Classification of Roads
Under the Roads Act 1993 as amended, public roads are classified as National, Regional or Local. However not all public roads are 'in the charge' of the local authorities. Some roads may have public right of way access over them but are still classified as private roads and are therefore maintained privately.
Roads that are in the charge of the local authority and thereby maintained by the local authority are classified either as National, Regional or Local depending on their strategic importance in terms of being arterial routes between centres of high population, regionally important routes or simply local traffic routes.
The Minister for Transport Tourism & Sport is empowered to declare roads to be National or Regional Roads. From 1 June 2014, with the abolition of Town Councils and the creation of new Municipal Districts (Arklow, Baltinglass, Bray, Greystones, and Wicklow), all Town Council roads in Co. Wicklow are under the jurisdiction of Wicklow County Council.
National Roads are sub-divided into:
- National Primary Routes
- National Secondary Routes
Regional and Local Roads are sub-divided into:
- Regional Roads
- Local Primary Roads (incorporating both county and urban roads)
- Local Secondary Roads
- Local Tertiary Roads
Each Road Authority is required to maintain a Roads Schedule, which consists of a map of all of the roads in its charge along with a written schedule containing information on all road segments, such a road classification, road number, length, width, and a description of the start and end points of that segment (usually junction to junction). This schedule is to be updated on a regular basis as new roads are added or existing public roads abandoned or existing rights of ways extinguished over public roads.
National Routes and Regional Routes generally have a sign at each junction depicting the road number of the side road.
National Primary Routes generally run along arterial routes between the main centres of urban population and to/from ports. They may be motorways, dual carriageways or simply wide two-way roads. They are numbered within the range N1-N50 with the N being replaced by an M on those portions of the network that are to Motorway standard. Numbering for the National Primary and National Secondary Networks generally starts anti-clockwise from Dublin. In Wicklow we have the M11/N11.
National Secondary Routes generally run between centres of lesser population but still important towns, many of which are tourist routes that become quite busy with tourist buses in the summer. They tend mainly to be good quality two-way roads and some are to dual carriageway standard. They are numbered within the range N51- N99. In Wicklow we have the N81.
Regional Routes provide the link between National Routes and towns and villages that are not located on the busier routes. They also provide strategic links between the towns and villages themselves. Heavy goods vehicles that come off National Routes are generally directed to use the Regional Road Network to access destinations that are more rurally based.
Local Primary Routes are the next step below Regional Roads and are intended to carry mainly non-HGV traffic through rural areas or along link routes between Regional Roads and towns/villages. All Local Roads cater for Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) used in the Agricultural sector. These roads are numbered within the range of L1000 - L4999 and sometimes the prefix LP is used to denote a Local Primary Road.
Local Secondary Routes generally make up interlink roads between the Local Primary and Regional Road network providing through road access to more rural locations. Housing estate roads are also classified as Local Secondary Roads due to the high traffic volumes albeit over long lengths. Local Secondary Roads are numbered within the range of L5000 - L 8999 and sometimes the prefix LS is used to denote a Local Secondary Road.
Local Tertiary Routes generally make up the remainder of the Public Road network and would constitute roads with very low traffic volumes, including cul-de-sac roads. These roads are numbered within the range of L9000 - L99999, generally with five digits. Sometimes the prefix LT is used to denote a Local Tertiary Road.