Au Revior, le Cul de Sac

Virginia has decided to say goodbye to the cul-de-sac. New subdivisions will be required to have through streets. Why? Improved safety and efficiency for the government, like easier access for emergency vehicles.

There an unsettling degree of government indignation in this move. As the Washington Post reports, “the regulations attack what the cul-de-sac has come to represent: quasi-private standalone developments around the country.”

Is that a bad thing? Families chose to live on cul-de-sacs because they are quieter and (thought to be) safer. The likely outcome from Virginia’s regulation? Houses on cul-de sacs will rise in value.

Governor Kaine says the regulations will help the state save on transportation spending. Under the new plan, Virginia will only maintain through roads.

Instead of imposing a top-down plan on all future suburban development,if cul-de-sacs are costly to government, then why not instead pass the cost on to those who choose to live on those streets, for instance through a cul-de-sac maintenance fee, or let  communities privately organize and hire companies to plow and fix the roads.

The end of cul-de-sacs is Robert Moses-esque, whose vision for New York City’s older neighborhoods was to pave them over with superhighways, because “cities are for traffic.”

Virginia has now decided so are suburbs.

More on the rise and fall of Virginia’s cul-de-sacs here and here.