A highway is any public or private road or other public way on land. It is used for major roads, but also includes other public roads and public tracks. In some areas of the United States, it is used as an equivalent term to controlled-access highway, or a translation for autobahn , autoroute , etc.
According to Merriam Webster, the use of the term predates the 12th century. According to Etymonline, "high" is in the sense of "main".
In North American and Australian English, major roads such as controlled-access highways or arterial roads are often state highways (Canada: provincial highways). Other roads may be designated "county highways" in the US and Ontario. These classifications refer to the level of government (state, provincial, county) that maintains the roadway.
In British English, "highway" is primarily a legal term. Everyday use normally implies roads, while the legal use covers any route or path with a public right of access, including footpaths etc.
The term has led to several related derived terms, including highway system, highway code, highway patrol and highwayman.
Major highways are often named and numbered by the governments that typically develop and maintain them. Australia's Highway 1 is the longest national highway in the world at over 14,500 kilometres (9,000 mi) and runs almost the entire way around the continent. China has the world's largest network of highways followed closely by the United States of America. Some highways, like the Pan-American Highway or the European routes, span multiple countries. Some major highway routes include ferry services, such as US Route 10, which crosses Lake Michigan.
Traditionally highways were used by people on foot or on horses. Later they also accommodated carriages, bicycles and eventually motor cars, facilitated by advancements in road construction. In the 1920s and 1930s, many nations began investing heavily in progressively more modern highway systems to spur commerce and bolster national defence.
Major modern highways that connect cities in populous developed and developing countries usually incorporate features intended to enhance the road's capacity, efficiency, and safety to various degrees. Such features include a reduction in the number of locations for user access, the use of dual carriageways with two or more lanes on each carriageway, and grade-separated junctions with other roads and modes of transport. These features are typically present on highways built as motorways ( freeways ).
The general legal definition deals with right of use not the form of construction; this is distinct from e.g. the popular use of the word in the US. A highway is defined in English common law by a number of similarly-worded definitions such as "a way over which all members of the public have the right to pass and repass without hindrance"usually accompanied by "at all times"; ownership of the ground is for most purposes irrelevant thus the term encompasses all such ways from the widest trunk roads in public ownership to the narrowest footpath providing unlimited pedestrian access over private land.
A highway might be open to all forms of lawful land traffic (i.e. vehicular, horse, pedestrian) or limited to specific types of traffic or combinations of types of traffic; usually a highway available to vehicles is available to foot or horse traffic, a highway available to horse traffic is available to pedestrians but exceptions can apply usually in the form of a highway only being available to vehicles or subdivided into dedicated parallel sections for different users.
A highway can share ground with a private right of way for which full use is not available to the general public as often will be the case with farm roads which the owner may use for any purpose but for which the general public only has a right of use on foot or horseback. The status of highway on most older roads has been gained by established public use while newer roads are typically dedicated as highways from the time they are adopted (taken into the care and control of a council or other public authority). In England and Wales, a public highway is also known as "The Queen's Highway".
The core definition of a highway is modified in various legislation for a number of purposes but only for the specific matters dealt with in each such piece of legislation. This is typically in the case of bridges, tunnels and other structures whose ownership, mode of use or availability would otherwise exclude them from the general definition of a highway, examples in recent years are commonly toll bridges and tunnels which have the definition of highway imposed upon them (in a legal order applying only to the individual structure) to allow application of most traffic laws to those using them but without causing all of the general obligations or rights of use otherwise applicable to a highway.
What is called highways in the context of automated vehicle, is called motorways in the UK context.
Scots law is similar to English law with regard to highways but with differing terminology and legislation. What is defined in England as a highway will often in Scotland be what is defined by s.151 Roads (Scotland) Act 1984 (but only "in this act" although other legislation could imitate) simply as a road, that is :-
The word highway is itself no longer a statutory expression in Scots lawbut remains in common law.
In American law, the word "highway" is sometimes used to denote any public way used for travel, whether a "road, street, and parkway"; [ clarification needed ]however, in practical and useful meaning, a "highway" is a major and significant, well-constructed road that is capable of carrying reasonably heavy to extremely heavy traffic. Highways generally have a route number designated by the state and federal departments of transportation.
California Vehicle Code, Sections 360, 590, define a "highway" as only a way open for use of motor vehicles, but the California Supreme Court has held that "the definition of 'highway' in the Vehicle Code is used for special purposes of that act," and that canals of the Los Angeles neighborhood of Venice, California, are "highways" that are entitled to be maintained with state highway funds.
Smaller roads may be termed byways.
Modern highway systems developed in the 20th century as the automobile gained popularity. The world's first limited access road was constructed on Long Island New York in the United States known as the Long Island Motor Parkway or the Vanderbilt Motor Parkway. It was completed in 1911.
In Italy the Milano-Varese 49-kilometre-long (30 mi) autostrada was opened in 1924.
Construction of the Bonn–Cologne autobahn began in 1929 and it was opened in 1932 by the mayor of Cologne, Konrad Adenauer.
In the US, the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1921 (Phipps Act) enacted a fund to create an extensive highway system. In 1922, the first blueprint for a national highway system (the Pershing Map) was published. The Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956 allocated $25 billion for the construction of the 66,000-kilometre-long (41,000 mi) Interstate Highway System over a 20-year period.
In Great Britain, the Special Roads Act 1949 provided the legislative basis for roads for restricted classes of vehicles and non-standard or no speed limits applied (later mostly termed motorways but now with speed limits not exceeding 70 mph); in terms of general road law this legislation overturned the usual principle that a road available to vehicular traffic was also available to horse or pedestrian traffic as is usually the only practical change when non-motorways are reclassified as special roads. The first section of motorway in the UK opened in 1958 (part of the M6 motorway) and then in 1959 the first section of the M1 motorway.
Reducing travel times relative to city or town streets, modern highways with limited access and grade separation create increased opportunities for people to travel for business, trade or pleasure and also provide trade routes for goods. Modern highways reduce commute and other travel time but additional road capacity can also release latent traffic demand. If not accurately predicted at the planning stage, this extra traffic may lead to the new road becoming congested sooner than would otherwise be anticipated by considering increases in vehicle ownership. More roads allow drivers to use their cars when otherwise alternatives may have been sought, or the journey may not have been made, which can mean that a new road brings only short-term mitigation of traffic congestion.
Where highways are created through existing communities, there can be reduced community cohesion and more difficult local access. Consequently, property values have decreased in many cutoff neighborhoods, leading to decreased housing quality over time.
In transport, demand can be measured in numbers of journeys made or in total distance travelled across all journeys (e.g. passenger-kilometres for public transport or vehicle-kilometres of travel (VKT) for private transport). Supply is considered to be a measure of capacity. The price of the good (travel) is measured using the generalised cost of travel, which includes both money and time expenditure.
The effect of increases in supply (capacity) are of particular interest in transport economics (see induced demand), as the potential environmental consequences are significant (see externalities below).
In addition to providing benefits to their users, transport networks impose both positive and negative externalities on non-users. The consideration of these externalities—particularly the negative ones—is a part of transport economics. Positive externalities of transport networks may include the ability to provide emergency services, increases in land value and agglomeration benefits. Negative externalities are wide-ranging and may include local air pollution, noise pollution, light pollution, safety hazards, community severance and congestion. The contribution of transport systems to potentially hazardous climate change is a significant negative externality which is difficult to evaluate quantitatively, making it difficult (but not impossible) to include in transport economics-based research and analysis. Congestion is considered a negative externality by economists.
A 2016 study finds that for the United States "a 10% increase in a region's stock of highways causes a 1.7% increase in regional patenting over a five-year period."
Highways are extended linear sources of pollution.
Roadway noise increases with operating speed so major highways generate more noise than arterial streets. Therefore, considerable noise health effects are expected from highway systems. Noise mitigation strategies exist to reduce sound levels at nearby sensitive receptors. The idea that highway design could be influenced by acoustical engineering considerations first arose about 1973.
Air quality issues: Highways may contribute fewer emissions than arterials carrying the same vehicle volumes. This is because high, constant-speed operation creates an emissions reduction compared to vehicular flows with stops and starts. However, concentrations of air pollutants near highways may be higher due to increased traffic volumes. Therefore, the risk of exposure to elevated levels of air pollutants from a highway may be considerable, and further magnified when highways have traffic congestion.
New highways can also cause habitat fragmentation, encourage urban sprawl and allow human intrusion into previously untouched areas, as well as (counterintuitively) increasing congestion, by increasing the number of intersections.
They can also reduce the use of public transport, indirectly leading to greater pollution.
High-occupancy vehicle lanes are being added to some newer/reconstructed highways in the United States and other countries around the world to encourage carpooling and mass-transit. These lanes help reduce the number of cars on the highway and thus reduces pollution and traffic congestion by promoting the use of carpooling in order to be able to use these lanes. However, they tend to require dedicated lanes on a highway, which makes them difficult to construct in dense urban areas where they are the most effective.
To address habitat fragmentation, wildlife crossings have become increasingly popular in many countries. Wildlife crossings allow animals to safely cross human-made barriers like highways.
Road traffic safety describes the safety performance of roads and streets, and methods used to reduce the harm (deaths, injuries, and property damage) on the highway system from traffic collisions. It includes the design, construction and regulation of the roads, the vehicles used on them and the training of drivers and other road-users.
A report published by the World Health Organization in 2004 estimated that some 1.2m people were killed and 50m injured on the roads around the world each yearand was the leading cause of death among children 10–19 years of age.
The report also noted that the problem was most severe in developing countries and that simple prevention measures could halve the number of deaths.For reasons of clear data collection, only harm involving a road vehicle is included. A person tripping with fatal consequences or dying for some unrelated reason on a public road is not included in the relevant statistics.
The United States has the world's largest network of highways, including both the Interstate Highway System and the United States Numbered Highway System. At least one of these networks is present in every state and they interconnect most major cities.
China's highway network is the second most extensive in the world, with a total length of about 3,573,000 kilometres (2,220,000 mi). China's expressway network is the longest Expressway system in the world, and it is quickly expanding, stretching some 85,000 kilometres (53,000 mi) at the end of 2011. In 2008 alone, 6,433 kilometres (3,997 mi) expressways were added to the network.
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Some countries incorporate bus lanes onto highways.
|Country||Highway||Bus lanes (km)||Section|
|Australia||M2 Hills Motorway||Abbott Road–Beecroft Road (Sydney)|
|India||National Highway (India)||19||30 lanes Road |
|Canada||Don Valley Parkway||0.458||shoulder converted as bypass lane from Lawrence Avenue East to York Mills Road|
|Canada||Ontario Highway 417||7||Eagleson Road–Ontario Highway 417 (Ottawa)|
|Canada||Ontario Highway 403||6||Mavis Road–Winston Churchill Boulevard (Mississauga)|
|Hong Kong||Tuen Mun Road|
|South Korea||Gyeongbu Expressway||137.4||Hannam IC (Seoul) ~ Sintanjin IC (Daejeon)|
|Netherlands||A1 motorway (Netherlands)||End of A6-Vechtbrug (Muiden)|
In South Korea, in February 1995 a bus lane (essentially an HOV-9) was established between the northern terminus and Sintanjin for important holidays and on 1 July 2008 bus lane enforcement between Seoul and Osan (Sintanjin on weekends) became daily between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. On 1 October this was adjusted to 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays, and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekends.
In Hong Kong, some highways are set up with bus lanes to solve the traffic congestion.
|Tuen Mun||Tuen Mun Road||So Kwun Wat to Sham Tseng|
|Sha Tin||Lion Rock Tunnel||The entry of the tunnel|
Traffic congestion was a principal problem in major roads and highways in the Philippines, especially in Metro Manila and other major cities. The government decided to set up some bus lanes in Metro Manila like in the Epifanio delos Santos Avenue.
Traffic on roads consists of road users including pedestrians, ridden or herded animals, vehicles, streetcars, buses and other conveyances, either singly or together, while using the public way for purposes of travel.
A toll road, also known as a turnpike or tollway, is a public or private road for which a fee is assessed for passage. It is a form of road pricing typically implemented to help recoup the costs of road construction and maintenance.
A ramp meter, ramp signal, or metering light is a device, usually a basic traffic light or a two-section signal light together with a signal controller, that regulates the flow of traffic entering freeways according to current traffic conditions. Ramp meters are used at freeway on-ramps to manage the rate of automobiles entering the freeway. Ramp metering systems have proved to be successful in decreasing traffic congestion and improving driver safety.
A variable-message sign, often abbreviated VMS, CMS, or DMS, and in the UK known as a matrix sign, is an electronic traffic sign often used on roadways to give travellers information about special events. Such signs warn of traffic congestion, accidents, incidents such as terrorist attacks, AMBER/Silver/Blue Alerts, roadwork zones, or speed limits on a specific highway segment. In urban areas, VMS are used within parking guidance and information systems to guide drivers to available car parking spaces. They may also ask vehicles to take alternative routes, limit travel speed, warn of duration and location of the incidents, or just inform of the traffic conditions.
A rush hour or peak hour is a part of the day during which traffic congestion on roads and crowding on public transport is at its highest. Normally, this happens twice every weekday; once in the morning and once in the afternoon or evening, the times during which the most people commute. The term is often used for a period of peak congestion that may last for more than one hour.
A shoulder, hard shoulder or breakdown lane, is an emergency stopping lane by the verge of a road or motorway, on the right side in countries which drive on the right, and on the left side in countries which drive on the left. Many wider U.S. freeways have shoulders on both sides of each directional carriageway—in the median, as well as at the outer edges of the road, for additional safety. Shoulders are not intended for use by through traffic, although there are exceptions.
A dual carriageway or divided highway is a class of highway with carriageways for traffic travelling in opposite directions separated by a central reservation. Roads with two or more carriageways which are designed to higher standards with controlled access are generally classed as motorways, freeways, etc., rather than dual carriageways.
The expressway network of China, with the national-level expressway system officially known as the National Trunk Highway System, is an integrated system of national and provincial-level expressways in China.
A limited-access road, known by various terms worldwide, including limited-access highway, dual-carriageway, expressway, and partial controlled access highway, is a highway or arterial road for high-speed traffic which has many or most characteristics of a controlled-access highway, including limited or no access to adjacent property, some degree of separation of opposing traffic flow, use of grade separated interchanges to some extent, prohibition of some modes of transport such as bicycles or horses, and very few or no intersecting cross-streets or level crossings. The degree of isolation from local traffic allowed varies between countries and regions. The precise definition of these terms varies by jurisdiction.
The local–express lane system is an arrangement of carriageways within a major highway where long distance traffic can use lanes with fewer interchanges compared to local traffic which use 'local' or 'collector' lanes that have access to all interchanges. This can also be called a collector–distributor lane within a single interchange. One of the longest examples is Highway 401 in Toronto, where highway ramps between express and local/collector lanes cross over one another; these are commonly known as braided ramps.
A controlled-access highway is a type of highway that has been designed for high-speed vehicular traffic, with all traffic flow—ingress and egress—regulated. Common English terms are freeway, motorway and expressway. Other similar terms include throughway and parkway. Some of these may be limited-access highways, although this term can also refer to a class of highway with somewhat less isolation from other traffic.
Open road tolling (ORT), also called all-electronic tolling, cashless tolling, or free-flow tolling, is the collection of tolls on toll roads without the use of toll booths. An electronic toll collection system is usually used instead. The major advantage to ORT is that users are able to drive through the toll plaza at highway speeds without having to slow down to pay the toll. In some installations, ORT may also reduce congestion at the plazas by allowing more vehicles per hour/per lane. The disadvantage to ORT is the possibility of "leakage"; that is, "violators" who do not pay. Leakage may either be written off as an expense by the toll operator, or offset in part or whole by fees and fines collected against the violators.
The Pacific Motorway, signposted M1, is a 127 km (79 mi) stretch of motorway linking Sydney to the Central Coast, Newcastle and Hunter regions of New South Wales. It is also known by its former names F3 Freeway, Sydney–Newcastle Freeway, and Sydney–Newcastle Expressway. It is part of the AusLink road corridor between Sydney and Brisbane. The name "F3 Freeway" reflects its former route allocation, but is commonly used by both the public and the government to refer to the roadway long after the route allocation itself was no longer in use.
2+1 road is a specific category of three-lane road, consisting of two lanes in one direction and one lane in the other, alternating every few kilometres, and separated usually with a steel cable barrier. The second lane allows faster-moving traffic to overtake slower vehicles at regular intervals. Traditional roads of at least 10 metres (33 ft) width can be converted to 2+1 roads and reach near-motorway safety levels at a much lower cost than an actual conversion to motorway or dual carriageway.
The M5 Motorway, also known as M5 West, is a 30-kilometre-long (19 mi) motorway located in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia that is designated with the M5 route and forms part of the Sydney Orbital Network. The M5 route number comprises two connected parts, separately owned and operated:
A two-lane expressway or two-lane freeway is an expressway or freeway with only one lane in each direction, and usually no median barrier. It may be built that way because of constraints, or may be intended for expansion once traffic volumes rise. The term super two is often used by roadgeeks for this type of road, but traffic engineers use that term for a high-quality surface road. Most of these roads are not tolled.
An unused highway is a highway or highway ramp that was partially or fully constructed, but went unused or was later closed. An unused roadway or ramp may often be referred to as an abandoned road, ghost road, highway to nowhere, stub ramp, ghost ramp, ski jump, stub street, stub-out, or simply stub.
The road transport of Brisbane, Australia consists of a network of highways, freeways and motorways. Some motorways have tolls applied.
This article describes the highway systems available in selected countries.
Terminology related to road transport—the transport of passengers or goods on paved routes between places—is diverse, with variation between dialects of English. There may also be regional differences within a single country, and some terms differ based on the side of the road traffic drives on. This glossary is an alphabetical listing of road transport terms.
The 'phenomenal' number of vehicles on Hwy. 401 as it cuts through Toronto makes it the busiest freeway in North America...
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