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Boston-Atlanta Metropolitan Axis

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Posted

I had to read a book called Neuromancer which was written back in the 80's that was set in an area called "The Sprawl," formally known as B.A.M.A. It ran from what has now become BosWash down through the Carolinas to Atlanta. With the north already filled in and continual growth in the Urban Crescent of NC, I figure that in the next few decades to come this could actually become a reality.

The definition of BosWash according to the oh so reliable Wikipedia is that it runs from Manchester, NH down to Norfolk-VA Beach-Newport News, VA/NC. So I would say the stretch from either Richmond or Norfolk to the Triangle (Raleigh-Durham, NC) would be the least dense in "The Sprawl" at this point. Beyond that, I-85 ties the Triangle, the Triad, and Charlotte metros pretty well together with relatively continuous development. Between Charlotte and Atlanta there is gradual outward growth in cities like Spartanburg and Greenville. You can even state the case for Birmingham that growth has come up in cities between Atlanta and Birmingham south of I-20.

BAMA.png

Nothing better than using Microsoft Paint for illustration. I was wondering what everybody else felt the future of the area will become. Will the eastern states eventually form one continual metro or will growth eventually curb elsewhere?

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Posted

Florida's east coast is getting quit dense as well, so in the future maybe the only gap will be between Savanah and Atl.

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Posted

Nothing better than using Microsoft Paint for illustration. I was wondering what everybody else felt the future of the area will become. With the eastern states eventually form one continual metro or will growth eventually curb elsewhere?

I think the eastern states will most definitely merge together (as in one huge urban area). Quite possibly the area of NC, SC, and GA. The I-20 corridor between Atlanta and Birmingham is really hit or miss. I see the area between Huntsville-Decatur and Birmingham becoming an huge urban area before the Atlanta-Birmingham corridor. But like I said, hit or miss.

Greater Birmingham IS experiencing HUGE growth, especially in the southern and eastern portions of the metro area. So, I think that eventually the Anniston-Oxford Metro Area and Greater Birmingham will meld. The gap between the two metros is gradually closing up. The cities between to two areas are some of the fastest growing in the state and are continually expanding.

But, I don't see a sprawl really joining together between Birmingham and Atlanta, mainly because of the Talladega National Forrest, but it's still possible.

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Posted

I have never heard that the BosWash area extends to Norfolk. That's a great find. link

16% of the US population reside here with a population of 44 million.

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Posted

The biggest gap right now I think is between the Raleigh area and Richmond. Most other gaps along 85 are small 1-10 miles and sometimes include some small towns.

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Posted

I think the eastern states will most definitely merge together (as in one huge urban area). Quite possibly the area of NC, SC, and GA. The I-20 corridor between Atlanta and Birmingham is really hit or miss. I see the area between Huntsville-Decatur and Birmingham becoming an huge urban area before the Atlanta-Birmingham corridor. But like I said, hit or miss.

Greater Birmingham IS experiencing HUGE growth, especially in the southern and eastern portions of the metro area. So, I think that eventually the Anniston-Oxford Metro Area and Greater Birmingham will meld. The gap between the two metros is gradually closing up. The cities between to two areas are some of the fastest growing in the state and are continually expanding.

But, I don't see a sprawl really joining together between Birmingham and Atlanta, mainly because of the Talladega National Forrest, but it's still possible.

I must concur. The massive amount of growth in St. Clair and Northern Talladega Counties has been miraculous. I've already heard that the commuting patterns of Gadsden, Anniston, and Tuscaloosa to Birmingham is up 15% in the past 5 years alone. I could see one day all of Central Alabama along I-65, I-59, and I-20 being urbanized in all directions from Birmingham.

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Posted

Yea, that new map looks more like what it might turn out to look like. Though, I don't know if Columbus would be included. There isn't much population between Montgomery and Columbus, except for Auburn, and Phenix City. That area would take a LONG time to develop into the area.

But, for the area of Atlanta, Birmingham, Montgomery (let's call it the AltaBirmEry Triangle), that shows promise, but, there would be more promise for an Atlanta, Birmingham (the Atlamingham Corridor). More economic movement occurs between Atlanta and Birmingham than between Atlanta and Montgomery (don't have a conjugative thingy for them :~), or between Atlanta and Columbus.

The Atlamingham area is already pretty much growing together, there's pretty much an area with a fair ecomic impact ever 10 or so miles.

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Posted

I know this doesn't follow the path, but the most developed lege going out of Atlanta is Atlanta to Chattanooga, not Atlanta to Birmingham. I would say ATL-CHA-Nashville has the most promise for large scale growth

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Posted

I know this doesn't follow the path, but the most developed lege going out of Atlanta is Atlanta to Chattanooga, not Atlanta to Birmingham. I would say ATL-CHA-Nashville has the most promise for large scale growth

well, to a certain extent, all major cities in the south have some amount of growth between them. Not discounting Tennessee cities, I was just going more for the "axis" idea. You can already see very defined lines of other "axes" on that map in states like TN, FL, and OH. They just don't go along with the BAMA. There is even a lighter axis between Raleigh and Augusta, GA that could potentially tie to Atlanta making a loop out of the southern axis someday.

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Posted

i hope we never see this. i kinda like having trees and wildlife.

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Posted

I have never heard that the BosWash area extends to Norfolk. That's a great find. link

16% of the US population reside here with a population of 44 million.

Well if that's the case, the name should be changed since Washington isn't the southernmost city of the megalopolis. But somehow, "BosNor" or "BosFolk" doesn't have the ring of "BosWash." :)

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Posted

Well if that's the case, the name should be changed since Washington isn't the southernmost city of the megalopolis. But somehow, "BosNor" or "BosFolk" doesn't have the ring of "BosWash." :)

The wikipedia article actually extended the area north too, to Portland. So I guess we could call it PorFolk.

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Posted

LOL. But I have a hard time imagining that the megalopolis actually extends as far as Norfolk and encompasses Richmond. While I know I-95 between Washington and Richmond is quickly filling in, for now most of that stretch is pretty development-poor.

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Posted

LOL. But I have a hard time imagining that the megalopolis actually extends as far as Norfolk and encompasses Richmond. While I know I-95 between Washington and Richmond is quickly filling in, for now most of that stretch is pretty development-poor.

I agree, but I'm sure it involves commuting patterns between communities. I know of several people (friends of friends) that live in Richmond and drive to DC. Wouldn't surprise me if there was a relatively strong commuting pattern between Norfolk and Richmond. Heck, I was driving up to Chapel Hill from Charlotte to see a friend today and there was heavy traffic the entire way. It never got to a standstill since I was driving inbetween rush hours, but I was in constant traffic all around the entire time. I should've kept going up towards Norfolk since I have nothing to do the rest of the day after I left CH. But now there is no doubt in my mind that there is heavy commuting patterns within the "Crescent."

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Posted

There are definitely people that live closer to Richmond but commute to DC (specifically, the NoVa 'burbs) for jobs.

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Posted

Yea, that new map looks more like what it might turn out to look like. Though, I don't know if Columbus would be included. There isn't much population between Montgomery and Columbus, except for Auburn, and Phenix City. That area would take a LONG time to develop into the area.

But, for the area of Atlanta, Birmingham, Montgomery (let's call it the AltaBirmEry Triangle), that shows promise, but, there would be more promise for an Atlanta, Birmingham (the Atlamingham Corridor). More economic movement occurs between Atlanta and Birmingham than between Atlanta and Montgomery (don't have a conjugative thingy for them :~), or between Atlanta and Columbus.

The Atlamingham area is already pretty much growing together, there's pretty much an area with a fair ecomic impact ever 10 or so miles.

The area between Columbus and Auburn is growing very fast. The U.S. 280 corridor is really taking off with new development. The Columbus/Atlanta corridor is exploding. LaGrange is growing fast. Also, the new Kia plant in LaGrange will bring more development between Atlanta and Columbus. There is a lot of new development being planned along I-185 between Columbus and LaGrange. Columbus and Atlanta's metro area already touch. The I-85 corridor will explode once Kia is finished

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Posted

Neuromancer is an awsome work of sci-fi-- very foward-thinking for being written in the early 80's. However, I think it takes place like a hundred years or so in the future?... maybe if that corridor were to continue at its current rate of sprawl... maybe. There's still a lot of room to sprawl in-between.

But that's a big assumption I think given the uncertainty regarding oil prices and supplies, and the far-off uncertainty regarding the next generation of car-transport technology (in addition to other things). Although the age-old debate regarding the self-sustainability of the current rate of sprawl has been hashed out considerably (not that there isn't plenty of more room for debate), I'm not totally knowledgable in that but I tend to think that it is not.

Whenever I think about sprawl and the South, I almost always think about the classic Lynyrd Skynyrd song 'all I can do is write about it'... "I can see the concrete slowly creepin'..."

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Posted

For some reason, I think most of us would really like to see something like this happen. :sick:

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Posted

I wouldn't say that people here advocate sprawl itself --this is the Urban Planet after all-- but the idea set forth in the books (apparently there are several placed in this setting) is of one continuous city. I know BosWash isn't exactly a continuous city without its fair share of badly planned strips malls and sprawly big boxes, but it represents one of the most densely populated spans in our country. I think the idea of one massive city is appealing on the "mine is bigger than yours" mentality that all humans have deep down. Same reason people like tall buildings.

As far as the automobile, of course we will someday come to rely on other things; at least I hope so. But with rising fuel costs just come higher costs of travel, not a significant decrease in travel. If gasoline reaches $4 a gallon, we'll be like the rest of the world; it's not that unusual on a global scale. We, as Americans, need to get over the idea that we should get gas cheaper than the rest of the world.

  • There are of course alternatives to driving. Let's go by cost:

  • Amtrak runs the full length of BAMA but takes longer then driving over long distances. According to Amtrak's website, a trip from ATL to BOS takes 21hrs 26mins and costs $418 round trip.

  • Mapquest states it would only take 18hrs 1min over a course of 1108.34 miles one way given ideal traffic. Let's say the average car 'nowadays' gets around 35mpg highway. That's 63.3 gallons of gas roundtrip. According to EIA's website (http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/oog/info/gdu/gasdiesel.asp) the average fuel price on the eastern seaboard is $2.93/gal. That's roughly $184 in gas.

  • Cheapest round trip flight from ATL to BOS is $171 through Northwest with a one stop travel time of 5 hours on top of the time it takes to arrive, claim bags, etc. So, let's say 9 or 10 hours to be fair.

So, as long as time is not of the essence, driving would be overall cheaper considering either one must pay for parking at the airport or pay money to get to and from there by taxi/bus/rail (pending you don't have a wonderful friend/family member to drop you off/pick you up.) Driving vs flying is debatable, but no other form of transit could get you through this span in a comparable manner. Thus, any major metro/megalopolis will have a great deal of commuting on the micro and macro levels.

itk, it's not so much a matter of sprawl itself filling in these areas, but the growth of smaller cities between these empty areas that will eventually help to form an, at least, suburban version of BAMA. Imagine these same areas twenty years ago; especially in Virginia and the Carolinas. There was nothing but farmland and a few blocks of midrises. All major growth has happened mainly in the last decade or so. Given thirty to forty more years, the possibilities of this stretch are limitless. If this ever happens, Virginia and South Carolina are in for a massive population and economic boom.

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Posted

[*] Mapquest states it would only take 18hrs 1min over a course of 1108.34 miles one way given ideal traffic. Let's say the average car 'nowadays' gets around 35mpg highway. That's 63.3 gallons of gas roundtrip. According to EIA's website (http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/oog/info/gdu/gasdiesel.asp) the average fuel price on the eastern seaboard is $2.93/gal. That's roughly $184 in gas.

Don't underestimate the cost of driving. Gas is not the only cost. Between DC and Boston alone you'd have to pay $40+ in tolls each way. You'd have to park wherever your destination is. You'd be due for an oil/filter change after making the round-trip. Also add the cost of a hotel/motel stay if you don't feel like taking an 18-hr drive straight on. And it's just about impossible to have "ideal traffic" during a trip up the entire eastern seaboard. You're going to hit peak hour somewhere, and it's hard to time getting through DC during their 3 hrs/day of non-congestion. The traffic adds to your time and eats up your fuel economy.

So the TRUE cost of a driving trip from Atlanta to Boston would look more like

$184 in gas + $40 tolls (are there any tolls on 98/85 south of DC?) + $30 oil change + $99 motel = $353 + at least $30/day parking at dest.

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Posted

I agree with you on the added costs, but I personally wouldn't tack on the motel, I'm a big fan of the straight drive. However, given all this, I will luckily never make this sort of trek so it doesn't matter.

Given the growth in place in each "axis," what sort of timetable do you think it would take to have enough growth between Raleigh and Richmond/Norfolk to consider BAMA an actuality?

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IMO, Neuromancer is one of the best books of the 20th c. It is, after all, where the term "cyberspace" comes from! I had to read it about 3 times before I really got what was going on, and yes, it is part of a trillogy. There's a 2nd trillogy that happens in the same world, too, but at a different time.

BAMA in the book is also known as "the Sprawl." In Gibson's world, thing just kept spreading out and connecting. There is no strong governtment control because multinational corporations wield all the power.

Could it happen? Maybe, but it would probably require the general social decay Gibson postulates as a precursor.

FWIW, Gasoline has always cost the same in the USA as in the rest of the world, they just have dramatic taxes that make it seem more expensive. Given the relative population densities, their taxes probably make sense, too. I've done the drive from south of Charlotte to DC a number of times. That part of the trip takes me around 10 hours. Did it once with a friend through the middle of the night, arriving at 6AM. Although the trains and planes cost more in your example (their prices go up as the price of fuel does), it doesn't include the value of time. I was talking to a guy who explained that Amtrack takes the same time, roughly, but you can sleep overnight and arrive downtown DC ready to start the day. Sounds pretty nifty, but I've never tried it.

There is a significant limiting factor to growth in Atlanta: water. They're already using about as much as there is available without changing the state constitution, which prohibits moving water between drainaige basins.

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Posted

Richmond to DC is pretty well developed. It may not seem it from I-95 but that is by design. Take route 1 next time.

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Posted

I don't foresee any growth between Richmond and Raleigh or between Raleigh and Norfolk (though I do think that the 64 in NC should be extended to Tidewater. It would be great for Tidewater to have a real link to the south).

The regions seem to ignore each other. The orientations are opposite of each other. There is no reason for them to grow together as they have no relationship to each other.

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I don't foresee any growth between Richmond and Raleigh or between Raleigh and Norfolk (though I do think that the 64 in NC should be extended to Tidewater. It would be great for Tidewater to have a real link to the south).

The regions seem to ignore each other. The orientations are opposite of each other. There is no reason for them to grow together as they have no relationship to each other.

That seems to be the biggest "gap" to overcome if the Sprawl were ever to become reality...

Not having an economist background, or a true planner background, I can only really speak with my transportation background. And unless employment centers continue to "sprawl" out with population, or "relocate/locate" in suburban areas further and further out, I just don't see how society can still handle the current rate of sprawl. As gas cost rise, and congestion increases, and the cost to improve highways/freeways increases tremendously (much faster than traditional measures of inflation), and the funds available at the federal and state level for transportation improvements does not increase anywhere near what is needed (even for *current* needs), it just seems to me to be unsustainable. Even if, one may argue, that it is more politically feasible/realistic to raise more funds for highway improvements in Southern states (where it may be more popular and digestible by the public).

Unless, one may argue, that transit, like light or heavy rail, may increase in popularity in the far-off future, that still would require higher-density developments to make that realistic. (Which may "cut into" low-density developments aka sprawl.) I say far-off, because, for example, I recently read about the TTA in NC giving up on its bid for FTA New Start funds. Partially, I'm assuming, because either they can wait forever for funding since they got a low rating (which may have been due to low ridership projections due to, among other things, low population density), or they can try and pursue other possibilities, whatever that might be.

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