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(OWN-1879) Evaluating Social Return on Investment for Rural Infrastructure Funding Decisions

Primary Author: Dr Maria Catalina Miller
Co-Author(s): Mr Jorge Andres Rueda-Benavides; Dr Douglas D Gransberg PE CCP

Audience Focus: Basic
Application Type: Application
Venue: 2015 AACE International Annual Meeting, Las Vegas, NV, USA

Abstract: Social Return on Investment (SROI) has long been used by international development agencies as a means to differentiate between dissimilar projects. Its primary strength is the ability to quantify the socioeconomic impact on a community of an infrastructure enhancement. This paper critically evaluates SROI as decision criterion for US rural highway infrastructure projects. Transportation has long used average daily traffic as the primary criterion for allocating scarce construction and maintenance funding. However, research has shown that the socioeconomic of one truck loaded with crops for market is far greater than that of a single passenger car carrying a commuter to work. The paper demonstrates the mechanics of SROI via two Iowa case study bridge projects and finds that SROI provides a reliable metric for identifying low traffic volume infrastructure projects whose impact on the region’s economy justifies allocating funding to reconstruct or repair over high volume options in the same area.