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Limited-access road: Wikis


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A limited-access road or controlled-access road is a road to which access from adjacent properties is limited in some way. It can mean anything from a city street to which the maintaining authority limits driveway access[1][2] to a freeway (or other equivalent terms).[3][4] The precise definition of these terms varies by jurisdiction. Often, on these kinds of road low-speed vehicles and non-motorized uses including pedestrians, bicycles, and horses, are not permitted.


The concept and various names

For a more comprehensive list see: List of highway systems with full control of access and no cross traffic
A limited-access portion of U.S. Route 202 in New Jersey, with movements between other roads limited to interchanges

Once these first roads were developed many terms have been applied to this type of road over the years. These names differ in various areas based on both local terminology official names. The definitions for these roads varies greatly by country and in the United States, varies greatly by state.

As a result, this concept goes under many names around the world including:

Usage of terms

Roadmaps generally use either term to indicate freeway standards.[5][6][7][8][9]

In the United States, the national Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) uses "full control of access" only for freeways. Expressways are defined as having "partial control of access", meaning that major roads typically use interchanges and commercial development is accessed via cross roads or frontage roads, while minor roads can cross at grade and farms can have direct access. This definition is also used by some states, some of which also restrict freeways only to motor vehicles capable of maintaining a certain speed.[4][10] Some other states use "controlled access" to mean a higher standard than "limited access", while others[11] reverse the two terms.


The concept of limited-access roadways started with the parkway system in the state of New York, in 1907.[12] The New York State Parkway System was a network of high speed roads in and around New York City. The first limited access highway built is thought to be the privately built Long Island Motor Parkway in Long Island, New York.[13]

The concept evolved into uninterrupted arterial roads[3] that are commonly known as expressways,[4] motorways, or parkways, among other names both in the US and other countries.


A controlled-access highway[2][14] is usually a step up from a limited-access highway. These usually feature grade-separated interchanges and frontage roads with ramp access.

When toll booths are placed along the road, they are called toll roads, tollways, or turnpikes, among other names both in the US and other countries.

Dual carriageways (or divided highways) with long intervals between at-grade intersections and no private access may also meet the criteria of being "controlled-access."[15][16] Such roads may also be called expressways.[4]

One such example is the "Marquette Bypass" on U.S. Route 41 in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The bypass is an expressway in terms of signage, although it has traffic lights at the junctions.[17]


  1. ^ Environment Waikato Regional Council, Definition of Terms: "Limited access road for the purposes of this Strategy (section 5.6.3) is a local road occupied by a district/city council, where the number of accesses onto that road from properties is limited, due to road safety and visibility reasons."
  2. ^ a b Elko Traffic Code: "'Controlled access highway' means every highway, street or roadway in respect to which owners or occupants of abutting lands and other persons have no legal right of access except at such points only and in such manner as may be determined by the public authority having jurisdiction over such highway, street or roadway."
  3. ^ a b Jacksonville Transportation Authority - Rapid Transit Studies - Glossary: "Limited Access - Roadways with access limited to specific points (interchanges) with arterial or other limited access roadways."
  4. ^ a b c d Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, Section 1A.13 Definitions of Words and Phrases in This Manual: "Expressway—a divided highway with partial control of access." and "Freeway—a divided highway with full control of access."
  5. ^ Gousha 1996 U.S. - Canada - Mexico defines "controlled access highways": "These divided super-highways have no cross traffic, and entrance or exit is permitted only at interchanges."
  6. ^ American Automobile Association 1993 U.S. - Canada - Mexico uses "controlled access", split into "multi-lane divided" and "2 & 3 lane undivided"
  7. ^ Rand McNally 1991 U.S. - Canada - Mexico uses "limited-access highways"
  8. ^ National Geographic Society (GeoSystems Global Corporation) 1999 U.S. - Canada - Mexico uses "controlled access highways"
  9. ^ 1994 DeLorme North America uses "limited access"
  10. ^ Illinois Department of Transportation (2006). "Peoria to Macomb". Retrieved 2006-07-19.   (enclosed within frames in "Expressways are constructed as partial access controlled facilities. This means direct access is allowed for single family residence and field entrances and public roads may be at-grade intersections. Also, interchanges are constructed or planned at most marked routes or high-volume county highways. Commercial properties are not allowed direct access and are brought in off of public or frontage roads."; "Farm machinery is not allowed to be driven on a freeway. Farm machinery would need to be driven on side roads or frontage roads to access fields. With an expressway, farm machinery is allowed to be driven on the highway and field access is generally allowed along the main highway."
  11. ^ Florida Department of Transportation, Florida's Planning Level of Service StandardsPDF (94.2 KiB): "Limited access highways (freeways) are multilane divided highways having a minimum of two lanes for exclusive use of traffic in each direction and full control of ingress and egress; this includes freeways and all fully controlled access roadways."; "Controlled access highways are non-limited access arterial facilities where access connections, median openings and traffic signals are highly regulated."
  12. ^ Bronx River Parkway
  13. ^
  14. ^ Public Transportation and Highway Improvement Act; R.S.O. 1990, CHAPTER P.50
  15. ^ A8 Dual Carriageway
  16. ^ Upgrading the Pacific Highway, Route Options Development Report Class A projects, which are also designed to 110 km/h standard, but generally signposted at 100 km/h. These are designed as controlled access roads, with direct access from local roads at limited locations, and interchanges with major roads where traffic demand justifies the cost.
  17. ^ Michigan Highways 40 through 49 The route is a partially-limited access expressway, with access only at select crossroads.


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