Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Sprawl? So What?

Posted By on Tue, Jul 28, 2009 at 8:05 AM

[In this week's Memphis Flyer, I wrote about Memphis' new outer loop, I-269. This is the last in a series of maps and graphics that I think help illuminate that story.]

So we're sprawly ... Who cares, right?

People are allowed to live wherever they want, if they have the means, and who are we to say otherwise? I agree, to a certain point, but in many ways, this is a situation where some people are subsidizing the choices of others.

Even if that wasn't the case, however, living close to schools, shops, work, each other seems -- in general -- to be a good thing.

In 2000, people who lived in the section of downtown near the I-40 bridge drove an average 0 - 17 minutes to get to work.

eec7/1248731371-2000_commutea.jpg

In 2009, people who live in that area drove an average 34 - 38 minutes to get to work.

ef47/1248731406-2009_commute.jpg

Most everybody else's commute times increased, too, altho not quite as significantly.

What strikes me is exactly how spread out we are, especially in comparison to other cities. L.A., for instance, is almost synonymous with sprawl, yet when Memphis is annexed out, it will include roughly the same area with a fraction of the population.

Here is how Memphis' I-69 loop would look on other cities. Just for comparison's sake.

20a0/1248731595-losangeles.jpg

bf6c/1248731536-nashville.jpg

f4e1/1248731645-atlanta.jpg

dfc8/1248731615-houston.jpg

Okay, keep Houston (above) in mind for a second. Rice University did this really great -- and kind of pretty -- ring road graphic recently. Memphis is not on it, but I think -- if you look at the Houston graphic and this -- you can see just about where Memphis falls.

26c4/1248731826-93_ringroads.png

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