This post features an analysis of data from the Minnesota Transportation Finance Database.
How do Minnesota cities compare to each other in local transportation expenditures? Figure 1 maps per capita transportation expenditure of 100 Minnesota cities with population around or larger than 10,000 in FY2010. According to governmental fund data provided by the State Auditor Office, most cities spent about $100-$400 per capita in the year, but there are several cities that spent less than $100 and other higher than $500.
Figure 2 zooms in and shows only those cities in the Twin Cities metro area, where, interestingly, we see variations at both ends. Three cities — Forest Lake, Arden Hills, and Inver Grove Heights – were the top spenders on local transportation improvements, while two cities – Shoreview and Waconia – seemed to spend much less than the average.
Note that we cannot rush to conclusions with such simple comparisons. GIS analysis helps us visualize and identify patterns that may worth further probing. Like other big-item capital outlays, transportation spending in a locality tends to fluctuate over time and is significantly affected by many external factors, for example, the scale of economy, population growth, population density, and current road conditions. More research will be needed to understand what affects the need, the capacity, and the effort of local transportation investment across cities.