February 4, 2005

Study: Michigan Gov’t Spending Encourages Sprawl

Michigan suffers from "a pervasive pattern of public investments for roads, jobs, government offices, and business development that encourages runaway sprawl," according to a study conducted by the Michigan Land Use Institute and United Cerebral Palsy of Michigan.

"In almost every category of state economic development spending, cities and older suburbs lose and new suburbs win. And while it is the residents of older cities and suburbs who must dig deep into their own pockets to keep their communities afloat as needed state money flows elsewhere, every Michigan citizen ultimately pays."

The study confirms what smart-growth advocates have long suspected: We're not suffering from massive suburban sprawl solely because "that's what Americans want." Government spending patterns encourage it, through policies such as spending billions for the "Big Dig" to help suburbanites drive into Boston but balking at similar scale investments for public transit.

In fact, some Americans do want sprawl (although probably not quite looking like Rte. 9 in the Golden Triangle). But MANY other Americans want communities where walking is an encouraged option. Even in suburbs, where many residents remain wedded to the private car, people would like the option to park once and then walk to multiple destinations, instead of having to drive their cars just half a mile away because the walking environment is unattractive and/or unsafe.

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