Thursday, March 20, 2008

More people, more traffic.

The Census released new population estimates for counties today.

It looks like the Charlotte metro area is now at 1.65 million people, a big jump from the 2006 estimate of 1.583 million. Charlotte metro is now bigger than Providence, and will probably overtake Virginia Beach, Columbus and Indianapolis in a year or two.

The housing bust that dampened growth in many warm-weather areas hasn't yet hit Charlotte, though next year's estimates will probably show far fewer new residents. This data was through July 1, 2007, and the miserable data on housing starts from the fall isn't reflected in this estimate.

The crush of new people will continue to tax our highways - and revive the debate over resources for roads versus transit.

It's also worth noting that most new people in North Carolina are going to Raleigh-Durham and Charlotte, then smaller areas like the Triad, Asheville and Wilmington. But the state's way of distributing new highway money - under the 1989 equity formula - doesn't account for the change as much as urban politicians would like.

Half of the money is based on population, but the other half isn't tied to growth. Twenty-five percent of the money is distributed evenly among funding regions, and another 25 percent is based on the number of important two-lane roads that are slated for improvement. That usually helps more rural areas.

Update: As some of you mentioned below, I had a typo in the above post. Charlotte's metro population is now about 1.65 million - not 1.6 million.

26 comments:

confused said...

People complain Charlotte is too big, but we aren't even bigger than Virginia Beach, Columbus, and Indianapolis yet? What the??? Those are SMALL cities. I say bring on more people.. I thought Charlotte was a lot bigger than that!

Anonymous said...

How is 17,000 people distributed over a 6 county region a big jump? HAHA. Seems like we are growing a lot slower than we thought...

In the meantime, places are growing at 200,000 people per year and people are complaining that we are growing way too fast - AHAHA.

Anonymous said...

How is it 17,000 people to the metro area if Mecklenburg added 31,000 during that time? Did you mean to write in your article that the metro area is now OVER 1.6 million?

Anonymous said...

Charlotte is LAME. I can't believe we are smaller than Virginia Beach and Indianapolis! That sucks.

Anonymous said...

Charlotte feels a lot bigger than it really is. That's kind of annoying.

Anonymous said...

by 'triangle' you mean to say 'triad.'

j said...

The census counts can be tricky. Charlotte's Metro includes less area than the Charlotte region, as such is the case, the metro has a lower population count than the region.
Charlotte as a city is bigger than those citeis mentioned. However Charlotte's metro is still smaller than those (by population) becuse they include more area and more municpalities. for example Newport-Hampton-Virginia Beach (yes they are gouped together on the census to from one metro area) includes several major population centers whereas the Charlotte metro has only one.
Since this post has been updated the increase in Charlotte's metro population in 67,000. Also the Charlotte Region's population (once again contains more area than the metro) has seen an even greater increase in population- in the 80,000's range.

Anonymous said...

Ditto on the "triad" versus "triangle" comment posted earlier.

Anonymous said...

I am from Columbus , Ohio and was shocked to find Charlotte was smaller in numbers than Columbus; The Land mass or potential I think is greater than Columbus; I think the way the Outerbelt never got finished is why the 'SARDINE in the can syndrome'. The outer roads were not finished in time before the growth started twenty years ago. Good lesson here for Charlotte for the future.

Anonymous said...

Lets face it the city should have spread the work out better and put housing and work farther away; This place could be like Washington D.C. someday if they could spread it out before it hits.

Anonymous said...

The Raleigh-Durham area is the Triangle. The area your referring to is the Triad, and while it's not growing nearly as fast as Raleigh and Charlotte, its metro population is around 1.5 million so I wouldn't exactly call it small in relation to Raleigh and Charlotte.

Anonymous said...

Virginia Beach, Columbus, and Indianapolis are small compared to Charlotte? Have you ever been to any of those cities?

Anonymous said...

Triad not Triangle.

Anonymous said...

NC doesn't really have any large metro areas. 1.65M is more of a medium-size region, perhaps even on the small side of that. Even Portland, OR, and Sacramento, CA, (which, like Charlotte, only have one central city) have metro poulations above 2M (2.14M and 2.07M, respectively). Methinks Charlotte thinks itself as bigger than it is...

Anonymous said...

Charlotte is the 20th most populated city in the nation, ahead of those mentioned in the article...as someone before noted they are comparinng metropolitan areas, not cities. As a city, we are currently ranked 7th in per capita vehicle miles of travel (VMT) which is not a good thing (Atlanta is 1st in per capita VMT)....NCDOT has a $125B in transportation needs over the next 25 years but only has $65 to spend on transportation so the likelyhood of things getting better are slim unless chnanges and more funding are dedicated to transportation.

Anonymous said...

I meant to say $65B not $65 in the post above...

Anonymous said...

I just met some People from another Planet and they said they are having trouble getting around; People dont rely on anyone for directions get a GPS, City Map or Atlas; Charlotte is like a huge wagon wheel all main roads lead into Charlotte, If that will help you. If you follow Monroe, Independence, Statesville rd. or Tryon/49/29 it will take you to or from the Downtown; Its a Big wheel with a few spokes , just think of it that way. In most cases you can see the Downtown spires from and far as 15 miles away.

Anonymous said...

I have heard they want to sprinkle One Million more People around the outer part of the outerbelt. Why? This will make a better taxbase and they need money for next year coming.

Anonymous said...

Charlotte needs to add more corporate parks similiar to the one in Ballantyne. Spread corporate building in and around the city so not everyone needs to commute uptown or downtown. Finishing 485 should be a priority for the area and then tackle all the congestions issues on country roads coming feeding into larger highways. Charlotte is just a medium sized city at best....let us keep it that way!

Anonymous said...

Look ,Im lobbying for a CASINO here in Downtown Charlotte preferably a HARRAHS Casino. Donald Trump is coming here and all of his Condo's have a Casino on the ground floor; The Casino could bring in three billion dollars a year to the Hotels and Business. Would anyone like to make a suggestion how to present this to City Council?

Anonymous said...

The Charlotte area could use one million more people, then it can slow down. That would be the perfect size. Only about 10 more years to go!

Anonymous said...

Some of you guys wanting more people in Charlotte are crazy. Anyone who has been around knows the quality of life suffers with the addition of people. I live in the metro, but would prefer a city the size of Winston Salem over some monster where half (or more) of the population has a crime record.

Anonymous said...

So leave Charlotte and move to Winston-Salem. Bye bye!

By the way, Charlotte is not big. There are plenty of COUNTIES in this country with populations at or higher than our metro area. If your a redneck or a country bumpkin, I can understand why you think more people = lower quality of life. However, most people in this country chose not to live in the middle of nowhere for plenty of reasons (mainly because the quality of life sucks - there is nothing to do, high-paying jobs do not exist, everyone looks and acts the same, and the schools are no better if not worse). Growth is a good thing. If you don't like it do us all a favor and quit whining and move somewhere that isn't growing where you will be more comfortable.

Anonymous said...

Wow what a piece of @#$)*#$ you are, 4:49... I totally agree with 9:31. If Charlotte keeps growing at this pace, I'm outta here too. So, if you prefer to live in a city that ISN'T totally congested and crime ridden, that makes you a redneck? If so, sign me up for redneck-ville, cuzz I'd rather be breathin' easy and relaxing while YOU'RE (yes, it's spelled like that) sitting in traffic in clogged up Charlotte. Enjoy!

Anonymous said...

Triad metro area is 698,497, not 1.5 million as suggested above......

Anonymous said...

The key is to grow in a way that doesn't choke off our quality of life.

- Build public transit BEFORE congestion reaches insufferable levels (be a Portland, not an Atlanta).
- Instead of attacking CMS, work to solve community problems that CAUSE school problems.
- Levy taxes in a smart, efficient manner. We don't need a Bureau of Bureaucracy. We do need a larger and better-equipped police force.
- Levy zoning codes and building ordinances smartly, and ENFORCE THEM. It is ridiculous to have new drive-thru fastfood restaurants along the rail line.
- On that note, we need to focus infrastructure inward. Expanding suburban roads does nothing but increase traffic pressure. We need sidewalks, bike paths (not lanes!), pedestrian bridges, and the best-connected streets possible.

These concepts have worked well for centuries in desirable places. Charlotte still has time to become a livable large city made up of close-knit neighborhoods and an active and accessible city core. But the uncontrolled sprawl has to stop NOW, before it's too late.