Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Geography (MS)

Degree Level





Thomas Paradise

Committee Member

Fiona Davidson

Second Committee Member

Xuan Shi


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.