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Brian Morton–PI. The Mississippi Hills National Heritage Area was historically known for agriculture and furniture manufacture, but now a high-tech, transportation-based economy is emerging. Toyota recently opened a vehicle factory that will employ 2,000 people in a village west of Tupelo. Another quite different development is simultaneously occurring. The 43-mile Tanglefoot Trail was recently opened, built on the GM&O Railroad line linking Houston to New Albany. The current development pattern is a fascinating juxtaposition of historical small towns and a 21st-century boom driven by the automobile/aerospace economy. Two starkly different futures may be easily imagined. In one, Tupelo continues to expand at a rapid pace and New Albany also expands, but they eclipse the region’s smaller and declining towns. An alternative development pattern would spread growth among Houston, Pontotoc, New Albany, and Tupelo.

The project conducted build-out analyses, prepared renderings of different development visions, and developed an integrated land use – travel demand model to assess the household travel behavior that could be induced by two hypothetical development scenarios. In one scenario, growth in population and commercial establishments is concentrated in New Albany and Tupelo. In the other, growth occurs in New Albany and Tupelo as well as Houston and Pontotoc.