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Gannett reported Governor Cuomo is set to announce $100 million for Rochester’s long-awaited I-390 interchange at Kendrick Road. This would be a feeder directly onto the University of Rochester campus.

(Gannett linked the funding announcement to Buffalo’s $1 billion gift, as if to say, “See Rochester, you got money, too!” I fail to see the connection, especially since Buffalo will likely get heaps of additional infrastructure money.)

In praising the announcement, local leaders called the interchange a job-creator. Sandy Parker from the Rochester Business Alliance:

The Center for Governmental Research estimated that this infrastructure will be instrumental in institutional growth and business development that could add more than 20,000 direct and indirect jobs to the region over the next 20 years.

Joel Seligman, president of the U of R:

It will enable the University of Rochester to create literally thousands of jobs and help position us as one of the leading research universities of the 21st century.

But this is what CGR actually had to say in an April 2010 report on the college’s economic impact:

Initial estimates show the project may generate 1,660 jobs and produce nearly $83.5 million in labor income with the primary benefit resulting from the construction related work during implementation of the project. Non-construction or “catalytic” economic impacts have not been quantified.

I’m skeptical about whether highway projects create non-construction jobs or merely move them around. Highway projects shift neighborhoods, development and resources. Does the U of R want us to believe it would not continue its dramatic expansion without an off-ramp?

There’s no question Mt. Hope Ave. is too congested. But a huge widening and reconstruction is planned. The CollegeTown development is billed as a pedestrian-friendly, urban village, not a mall that needs an exit.

Finally, do you really want to make it so easy for people to leave the city? Learning from mistakes of the past, the city is trying to fill in the Inner Loop that acts as an escape hatch for visitors. A 390 interchange in the city could hurt – not help – Brooks Landing as people would be able to bypass the neighborhood altogether.

This project might be the just what the city needs, but I’m not convinced.

One Response to Do Highways Really Create Jobs?

  1. all roads used to lead to Kodak. Now, they’ll just lead to Strong.

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