American Sprawl Slows to a Crawl

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June 16, 2015

A new study published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that new streets in metro areas are “being built more densely packed,” AP reports.

Researchers looked at nearly a century of U.S. street construction and found that sprawl steadily increased starting in 1920 and peaked in 1994, and has dropped ever since. Today’s sprawl in new street construction is 9 percent less than the peak two decades ago.

Sprawl was measured by the number of nodes in a street – the lower the number, the more the sprawl.

To do this, researchers looked at “construction of streets and how many roads meet at intersections to form corners or nodes,” the article says. “If an intersection had four nodes, essentially two streets in a traditional cross, that would be more dense than a dead end three-node intersection or a cul-de-sac with only one node.”

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