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Sprawl Costs Atlantans More Money than Any Other Americans

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A new study indicates that Atlantans spend more than $3,000 a year thanks to our famous sprawl

While Harvard may say Atlanta is no longer the poster child for sprawl, a new study by City Observatory puts Atlanta in the unenviable top spot for how much our unwieldy outward expansion costs us per capita.

According to this examination of the so-called "sprawl tax" — a metric invented by the organization to weigh the effect of sprawl on commute costs in time, money, and lost productivity — working Atlantans spend a staggering $3,291 each annually due to sprawl-induced costs.

The only other metro area in the country that broke the $3,000 threshold was Nashville, with Houston, Dallas, and Birmingham rounding out the top five.

In comparison, cities at the bottom of the list include New Orleans and New York (with under $200 spent annually due to sprawl, per worker), and Philadelphia, San Jose, and Salt Lake City.

Of course, the methodology may be imperfect, but it serves as a sobering reminder of the impact sprawl has on our city and the costs associated with a spread-out metro area with limited transportation options.

Think of your own life in Atlanta and ask: Does $3,291 per year sound about right?