Date of Graduation
Master of Science in Geography (MS)
Second Committee Member
Land Cover, Spatial Economics, Transportation, Urban Economics, Urban Geography, Urban Morphology
Research on the impacts of transport infrastructure is limited, and most of it is either focused on
rural areas or on developed areas before modern geospatial technologies were available. This study aimed
to fill this gap in transport research by providing a holistic look at the regional changes that occurred due to
new transport infrastructure construction in Northwest Arkansas between 1980 and 2011.
The National Land Cover Database was used to create a time-series of land cover across the
region between 1992 and 2011. These data were then used to predict future growth in the region.
Additionally, growth patterns of the four largest cities (Bentonville, Fayetteville, Rogers, and Springdale)
were studied, and monocentricity values for the region were calculated to study population movement. Data
on income, retail trade, gross merchandise trade, and worker flows were used to economically characterize
the region for the time period of study.
The results show that development is mostly occurring on top of agricultural land, though higher
intensity developments do are often replacing lower intensity uses. A third of all development occurs within
a half-mile of a US highway, with a third of these developments occurring within a half-mile of I-540/I-49.
The main cities of Northwest Arkansas are expanding their borders at a rate that maintains roughly 50%
developed land cover, such expansion and land use track could make for an easily quantifiable measure
of urban sprawl that could be combined with other factors to better quantify sprawl than current methods.
Economically, Madison County, AR and McDonald County, MO both saw up to 80% permanent
drops in economic trade that align with major milestones in the construction of I-540. This is further
supported by a ten point drop in residents who chose to work outside of Benton or Washington County once
the bypass was completed. Meanwhile, Benton County saw a short-lived doubling of trade, and Washington
County saw a smaller, lagged effect that was also not permanent. These findings suggest that the I-540/I
49 created severe spatial and economic competition in the region with no obvious winner.
McCollum, J. (2017). The Urban Morphology of Northwest Arkansas: A Geospatial Analysis. Theses and Dissertations Retrieved from https://scholarworks.uark.edu/etd/2421