Difference Between Freeway and Interstate

The highway is the route that connects one city to another with many lanes. It is the quickest route for driving between two cities. Freeway and interstate both are types of highways.

Freeway is the highway system that is free from tolls and without any intersections. Interstate is the controlled-access highway with tolls, and It connects the states for transport of goods and services.

Freeway vs Interstate

The main difference between Freeway and an Interstate is that a freeway has no intersections and is elevated off the ground. On the other hand, an interstate is a freeway with tolls, and it connects the states.

Freeway vs Interstate

Freeway is a restricted-access highway in which there are no tolls. There is no fee charged for the passage of vehicles. So it is named as ‘freeway’. The freeway is denoted as a divided highway with complete control of access.

There are no pedestrians, bikes, signals, or restrictions. It has been designed to allow the free flow of traffic.

Interstate highways are the quickest way to move from one state to another. They are also the quickest way to reach from one point to another within a single state.

Interstate highways are important for economic development also as they allow easy travel to ship goods from one part of the country to other.

Comparison Table Between Freeway and Interstate

Parameters of Comparison FreewayInterstate
FeatureAt least 4 lanes, 2 lanes on each side. Now many freeways comprise 16 lanes too.Interstate is composed of 2 lanes going in each direction.
Speed limit110-130km/h in rural areas, while in urban areas, it is 80-100km/h.The maximum speed limit on Interstate highways is 121km/h.
IntersectionThere is no intersection point on the freeway.Rare intersection points.
TollNo toll is charged.A toll is charged at some point.
ConnectionIt connects cities within the state.It connects two states.

What is Freeway?

Freeway is defined as a limited-access highway in which there is no toll.

It has been designed for high-speed vehicular traffic. On a controlled-access highway, there is a flow of traffic that is not hindered, with no traffic signals or intersection. Highways’ exits and entrances are provided at interchanges by ramps.

The opposite direction of the route is separated by a median strip, traffic barrier, or grass. There is the elimination of conflicts with other directions of traffic, which improves safety and capacity.

The emergence and control of the automobile created a corresponding demand for roads that are capable of handling heavy traffic. Increase in the number of cars began to increase in the number of traffic in the cities.

The freeway was first formulated as a means for reducing the traffic within cities.

Minor roads and driveways are diverted away from freeways so that their traffic does not interfere with freeway traffic flow by grade separation, which prevents the intersection of two roads.

Although freeway was originally meant to reduce traffic, it increased traffic as people started using more automobiles, and hence this is leading to more air pollution and noise. The cities which were then walked by are now only accessible by car.

What is Interstate?

The interstate highway is composed of wide roads with higher speed limits, no stops, and vehicles can travel great distances in a short time. It is the quickest way to travel from one state to another or within states.

Interstate is a reliable system that allows economic development of the country as it makes transportation of goods and services easier. In case of emergency, planes can also be landed as interstate highways are long and wide.

Interstate highways allow large cities to grow and also enable people to move to other cities for work even farther from their homes.

A unique numbering system is being used in the Interstate highway system. North-south interstate highways have odd numbers, while east-west interstate highways have even numbers.

Interstate highway systems were supported by US President Eisenhower as he wanted the cities to grow by easy transportation of goods and services. Interstate is a federally funded highway system.

Main Differences Between Freeway and Interstate

  1. Freeway is a type of limited-access road. It is not necessary to pay any toll to use the freeway. While Interstate is the limited-access highway with rare tolls.
  2. Freeway is part of the interstate highway system, but interstates are not part of that freeway highway system.
  3. Freeway connects the cities of the state while interstate connects the state for economic growth and development.
  4. The maximum speed limit on the freeway should be 130km/h for rural areas and 100km/h for urban areas. While the maximum speed limit on interstate should be 121km/h.
  5. Freeway has no intersections, traffic signals, or property access. It provides an unhindered flow of traffic. While interstate may have some traffic signals and intersections.
Difference Between Freeway and Interstate


Millions of people wake up in the morning and get to work. Roads are the connecting thread between their comfortable homes to their workplaces. Different kinds of roads are used to reach the destinations.

They may be driving on the expressway, an interstate, or a freeway. These terms may be used interchangeably, but there are small differences between them.

These roads are made for the easier traffic flow so that people can make a move easily from one part to another for business and job. These highway systems are pivotal in supporting and shaping demographic, economic, and social development.

Freeway and interstate both are the system of highways but differ in the way that freeway allows the vehicles without tolls, has ramps to change the direction while interstate highway has tolls at some points with intersections.

Earlier, people used to walk by the cities to reach anywhere for many days, but as there has been advancement in the highway systems, like freeway and interstate, they can get to anywhere in lesser time.

For travelling through the highways, there has been an increase in the purchase of automobiles which lastly results in an increase in the pollution and noise in the cities. Hopefully, this would be controlled by the government.


  1. https://heinonline.org/hol-cgi-bin/get_pdf.cgi?handle=hein.journals/scal49&section=28
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1352231018300256
  3. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/eqe.4290240205
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