Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



Major Professor

James A. Spencer

Committee Members

Walter L. Shouse, Kenneth B. Kenney


The purpose of this investigation was to prove that state highway departments are assumed to be technical experts and that this role conception, in fact, enables them to make intuitive political decisions under the guise of technical expertness. The location of Interstate 40 through the black community in North Nashville was used as a case in point.

In order to examine the interaction of the various actors involved, the author emphasized selected decision strategies for each and related the theoretical setting to the legislated, hierarchical, and procedural framework in which highway location decisions are actually made. The extent of rationality and comprehensiveness in the decision-making process in this case study was also analyzed in light of rational decision theory.

It was found that state highway departments are in a position in which they are free to make incremental, political decisions as well as quantified, technically rational decisions. The author concluded that the local government was the primary beneficiary of an interurban Interstate and should have considerably more influence in routing decisions than is permitted in the existing institutional setting.

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