Northeast Megaregion

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The Northeast Megaregion, which extends from Virginia to Maine, is a powerhouse of density and output in the United States. It is home to 17 percent of the U.S. population that produces 20 percent of the nation's Gross Domestic Product on only two percent of its land area. The Northeast has 52 million residents and a $2.9 trillion economy. By the year 2050, the Megaregion will add approximately 17 million new residents and could make enormous economic gains as well. However, this rapid growth will require investments that balance and create new capacity in our transportation system.

Four of the nation's top 10 most congested metropolitan areas are in the Northeast Megaregion, situated along the dense Northeast Corridor: New York, Washington, Boston, and Philadelphia, ranked 2nd, 4th, 8th, and 9th, respectively. The nation's most congested stretch of highway, Interstate 95, is in the Northeast, as well as the country's four most delay-prone airports, Newark Liberty, LaGuardia, JFK, and Philadelphia. There is simply not enough land available to build new airports, runways, or highways in order to accommodate the travel needs of the Northeast Megaregion's next generation of residents, workers, and visitors.

Our future economic growth and prosperity, and quality of life will depend on the strength and reliability of our transportation network. Across all modes, the passenger rail system has the greatest potential to add the most capacity in the most cost-effective manner, while mitigating our dependency on foreign oil and the environmental damage that is associated with it.

Location: The Northeast and Mid-Atlantic seaboard - from northern Virginia to southern Maine, bounded by the Appalachian Mountains to the west and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. It is defined by overlapping metropolitan development and commuting patterns, interlocking economic systems, shared natural resources and ecosystems, and shared utility and transportation networks that link these major population centers together. 

America 2050 has defined the Northeast Megaregion as the 142 counties that compose the contiguous Core Based Statistical Areas based around the five major metropolitan areas of the Northeast (below). The White House Office of Management and Budget define a Core Based Statistical Area as a population nuclei and the adjacent communities with populations of at least 10,000 that are socioeconomically integrated to the center by commuting.

Principal Cities: Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington DC. These five major metropolitan regions form the core of the Northeast Megaregion. Collectively, these metro areas contain 37.7 million people, 71.8 percent of the Megaregion population and 12.2 percent U.S. population. They also account for more than 90 percent of the Northeast Megaregion's total economic output.

Land Area (sq mi):
Population (2000): 49,585,414
Population (2010): 52,332,123
Percent of U.S. Population (2010): 17 percent
Projected Population (2025): 58.4 million
Projected Population (2050): 70.8 million
Projected Growth (2010 - 2050): 35.2 percent (18,445,468)
Gross Domestic Product (2010): $2.92 trillion
Percent of U.S. GDP (2010): 20 percent

Four-year colleges and universities (2011): 548
Fortune 500 corporate headquarters (2011): 158

For more on the Northeast Megaregion, download the America 2050 report, "Northeast Megaregion 2050: A Common Future" (PDF)

The report warns that the future of the Northeast Megaregion is threatened by lagging job growth, rising housing costs, increasing congestion on our highways and airport runways, and the degradation of our environment and quality of life and recommends forming new, multi-state partnerships to address mobility, carbon emissions, sprawl, and environmental protection issues that do not adhere to political borders. With the proper investments and concerted action, the Northeast Megaregion can turn its incredible concentration of people, skills, and transportation infrastructure into strategic advantage in an era of climate change and oil uncertainty.

Sources: America 2050 and University of Pennsylvania

A coalition of business and civic leaders committed to improving passenger rail in the Northeast.
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