Virginia cracks down on culs-de-sac to save money

Growing up, I got to experience living on a plain old street to later moving to a cul-de-sac. The biggest advantage to the latter was the lack of traffic speeding through and you could use the big, round cul-de-sac as a skating rink or race-course for riding your bike. Yes, culs-de-sac are safer for children, who like to play out in the street with other kids in the neighborhood, but these little suburban havens also cost their communities a lot of money and lead to an increase in traffic congestion. The Washington Post reports that's why one state, Virginia, is cracking down on culs-de-sac in new developments.

Culs-de-sac are a desirable place to live not only for the inability for traffic to whiz through them, but they're also a crime deterrent by limiting escape routs for would-be criminals. Mike Toalson, executive vice president of the Home Builders Association of Virginia, calls them the safest places to live in America.

Regardless, Virginia is saying no more culs-de-sac. From the article, the problem lies with the "widening of secondary roads that are overburdened with traffic from the subdivisions, strip malls, schools and office buildings that feed into them. The system forces drivers to enter these traffic-choked roads to go even 50 yards or so to the neighborhood coffeehouse or elementary school." North Carolina and Portland, Oregon are also taking a second look at culs-de-sac.

Traffic seems to be the greatest argument against this token of suburbia. The Census Bureau reported that the longest commute in the country belonged to Linton Hall Road in Prince William, Washington, in a suburb developed using the cul-de-sac template. The state had to pick up the tab for widening Linton Hall Road into four lanes. The jams still continue at peak traffic hours.

Brian Goff, 42, a resident of Prince William, enjoys his cul-de-sac living but is concerned about the needed expansion to combat the gridlock, "There are kids in all these subdivisions. You put more traffic in subdivisions, it's a recipe for disaster."

Traffic jams and sucking up state funds, oh my. It was fun while it lasted, but as suburbia continues to grow with the population, culs-de-sac may become relics of a simpler time.
Read Full Story