Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Bigger the Better?

Posted By on Wed, Jul 22, 2009 at 8:30 AM

This week, in our regularly scheduled print edition, I wrote about Memphis' new outer loop, I-269.

Though the highway is not yet completed, it will eventually connect Paul Barret Parkway near Arlington, travel south along the Shelby/Fayette county line, and link with the Bill Morris Parkway in the south, before heading across the state line to Marshall and DeSoto counties and Mississippi Highway 304.

Local proponents argue that it will relieve congestion and improve area air quality.

Community advocates, however, are concerned that the interstate will drive area residents and development further east, exacerbating Memphis' sprawl and costing taxpayers more money in new infrastructure, schools, and service.

As part of the story, I have a lot of interesting maps and graphics — most of which did not make it into the story b/c of how much space we needed for the words.

For the next few days, I will be posting these maps. Some of them illuminate the city's situation, wherein the actual population is not growing (except with the shoring up of annexation) but getting more and more spread out.

Or, as I like to call it, sprawly.

Others show the effects of the sprawl on our lives in say, commute times or concentrations of poverty.

In 1960, most of the people in the county lived within the area that is currently the 240 loop. The theory in the '50s was that perimeter highways would create a growth boundary for development and route traffic around a city. But the opposite happened: instead of highways circling around a community, the community circled around the highways.

The following were created by Dane Forlines at the University of Memphis. Each dot on the maps represents 300 residents.







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