Last year, the New York Times’ annual “Year in Ideas” listed the cul-de-sac ban in Virginia as something to watch for. “Nothing divides suburban developers and ‘smart growth’ advocates as much as the lowly cul-de-sac. The real estate community loves the meandering, dead-end streets; lots on them sell quickly and at a premium, thanks to their low traffic and perceived safety benefits. But critics complain that cul-de-sacs are a poor use of land; they funnel cars onto clogged arterial routes and restrict access to neighbourhoods when emergency vehicles need to respond.
For decades, the developers have been winning this battle. But, Virginia, under the leadership of Gov. Tim Kaine, became the first state to severely limit cul-de-sacs from future developments. New rules require that all new subdivisions attain a certain level of ‘connectivity’, with ample through streets connecting them to other neighbourhoods and nearby commercial areas…If subdivisions fail to comply, Virginia won’t provide maintenance and snowplough services, a big disincentive in a state where the government provides 83% of road services.
On the other hand, there is a sentiment out there that cul-de-sacs are safe — though some research actually shows fewer traffic fatalities occur on connected roads. Other states are watching the Virginia rules closely, and Benfield says he expects to see similar regulations adopted around the country in the next few years — which means the dead end may soon be a thing of the past.”