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Home >Maine's Transportation Systems >Classification of Highways >Road Classification: What it means to a Municipality
Road Classification: What it means to a Municipality
What is a ‘State Aid Road’?
The concepts of ‘Highway Functional Classification’ and ‘State Highway System ’ can be confusing and are easily misinterpreted. The expressions ‘local road’ and ‘townway’ may sound interchangeable and are often used to describe the same road; however, they mean very different things. What is important to realize about these two terms is that the first describes the federal road classification and the second describes the corresponding state system. The difference between the two categorizations is simple: Federal Functional Class (FFC) describes the functionality and geographical characteristics of a road based upon federal guidelines; and, State Highway System identifies which entity (State or local) is responsible for maintenance and capital expenditure of that road.
The proper classification of all roads is important to towns because it ensures that Federal, State, and local highway funds are spent on the proper roads. In addition, Urban-Rural Initiative Program (URIP) funds are calculated using these classifications and systems. The State Highway System also establishes highway and bridge maintenance responsibilities and determine authority on traffic ordinances and other related issues.
What are the Federal Functional Classifications and State Highway Systems?
Functional classification is the process by which public streets and highways are grouped into classes according to the character of service they are intended to provide. Generally, highways fall into one of three broad categories:
For more information on the Federal Functional Classification of Highways visit our specific page on this subject.
The State Highway System determines maintenance responsibility. The State Highway System is grouped into three categories:
How does MaineDOT determine the functionality of a road?
As development occurs and populations shift, the functionality of roads may change. For this reason the MaineDOT has established guidelines, based upon Federal Highway Administration criteria, for the functional classification of all road types. The following guidelines are used to make a distinction between Collector (State Aid) and Local (Townway) Roads:
View the complete Maine Department of Transportation's "Rule # 304" on determining the function of roadways, particularly those classifications that are on the dividing line between State and Local responsibility.
In order to qualify for collector status, a road must generally meet at least three of these five criteria and function as a collector on a regional basis. It should also be noted that traffic activity (AADT) accounts for only one of the criteria. Other factors like network configuration, land use, Trip Length, and Route Spacing are given equal consideration during the functional class review of roads.
If a Municipality feels that the function of a road has changed, a written request must be submitted by Municipal Officials to the Commissioner of MaineDOT. If you have any questions on the process you can call Community Services Division at 207-624-3270.
This page last updated on 6/27/13
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