All highways in the United States are functionally classified using a common nomenclature, to provide a consistently-defined roadway network across the country. These classifications are determined by the individual state's department of transportation (in conjunction with metropolitan planning organizations such as MORPC, and local officials) based on criteria established by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). FHWA must ultimately approve the classifications.

The functional classification is directly tied to the Federal-aid Highway System and to eligibility for Federal transportation funding. Roads functionally classified as local streets are not part of the Federal-aid Highway System and are not normally eligible for federal transportation funds. Roads functionally classified as Minor Collectors that are located outside of the Urbanized Area also are not normally eligible for Federal transportation funds. Minor Collectors within the Urbanized Area and all Major Collectors, Arterials, Freeways/Expressways, and Interstates are eligible for Federal transportation funds.

Per US Code Title 23, Chapter 1, Section 133(c), roads that were part of the Federal-aid Highway System on January 1, 1991, are also eligible for Federal Transportation funds.

2015 Federal-Aid Functional Class System Update

Following the decennial census, Urbanized Area boundaries are modified based on Census results, and then the Federal Functional Classifications of roadways are reviewed for needed changes due to growth, new roads, and for other reasons. The adjusted federal-aid Urbanized Area boundary for the Central Ohio urban areas was revised based on the 2010 Census and was approved by FHWA in 2013. In December 2013, MORPC began to review the Functional Classifications and work with local jurisdictions to propose changes.

Per FHWA guidance, for this update, “urban” and “rural” designations were eliminated, and all roads will now be classified into the following seven categories:

  • 1 = Interstate 
  • 2 = Other Freeways and Expressways (New category for rural areas.  Under previous scheme, a rural non-interstate freeway/expressway was classified as a Rural Principal Arterial.)
  • 3 = Other Principal Arterial 
  • 4 = Minor Arterial 
  • 5 = Major Collector 
  • 6 = Minor Collector (New category for urban areas. NOTE: Minor Collectors in urban areas are Federal aid eligible, whereas Minor Collectors in rural areas are NOT.)
  • 7 = Local (Not Federal-aid eligible)

Current guidance also eliminates the practice of automatically upgrading the functional classification of a rural route once it enters an urban boundary. Instead, functional classification should change at logical control points where changes in traffic volumes and patterns are measurable. With de-emphasis of the urban boundary in determining functional classification, the transition from one classification to another could be located further into the urban area or be extended outward into the rural region.

The Functional Classification review was focused on MORPC’s transportation planning area, but roadways outside of this area were also reviewed for connectivity purposes. The Functional Classification maps included here show these systems (and the Urbanized Area boundaries) for the Columbus, Newark, Lancaster, Marysville, Delaware, London, Circleville, and Ashville-South Bloomfield urban areas, and for most of the surrounding rural areas in Delaware, Fairfield, Franklin, Licking, Madison, Pickaway and Union Counties. The information shown in the map is subject to approval by the Federal Highway Administration, which is expected later this year.

For more information contact Maria Schaper at 614.233.4153.