Classification of Roads and Method of Classification

classification of roads and method of classificationRoad are the primary and major means of connectivity all around the world till now from the ancient time. This means of transportation and connectivity has to play different role depending upon the need and priority. Also it is important to deal with the classification of roads and method of classification. Over the years road construction technologies has a seen a great innovation due to the emergent of various new technologies and methodologies. These technologies has been changing the vary course of construction ever since they came in to existence. But the actual aim of constructing roads, i.e. creating connectivity has remained intact and so it gave rise to the different approaches of classification of roads.

Classification of roads

The classification of roads can be done into two groups depending upon whether they can be used during different seasons of the year or not. They are as follows:

All- weather roads – These roads are negotiable during all conditions or seasons of the year, except at major river crossing where some interruption to traffic is permissible up to certain extent.

Fair- weather roads – These roads are operative only during the dry or non-monsoon seasons and causes interruption to the traffic during the monsoon seasons due to the overflow across the river.

The classification of roads on the basis of carriageways or the road pavement

  • Pave roads – The roads with a hard pavement or carriageways are called to be as pave roads.
  • Un-pave roads – The roads without a hard surface or a carriage are known as un-paved roads

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Methods of classification of roads

Generally the classification of roads are based on the following parameters:

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1. Traffic volume – The classification of roads based on traffics volume has been fixed arbitrarily by different agencies and there may not a common agreement for the limits of each classification group. Based on the classification of roads based on the traffics volume can be as heavy roads, medium roads, low-volume roads.

2. Loads transported or tonnage – The classification of roads based on the loads transported and tonnage is relative and classified as class I, class II, class III etc. Or class A, class B, class C etc and the limits may be expressed in terms of tonnes per day.

3. Location and function – The classification of roads on this basis should be more relevant and acceptable approach or method as they may be defined clearly. All around India, the classification of roads are generally done on this basis and according to this roads can be sub divided into the following five categories

4. National Highways (NH) – The nation highway network of Indian is a network of roads that is maintained and managed by the central government of India, and national highway authority of India (NHAI) is the nodal agency for this purpose. It is the main highway running all through the length and breadth of India connecting all the major state capitals of larger states, industrial and commercial centres, tourist centres, ports, apart from this it also includes roads for the strategic movement during the time of national defence. It was specified that the national highways should be taken as the frame on which the entire road network should be based and that these highways may vary in specifications. There are 228 national highways, measured over 96,260 km as of 2015, including over 1000 km of limited access expressways.  The national highways constitute around 1.7% of the Indian roads and they carry about 40% of the total traffic.

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5. State Highways ( SH ) – State highways are maintained and constructed by the state government under the regulation central government. State highways are arterial roads of a state connecting the national highways, district head quarters, important cities, major industrial sectors within the state and serve as the main  arteries for the to and fro of traffic from district roads. The role of state is major in any state as it controls both state and nation traffic, moreover in some states the state highways carry heavier traffic as compared to the national highway.


The national highways and the state highways have the same design speed and geometric design specifications.

Major District Roads (MDR) – As the name suggest, the major district roads are important roads within a district for serving of production and markets, connecting major roads and main highways of a district. The major district highways have lower design speed and geometric design specification than the NH and SH.

Other District Highways (ODR) – The other district roads are the roads serving the rural areas of production and providing them with the outlet to markets centres, taluk head quarters, block development head quarters or other main roads. These are of lower specification than MDR, NH and SH.

Village Roads (VR) – Village roads are roads connecting the villages or groups of villages with each other to the nearest road of a highway category.

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Modified classification of roads as per the third 20 year road development plan, 1981-2001

The classification of roads in India is done into three classes, for the purpose of transport planning, functional identification, earmarking administrative jurisdictions and assigning properties on a road network. These classifications are as follows:

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1. Primary system

The primary system consists of two categories of highways, i.e.

  • Expressways – These are separate class of highways with superior facilities and design standards. It is the highest class of roads in the Indian road network. They are mostly six or eight lane controlled access highways where the entrance is controlled by the use of slip roads. India has approximately 1,324 km of expressways. National Expressways Authority of India operating under the Ministry of Road Transportation and Highways will be in charge of the construction and maintenance of expressways.
  • National Highways (NH) – It is one of the important categories of primary road system classification.

2. The secondary – The secondary system consists of two categories of roads. These are:

  • State Highways (SH)
  • Major District Road (MDR)

3. Tertiary system or rural roads  – The tertiary system are rural roads and these consists of two categories of roads. These are:

  • Other District Roads (ODR)
  • Village Roads ( VR)

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