Local News

Research suggests 'megalopolis' for NC in decades to come

Posted December 9, 2013

— North Carolina is expected to grow by at least a million people a decade for the next few decades, and researchers are beginning to get a sense of where they're all going to end up.

Rebecca Tippett, with the Carolina Population Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, says it’s projected that, by 2050, there will be a megalopolis – defined as an area that includes several large cities – along the Charlotte, Triad, and Triangle corridor.

"You have interconnected communities that cross municipality boundaries, that cross county lines," she said.

Studies show North Carolina's rural areas, roughly one-third of the counties statewide, will experience a population decrease in the coming years. A majority of the population increase will be along the Interstate 85 corridor in places such as Efland in Orange County.

Tippett says the growth will spur future needs, including schools, health clinics, water lines and transit.

"All of this requires some investment, but what those investments are is going to depend very much on how we decide we want to look and grow," she said.

Researchers at UNC believe city and county planners need to come together to best decide how they want this potential mega-region to look decades from now.


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  • burnhace Dec 11, 2013

    I don't know what Dr. Tippett's criteria are, but I would say that the Carolina megalopolis is already here and includes cities in South Carolina as well, possibly even Atlanta. The I-85 corridor is a transformational economic force which would benefit greatly from government investment in high-speed rail infrastructure to meet the growing population demands of the 3rd Millennium. Unfortunately, there are those who seek to turn back the clock to a time that will never exist again no matter how wonderful it might have seemed. Their conservative instincts would be best served by focusing on preserving green space, farms, and other ecological resources, and protecting them from exurban sprawl. The future is coming whether we are ready or not.

  • mafiamic Dec 10, 2013

    We all live on the edge of town Where we all live ain't a soul around People start a-comin' All we do is just a-grin
    Said we gotta move out'Cause the city's movin' in
    I said we gotta move out'C ause the city's movin' in.

  • emaleth Dec 10, 2013

    Time to start building up instead of out.

  • Steven Dec 10, 2013

    Wow talk about knee-j*** reactions from some folks. Get a grip!

  • rbc18 Dec 10, 2013

    I miss my NC from thirty years ago.

  • NYtoNC81 Dec 10, 2013

    Very cool. Hopefully we continue to attract the brilliant minds that helped transform this area when RTP came along. With three to four major universities in that corridor I don't think that will be a problem.

  • delta29alpha Dec 10, 2013

    ILoveDowntownRaleigh, it looks like you are in the environment that you love and that's a good thing. Everyone is not alike with the same wants, needs and desires. I guess that's what makes the world diverse huh. At any rate enjoy your life in the city.

  • mafiamic Dec 10, 2013

    " Hate to even think how my children and grandchildren will live. I can imagine how the coastal area will look. " It will look exactly how we decide we want it to look through civic planning and environmental and natural resource protection.

    Prime example of what I have been saying..Living in fear here. FEAR FEAR FEAR!!!!!!!!!!!

  • mafiamic Dec 10, 2013

    Tippett says the growth will spur future needs, including schools, health clinics, water lines and transit.

    Cool way to jump on the "We need this" bandwagon.Plan for the future save for a rainy day are only signs of fear,I'd rather live for today for tomorrow may never come.

  • ILoveDowntownRaleigh Dec 10, 2013

    "I'm glad that there are people like you who can tolerate and even apparently enjoy living in the cities...just keep in mind that many will be forced to live in the cities out of necessity and not desire. They will be miserable and eventually they will make you miserable. The higher the population density, the worse it will be." - delta29alpha

    If you are simply anti-social, that's fine. But I find your perspective on rural vs urban living to be inaccurate. It is modern urban environments that provide the widest options for jobs, cultural amenities and entertainment, continuing education, social opportunities, community safety nets, and in general CHOICES in whatever life interests you have.

    I don't see where "miserable" relates to urbanity. Yes, there will be diversity of ethnicity and economic status in the city. That's part of life, and it means that if you're one of the fortunate, you have opportunities to help. If you're one of the unfortunate, you will find help available.