Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

Geographic Data, Mapping & Analysis

Preparing and maintaining core GIS and CAD data at a planning level scale

colorful road map


Arterial Road – high capacity urban road whose primary function is to deliver traffic from collector roads to freeways and to/from urban centers; may be classified as major or minor.

Bituminous type of paved asphalt road resembling or containing bitumen, typically black or near black in color.

Cartography – the study and practice of making maps or representations of the Earth on a flat surface.

Cartographic Representations – cartographic features and symbology used for representation purposes which are usually not to scale.

Computer Aided Drafting/Design (CAD) – the use of computer systems to assist in the creation, modification, analysis, or optimization of a design.  The GIM Unit uses Bentley Microstation CAD software to design roadways and create cartographic maps.

Coordinate System (Projection) - a system which uses numbers (coordinates) and axes (x, y, z) to represent points in a space of given dimensions.  The GIM unit produces CAD maps using the projected State Plane coordinate system, and GIS maps produced inside the TSM office use the projected UTM Zone 15 N coordinate system.

Corporate/City Limits the defined boundary or border of a city.

County Maps – individual maps of Minnesota’s 87 counties that depict all public roads and corresponding route systems outside municipality boundaries, as well as railroads, airports, city names and boundaries, political township names and boundaries, lakes, rivers, etc.

County Road (CR) - roads locally maintained by county highway departments in Minnesota.  Route numbering can be determined by each county alone, by mutual agreement among counties, or by a statewide pattern.

County State Aid Highway (CSAH) - specialized form of county road that is part of the state aid system.  County State Aid routes are eligible for funding from the County State Aid Highway Fund.

District MnDOT has divided Minnesota into eight operating districts based on geographic location and resources. For more information visit http://www.dot.state.mn.us/information/districts.html.

Divided Highways – adjacent roads, each of one or more lanes, carrying traffic in opposite directions and separated by a dividing or non-traffic bearing strip made of sod, gravel, concrete, etc.

Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/ – federal agency that administers federal funds and issues policy and procedure timetables for implementation of federal legislative directives; however, they do not have a direct role in the development of urban transportation plans or their development.  The FHWA use TSM’s continuous count data, annual AADT, and VMT estimates in federal-level travel analysis and determination of funds.

Greater Minnesota the area of Minnesota that lies outside the seven-county Metro Area.

Geographic Information & Mapping (GIM) – the section of TSM responsible for preparing and maintaining core geographic data at a planning level scale of >1:24,000.  Products include MnDOT's CAD cartography for the Minnesota Official State Highway Map, as well as individual maps for Minnesota's 87 counties and 854 cities.

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) - a system designed to capture, store, manipulate, analyze, manage, and present all types of geographical data.  The most common GIS software includes the ESRI brand ArcGIS family of applications.

Graded and Drained Earth Road – a road of natural earth aligned and graded to permit reasonably convenient use by motor vehicles and drained by longitudinal and transverse drainage systems.

Gravel (or Stone) Road - A road wearing surface which consists of gravel, broken stone, or other fragmental material; sometimes indicated on maps with the letter “E”.

Legend – the key to symbols used on a map; usually contains swatches of symbols with descriptions, as well as notes on projection, date, source, scale, units of distance, etc.

Local system roads - any road not on the Interstate or Trunk Highway system; can be designated as a CSAH (County State Aid Highway), CR (County Road), MSAS (Municipal State Aid Street), township, or municipal road.

Major Roads – general term describing higher-traffic roads.  Depending on the map type, major roads may include Interstate, Trunk (US and State) Highways, and CSAH/County level roads.

Metro Area the seven-county Twin Cities Metropolitan Area comprised of Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott, and Washington counties.

Metro District comprised of eight counties-- the seven-county Twin Cities Metropolitan Area plus Chisago County.

Metro Area Street Series – see Twin Cities Metro Area Street Series

Microstation – a CAD software product developed by Bentley Systems that the GIM Unit uses to design roadways and create cartographic maps.

Mileage Chart – a Minnesota Official State Highway Map feature showing distances (in miles) between major cities.

Minor Roads – general term describing lower-traffic roads. Depending on the map type, minor roads usually include Municipal, MSAS, Township and Private roads.

Municipal State Aid Street (MSAS) - similar to the County State Aid system, this is a system of designated municipal streets in cities above 5,000 in population that are not already on the state highway or CSAH systems.  Municipal streets on the MSAS system are eligible for funding from the Municipal State Aid Highway Fund.

Municipal Boundary – see Corporate/City Limits

Municipality (City) Maps – maps of Minnesota’s 853 cities that depict all public roads and corresponding route systems inside city boundaries, as well as railroads, airports, lakes, rivers, etc.  Cities with populations over 5,000 have individual maps while cities under 5,000 are typically mapped by county with more than one city per map sheet.

No Public Maintenance Road – a primitive road that is either barely useable by four-wheel vehicles or is not maintained for public travel.

Paved Road – general term for a road with a firm and durable surface such as bituminous, concrete, or solid stone; sometimes indicated on maps with the letter “I”.

Private Road – a road or driveway located on privately-owned property for private use; has no public access and is not maintained through public funds.

Projected Road – a road designated by resolution, which according to plan, will be constructed in the near future. 

Road Surface Types - “I” = Paved; “G” = Bituminous; “E” = Gravel

Scale – the ratio of a distance on the map to the corresponding distance on the ground in reality.  For example, the scale for most GIM-produced county maps is approximately 1:126,500 (1 inch = 2 miles).

Soil-Surfaced Road – a road of natural soil whose surface has been treated by mixed soil or an admixture, for purposes of stabilization.

State Aid – public funds appropriated by a state government for the partial support or improvement of certain public local roads which are eligible for funding.

State Map – the Minnesota Official State Highway map; includes major roads and features, covering the state of Minnesota and adjacent portions of Canada, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Wisconsin.

Transportation Systems Management (TSM) – office in the Modal Planning & Program management division that contains four units-- Geographic Information & Mapping (GIM), Data Systems & Coordination, Traffic Forecasting & Analysis (TFA), and Weight Data & Engineering Coordination.

Trunk Highway (TH) - major roadways such as Interstates, US Highways, and State Highways.

Twin Cities Metro Area Map – a single map covering the seven-county metro area.

Twin Cities Metro Area Street Series – a map series of 56 individual maps (including a reference grid map) covering the seven-county metro area and portions of the surrounding counties.

Unimproved Road – a road having a naturally occurring surface and maintained to permit bare passability for motor vehicles.