Atlanta traffic blues: No. 1 for sprawl


Atlanta traffic blues: No. 1 for sprawl

Yes, your commute really is that long.

Metro Atlanta is the most sprawling of all U.S. major metropolitan areas, according to a report released Wednesday by an anti-sprawl organization.

The organization, Smart Growth America, promotes dense development accompanied by mass transit and pedestrian-friendly planning.

Sprawl — even the word sprawl — is a controversial topic here. Some like the things that go with spread-out development: the freedom to live on large pieces of land, with quiet cul-de-sacs and fewer restrictions on where and how to build.

Others decry the burden that puts on taxpayers, who must supply services such as copious roadbuilding and re-paving to accommodate the longer miles driven by all those far-flung cars.

That’s when the issue gets hairy: Which should government subsidize? Long sewer systems and highways to spread-out suburbs? Or expensive train networks to help denser developments?

In 2002 findings from the same organization, Atlanta ranked 4th, though the ranking system was different. (The group has posted the 2014 report today at this link where the 2002 report is already posted).

But this week Metro Atlanta Chamber officials were quick to point out the Atlanta region is changing. A study last year by another “smart growth” advocate, Chris Leinberger, argued the metro Atlanta market was speaking, with increasing investment going to denser, pedestrian-friendly developments. Such investment went from 10 percent in the 1990s to 50 percent in the years since 2009, he found.

Some libertarians think that’s just tinkering at the edges, and Atlanta will always be too spread-out to justify investing in transit.

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