Trunk road

Trunk road
A63(T) trunk road

A trunk road, trunk highway, or strategic road is a major road—usually connecting two or more cities, ports, airports, and other things.—which is the recommended route for long-distance and freight traffic. Many trunk roads have segregated lanes in a dual carriageway, or are motorway standard.


United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, Trunk Roads were first defined for Great Britain in the Trunk Roads Act 1936. Thirty major roads were classed as Trunk Roads and the Minister of Transport took direct control of them and the bridges across them. This development did not extend to Northern Ireland, which has always had a separate system of highway and road traffic law.

At that time, 4,500 miles (7,200 km) of British road were classified as Trunk Roads. Additional roads have been 'trunked', notably in the Trunk Roads Act 1946. Others, like virtually all British motorways, have entered the system as a result of new construction. As of 2004, Great Britain has 7,845 miles (12,625 km) of Trunk Roads, of which 2,161 miles (3,478 km) are motorways. [1] Trunk roads in England are managed by the Highways Agency. Scotland has had responsibility for its own trunk roads since 1955; these are currently managed by Transport Scotland. Wales has had responsibility for its trunk roads since 1965. England has 4,814 miles (7,747 km), Scotland has 1,982 miles (3,190 km) and Wales has 1,048 miles (1,687 km) of trunk roads, inclusive of motorways. The Highways Agency also have a full network map of trunk roads and motorways in England.

Most interurban trunk roads are "primary routes", the category of recommended roads for long distance and freight transport, but not all primary routes are trunk roads, the difference being that trunk roads are maintained by central government bodies rather than the local councils. Primary routes are identified by their direction signs, which feature white text on a green background with route numbers in yellow. Trunk roads, like other 'A' roads, can either be single- or dual-carriageway.

Trunk roads were often listed on older maps with a "T" in brackets after their number so as to distinguish them from non-trunk parts of the same road, however this addition is no longer included on current Ordnance Survey maps which simply distinguish between primary and non-primary 'A' roads. A trunk road which has been upgraded to motorway standard can sometimes retain its original "A" number but with an "M" in brackets to denote that motorway regulations apply on it. Long distance examples of this are the A1(M) in England, and the A74(M) in Scotland.

De-trunking: United Kingdom

It is possible for roads to become 'de-trunked' to non-trunk roads (county 'A' roads in the UK), for example when superseded by a motorway following a similar route. When a road is 'detrunked' signposts are often replaced, making the route of the original road harder to follow.

In some places however, the road number will change and will usually be signposted in the style "B000, was A00", although repeated changes can lead to such oddities as "A5183, was A5" (between St Albans and Redbourn).

In England the government has de-trunked much of the trunk road network since the late 1990s, transferring responsibility to local councils to allow the Highways Agency to concentrate on a selection of core trunk routes, mostly dual carriageways and motorways.


In the Republic of Ireland major roads were previously classified under an old system as Trunk Roads, and had route numbers prefixed by "T". Connecting roads were classified as Link Roads, and had route numbers prefixed by "L". Many of these roads had their origins in historic routes, including turnpike roads.

Although a number of old road signs using these route designations may still be encountered, Ireland has long since adopted a newer classification scheme of National Primary and National Secondary routes ("N" roads), Regional roads ("R" roads), and Local roads ("L"-prefixed roads). Local roads were previously not signposted, although they are now signposted in many areas of the country.

The current "L"-prefixed Local roads are not connected with the previous "L"-prefixed Link Road classification.

De-trunking: Ireland

Some former Trunk Roads, or sections of former Trunk Roads, became non-trunk Regional roads under the new road numbering system introduced in the 1970s and 1980s. More recently, sections of some National Primary routes which have been bypassed by motorways or other road improvement schemes have been downgraded to Regional road status.

United States

Though the term trunk road is not commonly used in American English, the U.S. highway and Interstate highway systems can be considered American trunk highways. However, individual states are responsible for actual highway construction and maintenance, even though the federal government helps fund these activities as long as the states enact certain laws and enforce them. (Such laws have included the raising of the minimum drinking age and the lowering of speed limits.) Each state maintains all of its roads and tries to integrate them into a system appropriate for that state. Notably, the states of Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin designate their highways as "state trunklines" and "state trunk highways," respectively.[1]


China has begun development of the National Trunk Highway System (NTHS), which will create many east-west and north-south highways, plus seven radials heading out of the capital, Beijing.




The most important roads in Sweden are labeled national trunk road. In 1992, the parliament decided upon which roads were to become national trunk roads. They are considered recommended main roads for long-distance traffic.

National trunk roads are planned nationally, as opposed to other roads who are planned locally. They also have a special, slightly larger budget. However, they aren't signed in any special way. Therefore drivers won't notice any difference in signage, numbering, road standard or map marking from other national roads. Some national roads are only considered trunk for part of their length. National road 73 and National road 75 are both built to motorway standard, have high traffic but are not considered trunk. European routes are always trunk everywhere in Sweden, and are more visible with special numbering.

List of swedish trunk roads

  • E4, all the way Helsingborg–Stockholm–Gävle–Sundsvall–Haparanda
  • E6, all the way Trelleborg–Göteborg–Svinesund
  • E10, all the way Töre–Riksgränsen
  • E12, all the way from Holmsund to the norwegian border
  • E14, all the way Sundsvall–Storlien
  • E18, all the way norwegian border-Karlstad-Örebro-Stockholm-Kapellskär
  • E20, all the way Malmö–Göteborg–Örebro–Stockholm
  • E22, all the way Malmö–Karlskrona–Norrköping
  • E45, all the way Göteborg–Trollhättan–Grums–Mora–Östersund–Storuman–Karesuando
  • E65, all the way Malmö–Ystad
  • Riksväg 25, all the way Halmstad–Växjö–Kalmar
  • Riksväg 26, all the way Halmstad–Jönköping–Kristinehamn–Mora)[2]
  • Riksväg 40, all the way Göteborg–Jönköping–Västervik
  • Riksväg 50, only Ödeshög–Falun[3]
  • Riksväg 56, all the way sträckan Norrköping–Katrineholm–Kungsör–Västerås–Sala–Gävle
  • Riksväg 70, all the way Enköping–Mora
  • Riksväg 71, all the way Malung–Borlänge[4]
  • Riksväg 80, all the way Falun–Gävle[5]
  • Länsväg 239, only from the norwegian border to Torsby[6]

See also


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • trunk road — trunk roads N COUNT A trunk road is a major road that has been specially built for travelling long distances. A trunk road is not as wide or as fast as a motorway. [BRIT] …   English dictionary

  • trunk road — n BrE a main road used for travelling long distances …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • trunk road — index causeway Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • trunk road — trunk ,road noun count BRITISH a HIGHWAY …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • trunk road — noun a highway • Syn: ↑highroad • Regions: ↑United Kingdom, ↑UK, ↑U.K., ↑Britain, ↑United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, ↑Great Britain …   Useful english dictionary

  • trunk road — UK / US noun [countable] Word forms trunk road : singular trunk road plural trunk roads British a major road between large towns …   English dictionary

  • trunk road — (British) main road, highway, highroad …   English contemporary dictionary

  • trunk road — noun (C) BrE a main road used for travelling long distances …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

  • ˈtrunk ˌroad — noun [C] British a major road between large towns …   Dictionary for writing and speaking English

  • trunk road — /ˈtrʌŋk roʊd/ (say trungk rohd) noun a main road for long distance travel …   Australian English dictionary

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