[Talk-us] Burlington, Vermont road classification

Greg Troxel gdt at ir.bbn.com
Fri Oct 19 12:55:26 BST 2012

  > Primary highways generally lack stop signs; however, stop signs may 
  > control major intersections in rural areas with low traffic volumes 
  > and occur rarely elsewhere.

  The most notable example of this is North Willard Street[2]. It is part
  of US Route 7, but as can be seen with Bing Imagery, it is narrow, made
  narrower by street parking on both sides, and is controlled by stop
  signs. Similarly, Main Street is part of US Route 2, but has many
  lights, and does not even satisfy the "near the highest speed generally
  allowed on surface streets" note about secondary streets.

My take from dealing with this (around Mass):

If it's a US highway, then it's highway=primary, period.  A US highway
is important simply by virtue of being designated US highway.  Note
that speed limits etc. should be tagged, so routing is not just on
classification.  But I don't know anywhere where a US highway is not
important in terms of cultural/transportation geography, even if it
isn't the first choice for long-distance travel (e.g. US1 and I95 are
in similar places, and long-haul traffic uses I95, but US1 is still a
very important road culturally, and in many cases it is more
meaningful, because I95 is merely a way to get from here to ttere, and
not more).

In many areas, US highways have stop signs or lights.  That's life.
US7 in downtown Burlington is probably like this, but that doesn't
make it not one of the most important roads.

Note that primary is a UK word, and it doesn't really map to US

If it's not a US highway, and it's important enough to be on a par
with a US highway, it can be tagged primary.  But, if you're doing
this, and the road has lots of stop signs, that's a clue that you may
be overclassifying.  An example of something that isn't a US highway
that deserves primary is Mass 2, which is *the* main east/west road in
the northern half of mass.  An example in vermont that's kind of iffy
is 100.  I see parts of it are primary, and parts of it secondary.  As
a non-local who's driven it only a few times I have no basis for
questioning local judgement.   But I would tend to think that 100 is
more important than most other NS roads that aren't US5 and US7.
But, the other state roads that 100 are more important than should be
secondary, so it's really in between primary and secondary and thus a
tough call.

US7 should really be primary.  Even if it's slow in cities, it's the
main road where it goes (I89 aside, and generally the 'is it primary'
test discounts interstates).  I am assuming that if you are in Shelburne
and going to Colchester (and we stipulate that interstates are
unusable), you'd drive on 7, including North Willard street.  Or at
least someone not really familiar with the area would.  Is that off

I've seen a distressing tendency to overclassify roads, especially in
cities, where random streets that are used *only within the city* are
secondary.  My take is that if a road wouldn't likely be used by
someone who is traveling 20 km, then it's funny for it to be
secondary - a secondary highway should actually go somewhere.  The
other argument, that I don't subscribe to, is that this should be
population-based, not distance based.

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