SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The boundaries of the Bay Area are expanding as people move to outlying areas in search of lower-cost housing. The result is, planners now consider this a "megaregion" that encompasses Fresno and Sacramento.
An eye-opening new research study says nearly every close-in city has lost population in the past two years. And as people seek lower-cost housing or a better lifestyle, this has implications for our transportation network, which is why the MTC, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, is paying attention.
By tracking state tax returns, researchers discovered a correlation between income and where people have moved.
"For places like Roseville and Folsom, nearly 35 percent of movers had household incomes of $100,000," noted Dr. Seva Rodnyansky, an urban policy professor at Occidental College. "In contrast, 30 percent or more movers to Stockton, Los Banos and Patterson had household incomes below $25,000. So that's a pretty stark difference."
Rodnyansky was one of three researchers who produced the study.
While remote work caused a drop in commute traffic, the great migration actually caused a surge in traffic woes in outlying areas, notably Merced, San Joaquin and Yolo counties. The cause was an increase in "supercommuters" driving 50 or more miles one-way to work.
The MTC is working on a list of 12 megaregion transportation projects. It will use data from this new study to prioritize them, to make sure they reflect migration patterns, and to bolster efforts to get state and federal funding.
"They will strategize and put together a work plan to pursue funding together, to work together, on those grant applications," said Diane Nguyen with the San Joaquin Council of Governments.
It will take mega dollars to address the needs of an evolving megaregion.