Long term impact of a major infrastructure project: the port of Gioia Tauro
This paper illustrates the story of the Port of Gioia Tauro, a major infrastructure investment co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund in the period 1994-1998, but whose origin dates back to the beginning of the 1970s. It draws from a recent ex-post evaluation carried out for the European Commission on a sample of ten major infrastructures in the Transport and Environment sectors aimed at assessing the long term effects produced by the project and interpreting the key determinants of the observed performance. The analysis shows an emblematic story of great business success and unexploited potential for local development: the overall assessment of the economic impact of the project is mixed, stressing the multi-faceted dimensions of development plans. In particular, the paper discusses to what extent factors such as governance, managerial response and social acceptability can be key determinants of long term effects of a large infrastructure project, more than forecasting capacity or project technical design. It also offers a pilot case testing an innovative evaluation exercise combining cost-benefit analysis with qualitative assessment and adopting a long-run perspective (30 years), which extends into both the past and the future, and requires a mix of retrospective and prospective analysis.
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