[Source: “A Region on the Brink: the Southern Intermountain West,” Brian Krier, Next American City] — The Southern Intermountain West encompasses Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah, a massive region facing a considerable population boom and a rapidly evolving economy, neither of which are expected to slow down in the next few decades. According to the report, the Mountain megas’ population and job base could very well double by 2040, a rate that will drastically outpace the rest of the country. The report concludes that growth in the region will have “tremendous implications for the built environment and regional construction activity,” estimating that the current housing stock will need to be nearly doubled and non-residential space would need to increased by a total of 9.4 billion square feet. Future expenditures for this alone would push well into the trillions of dollars.
Geography will also continue to play a key role in the development of the region. Because the federal government remains the region’s principal landowner, the policies that govern these areas have significant impact on what is leftover. With much of the densely populated areas tucked neatly inside mountain ranges or sprung up from deserts, a number of quality of life issues have sprung up that need addressing: access to public transportation, reducing automobile dependence, and improving urban spaces. All of these concerns, of course, pale in comparison to the most critical issue facing the West: water management. As development continues throughout the West, water access and management may very well determine whether this current boom can be sustained.
In order to face these issues head-on, the report calls for a “new federal-state-mega partnership that will allow the region’s pivotal megapolitan areas to surmount their common challenges and assert their leadership in the nation and the world.” [Note: To read the full article, click here.]