Highway Functional Classification

The purpose of highway functional classification is to define the role a road plays in the nation’s highway network; a roadway’s functional classification is based upon its level of travel mobility and access to property according to a hierarchy of travel service it provides. Functional classification is used primarily to determine whether a road is eligible for federal funding and to provide a way for transportation agencies to track roadway system performance and condition.  Additional information on highway functional classification can be found at Highway Functional Classification Definitions or from FHWA’s Highway Functional Classification Concepts, Criteria, and Procedures, 2013 Edition.

In 2014 the Rhode Island Statewide Planning Program and the Rhode Island Department of Transportation completed a comprehensive update to the state’s Highway Functional Classification System, as required by the Federal Highway Administration. The State of Rhode Island Highway Functional Classification System, 2014 - Technical Paper 165 documents the review and approval process. The state’s Transportation Advisory Committee reviewed and approved the new system at its July 24, 2014 meeting.

In previous years, the statewide reclassification effort had limited impact on Rhode Island’s municipalities, but under the July 2012 federal transportation authorization Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) states utilizing federal funds for all transportation projects are now required to prioritize resources towards maintaining the condition and performance of roadways on the National Highway System (NHS).  The NHS consists primarily of the Interstate, Other Freeway and Expressways, and Other Principal Arterials roadways.  Highway Functional Classification Definitions illustrate a roadway’s functional classification in relation to the NHS and federal-aid eligibility.  Under MAP-21, a roadway’s functional classification now has increased importance when the State determines project priority in developing the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP)