News Release

Brookings report finds that Atlanta region can move beyond sprawl: Remedies must go beyond traffic and air quality, and tackle sprawl’s “driving factors.”

March 15, 2000

Today, the Brookings Institution Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy released, “Moving Beyond Sprawl: The Challenge for Metropolitan Atlanta,” which examines growth and development trends in the Atlanta region.

According to Brookings Senior Fellow Bruce Katz, “The Atlanta region is far ahead of most U.S. metropolitan areas in recognizing the stresses associated with rapid growth. The creation of the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority was a major step forward in helping the region grow differently. But the challenges that now confront the region are not only those of relieving traffic congestion and improving air quality, but also of remedying the factors that produce explosive growth in some parts of the region and very little growth in others. If Atlanta is to move beyond sprawl, it must connect the consequences of too much growth to the issues surrounding too little growth.”

The report’s key findings are: (1) there is a stark divide between the affluent, fast-growing northern parts of the Atlanta region and poorer, slow-growing southern areas; (2) the challenges of the northern and southern portions of the region are fundamentally connected; and (3) the Atlanta region can move beyond sprawl and embrace a wide range of solutions that address the problems faced by both sides of the region.

These findings should be put into context. The report recognizes that many metropolitan regions in the U.S. face the same challenges as Atlanta, and that, recently, businesses and individuals have been moving into the city of Atlanta.

According to “Moving Beyond Sprawl” there are multiple, diverse contributors to explosive growth in some areas and very little growth in others, and the Atlanta region should adopt three kinds of strategies to deal with those contributors: (1) The Atlanta region should develop a transportation agenda that addresses land use and invests in public transit; (2) The region should create a housing agenda that gives low, moderate, and middle-income families housing choices throughout the region; and (3) The region should construct an economic investment agenda that leverages development in southern parts of the city of Atlanta and close-in southern suburbs.

In implementing these agendas, the region needs to recognize the pervasive role of race in shaping metropolitan growth patterns and undertake sustained efforts to give African-Americans and other minorities greater access to educational and economic opportunities.

“Atlanta,” Katz said, “can be a national model for reform and genuine change.”

About Brookings

The Brookings Institution is a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C. Our mission is to conduct in-depth, nonpartisan research to improve policy and governance at local, national, and global levels.