What's the solution to urban sprawl?

You've probably heard the term "urban sprawl" before. But it may have been a while since the last time you heard it, and it may be difficult to put your finger on exactly what it means in the first place.

August 2, 2016

By: Patrick Dunn, Metromode

You've probably heard the term "urban sprawl" before. But it may have been a while since the last time you heard it, and it may be difficult to put your finger on exactly what it means in the first place.

There are good reasons for that. Detroit planning director Maurice Cox says Metro Detroiters have been living with urban sprawl for over a generation.

"At this point, so many resources have been invested into configuring lifestyles for how people live, work and play around the automobile and highway infrastructure," Cox says, "that we've come not even to question it. Entire generations have grown up in it and know no other urban paradigm."

So what is urban sprawl, exactly?

 

Wayne Beyea, an outreach specialist in the Michigan State University School of Planning, Design and Construction, describes it as development in "places that are otherwise not properly served by infrastructure and the critical mass for successful urban development."

In Metro Detroit sprawl dates back to the late 1960s, when residents began to flee the central city for outer-ring suburbs. That trend grew steadily over the ensuing decades, fueled by federally-subsidized highway expansion and housing development combined with racial tensions. Within forty years, hundreds of square miles of rural countryside were transformed into suburbia. . . [Urban & Regional Planning specialist Wayne Beyea talks about fighting back against urban sprawl]

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