MEGAREGION

Financed by PREDIT and ADEME (2010-2011)

Laetitia DABLANC spent 2010-2011 as a researcher at the Georgia Institute of Technology in the Center for Quality Growth and Regional Development (CQGRD) directed by Catherine Ross.

Her research has identified and mapped the location of logistics hubs in the Atlanta metro region and the Atlantic Piedmont “megaregion”, in particular as a result of her supervision of the research of a student (Hans Williams) taking the Master of City Planning degree course at Georgia Tech. It has also provided an opportunity to analyse local planning and urban policies (municipalities, counties, metropolitan areas, and States) in relation to logistics hubs.

The final report presents a survey of freight transport in the USA as a whole (Chapter 1), then in Atlanta and Georgia (Chapter 2). Chapter 3 demonstrates the existence of a process of logistics sprawl and quantifies the phenomenon. The fact that logistics hubs have grown enormously in the last ten years (1998-2008) in the Atlanta metro area, at a time when their growth was less marked in the State of Georgia and the Piedmont Atlantic Megaregion (PAM) in general, suggests that logistics activities are undergoing a process of metropolitan polarisation. Chapter 4 deals with freight policies and planning, taking the example of the PAM which covers the four States of Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina. The public authorities in the PAM still have doubts about metropolitan- or regional-scale actions with regard to freight transport and logistics activities. At the intra-metro level, some municipalities do take account of logistics activities. The research has identified three local policy models that are implemented by the counties and municipalities in the metropolis of Atlanta with regard to logistics sprawl: 1) Counties that are traditionally industrial where logistics has gradually taken the place of manufacturing industry and which would like to maintain and expand their involvement in logistics by highlighting the fact that they are located relatively near the heart of the metropolis. 2) Counties that are more residential or commercial which have put up with logistics activities during the last twenty years but which now want to specialise in more high-tech and tertiary sector economic activities. 3) Counties in the distant suburbs with very rapidly growing populations which were still predominantly rural until recently and for whom the warehousing and logistics activities of mega distribution centres represent the main driver of economic development and job creation. These counties see logistics as a modern strategic activity which creates bonds between them and the urban core of the Atlanta metro area. Chapter 5 is more theoretical in nature and examines what the (chiefly North-American) scientific and technical literature has to say about how urban and regional planning deals with freight transport and logistics. It highlights the difficulties that face local governments when they try to act, as they face contradictory demands from stakeholders: those working in the sector want the public authorities to encourage logistics activities but refuse to make a financial contribution to create the necessary conditions (infrastructure, vocational training), calling on the regional authorities (particularly the States) for this. As far as the general public is concerned, they are both demanding consumers as regards the availability of products and residents who wish to protect their living environment from trucks and warehouses.