By now everyone knows about Obama’s pledge to spend a boatload on roads, bridges, schools and energy efficiency to stimulate the economy (despite my failure to blog about it). Well, America 2050 has already developed a plan for that plan. They have an interesting 5 1/2 point plan for spending what could turn out to be $1 trillion with concise titles like “FIX” and “GREEN”, but what I found more interesting on their site was the organizations focus on “megaregions”:
A major focus of America 2050 is the emergence of megaregions – large networks of metropolitan areas, where most of the population growth by mid-century will take place. Examples of megaregions are the Northeast Megaregion, from Boston to Washington, or Southern California, from Los Angeles to Tijuana, Mexico. They comprise multiple, adjacent metropolitan areas connected by overlapping commuting patterns, business travel, environmental landscapes and watersheds, linked economies, and social networks. At least ten megaregions have been identified in the United States.
In Europe and Southeast Asia, governments are investing tens of billions of dollars in high-speed rail and goods movement systems to connect networks of cities in what are termed “global integration zones.” These counterparts to America’s megaregions are increasingly being viewed as the new competitive units in the global economy, where knowledge workers can move freely among urban hubs. Economic regeneration strategies are also being deployed at this scale, to transition former industrial regions to the new information economy.
The Saint Cloud-Minneapolis-Rochester area kind of stands on its own when looking at the map above, but it is included in the “Great Lakes” megaregion. It makes me wonder what the Twin Cities would look like if we had a true high-speed rail connection to the Milwaukee-Chicago megalopolis. Supposedly we only need to wait five more years, until then we’ll have to settle for cheap airfares on Southwest.