. Lancaster was a city that crunched its own numbers while completing thorough research and discussion to make relatively accurate predictions on the potential effect of the bypass. Director of Lancaster Economic Development Mike Pettit has conducted a variety of analysis reports to keep track of the community’s growth and retails sales.
Lancaster’s traffic quality has greatly improved, leaving its downtown area open to local traffic rather than industrial trucks that now use the bypass to reach industrial parks more easily. The Lancaster community has taken full advantage of the bypass and has used it as an opportunity to create more investment. While there is the normal expectancy of a reduction in retail and car sales, Lancaster’s survival and economic growth can be attributed to the fact that the bypass was openly welcomed.
With every new community change, there will always be some reaction that is both positive and negative during the adjustment period. Some cities will also have some added maintenance work when it comes to road care, which may put some stress upon the road work budget, and a few businesses may see a decline in sales, but travel will become safe and quick.
The advantages Mount Vernon will witness and that Lancaster has seen is that much of the heavy traffic will be shifted away from the downtown areas. While Lancaster residents have found their alternate commuter routes long ago, Mount Vernon commuters, who travel to Cedar Rapids,will cut down their driving time. Mount Vernon will continue to pull in visitors since Cornell College is located there. Nosbisch is more concerned with residents losing the sense of heart within their community.
“People come to shop and attend events here,” commented Nosbisch. “Maybe some of the growth will be unwanted. We don’t want to lose the sense of what the community is.”
Lancaster has experienced primarily positive and beneficial outcomes. The city took advantage of the bypass with the utility infrastructure, which made truck access easy and more marketable as an industrial area. Lancaster has been able to bring residents back to the streets since truck drivers found a more accessible way into the industrial parks.
“It didn’t just happen,” commented Pettit. “We had to put things in place. Our industrials are at full capacity. We had a lot more offer to succeed going into the bypass versus without it. It’s driven up our commerce instead of driving it down.”
Lancaster has seen a 1 percent population growth every year since the completion of the bypass. Pettit conducts annual analysis reports to ensure Lancaster’s consistent thriving. One of Pettit’s analysis reports had shown that car sales have grown and more retail has been added to prevent the off-setting of increase in costs, proving that there had been a vast improvement in sales.
Lancaster has pulled its people back in since getting the trucks off of the main downtown street, which has helped the side streets. While the city is literally being bypassed, Pettit claimed that it had put Lancaster even more on the grid, making it a destination region for shopping and healthcare. “Downtown has had a tremendous comeback with lots of new restaurants, attention on historical buildings and the ability of another historic building being refurbished,” added Pettit. “Our downtown has truly flourished from this.”
A bypass for the bypass
Kokomo, Ind.’s, original bypass was expanded upon by businesses. The land was soon bought and built by businesses that typically flounder such as gas stations and fast food restaurants, creating congestion and longer travel times that resulted into a need for another bypass.
“A moratorium on development was put into place along the roadway’s path as the project got underway so that zoning regulations could be updated,” informed Greater Kokomo Economic Development Alliance President and CEO Charlie Sparks. “Now that the moratorium was lifted, development is being controlled by zoning restrictions. This keeps retail and commercial enterprises didn’t shift away from the core city. A complete analysis of the economic benefits found that the new bypass would have a positive economic impact.”
Kokomo is surrounded by agricultural work, meaning that tractor traffic adds to congestion. Due to the most recent bypass, there has been an 80 percent decrease in tractor traffic. A recent business analysis performed by the Indiana University Kokomo Master of Business Administration students, commissioned by the GKEDA, found that despite the decrease in traffic, the businesses along the original bypass reported increases in sales.