Interstate vs Highway: Difference and Comparison

When urbanisation began to pave the way inside rural areas, states, and territories, a well-built network was set up to facilitate the commute between various states or marginalised rural areas.
The government laid down well-knit roads to carry out easy trade between these places and facilitate employers and workers to access the city or get to the heart of the town.

Modern roads built after urbanisation can be classified by function or type.

Key Takeaways

  1. Interstates are a network of controlled-access highways in the United States, built to standardized specifications and designed for high-speed, long-distance travel.
  2. Highways are a general term for any public road with higher capacities and speed limits, including interstates, state highways, and other major roads.
  3. Both interstates and highways are designed for efficient travel. Still, interstates are a specific category of controlled-access highways, while “highway” encompasses various types of roads with higher capacities.

Interstate vs Highway

Interstate is a type of highway that extends between states and can connect states together. Highway is any major roadway managed federally that goes between towns and cities. Highways serve major metropolitan areas and cannot be accessed directly from local roadways and side streets.

Interstate vs Highway

The primary type is the highways, essentially any private or public road connecting major routes. Beyond this are interstate highways, commonly referred to as interstates, which, as the name suggests, connect two different states through roads together.

Let’s understand the key differences between the two.

Highways are primary roads built with the intention of connecting two metropolitan cities or two far-off places in a town, allowing limited access to various vehicles to avail this well-knit system of roads. These roads are controlled-access for medium to high-level traffics with a specific speed limit and precautionary measures prescribed to the assessors.

Roads which allow a huge influx of traffic at moderate to high speed, with or without much restriction, can be described as highways.

As the name suggests, interstates are an advanced form of highways connecting two or more states, like inter-state, i.e., amongst states. Unlike highways which are controlled-access or limited-access roadways, interstates have restricted-access roadways that go across state boundaries to connect different cities.

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Unlike highways which are not restricted to access or partially restricted, Interstates are a wider network of controlled-access or restricted-access highways that form a major part of a nation’s network system. These restricted roadways only allow access to traders or people travelling by road from one state to another.


 

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonInterstatesHighways
DefinitionInterstates are an advanced form of highways connecting two or more states.Highways are primary roads built with the intention of connecting two metropolitan cities or two far-off places in a town.
Controlled-accessInterstates have restricted access.Highways have controlled-access or partial access to the vehicular influx.
Noise pollutionMinimal noise due to fewer vehicles. Also, vehicles are all at the same pace, thus avoiding honking.Comparatively much more because highways are still running inside cities, allowing access to almost all vehicles
Air pollutionMinimal air pollution because fewer vehicles are allowed access. Plus, interstates have a wide array of trees and forests surrounding them.Air pollution is more than interstate because of the city’s influx of traffic and the absence of trees or greenery.
Road directionsUsually don’t have stoplights and are found to carry signboards for distances (in km) and places.Have stoplights and do not carry boards for long-distance travelling.

 

What are Interstates?

While interstates are found to be the quickest way to travel from one state to another, they are also the quickest way to get from one point to another in a city or town within a single state.
As the name suggests, intestates are advanced highways connecting two or more states or even places within a state, like inter-state, i.e., amongst states.

Some interstate beltways, or loops around major cities, don’t connect to other states. They are just easy and facilitated forms of access to traders and travel enthusiasts, running marginally in cities and towns.

Unlike highways which are not restricted to access or partially restricted, Interstates are a wider network of controlled-access or restricted-access highways that do not allow easy access to the conventional influx of traffic.

interstates
 

What are Highways?

Unlike the grandness of interstates for their exclusivity to the vehicular influx, highways are rather primary roads or city roads built with the intention of connecting two metropolitan cities or two far-off places in a town or city functioning within the boundaries of one state, allowing access to various vehicles to avail this well-knit system of roads.

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These roads are controlled-access for medium to high-level traffics with a certain speed limit and precautionary measures prescribed to the assessors. Roads which allow a massive influx of traffic at moderate to high speed, with or without much restriction, can be described as highways.

Highways are merely roads operating within the periphery of a metropolitan city or suburban area. They are a loop of bridges, a criss-cross set of networks, joining several places at one point in time.

highways

Main Differences Between Interstates and Highways

  1. Highways are primary roads built to connect two metropolitan cities or two far-off places in a town. At the same time, interstates are an advanced form of highways connecting two or more states.
  2. In interstates, minimal noise due to fewer vehicles is found. Also, vehicles are all at the same pace, thus avoiding honking. Comparatively, noise is much more on highways because highways still run inside cities, allowing access to almost all vehicles.
  3. 3 Interstates have restricted access. In contrast, highways have controlled-access or partial access to the vehicular influx.
  4. Minimal air pollution is found on interstates because fewer vehicles are allowed access. Plus, interstates have a wide array of trees and forests surrounding them.
    On the other hand, air pollution is more than interstate because of the city’s influx of traffic and the absence of trees or greenery.
  5. Interstates don’t have stoplights and are found to carry signboards for distances (in km) and places. In comparison, highways have stoplights and do not carry boards for long-distance travelling.
Difference Between Interstate and Highway

References
  1. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=rQ1OF84ekOsC&oi=fnd&pg=PR7&dq=Interstates+and+Highways&ots=RF0qb3eGj1&sig=5So900FH5ADPjOiLjqZu4oAhaU8
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0166046200000405

Last Updated : 11 June, 2023

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22 thoughts on “Interstate vs Highway: Difference and Comparison”

  1. The analysis of interstates and highways encapsulates the intricacies of their functional attributes and spatial connectivity, offering a multifaceted perspective on their role in the transportation domain.

    Reply
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  9. While the article succeeds in outlining the fundamental differences between interstates and highways, it also emphasizes the evolving nature of transportation networks in urban and rural areas.

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