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A Ranking of the Most Sprawling U.S. Metro Areas, and Why You Should Care

Sprawl correlates with higher rates of obesity, traffic fatalities, ozone pollution, and lack of social capital.
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Sprawl may not be a four-letter word, but to many people it might as well be. You can include in that group the researchers at Smart Growth America, the national nonprofit coalition that advocates for “smart” development in U.S. metro areas—i.e., cities and towns with neighborhoods where people can walk or bike or use mass transit to get things done, rather than driving everywhere.

Back in 2002, in an attempt to quantify the extent and effects of sprawl development, Smart Growth released a report called Measuring Sprawl and Its Impact. This week, the group has come out with a follow-up study that uses more and better datasets to rank U.S. metro areas in terms of sprawl. It also outlines the human and economic costs of sprawl development.