[Talk-us] Update on potential highway classification reform

Brian M. Sperlongano zelonewolf at gmail.com
Mon May 17 21:54:32 UTC 2021

Hi Folks,

I'd like to provide the community an update on the work that's been
happening to improve the current state of US highway classifications.
Following the recent talk-us threads, there were extensive debates in
Slack, especially in the #local-us-northeast channel, about how to better
apply the highway classification values with international norms,
especially the trunk classification, which seems to be the most challenging.

There was a strong consensus initially amongst New England mappers that the
highway classifications should be used in a way that's consistent with the
connectivity importance of various roads.  There was also a general
agreement that documenting state-specific highway classification criteria
was important for preventing edit wars as well as documenting edge or
unusual cases and the rationale behind them.

The outcome of those discussions was the following wiki page[1], which
offers general guidelines that can be applied in state-specific ways to
come up with criteria that mappers can follow.  As part of these
discussions, local mappers have been drafting state-specific pages that
would implement these general guidelines.  State-specific criteria have
been drafted so far for: MA, MS, NH, RI, VT, TX, and WA.

In order to demonstrate what the new classification would look like on the
map, the New England mappers have put together a temporary live demo[2]
which shows what this new arrangement would look like at the motorway and
trunk level.  This demo is set up to show the proposed "new" highway
classification alignment in *four* New England states only: VT, NH, MA, and
RI.  The rest of the country is shown with no change to highway
classification.  In addition, this demo map is rigged to show
motorway/trunk at their normal zoom levels, but suppress highway=secondary
until zoomed in close, in order to specifically examine the motorway/trunk
network in better detail.


[1] https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/United_States/Highway_classification

I offer this update as an invitation to further collaboration on how we
might better map highway classifications in the US.
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