By Ava-joye Burnett

COLLEGE PARK (WJZ)– Researchers at the University of Maryland College Park have examined how certain changes could affect the quality of life for people in the Baltimore-Washington area about 20 years from now in 2040.

The researchers analyzed traffic patterns and how that’s all intertwined with where people will live along with how much they’ll have to pay to live there.

Experts at the University of Maryland say by 2040, urban sprawl could impact the housing markets around Washington D.C. but also in Baltimore.

“I consider one of the biggest concerns to be the price of housing the cost of housing in the Baltimore area and the Washington, D.C. area in particular is on people’s minds constantly,” says Dan Engelberg, a researcher with the National Center for Smart Growth at the University of Maryland College Park.

The findings are part of what’s called the Presto Project, and researchers analyzed multiple variables including traffic.

In a region notorious for gridlock, researchers predict self-driving cars could take up more space on the roads. Researchers say they also found the technology could alleviate congestion because autonomous vehicles may be able to drive faster than manually operated ones.

“With self-driving cars, we expect people to move much further out because it will be much more comfortable to commute a very long distance,” says Engelberg.

However, housing is just one variable. If traffic does in fact get worse and gas prices go up, researchers believe people will opt to move into downtown areas like Baltimore to avoid congestion.

“So if prices get really high in Baltimore County and Howard County and congestion gets really bad, the city will have a natural advantage for certain populations looking to get out of those situations,” says Engelberg.

Researchers say one of the simplest ways to manage housing costs is for government officials to open up more land so that more housing can be built.

Researchers say they’ve also analyzed the the environmental impact more development would have on natural resources like the Chesapeake Bay or forest land. They say some scenarios show little impact, while others show significant loss to farmland.

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Ava-joye Burnett

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