If you grew up in one of Northern Virginia’s suburban counties, such as Prince William, or in any of Virginia’s metro areas, you likely grew up with the impression that growth is as certain as the seasons. For decades, many counties in Virginia have grown relentlessly, constructing thousands of homes each year to house new residents. With more residents come more schools, roads, offices and shops. Except for the hard times around the Civil War, Virginia’s population as a whole has grown continuously since it was a colony.
The Weldon Cooper Center, under contract with the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC), developed and released in 2012 the most recent round of official state population projections for Virginia. These projections, consistent with others commissioned or developed in the past by the VEC, focus primarily on trends in the number of people currently living in Virginia and expected to live in Virginia ten, twenty, and thirty years from now
It’s one thing to think about growth in terms of numbers of people, but another to think about it in spatial terms – as the growth of physical urbanized areas. For a while now, I’ve been working on a GIS model that will do that. I’ve posted it before on my own blog, but since then I’ve cleaned it up and made it follow our regional population projections more rigidly.
Here’s a land cover raster (an image showing what primarily covers each 15Mx15M square of land) of Virginia in 2006. All developed land is in red. It’s a great image of the shape of our metro areas.
25 Years From Now
Here is a map of what that might look like in 2040 if: Continue reading