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Thread: How come new developments never feature a street grid?

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    Cyburbian fareastsider's avatar
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    How come new developments never feature a street grid?

    Why is it that there are never any new developments featuring a grid street pattern like most older developments? Is it for traffic safety, road commission regulations, public demands, etc? Why do most residential developments feature a road layout that makes it difficult to get from one side of it to another? I've heard people describe it by saying its designed like throwing spaghetti on the wall. In my town and many others there is a traditional street layout with a few arterial roads spreading out from town and every new development is not aligned to it and does not allow for a smooth and navigable route throughout the town. Some developments even feature stub roads that just end at the backyard of another home! I'm interested in an answer from individuals who may have a better understanding of the politics and details of current design than I do.

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    Cyburbian UrbaneSprawler's avatar
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    Are your design codes silent on this? If so, a lack of regs will probably have a long-time developer build a project of curvilinear, disconnected streets (the pattern of fashion over the later portion of the 20th century) then charge "premiums" for cul-de-sacs, larger lots, etc. I'd say for the past ten years on our neck of the woods, all we see is the grid pattern and new urbanist types of developments, due to codes that mandate street connections and developers buying into it.

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    Cyburbian H's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by UrbaneSprawler View post
    [snip]build a project of curvilinear, disconnected streets (the pattern of fashion over the later portion of the 20th century) then charge "premiums" for cul-de-sacs, larger lots, etc.[snip]

    to me, this is the key to the answer - there is a market demand for curvilinear, disconnected streets, cul-de-sacs, etc. when there is demand, the market will respond with supply.
    "Those who plan do better than those who do not plan, even though they rarely stick to their plan." - Winston Churchill

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    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    In my experience, real estate agents and developers both claim that lots and houses on a cul-de-sac sell for a premium. There's also the "think of the children!" argument; that kids can play in a cul-de-sac without getting run over by through traffic. However, with a loop-and-lollypop street grid, and all traffic in and out of the subdivision traffic funneled to one or two streets, they've been silent on whether houses and lots fronting the busier streets sell for much less.

    As others said, check out the idea of a connectivity index. Require stub-out streets, require developers of adjacent land to connect to them, and provide signs indicating that a stub-out street will be extended in the future, to reduce NIMBYs.

    Old-style grids often don't consider topography and drainage patterns, natural features, and other barriers to their continuation. The result: very steep streets, drainage issues, and/or long dead end streets. Be flexible.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

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    Cyburbian
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    I would also throw out that roads cost more initial investment money and eat up valuable land that could otherwise allow for more units to be produced, at least from the developer's POV. Just my $0.02.

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    Cyburbian fringe's avatar
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    Developers appear to get greater "lot yield" from loopy cul-de-sacs too, often due to topography. EMS, PW, and fire depts don't like culs-de-sac either, and limit their lengths sometimes.

    Our little town recently mandated 5' sidewalks recently too, which the county leadership is too timid to do.

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    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by H View post

    - there is a market demand for curvilinear, disconnected streets, cul-de-sacs, etc. when there is demand, the market will respond with supply.
    I'd assert the market has been gamed and that's why the lollipop layout was fashionable. Thank Madison Ave.

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    Cyburbian WSU MUP Student's avatar
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    FarEastSider,

    Locally, I have seen a few new, small subdivisions built on the grid pattern over the last 5 years or so. There are a couple of developments close to your neck of the woods in New Baltimore and Chesterfield Township that do actually have a grid configuration. However, all of these developments are pretty small, relatively speaking, and while they may have a grid pattern inside the development, there is still usually only one or two entrances into the subdivision from the exterior arterial roads.

    I agree with those above that builders can usually charge a premium for homes on cul-de-sacs and I know that it is also generally much more expensive to construct a new connection to an existing arterial street relative to the expensive of building new connections to new interior neighborhood streets.
    "Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." - 1980 Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan

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    Cyburbian stroskey's avatar
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    I assume you're talking about this kind of development:



    Planners can say what developer's want but isn't part of the job to balance moneymaking with community betterment?
    I burned down the church to atone for my transgressions.

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    Whilst we haven't had a return to the grid here in Perth, WA (and Australia as a whole I assume), the greatest flaws of the spaghetti-type suburban road patterns have been recognised and somewhat alleviated in new subdivisons. You may still find cul de sacs, but in general the street patterns are straighter, more permeable and less disorientating.

    If you take a look at this link, you'll see examples of the former and the latter side by side.

    The subdivision bordered by roads Campbell, Amhurst, Warton and the golf course features the older network, the subdivision bordered by roads Fraser, Amherst, Campbell and Dumbarton the newer. It's an improvement of sorts, although it could go further. An even newer development nearby has no cul de sacs.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    In my experience, real estate agents and developers both claim that lots and houses on a cul-de-sac sell for a premium. There's also the "think of the children!" argument; that kids can play in a cul-de-sac without getting run over by through traffic. However, with a loop-and-lollypop street grid, and all traffic in and out of the subdivision traffic funneled to one or two streets, they've been silent on whether houses and lots fronting the busier streets sell for much less [...]
    The trick, for developers, is not to have houses front on the busy streets, but to have the backyards face them, preferably screened with a wall, bushes, trees, etc., and enter from the side streets.

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    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    In existing suburban neighborhoods there is often heavy resistance against a new development connecting to their quiet street. This adds pressure to keep connectivity to the bare minimum that meets the regs and keeps the Fire Dept. happy.

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    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Seabishop View post
    In existing suburban neighborhoods there is often heavy resistance against a new development connecting to their quiet street. This adds pressure to keep connectivity to the bare minimum that meets the regs and keeps the Fire Dept. happy.
    Because the drivers in the existing subdivision are all careful and respectful, while the drivers in the new subdivision will all be maniac speed demons that see children as targets and speed bumps.

    Quote Originally posted by Tipton View post
    The trick, for developers, is not to have houses front on the busy streets, but to have the backyards face them, preferably screened with a wall, bushes, trees, etc., and enter from the side streets.
    Fence canyons. Not common in the Buffalo area, but then again suburban subdivisions tend to be much smaller thanks to the historic land division pattern, so the collector streets don't have that much more traffic than the cul-de-sacs. The few new larger developments, though, have fence canyons along the arterials, but not interior roads.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

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    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post

    As others said, check out the idea of a connectivity index. Require stub-out streets, require developers of adjacent land to connect to them, and provide signs indicating that a stub-out street will be extended in the future, to reduce NIMBYs.
    I've long been a big fan of the Connectivity Index as a means to improve development patterns while still maintaining flexibility. I don't know who first implemented it, but it is a wonderful tool when implemented appropriately.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

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