[Tagging] Is it possible to have highway=unclassified with ref tag?

Kevin Kenny kevin.b.kenny+osm at gmail.com
Mon May 7 18:13:51 UTC 2018

On Mon, May 7, 2018 at 12:47 PM, yo paseopor <yopaseopor at gmail.com> wrote:

> The topic is the classification of OSM is not the same as countries have,
> and this make troubles. An UNCLASSIFIED road as its name says it is
> unclassified...but when you need some road classification with a step more
> than tertiary then you use unclassified, and if the road has ref...you put
> in then. Why don't you reorder the tertiary roads? They also catch your
> less thant tertiary roads in your country. Also it is the same problem with
> trunk or primary: whatis the difference between trunk of one lane per
> direction and a primary road? Also you have the issue if you consider the
> administrative classification as we do some countries: a trunk may be a
> trunk because being managed by one specific administration? WTF? Is it good
> for the map? All the roads by a local administration should be
> unclassified? It is a complicated problem. I suggest to reclassify the
> other roads in their grades to make unclassified roads unclassified as the
> name says it.

One issue is that we have the "UK English is the language of tagging" rule
- which widely gets interpreted as "highway classification must be
force-fit into the UK system." The US system presents a complex problem for
this, since most highway classification is delegated to the states, and
they all have their own local schemes.

In many counties in the US, rural roads are unnamed and have only reference
numbers. A farm road may be "County Road 2200N" (which is a different
classification from, say, "County Highway 23", and typically shown only on
small blade signs, not banner signs) or "State Farm and Market Road #2134".
As I understand it, it would fit pretty closely with what "unclassified"
roads - which are a formal classification in the UK! - are understood to

Near where I live, numbered 'US', 'State' and many 'County' roads do NOT
reflect the governing body - they are all managed by the state department
of transportation. Historically, they had other structures, but
responsibilities were reallocated. The 'US' highway numbers are coordinated
with neighbouring states, but the administration is by the state.  There
are also numbered but (nearly) unsigned 'reference routes' also maintained
by the state to 'State' highway standards. I say 'nearly' unsigned because
they do often have inconspicuous chaining markers with their numbers.

Rather than labeling the governing body, the 'US', 'State' and 'County'
designations around here reflect the grade of importance, expected level of
traffic and expected quality of maintenance.  Given that the designation
reflects relative importance rather than administrative jurisdiction,
despite the labeling, I'm comfortable with having US, State, and County
numbered roads be 'primary', 'secondary' and 'tertiary' - but in the places
where the counties number virtually every road, there is a need for a tier
below 'tertiary' - and 'unclassified' seems to be it; it's a working
category that might otherwise be 'quaternary.'
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