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Old September 19th, 2015, 11:10 AM   #1
John Maynard
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Highway standards around the world

Hi, I am starting a new thread concerning the very basis of our forum:

What define a motorway/freeway/autoroute/autobahn/autopista/autostrada?

Is there any international minimal requirements for a road to be posted as motorway/expressway?

What is specific in your country about it?
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Old September 19th, 2015, 12:13 PM   #2
riiga
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In general a European motorway should be:
  • Controlled-access
  • Grade-separated
  • Dual-carriageway
  • Signed with the motorway sign

This is pretty much universal across all European countries.

For expressways the definition varies more, but in Sweden a motortrafikled have the same requirements as a motorway except it doesn't need to be dual-carriageway and is signposted with the expressway sign instead.

Last edited by riiga; September 19th, 2015 at 02:28 PM. Reason: Controlled-access
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Old September 19th, 2015, 12:28 PM   #3
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Controlled access. Limited-access is an American term to denote a type of four-lane divided highway with incidental at-grade access (for instance to farms or minor side roads).

A controlled-access highway allows access solely through interchanges, i.e. the typical Autobahn, autostrada or autoroute.

The U.S. has tens of thousands of kilometers of four-lane divided highways with limited access, but this road type isn't as common in Europe, though more common in the former Soviet Union.
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Old September 19th, 2015, 12:51 PM   #4
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That means, the "minimum standard around the world" is limited-access.
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Old September 19th, 2015, 01:04 PM   #5
John Maynard
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Is this the only requirement "controlled/limited access": so basically, any road such as 1923 Autostrada dei Laghi, 1921 AVUS or 1908 Long Island Motor Parkway could potentially be posted as a "motorway" today?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AVUS
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Old September 19th, 2015, 01:13 PM   #6
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What about EU standards, is there such a notion?
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Old September 19th, 2015, 01:23 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MichiH View Post
That means, the "minimum standard around the world" is limited-access.
I wouldn't consider a limited-acess highway to be a motorway as we know them in Europe. Intersections are clearly not something that belongs on a motorway.

Expressway is a vague term that can include limited-access highways, but often full control of access.
For instance, the voie express in France or droga ekspresowa in Poland offer full control of access.

The United States has a large secondary road network with limited-access. These are mainly between smaller cities and serve rural areas.
Most four lane divided highways in India or Brazil do not offer full control of access, they have side roads, minor intersections and U-turns.

A typical limited-access highway; US 48 in West Virginia. You can see the interchange, but also minor roads with intersections.
This would not be considered a motorway in Europe. (Nor is it considered a freeway in the U.S.)

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Old September 19th, 2015, 02:33 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Maynard View Post
What about EU standards, is there such a notion?
I guess the closest regulation would be from the Vienna Convention:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vienna Convention
"Motorway" means a road specially designed and built for motor traffic, which
does not serve properties bordering on it, and which:
  1. Is provided, except at special points or temporarily, with separate
    carriageways for the two directions of traffic, separated from each other
    either by a dividing strip not intended for traffic or, exceptionally, by
    other means;
  2. Does not cross at level with any road, railway or tramway track, or
    footpath; and,
  3. Is specially sign-posted as a motorway;
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Old September 19th, 2015, 05:26 PM   #9
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The 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic doesn't stipulate any minimal configuration of carriageway, however it says what you previously wrote plus inter alia:

Quote:
Drivers shall be forbidden:
(i) To have their vehicles standing or parked elsewhere than at
marked parking sites; if a vehicle is compelled to stop, its
driver shall endeavour to move it off the carriageway and also
off the flush verge and, if he is unable to do so, immediately
signal the presence of the vehicle at a distance so as to warn
approaching drivers in time;
(ii)To make U-turns, to travel in reverse, and to drive on to the
central dividing strip, including the crossovers linking the two carriageways
UNECE 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic: http://www.unece.org/fileadmin/DAM/t...n/crt1968e.pdf (see p. 4; 23-24)

According to this definition of a motorway, any road with limited access and none at-grade intersections, might as well be only two single lane carriageway of 2,5 m each and 0,5 m wide median without hard shoulders may be posted as such.
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Old September 19th, 2015, 05:48 PM   #10
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And U turns are forbidden.
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Which new motorways are currently under construction?
Which new motorways will be opened next?

See 'New motorway projects' thread

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Old September 19th, 2015, 07:13 PM   #11
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in North America it is a bit strange

The Interstate highways in the USA follow the motorway standards quite explicitly. There are only some private access or grade crossings in very desolate and remote areas where the road is already serious overkill (e.g. Montana, East Texas)

In Canada only a couple of provinces have "motorway networks", Quebec's autoroutes, Ontario's "400" roads, Nova Scotia's "100" roads... however all have various "special case" exceptions where some or all of the requirements are ignored (e.g. Papineau Ave A-19 section in Montreal, Highway 406 in Ontario, Highway 103 old sections in Nova Scotia...).

Of course in addition to all that there are many motorways that are too short or inconsequential to have a motorway number and are signed same as non-motorway roads (e.g. various US-route signs, state route signs) or even without numbers as municipal roads (e.g. Gardiner Expressway in Toronto). Then again in Europe the same thing is common (e.g. gelbe autobahnen, Polish DTS)
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Old September 19th, 2015, 07:18 PM   #12
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Most of the twinned segments of the Yellowhead Highway and the Trans-Canada Highway in the prairie provinces are a good example of a limited-access highway. They function like at-grade motorways with 110 km/h speed limit (even higher than Ontario and Québec's freeways & autoroutes). They only have grade-separated interchanges at busier locations. It works fine for their traffic volume (mostly 5,000 - 10,000 vehicles per day). In Europe such volumes wouldn't even warrant a four-laner in many cases.
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Old September 19th, 2015, 07:40 PM   #13
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I wonder if AADT makes a considerable change between limited-access and motorway. A at-grade crossing that is used by nobody, doesn't exist in a de facto sense.

Example Trans-Canada Highway 1 in Alberta approaching Medicine Hat. There are occasional cross-roads at-grade, typically 2 miles apart (land grid). But AADT of the highway is something like 8000 vpd, but AADT of those cross-roads is extremely low, maybe even 2 AADT when the local rancher goes to town and back. The landscape is basically a desert. Closing the access would make many square kilometres of land unaccessible, but spending any money for frontage roads and overpasses would be more than the land's value.

There are some on Highway 2 between Calgary and Edmonton, the AADT of the main road is large (30 000 or so) but the AADT of the crossing is trivial.

One strange feature on those roads lately is "turnouts", an extremely wide shoulder with parking area and trash can, but without a physical barrier to the mainline lanes. I find them kind of spooky at typical Alberta speeds (140 km/h) while typical Alberta traffic (truck pulling a tandem axle camper) tries to get onto the highway.
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Old September 19th, 2015, 08:10 PM   #14
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If there are really minor side roads on uncontrolled intersections where you can blow through at the speed limit, it's usually a safety issue. An option to retain access but eliminate conflicts would be to construct a right-in, right-out, where they can turn around at the nearest interchange.

Of course this is not feasible when the nearest interchange is 15 kilometers away, but it is cheaper than constructing continuous frontage roads that are used by less than 20 vehicles per day. I think this could be a solution for ranch access in West Texas (I-10), the Texas Panhandle (I-40) and future I-69 in South Texas, where such access points exist.
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Old September 19th, 2015, 08:24 PM   #15
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In Western Canada the distance between interchanges can be quite long
On Highway 1 in Alberta, there's an interchange at Hwy 9, and the next one is at Brooks maybe 150 km away. In Saskatchewan or Manitoba even further...
Alberta is planning to make this road (and the other main roads in the province) true motorways with access at interchanges only, but it is a long-range project especially in these remote areas. On Highway 2 though many of the grade crossings have been closed and/or replaced with interchanges in the past 20 years.

The geography of these areas is generally quite flat and sightlines are extremely good, and the median is wide enough to be a good waiting spot (i.e. to cross, look left, jump to the median, look right, cross).
In a place like Eastern Canada it would typically not be possible, the traffic volumes are too high (population density) and/or the land is too hilly (bad sightlines, but also the divided expressway would just be a 2 lane road due to construction cost, e.g. Highway 17 in Ontario)
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Old September 19th, 2015, 08:27 PM   #16
John Maynard
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Well, back to the topic :-).

What define an European motorway, I mean by carriageway size and configuration, other than the VCRT?
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Old September 19th, 2015, 08:43 PM   #17
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That varies by country. Most countries use standard widths for each design speed (cross section) but this may vary according to geography and history.

The Netherlands only posts the sign G1 (the motorway sign);



* if the motorway is at least 2.5 km long
* if located outside city limits
* if the road has grade-separated junctions, divided carriageways and decent 'fluid' interchange design (no right in, right out).




At the same time, sign G3 (autoweg / express road):



* if the express road is at least 2.5 km long
* the road is a priority road
* there is no local access to houses or farms
* crossings (straight ahead only) are only allowed in exceptional circumstances.
* the paved width is at least 7.0 m
* intersections must have left turn lanes.

The Dutch expressway has a more variable design than in many other countries. They are not comparable to the Autobahnähnliche Straße or Voie Express. The autoweg can be single carriageway, can have intersections or roundabouts (at least 2.5 km apart) and may have crossing traffic by exception. The speed limit is 100 km/h. Dual carriageway autowegen do not have shoulders (some downgraded motorway segments still have shoulders). In addition, the autoweg may be within city limits (N7/N46 in Groningen is a good example).

Typical 100 km/h 'autoweg' in the Netherlands (N36 at Ommen).

N36-14 by European Roads, on Flickr
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Old September 19th, 2015, 08:49 PM   #18
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Highway standards around the world

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Maynard View Post
Well, back to the topic :-).

What define an European
If Canadian highways are off topic, you should rename the thread!
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Which new motorways are currently under construction?
Which new motorways will be opened next?

See 'New motorway projects' thread

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Old September 19th, 2015, 09:13 PM   #19
John Maynard
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Canadian highways also :-).

However, the topic is about motorway "standards" overall - what define it, national differences vs. international requirements (in reserve that such a thing exist) - and not a particular road configuration.
Here, I asked specifically for Europe, but if you can define for Canada, I would be glad to hear it :-).
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Old September 19th, 2015, 10:07 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Maynard View Post
Hi, I am starting a new thread concerning the very basis of our forum:

What define a motorway/freeway/autoroute/autobahn/autopista/autostrada?

Is there any international minimal requirements for a road to be posted as motorway/expressway?

What is specific in your country about it?
The Vienna convention gives some guidance, but a very general one. It is not binding either.

Every country follows their individual standards. Of course, the basics are similar but the details vary.

The standars vary because of the countries are different. There may be differences even across the areas in a country. For example, the needs in the Netherlands (average population density 500 people per sq km) are different from those in the south Finland (170) which are different from those in the north Finland (2).
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