Saturday, May 7, 2011

Making the Connection

Street connectivity refers to the directness of links and the density of connections of the road network. For many years, new developments were not required to provide connections which is now causing congestion on many of our roads. Benefits of connectivity include a decrease of traffic on arterial streets, shorter travel distances, more direct routes that encourage travel by walking and bicycling, quicker response times for emergency vehicles and more efficient trash and recycling collection.

Many jurisdictions have adopted connectivity regulations, the most common method is to establish a maximum block length. Another method is to establish a “connectivity index” that must be met in new developments. The current street standards adopted for Winston-Salem/Forsyth County establish a minimum connectivity index for new subdivisions of 1.2 and a maximum cul-de-sac length of 800’ unless deemed impractical due to topography, existing development or natural obstacles.

Street connectivity standards are used primarily in new developments but could also be used when considering connections in existing neighborhoods. Because street connectivity disperses traffic, some jurisdictions connect existing streets as an alternative to road widening.