Planning and Zoning - Transportation Division
Functional Classification Map
The Functional Classification Map identifies current and future highway and transit proposals throughout the County. The map also identifies roadways by their functional classification, which is the grouping of highways, roads and streets by the character of service they provide. These classifications reflect the utility of the various facilities and determine the design of the roadway. Roadway facilities are classified as Freeways, Principle Arterials, Minor Arterials, Collectors and Local roadways.
Freeways are high speed, multi-lane facilities with a high degree of access control. These facilities provide for efficient and uninterrupted travel over long distances serving interstate and commuter needs. They should provide a high level of traffic service for travelers making longer distance trips at high speeds. Freeways provide no direct access to abutting properties.
Principal Arterials serve the needs of through traffic for moderately long trips. They serve the major activity centers in the County and major portions of the trips entering or leaving urban areas. Principal Arterials are the primary travel route for commercial, commuter and recreational travel in rural areas. They also provide secondary linkages between large urban centers and suburban population/employment centers. Access may be controlled through medians or by the limitation of curb cuts through the orientation of access for new developments. Typically, they intersect minor arterials, collector or major activity locations.
Minor Arterials connect higher functional class facilities, activity centers, regions of the area, and major county roads. Traffic is composed predominantly of trips across and within regions of the city. They provide service to traffic at a somewhat lower level of travel mobility than principal arterials with minimal control of access to abutting commercial, industrial and residential properties. Direct access to individual properties and neighborhoods is discouraged.
Collectors provide traffic circulation within neighborhoods, commercial and industrial areas. These roads collect traffic from local streets in neighborhoods and channel it into the arterial system. Connections between arterials should be indirect or should not be allowed in order to discourage use by traffic from outside the neighborhood.
Local roads are designed specifically to have high accessibility to abutting land and access to the higher classification facilities. They offer the lowest level of mobility and service to through traffic usually is deliberately discouraged.
All roads serve the dual functions of providing mobility and access. Arterials are primarily for moving vehicles from one place to another. They may still provide access to some adjacent lands, but accesses should be kept to a minimum in order to maintain a high level of service in terms of mobility. Local roads, on the other end of the scale, are primarily oriented toward providing access to adjacent land. While they do serve to provide some degree of mobility from one location to another, they are not generally designed to process the volume and speed of traffic one would expect to find on a principle arterial.
Roadways on the Plan are improved through the Capital Improvement Program or by requirements imposed on land developers through a permit process. For further information regarding design of roadways, please consult the Department of Public Works or the Maryland State Highway Administration