- The Washington Times - Friday, March 9, 2001

Virginia's population grew by nearly 1 million people, from 6.2 million to 7.1 million, in the past decade, according to 2000 census data released yesterday.
Cities and counties in Northern Virginia registered significant increases, while populations in the southern part of the state continued to decline.
"On balance, people are leaving the cities for the suburbs," said Julia H. Martin, director of demographic research at the University of Virginia's Weldon Cooper Center in Charlottesville.
"I wish it didn't happen that way. I find it sad to see my drive through the woods becoming a drive through housing and potential subdivisions."
Loudoun County nearly doubled its population in the 1990s, growing from 86,185 in 1990 to 169,599 last year.
Prince William County's population grew by more than 30 percent, from 214,954 in 1990 to 280,813 last year.
Fairfax and Arlington counties, which are more densely populated than Loudoun and Prince William, posted smaller gains. Fairfax County's population rose from 818,310 in 1990 to 969,749 last year, an 18.5 percent increase. Arlington's grew by 11 percent, from 170,895 in 1990 to 189,453 last year.
The suburban draw is as it always has been, Miss Martin said: "People still perceive it as a better quality of life than in the cities. Single-family homes, supposedly good places to raise kids, reputations for good school systems."
That's how Loudoun County's sprawl began, she said, but now, "it's just feeding on itself."
Northern Virginia has grappled with the spread of suburbia for decades.
"We have shifted from being a bedroom community to an employment center," said Sam Adamo, director of planning and legislative services for Loudoun County Public Schools. Enrollment in the system's 48 schools more than doubled during the decade, Mr. Adamo said.
By 2005, school officials expect to have begun 22 new school projects to accommodate the influx of new students.
Farther south along the Interstate 95 corridor, Spotsylvania and Stafford counties around Fredericksburg ballooned by more than 50 percent in the last decade. Spotsylvania grew by 58 percent, while Stafford grew by 49 percent, statistics show.
However, among cities, Norfolk lost the most residents, as its population dropped 10 percent, followed by Petersburg, which lost 9 percent, according to the data.
Life in a suburban boom town brings with it conveniences and inconveniences.
"Sure, traffic has increased exponentially, and not just during rush hour," said Brigitte Morton, 55, who has lived in Prince William County for 16 years. "But there's a lot of things to do, and it's a nice mix with the countryside."
Minorities accounted for much of the growth across the state. The Asian and Hispanic populations nearly doubled within the last 10 years. The Asian population grew from 156,036 in 1990 to 261,025 last year, while the number of Hispanics rose from 160,288 in 1990 to 329,540 last year, statistics show.
The black population also grew, from 1.1 million to 1.3 million. The white population, which logged in 4.7 million in 1990, gained less than 400,000 people during the last 10 years.
The minority population in Fairfax County nearly doubled. Its Asian population grew from 69,338 in 1990 to 126,038 last year; the black population grew from 63,325 in 1990 to 83,098, and the number of Hispanics rose from 51,874 in 1990 to 106,958.
The white population rose slightly, from 665,399 in 1990 to 677,904 last year.
Stephen Dinan and August Gribbin contributed to this article, which is based in part on wire service reports.


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