It is an American tradition: you bundle the kids in the SUV, rev up and weave down the the cul de sac around the neighbor’s basketball hoop and a stray bicycle. A quick left, a quick right, a long slow right hander, another left, a right and another right. Then a right out of the sub-division onto the main road, drive a mile then take another right into another subdivision – the one where Johnny and Eliza goes to school. You drive back home. Total round trip – 3 1/2 miles. Actual distance from the school to your home: half a mile.
It is inefficient road plans and developments like these that are straining regional road capacity and DOT budgets nation-wide. We are building and maintaining lane miles that are extraneous – all so that Johnny can ride his big wheel and learn to drain the three on the publicly maintained asphalt out front of his parent’s home.
Unless Johnny’s parents hand over a street maintenance fee to the developer or a private contractor, the Virginian DOT says no more to the cul de sac and one road in, one road out housing developments. Under the Virginia Secondary Street Acceptance Requirements set to take effect June 30, Virginia will no longer accept roads for ‘perpetual public maintenance’ that do not meet connectivity guidelines. In most cases, this will mean the cul de sac will no longer be accepted by the state for maintenance.
Virgina wants to encourage developments that connect directly with one another, in order to reduce a demand for lane miles that they have determined as being unsustainable. These roads also must be narrower, to minimize stormwater runoff, and pedestrian friendly.
This sounds sensible to me and something the NC DOT should pursue. If any state has to lighten its secondary road maintenance budget load, it is here in North Carolina. Through 2013-14, DOT estimate a $4 billion shortfall in the maintenance budget if current funding levels are continued. Secondary road conditions are rated a D, state-wide. Good enough for the NCAA, but perhaps not to drive on.
This isn’t the end of the cul de sac, as is being reported by some myopic ‘journalists’, however. You can still choose to live in a newly developed cul de sac in a one road in and out development, but you will have to pay for the street maintenance. Don’t expect the state to pick up the tab and other people to subsidize your front yard, err, street.