Sprawl is a concept that when you ask someone to define it they often have trouble putting a logical explanation to the word, even though they know what it is. It is based around a few basic ideas; the car, segregation of residential and commercial land uses, and uncontrollable expansion outward from major cities. Sprawl is multifaceted and creates communities that are dependent on the automobile as the main source of transportation.
Sprawl often originates because of single use zoning that creates completely separated commercial and residential areas. Along major roads there is often bubbles of commercial areas. All that the driver will see for miles is strip malls, gas stations and fast food restaurants. Behind these commercial areas is often a large amount of residential area. The roads that the commercial areas lie on are usually very high volume traffic and often very dangerous. This means that if a resident in a nearby community wants to go shopping, they have to drive to the shopping center that is only a mile or two away. Between the shoppers, workers and other drivers using the road, there are often mass amounts of traffic during rush hours. With increased traffic comes increased automobile accidents and pollution creating an unsafe environment.
Many people have looked at several ways to deal with sprawl and in time eliminate all negative impacts of sprawl. One example is converting areas to mixed-use developments combining residential and commercial uses. Another remedy would be making the areas more transit-orientated incorporating mass transit systems and pushing for a more pedestrian friendly walking or biking areas.
I personally believe that putting any of these ideas into effect would be extremely difficult. It would be nearly impossible to declare large areas of sprawl as redevelopable areas in order to use eminent domain to rebuild the area. It would take a long amount of time and would cost a ton of money. But I do believe that these ideas are possible. It will take a lot of work, but I believe that the future planners will find a way to deal with sprawl successfully.