New Infrastructure’s Impact On Retail and Commerce

Our roads, bridges, mass transit systems, air and sea ports, and water infrastructure are critical national assets that drive growth, jobs, and economic health. When our infrastructure ages it prompts debate on government spending. When our economic rivals invest in infrastructure it elicits fear.
New Infrastructure Completion

Above: Orbital Insight GO monitors traffic to measure the impact of new infrastructure completion.

The Drowning of Bridge RM 2900

Our data timeline on the RM2900 Bridge in Texas, as seen here, demonstrates the highs and lows of activity associated with the rebuilding of the original structure washed away in October 2018 during a flood surge at the Llano River arm of Lake LBJ.

Higher Foot-Traffic On New Bridge

From January 2017 right through to the bridge’s collapse in October 2018, GO’s foot traffic data showed a mostly stable reading, ranging between 10 and 20. Not surprisingly, the reading fell to just above the zero baseline during the reconstruction stage. Upon the opening of the new bridge, the reading jumped to above 30, then slid to the high 20s before eventually stabilizing at just above the pre-collapse levels. The probable explanation for the brief foot-traffic surge could be visitor curiosity over the new bridge and its upgrades.

Spike In Restaurant Traffic

Compared to the foot-traffic on the bridge, activity at restaurants in the periphery was in stark contrast. From negligible counts prior to the bridge’s collapse, the reading for the restaurant traffic suddenly surged to above 1,500 during the reconstruction stage, before stabilizing at under 500. It hit 1,500 again upon the bridge’s reopening and has remained mostly above 1,000 since. The surge during the construction stage was probably due to the round-the-clock work and demand for food from the building crews. The higher traffic since could be due to the pedestrian surge on the new bridge and its spillover to the restaurant area.

Retail Traffic Still Mute

Compared to the restaurant traffic, activity at the shopping area next to the bridge again showed a lack of correlation. Retail traffic did rise upon the reopening of the bridge, but the change wasn’t as much as the foot-traffic on the bridge itself. This probably has to do with the larger woes of the retail sector in attracting traffic, rather than a causal effect of the bridge or its attractions.

RM2900 Completion and Traffic Impacts

Above: Orbital Insight GO monitors the completion of RM 2900 and its impact on local commerce.

Knowing The Economic Value of Bridges

Understanding the economic value of bridges, the need for new ones and reducing reconstruction wherever possible can be quite meaningful for city savings. GO’s varying foot-traffic data on the new RM 2900 clearly shows that benefits aren’t the same for the retail and food sectors in the vicinity.

Bridge Works Can Add Up Very Quickly In Costs

The simplest bridge works typically cost between $250,000 and $500,000, and can very quickly scale up, depending on what needs to be done. The bill for RM 2900 was dozens of times higher than the simple estimates here. There are 600,000 bridges in the United States and even if city authorities decide that 0.1% of them don’t need reworking, that could be a savings opportunity of up to $300 million based on the higher end of the costing sample.

Tying Infrastructure Upgrades With Foot-Traffic For Better Decision-Making

With GO, federal agencies, city municipalities and corporations can make quicker and more informed decisions on key operational and costing matters such as upgrades and expansion, hiring and furloughing, and inventory builds and reduction.

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