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Thread: Irritating civil service exam question

1. Irritating civil service exam question

I'm not completely sure if this is the right sub-forum for this post, but it is related to employment/hiring so I'll go with it:

I took a civil service exam last week (upstate NY), and the test seemed quite easy overall. However there were several questions that simply seemed to have no correct answer--they essentially asked for an opinion or didn't provide enough information to make a valid selection. I'm going to outline one below that sort of stumped me. Isn't this question unanswerable, or am I missing something?
You are planning a neighborhood with a gridiron street layout, and a diagonal arterial street bisecting it. What is the best solution?
1. Create infrequent intersections with the arterial at right angles.
2. Create frequent intersections at acute angles.
3. Curve the gridiron, creating frequent intersections at right angles.
4. Create frequent intersections, but enlarge the intersection size to prevent visibility issues.

I chose (3), but I seriously can't see how this determination could be made without a lot more information about the neighborhood (population, pedestrian and car traffic counts, number of lanes on the arterial, speed limits, etc.).

2. I would have chosen (1), because the primary purpose of an arterial is to move large amounts of traffic.

Yeah, I hate these civil service exams, too.

3. Yeah I wondered if I had missed some clue in the vocabulary. The problem with that approach is putting an undue load on the neighborhood streets with the connections. Unless "arterial" meant a divided 55mph highway, it seems like a 2-way stop every 400 feet would be better than a light every half mile.

I am wondering if (1) was correct, and this question was written in another era. The test may have been written 30 years ago for all I know, when that sort of traffic pattern was en vogue and thus immediately obvious as the "right" answer.

4. I would also have picked option #1 just because I figure that basically, whichever option allows for fewer intersections onto the arterial street would be the best option, at least considering the minimal information provided.

5. You're correct in that to really make a decision on this, you need more information. (1) may have been correct in 1973 or whatever year that question was first drafted, and it may be the answer the test is looking for, but as is the case for most of the content on these exams, it's straight out of the Moses era of planning practice. I've taken several the Planning CS exams in the past and many of the questions are so nonsensical that it appears to be almost by design.

6. I just always answer C. Why even check out the question. Straight C's.... I bet you got it right.

7. I would have chosen: Do whatever the developer wants because your tax base is shrinking and you need any form of revenue you can get and he knows it.

8. My guess is that they were looking for "A", but I will agree with you that it really depends on many other factors. Topography might have a lot to do with the final layout. If you want a pedestrian-friendly commercial district, you will want frequent intersections - your answer would be correct. If there is already an existing road pattern, whether full or partial, you may have to select one of the other options. All in all, a bad question. It reminds me of something you might see on the AICP exam.