The Trail Bridge Return on Investment

Trail bridges return a significant economic benefit to rural communities. Dollar for dollar, they’re one of the best investments we can make in poverty alleviation.

The return on investment for a trail bridge is high. In a study conducted on B2P trail bridges in Nicaragua, economists at Yale and Notre Dame determined that the average annual return on investment (ROI), calculated as an internal rate of return, for a B2P trail bridge was 19%. In a follow-up study currently underway in Rwanda, the research team has estimated through preliminary results that the annual ROI for B2P trail bridges in Rwanda and similar geographies is 49%, even accounting for a higher bridge cost associated with shifts in materials and safety practices. Put simply, this means that if you put $100,000 into an investment fund rather than using it to build a bridge, it would return $49,000 each year. You could also think about the average B2P bridge in Rwanda as “paying for itself” well within three years. 

This return includes economic benefits like wage income and farm profits but does not account for the influence that other outcomes like increased education and health access almost certainly return in terms of economic impact. Additionally, these values are based on our most conservative estimates for the population served by a bridge and do not account for the broader regional connections made by our trail bridges, as indicated by our catchment surveys.

The full report is available here.