[Talk-us] Schizophrenic highway

Greg Troxel gdt at ir.bbn.com
Sun Sep 16 00:05:52 BST 2012

Charlotte Wolter <techlady at techlady.com> writes:

>         I'm working on US 50 near Trenton, Ill. Here's the location:
> http://www.openstreetmap.org/edit?lat=38.61248&lon=-89.68529&zoom=16
>         It looks like, at one point there were plans to turn this into
> a motorway. In two spots in a 25-mile stretch, intersections have been
> turned into cloverleafs and the highway divided. In other locations,
> roads that used to intersect US 50 have been turned into
> overpasses. There are even a couple of bridges for a second lane but
> no evidence of any construction work actually to build that lane. The
> vast majority of the highway is still two-lane blacktop.
>         So how does one tag this, as a primary road that just has a
> couple of cloverleafs?

My take is:

  motorway: truly meets interstate specs for extended periods - multi
  lane, no at-grade intersections.  I would not tag something as
  motorway when it's only sometimes motorway unless it's ~10 miles long.

  primary: US highway or road of equivalent social importance.  No other

  trunk: more important than primary, and mostly divided, or mostly not
  having at-grade intersections, kind of high speed.  can be jersey
  barriers with at-grade intersections only every mile where it's posted
  50 mph+.   can be interstate-class except with one lane..

So, if this feels like mostly a busy road where you can only go 30 with
stores along it, tag it primary.  if it feels like you can drive 60 in a
50 zone and that's ok, and at-grade intersections are rare, tag it
trunk.   If the part you want to tag trunk is less than say two miles,
don't do it and leave it primary.

For a reasonable example, look at route 2 in massachusetts.  culturally,
MA-2 is as important as US 20 (at least for us north-half residents :-),
and sometimes it's motorway, sometimes trunk, and sometimes just

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