freeways/highways/interstates

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freeways/highways/interstates

Postby Kirk » 2005-11-07, 4:49

This topic came up recently on another language forum and as I know this is an interesting topic with regional variation in the US, I'm wondering what do you call restricted-access high-speed (assuming no traffic problems or accidents as in the bottom pic ;) ) motor routes?

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As the term is generally used in California, "freeway" is applied to restricted-access (no at-grade crossings) high-speed highways.

"yesterday when we were on the freeway we saw two orange Civic hybrids"

When people refer to specific freeways they usually refer to it by its number. This is a very typical example of how I might give someone instructions on getting somewhere using a few San Diego freeways:

"just take the 5 south to the 52 east, then take the 805 south to the 8 east..."

In that case, three of the freeways happen to be interstates (I-5, I-805, and I-8 ), while 52 isn't, yet they're all restricted-access highways I call freeways.

In the LA area a few freeways are equally as well known by their names as well as their numbers, which doesn't happen often in other parts of the state. For example, the 110 is the "Harbor Freeway" (the freeways' names usually refer to their ultimate destination), the 101 is the Ventura Freeway, the 405 is the San Diego Freeway (because it ultimately leads to San Diego), etc. What's interesting is that the local population commonly refers to them by their names interchangeably with their numbers, which isn't as common in other areas (in the San Francisco Bay Area and San Diego they're called by their numbers in popular usage).

One interesting regional difference is that in the San Francisco Bay Area, the term "freeway" is still generally used as in So-Cal, yet when people refer to the number of the freeways they don't usually preface it with "the." So in referring to freeways there, they usually say things like "take 680 north to 580 east," with no definite article.

I know different parts of the US have different terms generally applied to these roads--some only call them highways, some use highway/freeway interchangeably, some call a highway something different than what they call a freeway, etc. What terminology do you use and where are you from? Do you use definite articles before numbers of freeways or just the numbers?
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Postby MikeL » 2005-11-07, 8:35

As far as I am aware the term "freeway" is not used in Britain; the equivalent is "motorway". British motorways are designated M1, M4 etc.; people would say "take the M1".
In New Zealand we also have "motorways", but so few of them that they don't need numerical appellations. In Auckland we have the "Northern motorway", the "Southern" motorway (which is just the Northern motorway continued south of the city!), the "North-western motorway" and the "South-eastern motorway".
I believe that in Australia "freeway" is used instead of "motorway" as in the U.S.

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Postby Kirk » 2005-11-07, 8:44

MikeL wrote:As far as I am aware the term "freeway" is not used in Britain; the equivalent is "motorway". British motorways are designated M1, M4 etc.; people would say "take the M1".
In New Zealand we also have "motorways", but so few of them that they don't need numerical appellations. In Auckland we have the "Northern motorway", the "Southern" motorway (which is just the Northern motorway continued south of the city!), the "North-western motorway" and the "South-eastern motorway".
I believe that in Australia "freeway" is used instead of "motorway" as in the U.S.


Interesting! Thanks for responding :)
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I eat prescriptivists for breakfast.

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Postby JackFrost » 2005-11-07, 17:01

How about expressway? Is that used in California? It's an highway that usually take you from one side of the city to another in short time without facing the traffics on the streets. What that's my experience when I was on one in downtown Philadelphia.

Back in Pennsylvania, we always call highways highways. If you say freeway, you won't be easily understood. :P

And yes, we do say just the numbers. Like: take 81 south to 80 east to the Turnpike south to get to Philly, which means...interstates 80 and 81, and the Turnpike is a access restricted highway that will take you from one point to another in quicker speed, but you'll have to pay tolls to use it.
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Postby reflexsilver86 » 2005-11-07, 19:30

I call it a parkway or expressway. :)
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Postby Gormur » 2005-11-08, 0:36

I'm pretty sure it's not a regional thing...

a highway is 2-lanes
a freeway is more than 2-lanes

There are very few freeways in Canada; mainly in the TO area - Eastern Ontario.

If we're talking about British, Aussie, or Kiwi roads, then I have no idea, but I think the terminology is more often confused than anything else in N America, and many people don't seem to know the difference between a "highway" and "freeway" (and only distinguish them by names - Hwy 108, Pasadena Frwy).

As far as I know, there's only one expressway in California, though I could be mistaken (now that I look at Wikipedia's article).

According to Wiki...

Expressway

An expressway is a divided highway, usually 4 lanes or wider in size, where direct access to adjacent properties has been eliminated. However, beyond those basic requirements, the specific meaning of expressway depends upon the state, province, or country.

Some places treat "expressway" as synonymous with "freeway", meaning that an expressway is fully grade-separated from all intersecting roads and traffic smoothly enters by merging from on-ramps, and exits only through steering onto off-ramps. Often, "expressway" is such a loose term that it has been labelled to roads ranging from freeways to super-2s (intended to be upgraded to freeways) and partial control-access arterials (such as the relocated Highway 7 in Richmond Hill, Ontario). "Freeway", on the other hand, refers strictly to a full controlled-access divided roadway.


A typical Santa Clara County, California, USA, expressway. Note the presence of traffic lights.Other places, like California, draw a strong legal distinction between freeways and expressways. Section 257 of the California Streets and Highway Code is as follows:

For the purpose of this article only, and to distinguish between the terms "freeway" and "expressway," the word "freeway" shall mean a divided arterial highway for through traffic with full control of access and with grade separations at intersections, while the word "expressway" shall mean an arterial highway for through traffic which may have partial control of access, but which may or may not be divided or have grade separations at intersections.
Under this definition, many famous expressways are technically "freeways" instead of "expressways," such as the Gardiner Expressway in Toronto and the Schuylkill Expressway in Philadelphia.

The point of Section 257 is that California expressways can have at-grade intersections, which are much more dangerous than grade-separated interchanges. See the article on freeways for more information about the subtle distinctions between freeways and expressways.

The vast majority of expressways in either sense are built by state or provincial governments, or by private companies which then operate them as toll roads pursuant to a license from the government.

The most famous exception to the above rule is Santa Clara County in California, which deliberately built its own expressway system in the 1960s to supplement the freeway system then planned by Caltrans. Although there were some plans to upgrade the county expressways into full-fledged freeways, those became politically infeasible after the rise of the tax revolt movement in the mid-1970s.

Depending on the development nature and frequency of intersections, most at-grade expressways have speed limits of 45-55 mph (70-90 km/h) in urban areas and 55-65 mph (90-100 km/h) in rural areas.

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Postby Kirk » 2005-11-08, 0:41

JackFrost wrote:How about expressway? Is that used in California? It's an highway that usually take you from one side of the city to another in short time without facing the traffics on the streets. What that's my experience when I was on one in downtown Philadelphia.


In California "expressway" is not a freeway--it is a high-speed arterial road with some limited access but it does typically have intersections. However, the intersections are purposely few and far between to minimize stops. The word "parkway" may also be used in this sense, but sometimes there is a minor difference between the two terms.

How many lanes a road has may also come into factor. In my experience what we call a regular aterial is usually only 3 lanes in each direction (6 total) and has only at-grade crossings, a parkway typically has 3-4 lanes in each direction (6-8 total) and has at-grade intersections but at a lower interval, while an expressway is more likely to have 4 or even 5 lanes at times (8-10 total) and has a mix of spaced-out at-grade intersections as well as controlled intersections, while freeways have up to 8 or 9 each way (16-18 lanes total) and never have at-grade intesections.

The city of Irvine, California (in Orange County) has examples of all of these so I'll use it as a reference point:

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Jamboree Rd. is an expressway (even tho its official name doesn't have the word "expressway" in it) thru Irvine, and consistently has 4 lanes in each direction, and has at-grade as well as controlled intersections. Here it intersects with Barranca Parkway, which has 3 lanes in each direction, as is common for a parkway.

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Major routes such as Barranca Parkway also get heavy-duty exits from freeways. This a shot from I-5 with a special exit from the carpool lane (2 or more passengers per car) directly onto Barranca Parkway so people don't have to wait with everyone else in the normal non-carpool (and more crowded) exit onto Barranca Parkway.


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Here you can see Alton and Barranca Parkways, which are obviously heavier-duty than neighborhood streets and have relatively few intersections, but still do have them, unlike the 405 freeway which has no at-grade intersections.

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Comparison between a parkway and a freeway. This is the intersection of Bake Parkway and I-5. Bake Parkway has 3 lanes in each direction here and at-grade intersections while I-5 (the freeway) obviously has many more lanes and only controlled intersections.


JackFrost wrote:Back in Pennsylvania, we always call highways highways. If you say freeway, you won't be easily understood. :P


That's interesting. We'd understand "highway" here but "freeway" is more common.

JackFrost wrote:And yes, we do say just the numbers. Like: take 81 south to 80 east to the Turnpike south to get to Philly, which means...interstates 80 and 81, and the Turnpike is a access restricted highway that will take you from one point to another in quicker speed, but you'll have to pay tolls to use it.


Oh yeah, that's right--you guys have turnpikes and toll roads! California has nothing that it calls turnpikes and very few toll roads. The vast majority of freeways are free.

Daniel wrote:Ahh, we call them "bypass" here.


Interesting--here a "bypass" would apply to a freeway which bypasses the major, densest areas for long-distance travelers (who don't need to stop). For anyone familiar with Southern California, the 405 freeway was originally a bypass of much of the LA urban area until urban development eventually reached it, too and it became the busiest freeway in the nation.
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Postby JackFrost » 2005-11-08, 3:58

Daniel wrote:Yeah, we just have dual carriageways (two-laned motorways) and motorways (more than two lanes).

JackFrost wrote:How about expressway? Is that used in California? It's an highway that usually take you from one side of the city to another in short time without facing the traffics on the streets. What that's my experience when I was on one in downtown Philadelphia.

Ahh, we call them "bypass" here. :) They are usually the motorways or dual carriageways designed for motorists to get from one side of the city to the other without having to cross through it and getting stuck in traffic.

Ironically however, we have a lot of problems with roads so we tend to have a lot of annoying roadworks and it is them that are actually causing the traffic jams on bypasses. :roll:

We use the term "bypass" as well. ;)

Oh yeah, that's right--you guys have turnpikes and toll roads! California has nothing that it calls turnpikes and very few toll roads. The vast majority of freeways are free.

We only have two turnpikes. One going north-south from Wilkes-Barre/Scration area in the northeast to Philadelphia. Other one is east-west from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia. If you look on the map of PA, it's usually in green.

http://www.sitesatlas.com/Maps/Maps/PA1.htm

I love using the turnpikes, since they're blocked by barriers on both sides close to the road...it makes it really hard for the cops to hide to catch us speeding. I can go 80mph for 100 miles without getting caught. ;)
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Postby jonathan » 2005-11-08, 20:17

In Texas, people say freeway, highway, and sometimes interstate. I mostly say freeway. For the access road that runs along the freeway, people say either 'Feeder' or the 'frontage road.' I use both of those.
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Postby Stan » 2005-11-08, 21:21

I say highway
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Postby Kirk » 2005-11-09, 0:35

Daniel wrote:I notice in the pictures that Kirk posted have crossroads (is that what you call them?) where you stop at the traffic lights on freeways (motorways).


We just call those "intersections."

Daniel wrote:Well, here we don't have crossroads (they're practically non-existant). Instead we have roundabouts (that's traffic circles to you US folks :wink: ) on freeways (motorways).


Here roundabouts (I don't call them traffic circles) are practically nonexistent, but may show up in a very few cases. Recently I've seen them pop up as novel designs in suburban housing developments--sometimes they'll make them big enough to put a little park in the middle. Here's one example of such a design from my hometown in California. My friend actually lives on the corner of the roundabout (yes, the name of the street is actually Memory Ln.--pretty cheesy isn't it?). Anyway, it's a rare example of a roundabout in the US . Even then, it's obviously not a high-traffic street. High traffic intersections (at least here) are dealt with in a + shaped intersection with traffic lights.

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Postby ctoncc » 2005-11-09, 1:25

In Massachusetts the term highway is used most of the time. We also have expressways and 1 turnpike and these words are also used when referring to these specific roads.
Actually, I think the only time I hear the word freeway is when somebody is referring to California.
We also have lots of rotaries. Well at least in eastern Mass, I'm not so sure about western Mass.

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Postby Gormur » 2005-11-09, 1:35

Stan wrote:I say highway


really? I'd call it a "dfitorrbopin". :lol:

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Postby Gormur » 2005-11-09, 1:36

ctoncc wrote:I think the only time I hear the word freeway is when somebody is referring to California.


Probably cause we have more of them than any other state... :wink:

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Postby jonathan » 2005-11-10, 5:24

Do other states of things like frontage/feeders? Do you also have U-Turns? These are standard in Texas, but I've met many people from other states who say they've never seen a system like we have... I am just curious to know if any other places really have these.
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Postby Kirk » 2005-11-10, 6:56

Gormur wrote:
ctoncc wrote:I think the only time I hear the word freeway is when somebody is referring to California.


Probably cause we have more of them than any other state... :wink:


Probably quite true. People here know their freeways.

jonathan wrote:Do you also have U-Turns?


What do you mean by U-turns? Like cul-de-sacs? I mean you can do a U-turn in a car but what's a U-turn in reference to a road design?

jonathan wrote:Do other states of things like frontage/feeders?...These are standard in Texas, but I've met many people from other states who say they've never seen a system like we have... I am just curious to know if any other places really have these.


California freeways do sometimes have frontage roads but not nearly as often as Texan ones do. I remember when my family lived in the Metroplex (Dallas-Ft. Worth area) that almost all the freeways in the area had parallel frontage roads which consistently followed them along. They're not unheard of in California but in my experience they're not the norm, either.

Compare the lack of frontage road along the freeway by where I currently live (on campus at UC San Diego), and alongside the freeway in my hometown (also in California) where my parents live, and the freeway that went by our neighborhood when we lived in Texas when I was a little kid.

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No frontage road along the 5--either open space or buildings whose backsides face the freeway
Image
Same thing in my California hometown (Turlock). No frontage road--just open space or the backsides of development.
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This is the freeway that went by my neighborhood in Texas. This is a freeway design very typical to Texas with a perfectly parallel frontage road following the freeway.

While we're looking at different freeway designs from places I've lived I may as well include some shots from the freeways by where I lived in Buenos Aires:

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This is a freeway (autopista) that went by my neighborhood in Buenos Aires and has no frontage road. This is La Autopista Illia, which follows the Río de la Plata for a while, passing by the domestic airport Jorge Newbery.

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This is another freeway which went by my neighborhood in Buenos Aires and it does have a frontage road. This is called Avenida General Paz (it's called an avenida but it's really a massive controlled-access freeway which encircles a good portion of the city limits of Buenos Aires--on the right side is the official city of Buenos Aires and on the left side of this pic begin the suburbs).

Y una pregunta para los argentinos u otros hispanohablantes--¿cómo se dice "frontage road" en castellano? Si no leyeron las descripciones arriba, las calles "frontage" son las que corren en forma paralela a lo largo de una autopista.
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Postby jonathan » 2005-11-12, 6:52

Kirk wrote:
jonathan wrote:Do you also have U-Turns?


What do you mean by U-turns? Like cul-de-sacs? I mean you can do a U-turn in a car but what's a U-turn in reference to a road design?


Hmm, no, not cul-de-sacs— U-turns are the part of a freeway that allows you to turn around under the overpass (usually from a frontage road) to go back to the other side. It seems only logical from the viewpoint I've formed growing up, so I was a little surprised when people came from other cities and said "What's up with these u-turn things?"
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Postby Kirk » 2005-11-12, 8:10

jonathan wrote:
Kirk wrote:
jonathan wrote:Do you also have U-Turns?


What do you mean by U-turns? Like cul-de-sacs? I mean you can do a U-turn in a car but what's a U-turn in reference to a road design?


Hmm, no, not cul-de-sacs— U-turns are the part of a freeway that allows you to turn around under the overpass (usually from a frontage road) to go back to the other side. It seems only logical from the viewpoint I've formed growing up, so I was a little surprised when people came from other cities and said "What's up with these u-turn things?"


Hmmm...I'm sorry, but I'm having trouble visualizing exactly what you mean. It truly seems to be a Texas phenomenon, as a Google search for "U-turn freeway" turns up results which are almost all from Texas. I couldn't find any pictures of it tho so I still don't know exactly what it is. It seems from your description that it's connected with the frontage road system and since those are rare here it's probably related to that.
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Postby Gormur » 2005-11-12, 19:49

Kirk wrote:
jonathan wrote:
Kirk wrote:
jonathan wrote:Do you also have U-Turns?


What do you mean by U-turns? Like cul-de-sacs? I mean you can do a U-turn in a car but what's a U-turn in reference to a road design?


Hmm, no, not cul-de-sacs— U-turns are the part of a freeway that allows you to turn around under the overpass (usually from a frontage road) to go back to the other side. It seems only logical from the viewpoint I've formed growing up, so I was a little surprised when people came from other cities and said "What's up with these u-turn things?"


Hmmm...I'm sorry, but I'm having trouble visualizing exactly what you mean. It truly seems to be a Texas phenomenon, as a Google search for "U-turn freeway" turns up results which are almost all from Texas. I couldn't find any pictures of it tho so I still don't know exactly what it is. It seems from your description that it's connected with the frontage road system and since those are rare here it's probably related to that.


Kirk, everyone I know calls them U-turns or U-turn lanes (or informally, "I need to make a U-ee" - make a U-turn), though I know cul-de-sac too (it's just more "proper-sounding"). I guess the terms in and around San Diego are just "fancier". :lol: :wink:

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Postby Kirk » 2005-11-12, 20:14

Gormur wrote:
Kirk wrote:
jonathan wrote:
Kirk wrote:
jonathan wrote:Do you also have U-Turns?


What do you mean by U-turns? Like cul-de-sacs? I mean you can do a U-turn in a car but what's a U-turn in reference to a road design?


Hmm, no, not cul-de-sacs— U-turns are the part of a freeway that allows you to turn around under the overpass (usually from a frontage road) to go back to the other side. It seems only logical from the viewpoint I've formed growing up, so I was a little surprised when people came from other cities and said "What's up with these u-turn things?"


Hmmm...I'm sorry, but I'm having trouble visualizing exactly what you mean. It truly seems to be a Texas phenomenon, as a Google search for "U-turn freeway" turns up results which are almost all from Texas. I couldn't find any pictures of it tho so I still don't know exactly what it is. It seems from your description that it's connected with the frontage road system and since those are rare here it's probably related to that.


Kirk, everyone I know calls them U-turns or U-turn lanes (or informally, "I need to make a U-ee" - make a U-turn), though I know cul-de-sac too (it's just more "proper-sounding"). I guess the terms in and around San Diego are just "fancier". :lol: :wink:


No, I'm definitely familiar with the car maneuver referred to as U-turns or U-ees, but that's not what jonathan's talking about--what he's talking about is specifically related to freeways. I asked him if U-turns were cul-de-sacs or in reference to the maneuver you make with a car, but he already said it's a certain kind of design related to freeways:

jonathan wrote:Hmm, no, not cul-de-sacs— U-turns are the part of a freeway that allows you to turn around under the overpass (usually from a frontage road) to go back to the other side.
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'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves did gyre and gimble in the wabe.

I eat prescriptivists for breakfast.

maɪ nemz kʰɜ˞kʰ n̩ aɪ laɪk̚ fɨˈnɛ̞ɾɪ̞ks


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