Local News

Research suggests 'megalopolis' for NC in decades to come

Posted December 9, 2013 7:02 p.m. EST
Updated December 9, 2013 7:14 p.m. EST

— 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.