Predicting the ongoing rapid urbanization of the South

The American South is known for its sprawling cities and one new model suggests this will continue in force in coming decades:

New predictions map the future spread of urban sprawl in Dixie, and it is immense. Basing their model on past growth patterns and locations of existing road networks, researchers at North Carolina State University projected the region’s expansion decades into the future. According to their forecast, the Southern urban footprint is expected to grow 101 percent to 192 percent.

The projected map in 2060:

Read the full paper here. As the discussion section notes, the model doesn’t really account for future decisions in opposition to current patterns. In other words, such a model is not deterministic: it is based on past data but communities could make decisions that continue down this path (and even intensify urban growth beyond the predictions here) or pursue different patterns of urban growth (say if New Urbanism catches on in a big way and exurban growth slows quite a bit).

Put another way, is it possible to imagine an American South that in 50 or 100 years wouldn’t be noted for its sprawl?

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