Evaluation of Social Impact: A Suggested Approach

Report No: 73-R10

Published in 1973

About the report:

In recent years, the investigation of the effects of highway improvements on the social structure existing in the chosen highway corridor has become a necessary part of the transportation planning process. The environmental impact statement, as required by the 1970 Federal Aid Highway Act, stipulates that the social effects of the proposed highway on a neighborhood or community be studied and that adverse effects be kept to a minimum. Of extreme importance in the planning and eventual construction of highways, then, is assurance of only minimal disruption of the surrounding social entities such as existing neighborhoods and communities. At the beginning of this study, it was assumed that the gathering of impact data must be predicated upon an ability to define the entity involved or at least to classify it. It was hypothesized that types of neighborhoods and communities could be identified and typologized, according to their expected reaction to the impact of highway development. However, a review of the literature revealed that such an approach was inadequate since the variables encountered would be infinite. Therefore, the authors decided to investigate several social units which were hypothesized to take on the appearance of a social group that is often termed a "neighborhood.'' The results of background research indicated that a singular set of methods and a problem directed research design would be considerably more informative and flexible for the purpose of impact evaluation than would the establishment of a series of residential categories. Both obtrusive and unobtrusive research measures were used to gain a working knowledge of the social groups. The success attained in using these measures to determine the neighborhood qualities of a residential area demonstrates the need for utilizing a combination of techniques in impact evaluation studies.

Disclaimer Statement:The contents of this report reflect the views of the author(s), who is responsible for the facts and the accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, or the Federal Highway Administration. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. Any inclusion of manufacturer names, trade names, or trademarks is for identification purposes only and is not to be considered an endorsement.


Other Authors

David R. Howell, Michael A. Perfater

Last updated: February 6, 2024

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