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Thread: Virginia outlaws cul-de-sacs in new subdivisions

  1. #1
    Cyburbian mgk920's avatar
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    Virginia outlaws cul-de-sacs in new subdivisions

    With the state DOT responsible for maintaining the vast majority of the state's roads, they have just adopted a rule requiring all streets in new subdivisions to go through and connect to other streets and adjacent subdivisions. They have also adopted a rule narrowing local streets and requiring sidewalks.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...032102248.html

    "In Va., Vision of Suburbia at a Crossroads
    Targeting Cul-de-Sacs, Rules Now Require Through Streets in New Subdivisions

    Virginia is taking aim at one of the most enduring symbols of suburbia: the cul-de-sac.

    The state has decided that all new subdivisions must have through streets linking them with neighboring subdivisions, schools and shopping areas. State officials say the new regulations will improve safety and accessibility and save money: No more single entrances and exits onto clogged secondary roads. Quicker responses by emergency vehicles. Lower road maintenance costs for governments.

    Although cul-de-sacs will remain part of the suburban landscape for years to come, the Virginia regulations attack what the cul-de-sac has come to represent: quasi-private standalone developments around the country that are missing only a fence and a sign that says "Keep Out.""

    (see link for rest of article)

    Very interesting, indeed. We shall see how this plays out.

    Any thoughts?



    Mike

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Woolley's avatar
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    I must say, depends on were these new developments are going. I have always considered cul-de-sacs as a great traffic calming device. But if people are going to drive through these residential estates to save some distance and congest these suburban streets. Typically, in Aus, roads are treated as major roads and I just do not see the suburbs being anymore safer. In Aus, built up areas have narrow roads and a speed limit of 50 km/h in most cases.

    If they are worried about emergency vehicles, Sydney has an interesting concept, that I found out about in my travels and it could of been an expensive fine too....$220

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T-way

  3. #3
    they calm the traffic on the cul de sac but make it much worse on the other streets around them as every trip must be made by car. They are bad for the environment and bad for public health.

    This is great!

  4. #4
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    My question: Is this a state issue? Land development codes should be under the local jurisdiction. I am all for connectivity; I do not like the state telling me what to do. Will standards developed for Fairfax County work in the mountains of Buchanan County?

  5. #5
    Cyburbian stroskey's avatar
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    I like this idea if only for promoting more walkable neighborhoods.

    Down with the suburban street hierarchy!

  6. #6
    Cyburbian TexanOkie's avatar
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    It sounds to me like cul-de-sacs would still be allowed. You have to have connecting streets between subdivisions, but not ever street has to be a connector.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
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    culs-de-sac (the original plural form my wife always lets me know) would be allowed but would have to be privately maintained. I can tell you that developers do almost whatever it takes to get public acceptance of roads because it one huge burden especially 10-20 years down the road for the HOA.

    I believe this will help the fiscal health of the state tremendously, also kudos to reducing the width of streets.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian mgk920's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mike gurnee View post
    My question: Is this a state issue? Land development codes should be under the local jurisdiction. I am all for connectivity; I do not like the state telling me what to do. Will standards developed for Fairfax County work in the mountains of Buchanan County?
    In the case of Virginia, it is a state issue because nearly every public road in the state outside of an incorporated city is owned and maintained by the state's Department of Transportation. The same situation exists in North Carolina.

    Quote Originally posted by Tide View post
    culs-de-sac (the original plural form my wife always lets me know) would be allowed but would have to be privately maintained. I can tell you that developers do almost whatever it takes to get public acceptance of roads because it one huge burden especially 10-20 years down the road for the HOA.

    I believe this will help the fiscal health of the state tremendously, also kudos to reducing the width of streets.
    I was going to use 'culs-de-sac', too, but no doubt someone would have also raked me over the coals for that one.



    Anyways, I do strongly agree that having neighborhoods connect to each other in as many ways as is possible is a very good thing and the subdivision codes in the munis around here pretty much all require high levels of such interconnectivity. I like to think of it in terms of 'The developer will be gone as soon as the last lot is sold, but the neighbors will be here forever and they, especially the kids, will want to interact with each other - regardless of where they live in relation to each other.'

    Mike

  9. #9
    Cyburbian cellophane's avatar
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    one of my life goals is to ride a bulldozer through the suburbs and connect streets like they should be connected. having lived in areas where all the streets connect and in dead-end suburbs i really dont understand why people would willingly want to live in a suburb like that...

  10. #10
    Quote Originally posted by cellophane View post
    one of my life goals is to ride a bulldozer through the suburbs and connect streets like they should be connected. having lived in areas where all the streets connect and in dead-end suburbs i really dont understand why people would willingly want to live in a suburb like that...

    I envision a whole group of people on bulldozers, driving from subdivision to subdivision across the landscape, creating new connectivity. Sort of like Johnny Appleseed. Maybe it could be an order of monks...

  11. #11
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Sounds good to me. If a person don't want traffic in front of their house they can always buy a few hundred acres somewhere to live. To have all of these unconnected stubs is just dammed silly. I also agree with those that this won't end all cul-de-sacs, just the nonsensical ones.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  12. #12
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Ah.....

    Connectivity is the way to go.....

    You cannot create a true neighborhood with gates and/or cul-de-sacs that are self contained within a <300 acre area. In order to be a healthy community, you need a connection to your neighbors, local school, churches, local commercial, public buildings and so on.....
    Skilled Adoxographer

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
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    Example of stupid culs-de-sac

    Can someone link the map to the thread?

    http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=...09323&t=h&z=17

    (map isn't working when you click the link it takes you to the center of town, if someone knows what I'm doing wrong please let me know)

    At my last job I tried very hard to get these two small subdivisions to connect, there is a bad curve in Morristown Road and I thought connecting the subdivisions would allow people easier access to Disbrow and Route 34, but the residents of the old subdivision, the one who the connection would have aided, objected at the planning meeting for the town and I was powerless at that point at the county level.

    This is the type of results I want to end!
    Last edited by Tide; 27 Mar 2009 at 1:03 PM.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian beach_bum's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Gotta Speakup View post
    I envision a whole group of people on bulldozers, driving from subdivision to subdivision across the landscape, creating new connectivity. Sort of like Johnny Appleseed. Maybe it could be an order of monks...
    haha, i'll join the order, if the monks would allow ladies!

    Seriously, I saw this article on the Planetizen page a few days ago...and in states like VA and here in NC, the state maintains most roads, that's why we dont have too much gated stuff in NC. In my fair town we require 2 connections out of a neighborhood if is so many units and we limit the length of cul-de-sacs. As for people who live on them and think that the cul-de-sac is there personal property, its mindset that needs to change. I'm all for kids playing in safe areas, but since when did the street become that area and not the backyard or the sidewalks. Developers dont put in sidewalks and the public street becomes the play area, creating the vicious cycle we are in now.
    "Never invest in any idea you can't illustrate with a crayon." ~Peter Lynch

  15. #15
    Cyburbian cellophane's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by beach_bum View post
    haha, i'll join the order, if the monks would allow ladies!

    Seriously, I saw this article on the Planetizen page a few days ago...and in states like VA and here in NC, the state maintains most roads, that's why we dont have too much gated stuff in NC. In my fair town we require 2 connections out of a neighborhood if is so many units and we limit the length of cul-de-sacs. As for people who live on them and think that the cul-de-sac is there personal property, its mindset that needs to change. I'm all for kids playing in safe areas, but since when did the street become that area and not the backyard or the sidewalks. Developers dont put in sidewalks and the public street becomes the play area, creating the vicious cycle we are in now.
    i would welcome any and all that want to ride with me!!

    the good news is - all the tractors from any given manufacturer use the same key (i.e. any case tractor uses the same key as any other case tractor) so we could just go to home depot and duplicate them!

    i know growing up outside of dallas (plano / allen) everyone had an 8'-0" privacy fence and the backyard was frequently taken up with a pool. the only place to play was the front yard or the street. it did make it really easy to cause trouble in the alley's though there were a good number of parks and bike trails nearby but for a 14 year old boy they only held so much interest

  16. #16
    Quote Originally posted by beach_bum View post
    haha, i'll join the order, if the monks would allow ladies!
    This is the aughts! Any new order of monks would have to be egalitarian!

  17. #17
    Cyburbian
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    When my director told us about VDOT's new policy in our staff meeting, everybody was relieved. I always felt like culs-de-sac are more "dangerous" because they were more isolated. Not only that, but they're just glorified extra parking for the residents. Has anyone ever turned down the wrong road and had to turn around in a cul-de-sac littered with parked cars? It's not pretty.

    VDOT maintains a majority of Virginia's roads. It's kind of a weird situation. All Virginia cities are independent. I believe those localities maintain their own roads, except the cities in Hampton Roads, where I'm from. There are only two counties that maintain their own roads, Arlington and Henrico (suburb of Richmond). Some incorporated towns will maintain their roads, but it's so confusing I don't even fully understand it.

    I think it's just the state's way of reminding us that it follows the Dillon Rule. However, because VDOT's budget has been consistently cut for the past five years, many counties (including mine) are anticipating taking over maintainence in the years to come.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian
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    I grew up on a cul-de-sac designed by none other than Frederick Law Olmsted's firm (his sons provided the plan for the neighborhood in the early years of the 20th century). It was very pleasant. Very quiet and neighborly.

    So I've never fully understood the hostility towards cul-de-sacs. Sure, an overabundance of them in a typical subdivision with only one or two connector roads to the main streets may result in dangerous driving and reduce connectivity and walkability. But this blanket ban on cul-de-sacs is overstating it. As long as the subdivision is shown to have enough access points and connector roads, a couple cul-de-sacs isn't going to hurt.

  19. #19
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by PennPlanner View post
    As long as the subdivision is shown to have enough access points and connector roads..
    Also, they can be useful and appropriate due to the localized topography.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Let's not be didactic in this profession, because that is a path to disillusion and irrelevancy.

    Six seasons and a movie!

  20. #20
    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
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    I've always been supportive of culs-de-sac, but the ones I've been around are mostly part of a modified grid and provide more traffic calming than congestion.
    I'll still join the monastic order, I'm not concerned with bulldozing a cul-de-sac, I just want to ride a dozer. It also helps take down the fences people put up to block connections - we don't want those people coming through our neighborhood - but that's another thread.

  21. #21
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Hmm....

    While we're at it, can we get rid of spite strips?
    Skilled Adoxographer

  22. #22
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by PennPlanner View post
    So I've never fully understood the hostility towards cul-de-sacs. Sure, an overabundance of them in a typical subdivision with only one or two connector roads to the main streets may result in dangerous driving and reduce connectivity and walkability. But this blanket ban on cul-de-sacs is overstating it. As long as the subdivision is shown to have enough access points and connector roads, a couple cul-de-sacs isn't going to hurt.
    I guess my disenchantment comes from most of the subdivisions I review are littered with them. Most large subdivisions have one or two loop roads and the rest are culs-de-sac. It drives me insane, however, VDOT only allows for access road per development. They've always encouraged interconnectivity between developments, but I'm glad they finally adopted it as policy.

  23. #23
    Quote Originally posted by The One View post
    While we're at it, can we get rid of spite strips?
    What is a spite strip? Is that when your Significant Other performs in an amateur night cuz he/she is mad at you?

  24. #24
    Cyburbian beach_bum's avatar
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    I really like the idea of cul-de-sac being allowed if the developer pays more transportation/road improvement fees. They sell the lots on a cul-de-sac for a premium and the cul-de-sac then cause more congestion.

    Spite strips? absolutely, welcome to the order The One
    "Never invest in any idea you can't illustrate with a crayon." ~Peter Lynch

  25. #25
    Cyburbian
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    Yep. Cul-de-sacs are very useful for hilly neighborhoods suitated along ridges. The neighborhood I grew up in had several cul-de-sacs that ran down the spines of small ridges portruding into a valley.

    A lot of the glamorous California neighborhoods in the Bay area and LA with fantastic views are mostly cul-de-sacs.

    Quote Originally posted by mendelman View post
    Also, they can be useful and appropriate due to the localized topography.

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