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If we want to build towns that are financially productive, we need to identify and eliminate stroads. A stroad is a street/road hybrid.

Roads and streets are two different things.

Streets: The function of a street is to serve as a platform for building wealth. On a street, we're attempting to grow the complex ecosystem that produces community wealth. In these environments, people (outside of their automobiles) are the indicator species of success. Successful streets are environments where humans, and human interaction, flourish.

Roads: In contrast, the function of a road is to connect productive places. You can think of a road as a refinement of the railroad — a road on rails — where people board in one place, depart in another and there is a high speed connection between the two.

Stroads: Stroads are a mash-up of these two types of paths. We like to call them "the futon of transportation" because, just as a futon is neither a particularly good bed nor a particularly good couch, a stroad is neither a particularly good road or a particularly good street.

Besides being a very dangerous environment (yes, it is ridiculously dangerous to mix high-speed, highway design geometry with pedestrians, bikers and turning traffic), they are enormously expensive to build and, ultimately, financially unproductive.

The following is a short video that will help identify STROADs and how then convert them to either a productive street or road:

Nationwide, our state departments of transportation (DOTs) are functionally insolvent, swamped with liabilities yet holding out hope that someone will ride to the rescue with an outrageous level of funding. Since that is not going to happen, we need to get serious about triage on our highway systems. Eliminating stroads is the low hanging fruit in this conversation.

Even more than DOTs, local governments are the worst stroad offenders. Retrofitting the local transportation system to eliminate stroads is the great task of the next generation of local engineers. Those that can figure this out will not only be leaders in the profession but, by building community wealth instead of simply creating more expense, they will attract the most resources.

And we don't even have to talk about money to make this change. Stroads are incredibly dangerous. We can justify a lot of stroad repair using a health, safety and welfare rationale.

Let's turn our stroads into streets or roads and put our country back on a path towards being financially productive.

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