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Transportation Glossary

Federal Road Classifcation System
  • The Interstate System
    The highest classification of roadways in the United States. These arterial roads provide the highest level of mobility and the highest speeds over the longest uninterrupted distance. Interstates nationwide usually have posted speeds between 55 and 75 mi./h.
  • Arterials (other than Interstate)
    Arterials include freeways, multilane highways, and other important roadways that supplement the Interstate System. They connect, as directly as practicable, the Nation's principal urbanized areas, cities, and industrial centers. Land access is limited. Posted speed limits on arterials usually range between 50 and 70 mi./h.
  • Collectors
    Major and minor roads that connect local roads and streets with arterials. Collectors provide less mobility than arterials at lower speeds and for shorter distances. They balance mobility with land access. The posted speed limit on collectors is usually between 35 and 55 mi./h.
  • Local roads
    Local roads provide limited mobility and are the primary access to residential areas, businesses, farms,and other local areas. Local roads, with posted speed limits usually between 20 and 45 mi./h, are the majority of roads in the U.S. These are mostly class 3, but do include some class 2 roads (see above).
  • Freight Broker
    A licensed operating authority who sells transportation without actually providing it. Usually refers to agent for Truck Load shipments (10,000 lbs or more), matching small shippers with carriers. Freight brokers often do not accept any responsibility for their shipments. They trade freight like stocks.
  • Freight Forwarders
    Also arrange for the transportation of freight in exchange for compensation. At the request of the shipper, the freight forwarders make the actual shipping arrangements and provides the necessary services for expediting the cargo to its destination. Forwarders assume all responsibility for the transportation of the shipment from point of receipt to point of destination, including preparing and executing the necessary documentation. The freight forwarder is paid on a fee basis by the shipper and often receives an additional percentage of the freight charge from the carrier. In contrast, property brokers arrange for the transportation of freight but do not assume responsibility for its movement from origin to destination.
  • Frost Heaves
    Frost heaves occur when water gets under a road surface, freezes, expands and forces the road upward and cracks it open an inch or two at the peak. Frost heaves traditionally have a rise of 3-6 inches above the road surface and usually permanently damage it. Approaching frost heaves too fast encourage wrecks from sudden loss of control. Some roads and regions are subject to frost heaves. Hopefully signs are posted in those regions to warn you of the danger.
  • Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
    A computer system capable of assembling, storing, manipulating, and displaying geographically referenced information, i.e. data identified according to their locations. Practitioners also regard the total GIS as including operating personnel and the data that go into the system.
  • Infrastructure
    1. An underlying base or foundation especially for an organization or a system.
    2. The basic facilities, services, and installations needed for the functioning of a community or society, such as transportation and communications systems, water and power lines, and public institutions including schools, post offices, and prisons.
  • Intermodal
    Planning that reflects a focus on connectivity between modes and emphasizes choices, coordination, and cooperation. Anintermodal_cont.jpg (4415 bytes) intermodal shipping container is a container that can be easily moved across different modes of transportation.--from ship to truck to rail--without removing or rearranging the contents. They look like a standard semi-trailer.
  • Less Than Truckload (LTL)
    A quantity of freight less than that required for the application of a truckload rate. The historical definition for LTL freight is shipments under 10,000 pounds. LTL carriers are carriers which specialize in shipments under 10,000 pounds. However, competition from other freight carriers restricts shipments for most LTL carriers to the range between 300 and 3000 pounds.
  • Metropolitan Planning Organization
    The organization required by the federal government, designated by states and operated by local officials for developing transportation plans and programs in urbanized areas of 50,000 or more people.
  • NVDA
    Northeastern Vermont Development Association. The regional planning and development association for the Northeast Kingdom. There are eleven other regional planning commissions and regional development corporations in the State of Vermont. NVDA is the only organization in Vermont to assume both the role of planning and development. We are available to town officials, engineers, other planners, businesses, and private individuals to discuss planning and development issues in the Northeast Kingdom. Public participation and input is encouraged at our monthly Transportation Advisory Committee meetings. The meetings are held on the second Tuesday of each month at 7 PM in the NVDA board room at 36 Eastern Avenue, St. Johnsbury. Check our on-line calendar for updates and other scheduled activities. Address: 36 Eastern Avenue, St. Johnsbury, VT 05851. Phone: (802) 748-5181.
  • Paratransit
    Transportation services, provided through flexible scheduling or routing in small vehicles, such as ride-matching, dial-a-ride, jitney, subscription and route-deviated bus services.
  • Physiography
    The physical features of the earth's surface. For example, a flood plain, or a glacial feature.
  • Railbank
    Federal and state law enables the state to "railbank" abandoned railroad right-of-ways in order to promote public use of the corridors, and preserve them for potential future rail use.
  • Scoping
    Project development studies (often called "scoping" or "project definition"), which are intensive planning actions focused on evaluating a specific transportation problem and coming up with a clearly-defined project that effectively solves the problem.
  • Surface Transportation Program
    ISTEA created a new block grant program, the Surface Transportation Program (STP), which made funds available for a broad range of highway, mass transit, safety and environmental purposes. STP funds could be used for highway construction and 4R; bridge projects; transit capital projects; carpool, parking, bicycle and pedestrian facilities; highway and transit safety improvements; traffic monitoring, management and control facilities; transportation control measures; and wetland mitigation efforts.

Town Highways
  • Class 1 Town Highways
    Form the extension of state numbered highway routes through a town, and which carry a state highway route number; e.g. Route 5 through St. Johnsbury, and Route 2 through Lyndon. The Vermont Agency of Transportation shall determine which highways are to be class 1 highways.
  • Class 2 Town Highways
    Those town highways selected as the most important highways in each town. As far as practicable they shall be selected with the purposes of securing trunk lines of improved highways from town to town and to places which by their nature have more than normal amount of traffic. The selectmen, with the approval of the Vermont Agency of Transportation, shall determine which highways are to be class 2 highways.
  • Class 3 Town Highways
    All other town highways that are "negotiable under normal conditions all seasons of the year by a standard pleasure car."
  • Class 4 Roads
    All other town highways, other than class 3 town highways. The majority of these receive limited or no maintenance. They are negotiable at your own risk, usually impassable in Winter, and referred to as "jeep trails" at other times of the year.
  • Transportation Improvement Program (TIP)
    A fiscally constrained program of transportation projects consistent with the Metropolitan Transportation Plan. It lists projects to be funded under federal programs for a three-year period. Both the MPO and the State complete a TIP. It must be federally approved at least every two years. A Statewide Transportation Improvement Plan (STIP) is ultimately created that is consistent with 1) The long range transportation plan 2) The Metropolitan Transportation plans (in Vermont there is only one) and 3) expected funding (which is the fiscally constrained part). There also has to be an opportunity for public comment.
  • Truck Load (TL)
    1. Quantity of freight required to fill a truck.
    2. When used in connection with freight rates, the quantity of freight necessary to qualify a shipment for a truckload rate.
    3. Historical definition is a shipment of 10,000 pounds or more.
  • VTrans
    The current politically correct designation for the Vermont Agency of Transportation. Out of favor versions are VAOT, AOT.
  • Wildlife Management Area
    Most funding for WMA's comes from State hunting, trapping and fishing licenses, and an 11% Federal excise tax on sporting arms, ammunition, fishing rods and tackle. WMA's are parcels of land owned by the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department, and managed to provide quality wildlife habitat and conserve significant natural communities. These areas are often managed specifically for important game species, such as deer, moose, snowshoe hare and ruffed grouse, and thus are favorite haunts of hunters and trappers. Many other wildlife species also benefit from management activities, and these areas are also used for bird watching and hiking. In order to maintain a self-reliant outdoor experience in as natural a setting as possible, there generally are no developed trails or facilities on WMA's. WMA's are not to be confused with Wildlife Management Units (WMU), which are regions with similar physiographic characteristics that were created for the purpose of establishing hunting seasons and issuing special hunting permits (such as antlerless deer permits).
  • Wildlife Management Unit (WMU)
    To properly manage the State's wildlife, the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife created the Wildlife Management Unit (map). These are areas with similar physiographic characteristics. Physiography refers to the physical features of the land. Features such as climate, topography, land use (i.e. agricultural, forest, etc.), type of ground cover, degree of development, water bodies available, are all taken into account in managing herds and flocks of animals. Hunting permits are issued for each unit based on the current population status of individual wildlife species in a particular unit. The length of the open season for a particular species may also be different depending upon the unit.