Impact of Urban Sprawl on Travel Behaviors and Local Watersheds in the Auburn–Opelika Metropolitan Area: A Case Study on a Small MSA

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Selima Sultana, Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: Urban sprawl bas been a major policy issue for some time in academia as well as in American politics because it has a significant impact on environmental characteristics of urban areas. Among others, it consumes large amounts of agricultural and forested lands, increases congestion, travel time and air pollution, and misallocates land resources. It also discourages development of public transportation as infrastructure costs become higher in scattered developments, resulting in inefficient use of energy. Most attention in the USA has been given to large cities because it is assumed that sprawl is only a phenomenon of the larger metropolitan areas. However, urban sprawl is a growing problem in smaller communities as well (Weber and Maret, 2003). This study examines a relatively small Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), Auburn-Opelika, Alabama (population 115,092) by using the most recent Census Population and Housing Summary File 3 (STF 3) data and a geographic information system (GIS) technique to determine the potential impacts of urban sprawl on travel behaviors of the local population and its growing pressure on local watersheds over the period 1990-2000. Our measure of urban sprawl suggests that the urban growth pattern over the last decade has been more towards sprawl than the local planning commission's claim of smart growth. This sprawl like growth pattern over the last decade has increased commuting times for Auburn-Opelika residents. and furthermore, associated land use changes have increased pressure on local watersheds. This research implies that small MSAs should no longer be excluded from the discussion of potential impacts of urban sprawl in the US.

Additional Information

Papers and Proceedings of the Applied Geography Conference, Vol. 26, pp. 20–28
Language: English
Date: 2003
urban sprawl, watershed, Auburn-Opelika, MSA

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