An arterial grid of dirt roads

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Between 2000 and 2030, cities in developing countries will double their population from 2 to 4 billion and at least triple their total built-up area. This essay assesses the state of preparedness for the projected urban expansion. The available anecdotal evidence suggests that areas needed for expansion are typically underestimated, that enforcement of land use regulations is relatively weak and cannot protect open space from development, and that essential arterial roads are commonly in short supply. The author proposes adopting a proactive strategy that does not overly rely on land use regulation, focusing instead on the layout and early acquisition of the right-of-way for an arterial road network, a 1-km-wide urban grid covering the entire area of expected expansion. This article reports on seven intermediate cities in Ecuador that are engaged in implementing this strategy, and examines the merits and pitfalls of pursuing it in Ecuador and elsewhere.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)146-162
Number of pages17
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2008


  • Developing countries
  • affordable housing
  • arterial roads
  • land acquisition
  • urban expansion
  • urbanization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Urban Studies
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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