Friday, January 06, 2012

Pittsburgh Sprawl Map and Talk on Urbanophile

Image from Urbanophile (Screen capture from TEDxPittsburgh - Don Carter - 2.4 Million)

Aaron Renn of The Urbanophile blog has a great post up, that includes a graphic display of sprawl in the Pittsburgh region. Also, included is the earlier and even more dramatic picture of sprawl in Buffalo, from a Chuck Banas post on the subject.

Read all the comments, which include many interesting links. Several people point out the map is a bit deceptive since it doesn't compare with the region's peak population of around 2.7-2.8 million reached in the 1960's. Even so, what one sees is a dramatic increase in land use for a population that stayed pretty close to the same.

A few people thought things didn't look that bad relative to sprawl in other regions.

My response:

I would love to see some kind of estimate of infrastructure costs per person. (LOL, since these are “public goods” nobody has likely tried to come up with that number)

My guess is that the Pittsburgh region has to have one of the highest costs. Whatever the relative level of sprawl here, one has to see every small bit of it as very, very expensive.

After, Venice, the Pittsburgh area has the largest number of bridges–over rivers, over hollows, over gorges and across valleys. These don’t come cheap. Add to that, a good number of tunnels.

Of course, that just scratches the surface of the massive environmental impact. Not surprisingly, the area is known for areas of very poor air quality and a flash flood risk from storm drainage problems.

The area also is pretty close to leading in the number of bridges considered substandard.

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