Comparison of sources for numbered routes in Rhode Island

Comparison of sources for numbered routes in Rhode Island

Rhode Island is in a fairly unique situation in the United States in that the different sections of the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) sometimes disagree about what roads are numbered State Highways. The differing sources include signage on the roads themselves (which is often sporadic or nonexistent), GIS data supplied to RIGIS from RIDOT, maps on RIDOT's website, and RIDOT's Pavement Management division. This page will attempt to explain and reconcile these differences.



Signage, where it exists, is what the public sees most often, and thus there is a strong argument for considering is to be the "correct" information. However, there are some issues with signage:
*In some areas, especially downtown Providence, signage is sporadic or nonexistent.
*Signage is occasionally contradictory, showing two alignments for the same route (sometimes due to old signage not being removed).

RIGIS data

RIDOT has supplied the Rhode Island Geographic Information System with several data layers. Specifically, the following layers (downloadable [ here] ) include fields for route numbers:
*"Roads - Primary" includes a "RTNUMS" field, which is inconsistently used. Many sections of roads that all other sources show as numbered are not shown as being numbered, and other route numbers are shown that have not existed for a long time (and are not on any other sources); for example, Route 10 is still shown heading north from Olneyville on River Avenue, though this is impossible due to the current northbound ramp configuration.
*"Roads - State" deals with state maintained roads, not state numbered roads.
*"Highway Numbers" is a point layer, with recommended placements for route shields on a map. These numbers are equivalent to the ones on the online RIDOT maps, so they are discussed below.
*The other theme to include route numbers is "1:5,000 Roads" (in the "RTNO" field). This will be discussed below, as it is largely equivalent to the pavement log.

Online RIDOT maps

RIDOT has [ county maps online] . These contain many differences from what is signed, including the following:
*Route 51 is not shown at all.
*Route 103 is shown using Veterans Memorial Parkway, while signage shows it concurrent with Route 114 and using old US 6.
*Route 117 is shown entering Providence and ending at US 1; signage clearly shows it ending along the section concurrent with US 1A (with BEGIN and END plates).

Pavement log

RIDOT's Pavement Management division produces a log for internal use in helping workers travel the numbered highways to assess pavement quality. The following observations are from a 2001 copy of the log. The "RINO" field of the "1:5,000 Roads" GIS data layer is largely equivalent to these descriptions, and as a whole these are the closest match to actual signage. When those two are compared, the pavement log agrees with signage in the majority or cases where the two sources disagree. Thus, with rare exceptions, the descriptions used in the pavement log are used in articles about the routes. Any discrepancies between the pavement log and signage are clearly noted.

The following are examples of places where the GIS data disagrees with signage and the pavement log:
*The GIS data shows extra segments of Route 1A along old alignments of US 1 east of Westerly.
*The GIS data shows Route 3 extending east past its end at Route 2 to US 1.

Other sources

At least two cities, Pawtucket and Woonsocket, keep logs of their own.


Pawtucket's data agrees with RIDOT's except in two cases. RIDOT shows US 1 taking a circuitous route through downtown Pawtucket, while Pawtucket shows US 1 using I-95 through several interchanges. A similar configuration exists with Route 114, where Pawtucket gives it a straighter route. The little signage that exists affirms RIDOT's position.


Woonsocket installs most of its own signage in a unique style, where all elements of the sign assembly are on one plate (see Woonsocket-installed route signage). RIDOT's pavement log shows Route 104 ending at the turn from Providence Street onto South Main Street, but signage, including signs posted by RIDOT, clearly shows it continuing into downtown and ending at Worrall Street. A few old signs still show the former extension to Route 126.

Additionally, there is confusion over Route 114 at Route 126; some signs indicate a concurrency, while others indicate Route 114 avoiding a concurrency by using Rathbun Street. RIDOT's pavement log shows both directions avoiding the concurrency, as does recent RIDOT signage. Recent Woonsocket signage shows only the concurrency between Route 114 south and Route 126 north, with a short one-way pair on Route 114.

Other disagreements

*In Westerly, all sources but signage show Route 91 taking a fully state-maintained route that ends at US 1. However, signage shows it continuing west on a locally maintained road to end at Route 3.
*In Pawtucket, one of the signs on Route 114 northbound was changed in late 2000 to point via a different route.
*In Cumberland, signage was recently changed to point Route 114 via a different route.
*Some signage continues Route 152 past US 1A/Route 114, where other sources end it.

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