Robert Siegel On Va.'s Cul-De-Sacs Ban
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.
MICHELE NORRIS, host:
And I'm Michele Norris. Now, a pair of stories about that iconic fixture of suburban America, the cul-de-sac. In a moment we'll hear about a movement in California to bring people together in cul-de-sac communes, but first, in Virginia. Officials have had enough of these quaint little streets that go nowhere. Governor Tim Kaine is trying to cut down traffic congestion by discouraging developers from building new cul-de-sacs.
He says the commonwealth simply won't maintain new streets that don't, well, connect. And that's disorienting news for one Virginia cul-de-sac resident we know, our colleague, Robert Siegel.
(Soundbite of chirping birds)
ROBERT SIEGEL: Mind you, this is no gated community, just 15 houses that line the intermittent sidewalk of a street the shape of a bent lollipop. There's a sign where you enter that says, dead end, and it always reminds me of what my neighbor Jerry once said when we were lamenting the ice still on this street a day after the main road had been plowed. When we are assessed it's a cul-de-sac, when it snows it's a dead end.
Of course, every day a couple of motorists manage to miss that sign and come barreling down the block only to discover that they would have to drive through my friend George's house to get out. So they turn around and go back to the main road in search of their northwest passage. Otherwise, life on our block is pretty much limited to the people who live here, our guests, the people who are fixing and cleaning our houses, mowing our lawns, the people who deliver our mail, heave our newspapers at us or go door-to-door trying to convert us.
Our fault is, evidently, that we don't provide a sufficient pass-through for people who have no business with us at all. For some reason that's antisocial. So, suddenly our cul-de-sac is like one of those old 3.5 gallon per flush toilets that some people still have - a luxurious convenience with a grandfathered exception to a virtuous ban.
Now that I'm officially retrograde, living on a contraband street, I just wish that it felt a little bit more self indulgent. Maybe Virginia could replace the dead end sign with something classier, maybe with that name that I understand the French have not used for years, cul-de-sac.
This is Robert Siegel.
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