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March 23, 2006 1:55 AM   Subscribe

How do builders and construction workers refer to streets on a new development that have yet to be officially named?

On the way to work I pass a development that will eventually comprise about 250 houses arranged around 20 new streets. As far as I am aware none of these streets has yet been officially named. Does the construction industry have any conventions on how to give people directions under these circumstances. For example do people ever adopt "placeholder" names? I am in the UK but presumably the problem is international in scope.
posted by rongorongo to Travel & Transportation (13 answers total)
Best answer: They have to have a map to do any planning, and they have to have labels on the map to make it any use. I suppose they use letters and numbers to label the streets with working names until they come up with a list of real names that they like and that can be used to sell property. (The local heroes may be named Ince and Pedera, but no one wants to live on the corner of Ince St. and Pedera St.)

Depending on local regulations, developers may be forced to submit real names early. For example, Medway Council has a "Street Naming and Numbering" department:
If you are a developer of a large estate, copies of the site layout drawing and location plans must be provided to Street Naming and Numbering once you commence work on site. We can then process the naming of any new streets and the numbering of your properties without delay. Any suggested street names will be consulted on with the Royal Mail and the emergency services as well as the Parish Council if necessary. Street Naming and Numbering carry out research on development sites, as it may be that some history can be traced and more appropriate street names used. A naming and numbering schedule will be finalised and sent out to all relevant consultees from which we ask you to inform all your prospective buyers of their new property address.
Under these guidelines, a project in development would likely already have real names, even if they hadn't yet been approved.
posted by pracowity at 2:31 AM on March 23, 2006

I know I've read somewhere that unnamed streets are referred to as "paper streets," but I have tried to find some kind of confirmation of this and my googling has not turned up anything.

Maybe someone else can confirm that I'm not completely crazy and making this up?
posted by saucy at 4:59 AM on March 23, 2006

Any new subdivision is already completely named by the developer during design. The municipality rarely has input into this. Well before completion, the city has approved the names and the post office, utilities, county, state, etc has been notified.
posted by JJ86 at 5:49 AM on March 23, 2006

I've watched enough public access cable to verify what JJ86 says. At least here the names are nailed down prior to the first shovel hits the dirt.
posted by substrate at 6:09 AM on March 23, 2006

Best answer: My husband is a civil engineer who designs subdivisions in the US for a living, and I can verify JJ86's answer because I've asked him the same question, rongorongo. Also, I know way more about parking lot design than any non-engineer really needs to know.

To answer your original question, during the design process, if he hasn't received a list of names from his client yet, my husband will refer to streets with numbers, letters, some variable generated by AutoCAD, something referring to a landmark on the property (i.e. the "barn road"), or made-up names of his own.

During actual construction, once streets are paved with the first layer, you will often see their names spray-painted directly on the pavement, or on some kind of crude street sign system (like a 2x4 stuck in the mud) so that contractors can find their way around.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 7:07 AM on March 23, 2006

Best answer: streets that done exist except "on paper' like when a huge property has been subdivuded into lots, are calles "paper streets".

any street that exists on the townships map but does not really function "as a street" is called a paper street.
posted by Izzmeister at 8:05 AM on March 23, 2006

substrate writes "At least here the names are nailed down prior to the first shovel hits the dirt."

This is the theory anyways. I live in on of those themed street names sub divisions except my street doesn't match the theme, not even close. I never gave it much thought until I was talking to my neighbour who had been there since day one (1960). Seems an orginal developer built my street and then went bankrupt. The new developer decided on a new name for the subdivion and therefor a new naming scheme. Leaving the couple dozen homes on my street with a unique name. Which is good because I never have to have the "No I live on Foo Wynd not Foo Way" conversation. And bad because there is no community hint from the street name. The pizza place across the alley didn't know where I lived.
posted by Mitheral at 9:46 AM on March 23, 2006

So, Mitheral, looking at the Google map based on the location in your profile, you must live in the Pen* area? I wasted a few minutes trying to find what must be your street. Are you on Valentine Cres.?
posted by tippiedog at 11:23 AM on March 23, 2006

I'd like to know who the hell names some of those streets. A long time ago we lived in a subdivison that had Kingston St., Queenston St., Dukeston St., etc. Ugh. I always used to tell guests that there was a Jokerston St. down the road.
posted by hodyoaten at 11:27 AM on March 23, 2006

Yup - the developer names them. My dad does this and is always trying to come up with street names that have some kind of theme but don't confuse people. It's harder than it sounds due to the sheer number of them to name.
posted by jopreacher at 4:06 PM on March 23, 2006

My dad was involved in many construction projects. They'd just use lot numbers. Each lot had a sign on the front of it with the lot number, and the contractors all had diagrams. Made things easier to find than when it was finished. you know how people sometimes have poorly lit/hard to see house numbers. At least the big ass sign with the lot number was right in front and you couldn't miss it. ;)
posted by drstein at 4:14 PM on March 23, 2006

Best answer: I am an architect and have dealt with this issue through several projects.

Before any project begins, plats (legal descriptions of the site including a benchmark location that designates the start point of property lines) must be submitted and approved with the governing authority. Once the plat has been established, the developer or contractor must submit legal site plan from a licensed civil engineer that establishes the location of all utilities, above and below ground. Since these utilities are often located in the right of way of the proposed street, the governing authority usually assigns some legal designation that is either part of the zoned master plan or developer's propsed community design. These designations might later be named with suggestions from the neighborhood group, developer, city council, etc. But they must be approved by the governing authority (city council, fire department, post office, and so on).

So, in the initial stages of construction, contractors use the plat and the legal descriptions associated with their site in order to pull approved permits and begin construction. The naming can vary widely based upon the municipality, but that is the basic process.
posted by Benway at 4:46 PM on March 23, 2006

tippiedog writes "Mitheral, looking at the Google map based on the location in your profile, you must live in the Pen* area? I wasted a few minutes trying to find what must be your street. Are you on Valentine Cres.?"

posted by Mitheral at 12:45 PM on March 18, 2007

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