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Our Nation's Highways: 2008

Figures 1-1 and 1-2: Hierarchy of Our Highway System and Access and Mobility

The functional classification schema developed by the Federal Highway Administration classifies roadways by their function within the State’s network of public roads. The three basic categories of functional classification are local roads, collectors, and arterials. Local roads serve homes, businesses, farms, and small communities, and provide access to collector roadways. Collectors channel traffic from the local roads to the arterials, which provide safe, reliable, and efficient travel between larger towns and major cities. The key purposes of all roadways are to provide access and mobility. Local roads chiefly provide access, while mobility is the primary function of arterials. Figures 1 and 2 illustrate the relationships between classes of roadways and their relative functions.

Figure 1-1. Hierarchy of Our Highway System

See paragraph above for explanation of Figure 1-1

Data represented in the figure
Table in Excel format


Figure 1- 2. Access and Mobility

See paragraph above for explanation of Figure 1-2

Data represented in the figure
Table in Excel format



Data Source: Figures 1-1 and 1-2 are redrawn from Figure II-1 and II-4 of FHWA Functional Classification Guidelines, 1989, Office of Planning, Federal Highway Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation (www.fhwa.dot.gov/planning/fcsec2_1.htm).


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Tianjia Tang
Office of Highway Policy Information
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United States Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration