The Economic Impacts of Terrorist Attacks

The Economic Impacts of Terrorist Attacks

Edited by Harry W. Richardson, Peter Gordon and James E. Moore II

Focussing on the economics of terrorism in the post 9/11 world, this book brings together original research based on the collaborative efforts of leading economists and planners. The authoritative and expert contributors use a variety of methodological approaches and apply them to different types of terrorist attacks (on airports, highways, seaports, electric power infrastructure, for example).

Chapter 15: The Transportation Implications of a Terrorist Attack on Seattle’s Highway Network

Chang-Hee Christine Bae, Larry Blain and Alon Bassok

Subjects: economics and finance, public sector economics, transport, environment, disasters, transport, politics and public policy, terrorism and security, urban and regional studies, transport


Chang-Hee Christine Bae, Larry Blain and Alon Bassok INTRODUCTION The range of potential terrorist attacks on targets in the United States is very wide, and predictability by location and type is even less than for natural disasters. Many, if not most, potential attacks can be divided into three categories: symbolic targets, infrastructure destruction, and antipersonnel. Some attacks would include all three, such as 9/11 itself. This chapter examines an infrastructure attack in the Seattle metropolitan region (more specifically, the four counties – King, Pierce, Snohomish and Kitsap – covered by the Puget Sound Regional Council, Seattle’s Metropolitan Planning Organization). An obvious symbolic attack would be to bring down the Space Needle, the 520-foot tower built as part of the 1962 World Fair. However the direct economic impact of such an attack would be very small, although there might be indirect economic effects in the form of deterred investment. A pinpointed attack on infrastructure, especially transportation infrastructure, on the other hand, could have devastating consequences. Primary reasons are the characteristics of Seattle’s topography, the current state of the transportation network, and the fact that the road network is already very congested, especially in peak hours. The Puget Sound metropolitan region has great natural beauty, but its lakes, forests, hills and nearby mountains interfere with the smooth flow of transportation. To make matters worse, the State of Washington has, over many decades, underinvested in highways as a matter of public policy. Among large metropolitan areas, the Puget Sound Region has an average...

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