Memo to City Planner in re: Stoughton Town Center, 1958

Nope, not enough intersections.


Received your note re: city center planning. Early feedback on the plans has been mostly positive, but there is one issue that keeps coming up. Namely, is it possible to make this area more difficult to drive in? Right now, you’ve done a pretty good job, but the committee has a few suggestions we’d like you to consider.

First, right now you have 6 two-way roads converging into one sort-of two way intersection divided by an island thing. This is good in that it’s pretty confusing, especially all the swerving you would need to do to stay in your own lane from certain entry points. However, there are 4 other roads on the other side of the square that should be able to access this intersection (or as you cleverly put it, “vehicular convergence mapping site”). I don’t see why we should sacrifice all that extra traffic for the sake of clarity. Just draw a couple of one-ways in there and it should be fine.

Second, you have far too much signage. We don’t really want drivers to know what street they’re supposed to turn onto until they’re already past it. This gives us the added benefit of little old ladies drifting into traffic because they have no idea what they’re looking for. Plus, it frees up more space for billboards. You may want to consider axing those extra stoplights too. No need for people at one end of the VCMS  to know what’s going on at the other.

Finally, your statement that “it would be folly to try and cram another lane into this space” is ridiculous. You said that on-street parking plus one lane would be tight, but Hal, Marty, and I got drunk last night and managed to fit extra lanes and turning lanes in there. You just need to blur the lines a little and make people cut across a couple lanes suddenly to make turns. It’s fun. Try having a couple of pops and giving it another go. We know you can do it.


Dave Macklin


Dave Macklin, the visionary author of this letter, became a hero in Stoughton in 1972, when a 6-lane, two-way traffic circle with 63 intersecting roads, including 14 that ended on the next block and one that formed a semi-circle and returned to the traffic circle, became a major driver of tourism to economically depressed Stoughton. People were fascinated by the fact that so many roads could come together in such a hideous and obviously disastrous way.

Of course, the influx of tourist cars meant a rise in car accidents, and for a while every boy in Stoughton was trained as a paramedic before going off to college in the nearby metropolis of Gormington.

Meanwhile, Don Flatley, the town’s city planner, suffered from increasingly high blood pressure and 2 minor heart attacks, faced with the severity of what he was doing. He attempted to have himself disbarred from the City Planners Association, but the Chairman of the Midwest Region urged him to stay put, saying they “need[ed] a laugh in this business.”

When his wife, Shirley Flatley, realized that Don was responsible not only for 7,615 accidents per year, but also her 74 minute commute, she left him for good and went on to win the silver medal for jousting in the 1977 Spring Olympics.


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