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Study suggests roads do not ensure development in the Alps

Jan 17, 2013 / alpMedia
An investigation conducted throughout the Alps for the first time compares the accessibility of regions with their economic growth. Should a road be just wide enough to allow progress in?
Image caption:
The larger the road leading to a location, the better its economic situation? Not necessarily so, says a recently published study. © roadrunner38124 /
Policymakers often assert that the building and expansion of roads brings economic growth. The Alps-wide study "The significance of the accessibility factor for the Alpine space" now indicates that good accessibility alone does not necessarily guarantee that a region will develop positively. The study examined the relationship between the number of people living in a community as an indicator of progress, and the time needed to reach the locality by car.
The result of the study was that policymakers often overestimate the significance of accessibility for regional development. For instance, tourism can in fact benefit from poor connections: holidaymakers remain longer in one location, while accommodation and restaurants are full. Wide roads on the other hand bring day trippers who leave again in the evening. Fast roads frequently also slow down the capacity of a region to develop independently, with communities offering little other than a place to live. The study therefore recommends that those municipalities along large traffic axes and on the edge of the Alps that are easily accessible and have strong population growth should maintain and promote their regional centres.
Study author Frieder Voll was awarded the Thesis Price for 2012 by ICAS, the Interacademic Commission for Alpine Studies.

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