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 are both types of highways.


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

Key Takeaways

  1. Freeway is a type of highway designed for high-speed traffic with no intersections, stop signs or traffic signals.
  2. Interstate is a network of highways connecting different states and cities built and maintained by the federal government.
  3. All Interstates are freeways, but not all freeways are Interstates, as the term freeway is used to describe any high-speed, divided highway with limited access.

Freeway vs Interstate

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

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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 fastest way to reach from one point to another within a single state.

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

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonFreewayInterstate
FeatureAt least 4 lanes, 2 lanes on each side. Now many freeways comprise 16 routes 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 intersections. Highways’ exits and entrances are provided at interchanges by ramps.

A median strip, traffic barrier, or grass separates the opposite direction of the route. 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 capable of handling heavy traffic. An increase in the number of cars began to increase the 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 streets.

Although the freeway was initially 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 comprises wide roads with higher speed limits, no stops, and vehicles that can quickly travel great distances. 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, making transporting goods and services easier. In an emergency, planes can also be landed as interstate highways are long and wide.

Interstate highways allow large cities to grow and 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.

US President Eisenhower supported interstate highway systems as he wanted the cities to grow by transporting goods and services efficiently. 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. At the same time, the Interstate is a 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 state’s cities, 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. At the same time, 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
  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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