City Streets At 60 MPH

Sand Canyon Avenue  Irvine  CA 1   Google Maps

I’m probably dwelling on this a little too much, but I’m blown away to find city streets with 55 or even 60 mph speed limits. How is that even possible? I haven’t been able to force myself to drive that fast yet. It still seems wrong.

After driving and looking and thinking the problem through, it’s beginning to make sense. This is part of the planning in a planned city you don’t think about.

Irvine has the advantage of coming into existence after the automobile. The car has always been king. Connecticut has lots of roads designed for wagons and livestock.

Here’s how they do it in Irvine.

The main arterial streets are limited access. It’s not quite as limited as an I-95, but it’s pretty restrictive. There is no parking. No homes face these streets. There is no driveway access.

Most of the streets within developments stay there. Only a few well placed secondary streets exit to the major arteries. If there’s no traffic light at the intersection, right turns only

The purpose of the major thoroughfares is to efficiently move people over moderate distances. They do.

Sand Canyon Avenue  Irvine  CA   Google MapsWhere two main roads intersect, each gets wider. We stopped for a light on Sand Canyon at Irvine Blvd. There were seven lanes. Not seven lanes curb-to-curb, but seven lanes in each roadway where it approached the intersection.

That’s three for through traffic and two each for left and right turns.

I don’t think there are any standalone stores in Irvine. These major streets are pretty sterile. Few distractions.

Everything is clustered in conveniently located shopping centers. None have entrances near the actual intersection.

Interestingly, the one road where this doesn’t work is I-5. It’s a very large Interstate with lots of traffic and slowdowns.

The center of West Hartford or heavy duty shopping like the Post Road or Berlin Turnpike could never exist in this city. The are lots of open air places to eat, but nothing like The Place in Guilford.

There is a tradeoff for everything.

7 thoughts on “City Streets At 60 MPH”

  1. “The Place” in Guilford rocks……picnic dining under the tent with an open pit roaring bbq grille right on Rte 1. Casual New England fare at its finest. Too bad its been a little “soggy” lately due to the wet weather…..but that has never stopped us intrepid Guilforder’s!!

  2. Nice analysis, Geoff. Enjoy your new home and thanks for keeping those of us back in CT informed.

    I guess eventually, you’ll even start calling it “The I-5”. Then we’ll know you’ve gone over to “the other side.”

  3. Doesn’t seem to contemplate pedestrians, either – no way anyone could cross that many lanes at an intersection in the time available during a traffic light cycle. Any bike lanes?

  4. Geoff, I moved from CT to Oregon 4 years ago. I travel the 5 every day to work!! Of course, here in Southern Oregon the traffic is nothing like CT or CA. I have found some major differences about how they set up shopping centers in Grants Pass near me. They don’t have the traffic come directly from the stores onto the Main drag(199), instead they all come out onto a side road, which then has a light to let you out onto the main drag. Also, in Medford the stores parking lots all connect, so there might be 2 or 3 plazas but you don’t have to go back out to the street to travel from lot to lot. It is really nice to not have to go out onto a main drag to drive 50 feet to get over to another store. Anyway, welcome to the west coast, where the livin’ is easy. I have never regretted my move, doubt you will either. CT winters are horrible. You will probably miss the pizza though!!

  5. It was the “neighborhoods” behind walls that used to drive me insane in northern California!
    Windsor CA which is just north of Santa Rosa exploded from 5,000 residents in 1988 to about 27,000 when we left in ’95. ALOT of developments, originally one shopping area with all you needed. When we were back in 2007 the had built an entire “downtown” area – quaint buildings, town green, restaurants and shops. It was crazy!

  6. No roads in CT cities with a 60 mph speed limit?? Haven’t been down rt 6 in Bristol lately have you? The actual speed limit is much lower but a lot of people consider that just a ‘suggestion’. The only time I see anyone doing the speed limit is when there’s a police car around.
    West Hartford Center; man I miss the old WH center.Especially the old candy store. Grew up in WH. It’s all gone ‘trendy’ now. I don’t like ‘trendy’.

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