What is a highway? How is that different than a freeway? And what about a parkway?

We know there are many different kinds of “roads,” but were rather ignorant of the total until we read the latest Master Plan of Highways and Transitways from Montgomery County.

The plan, which was recently updated and approved by the County Council, outlines the many designations of roads with definitions. And there are 12—yes TWELVE—different kinds of roads listed.

Can you name them all? I doubt it, though feel free to quiz yourself before reading further.

Here’s a look at the dozen kinds of roads outlined by Montgomery County.

Freeway - Exclusively for vehicles at high speed. I-270 and I-495 are prime examples.

Controlled Major Highway - Also meant for “through” access, but at lower speeds. Access must be limited to grade-separated interchanges or at-grade intersections with public roads. The northern part of US Route 29 is one local example.

Major Highway - Similar to a controlled major highway, though driveway access is allowed in some dense urban settings. Georgia Avenue and Rockville Pike are examples.

Parkway - Similar to highways, but no trucks are allowed. Consider the Baltimore-Washington Parkway or Clara Barton Parkway.

Arterials - Not too different from highways in that they are designed for through movement at moderate speeds, but roads may abut properties. Bradley Boulevard is listed as an example.

Country Arterials - An arterial found in a rural area. Darnestown Road is considered a country arterial in many stretches.

Minor Arterial - A two-lane road that is used about half the time for through traffic and half the time serves abutting properties. Montgomery County lists Stewartown Road as an example.

Primary Residential Street - A street meant for circulation in neighborhoods. There’s a good chance you live on one of these.

Country Road - Functions like a residential street, but located in a rural area. (In Montgomery County, it may be found in the county’s Agricultural Reserve.)

Rustic/Exceptional Rustic Roads - Like country roads, but this designation allows the county to preserve certain historical characteristics.

Business District Street - A road meant for circulation around commercial and mixed-use zones. Howard Boulevard is listed as an example.

Industrial Street - Meant for circulation of vehicles in industrial zones.

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