Road classification update

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Re: Road classification update

Postby sketch » Tue Nov 12, 2013 8:45 pm

I would support CR for all. TTS says "County Road". Seems like a reasonably simple deduction even for those not familiar with the abbreviation.
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Re: Road classification update

Postby Riamus » Tue Nov 12, 2013 9:12 pm

davielde wrote:Unfortunately, there is no standardization across Michigan counties. In one county, you may see Co Rd XXX on a sign, and in another you'll see CR XXX, etc. In many counties, they may be designated a number by the road commission, but it is never posted on a sign, so locals would only ever know the colloquial name. As far as possible, it would be best to have spoken navigation instructions match what someone sees on their local street signs. In these counties, having the CR / Co Rd designation as an alternate name would be fairly low priority.


I'm actually only talking about roads that are actually called something like County Rd/Hwy XXX on the signs. For example, E Co Rd 612 a little north of Grayling. These are the roads that typically do not have any other name. I would support CR-XXX as the format, but we want to make sure everyone is aware that CR-XXX don't automatically get Minor Highway status even though CR-F97 or CR-A2 or similar do. With a different format, it's easy to see what should or shouldn't automatically have that status. Of course, in the end, we can just make sure editors know that if there is a letter after the CR-, then it's a minor highway as a minimum. *shrug*
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Re: Road classification update

Postby Riamus » Tue Nov 12, 2013 9:25 pm

I've updated the first post regarding the remaining area F county highways that need completed. I'll get the ones I mentioned, but there are 2 that are entirely outside my area and one that is half outside my area. If anyone can finish those, then once I do the last two in my area, all of areas C and F will be complete -- i.e. every road in the County Highway System north of US-10 in the lower peninsula. I'll probably finish the last two in my area tomorrow.
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Re: Road classification update

Postby mikebaker280 » Mon Nov 18, 2013 2:51 pm

Interesting thread. I just joined and found the wiki instructions on this, and began making edits in my area. Davielde emailed me and pointed me here (thank you).

While I understand the desire to follow a standard format (NFC) for these road identifications, I am definitely confused by the NFC classification in some cases. Example: Maple Road in Oakland County is, for long stretches, a single lane road (in each direction). This, under the NFC, is marked "Other Principal Arterial" which seems to be translating to "Major Highway", but under the Waze instructions it would be "Primary Street". Major Highway is the same classification given to M-5 (a divided highway with 4 lanes in each direction) and Woodward (another divided road with 3-4 lanes in each direction). Classifying these roads the same does not seem to make sense, regardless of what the NFC says.
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Re: Road classification update

Postby sketch » Mon Nov 18, 2013 4:23 pm

Because NFC classifications (other than freeway) do not depend on the size or style of the road, only on the amount of traffic served by the road, and the function of the road in serving that traffic. A two-lane highway can sometimes be the primary or only thoroughfare through an entire region. In that case it's absolutely a principal arterial, and needs to be a Major Highway because Waze will exclude Minor Highways for very long routes (not sure how long, but I'd suspect somewhere between 50-100 miles).

The current "Waze instructions" are wrong. That's kind of the point.
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Re: Road classification update

Postby mikebaker280 » Mon Nov 18, 2013 5:33 pm

I understand that the Waze instructions are wrong, and I'm not trying to say they are correct. But I still think an 8 lane highway and a 2 lane road should not be the same classification. And while a 2 lane highway might indeed be the only or primary thoroughfare through an entire region, the example I provided is not. It's simply a 2 lane street through a suburban residential area, with other streets exactly like it 1 mile away on either side.
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Re: Road classification update

Postby sketch » Mon Nov 18, 2013 5:57 pm

US-31 is an extreme example, of course, but that doesn't make it such that no other route can be a principal arterial. For the specific reasons for its classification, you'd have to ask the FHWA (although I'm pretty sure population served is the answer), but it looks pretty obvious to me by zooming out on the map.

Maple Rd best serves east-west travel along that corridor. Quarton is discontinuous and winding; there is a break in 14 Mile; Lone Pine doesn't cover the same distance. There's no need for someone at Maple and Dequindre to go all the way to either 12 Mile or Long Lake to get to 96. At the same time, it should be considered as an alternative to Long Lake for someone going from, say, Long Lake and Mound to Wixom, if there's traffic on Long Lake. Waze will more readily look at alternatives that are of a higher type.
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Re: Road classification update

Postby Riamus » Mon Nov 18, 2013 6:47 pm

The NFC does take a little getting used to. It can be difficult to stop thinking in terms of what a highway is and instead think in terms of what the road is used for. If the purpose of the road is to be the main route through an area, then it will be classified as a principal arterial. Along the same lines, if it's meant to be the main route through the area and isn't a freeway, then it should be the maximum classification Waze has, which is major highway. Don't think of roads in terms of street and highway. Think of the roads in terms of the purpose of the road. Is it a side street with mostly just local traffic? Is it a collector - a street meant to bring traffic from local streets to arterials and back? Is it a good route through the area, though not the main route? Or is it the main route or one of the main routes through the area? Forget about what you expect a highway to look like. Highways can vary greatly depending on where you are. Some are many lanes and some are not. That doesn't make the highways any less important to the area. Some roads may not be what people would consider a highway, but are nevertheless functionally more important than alternative routes.

So yes, it takes a little getting used to and you do need to think of it in a different way, but you'll find that routing and the maps themselves look better overall when you use the NFC.
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Re: Road classification update

Postby davielde » Mon Nov 18, 2013 8:31 pm

In many cases, regardless of what I personally believe a road "should" be classified as, I'm willing to accept the NFC standard as applied by MDOT simply for the sake of having a standard. Even having something listed in the Wiki still leaves open a lot to subjectivity and local interpretation. With the NFC, however, it's hard to argue with how MDOT and the various county road commissions have agreed to classify roads. Red is red and yellow is yellow. There's no relativity allowed.

As sketch points out, traffic counts play a big role in the road classification, but there are also a number of other factors. Counts can show how a road is currently used whether it is two lanes or eight lanes, divided or undivided. Commute patterns have evolved over the past few decades from primarily flowing from the suburbs into downtown Detroit to flowing from suburb to suburb. This creates a huge criss-cross of actual traffic volume that the existing road structure was initially not designed for.

In other cases, MDOT would consider something a principal arterial not only because of current flows but attempting to gauge (and even direct) future flows. Maintainability is another concern. Where there may be 20,000 cars per day on a 30mph two lane stretch, it may be worth it to keep it a smaller road in order to cut down on maintenance costs of a four lane or larger road, for example.

I want to quickly look at the Maple Rd example, and another for Pontiac Trail. One little segment of Maple just east of Drake Rd had a vehicle count of 26,033 on 9/17/2012 with an Annual Average Daily Traffic (AADT) count calculated at 25,360 for 2012. That's quite a flow for a two lane stretch in a residential area.
https://www.waze.com/editor/?zoom=6&lat ... 91&env=usa
Pontiac Trail drops down to 30mph right at Walled Lake coming from the Novi area, and it has a nice, small town feel at that point. That doesn't mean that it's not the best local artery, and it didn't stop 17,398 vehicles from taking that route on 6/13/2013 with an AADT of 14,740. Btw, that's down from an AADT of 19,802 in 1998...
https://www.waze.com/editor/?zoom=5&lat ... 74&env=usa
By comparison, SB Telegraph had an AADT of 27,080 and NB Telegraph has 37,570 at the intersection with Maple. Woodward had an AADT of 28,490. Does that make Maple Rd pink on the NFC map? All this does is throw some data at a debate where, for better or for worse, someone(s) at MDOT decided to apply NFC and considered them all principal arteries. Through all of the smoke and mirrors, Maple Rd was deemed the primary route from Walled Lake to Birmingham. He probably should have consulted the Waze forums first before making these judgments :)
Here is the link to Oakland's traffic counts, which is fascinating: http://oakland.ms2soft.com/tcds/tsearch ... kland&mod=

I don't want to get into too many specific examples, but to anyone who provides examples saying [x] road should be [y] road type, or [x] would never be a minor highway because of [z] conditions; we could argue forever. In most cases, I would probably agree with the person. As Riamus points out though, we need to think in terms of what the road is used for rather than how it may look on certain or even on all stretches. It takes humility in many cases to stay above the fray and ignore what "my" classification is and realize that at the heart of it all, we're adopting a system that was designed for better routing. This is not to get one person from point A to B the way that I think best to do it, but to get tens of thousands of people from A,B,C, and D to any combination of X,Y, and Z. In that case, let's leave it to the pros that actually study traffic for a living and adopted and applied the NFC classification. Drive the routes in question with navigation on. NFC works well with how Waze routes and is much better at finding alternative routes.

One quick point as well about speed limits. Speed limit does not dictate road type, and the potential inclusion of speed limit into Waze is a very contentious point. That is a separate discussion. In most cases, road conditions, number of access points, etc. dictate a safe speed limit. The speed limit doesn't not necessarily dictate whether or not I should choose the road. Just to consider, Michigan Ave/US-12 may drop down to 30mph in stretches like Ypsilanti or 40mph through Wayne, but would we change it to Primary Street for those segments only to pick up again as a Major Highway once it climbs back to 50 or 55mph? How it looks doesn't change what it is. It's still the "artery" it always is even in the slower segments with fewer lanes and more stoplights. For a separate, unrelated discussion on speed limits, for anyone who hasn't seen the following thread, it is worth reading:
https://www.waze.com/forum/viewtopic.ph ... peed+limit

At the end of the day, I would rather defer to the authority on traffic in the area--even if I don't agree with how every segment is classified. In my opinion, it beats having a patchwork map that routes differently every few weeks based on the most recent editor's interpretation of the Wiki.
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Re: Road classification update

Postby sketch » Mon Nov 18, 2013 9:11 pm

Beautifully put. In fact, that same "drop down to Minor for slow, narrow portions in towns" was exactly the problem with US-31 that sparked the last couple months' conversation on this very issue, and the proposal I'm working up (slowly, I admit).
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