10 Sprawliest Cities in the United States

Dallas-Ft. Worth
Heavy traffic fills the road at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport after snowfall in Feb. 2011. Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Everything's bigger in Texas, including the sprawl. The enormous Dallas-Ft. Worth metropolitan area is so large that it has two names. And that's not all: More than half of the nearly 6.5 million people who call the region home live outside the city limits of Dallas and Fort Worth. Four area bedroom communities -- Plano, McKinney, Frisco and Denton -- were among the 15 fastest-growing large cities from April 1, 2010, to July 1, 2011, according to Census Bureau data [sources: Kim, U.S. Census Bureau].

Experts say that this ever-expanding blob of residential and commercial development in North Texas is thanks largely to cheap land and good schools. Low unemployment and no state income tax also certainly don't hurt when it comes to drawing people to the Lone Star State. Finally, lax zoning laws make it relatively easy for developers to build up unincorporated areas on the edge of the sprawl [source: Kim].

Yet, while pro-growth activists envision a day when metro Dallas communities will stretch as far as 100 miles (161 kilometers) from downtown, others have decried the disappearance of pastures and rise of sprawl-related traffic, as well as stresses on air quality and water resources that accompany the boom. As a result, some cities within the region have taken it upon themselves to come up with "smart" growth plans that control not only how, but also how much, land is developed [source: Kim].