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Thread: HO Road Width?

  1. Default HO Road Width?

    In inches, how wide should an HO scale county/Farm-Market type of road be?

    Should there be any easement in addition to the actual road?

  2. Default

    I found this information here:

    "Most subdivision regulations list the minimum required width of pavement for all of the types of roads allowed in the municipality. In
    general, a “travel lane” is 9 – 10 feet, so the most narrow requirements are 18 – 20 feet of pavement. The average car or pickup is 5.5
    – 6.5 feet wide, and dump trucks and school buses are 7 feet. The rationale for roads wider than 20 feet is the need to accommodate
    parked cars and two-way traffic, as well as emergency vehicles."

    So if we assume a 20 foot wide road, it will translate into 2.759 inches in HO scale(1/87).

    Last edited by Rotorranch; 07-09-2008 at 08:23 PM.
    Jake: How often does the train go by?

    Elwood: So often you won't even notice ...

  3. Default

    Mac, the typical standard for a Texas Farm to Market road is 16 feet although paved roads can go up to about 20 feet. A 20 foot wide road would be about 2.6" and a 16 foot wide road would be about 2.20". Most of the FTM roads have easements of about 5' from each road edge although this varies depending on how close the farmer's property line is to the road. The easements are usually just grass and weeds, sometimes mowed. Except for a few inches of gravel extending beyond the road edge for paved roades, there are amlost never any shoulders.
    Regards, Jim
    HO Scale Modeler

  4. Default

    Jim...I came up with a different answer for 20 feet.

    16 feet= 2.206 inches
    18 feet= 2.482 inches
    20 feet= 2.758 inches

    Maybe you need to change the batteries in the old slide rule?

    But what's .15 in. among friends?

    Jake: How often does the train go by?

    Elwood: So often you won't even notice ...

  5. Default

    Good info. Thanks guys!

    Hmmmmm. I might even make it a state or US Highway. I guess I need to figure that out and then figure in how much room on each side to leave for either bucks or gates and lights.

  6. #6


    Some good answers, but I have to chime in on this one...

    It depends on your era more than anything else, but you will not find many FM roads in Texas with a right-of-way narrower than 50 feet, equal to roughly 6.9 inches in HO scale. The right-of-way is that swath of land from fence to fence including the paving, ditches, signs, utilities, etc. I assume when you ask about "easement" the right-of-way is really what you're talking about (it's more of a legal distinction than anything else).

    In the modern era, TxDOT requires a 4 foot [0.55 in.] shoulder outside the driving lane. Many times it's weed covered and is often just base course asphalt, so it can appear to be narrower. Years ago the 4 foot shoulder wasn't required, but the base course asphalt always extends past the driving lane, so there's at least some paved shoulder. Not only that, the roadbed is graded wider than the paving section to avoid having the roadway edges deteriorate over time.

    You may have lanes as narrow as 10 feet [1.38 in.], but recommended practice is 12 foot [1.65 in.] lanes. Yellow striping in between opposing lanes of traffic is one foot [0.14 in.] wide (space dedicated for a four inch [0.05 in.] yellow stripe, a four inch space and a four inch yellow stripe regardless of the striping pattern), and the outer white stripe is four inches wide, so really your lanes are only 11 feet 4 inches [1.56 in.] wide when you use a 12 foot section. With a 10 foot lane, the drivable area between stripes is only 9 feet 4 inches[1.29 in.], and since modern highway trailers are 102 inches wide (8 feet 6 inches) [1.17 in.], there's not much room for error, hence the recommended 12 foot width.

    Things get tricky for the dimensions of passing lanes, turn lanes, etc. which are based on design speed, grade, visibility and other criteria. I usually let TxDOT give me the dimensions after I take a stab at it. I guess it's a case of me throwing them a bone on what I think the dimensions should be and they come to the rescue with the correct answer.

    Again, another assumption, but since you live in Keller and I do projects for TxDOT in DFW and Houston, I'm going by the Texas standards, which may or may not be what you need. But, in any case, I must recommend the Texas Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices because it's a well illustrated and clear handbook for how things should be designed and the space required for various situations. And the fact you don't have to be an engineer to understand it helps, too. Check it out:

  7. Default

    Wow. Good stuff RCH.

    I'm modeling 1990's through today. My grain facility is a condensed version of the Cassidy Grain facilities in Snyder, OK. Technically I'd need the ODOT numbers but I'm more then willing to go with TXDOT stuff. I just don't count that many rivets. I can't imagine that there would be too many differences anyways.

  8. Default

    Rotor, that's why I said about. I always compress secondary roads like that since the difference is hardly noticeable and it gives a few more fractions of an inch to work with somewhere else.

    RTH, that's some good information. I was thinking more of shoulders than legal easement but you're right, I think that the state took 50' easements from farm owners as a condtion of building the FTM roads. Some of the FTM dirt and gravel roads couldn't have been more than sixteen feet wide though. I could not pass a grain truck with my motorhome unless both of us got off on the side. I'll go with the paved roads being 20 or 22 feet but some of those older roads are pretty narrow. Don't even get me started on Texas's weird on and off ramp arrangements on freeways.
    Regards, Jim
    HO Scale Modeler

  9. #9


    3.5mm = 1' in HO, so, a 10' lane would be 35mm, or 3.5cm. Much easier then trying to calculate the inches!

    I've been using 4.2cm lanes, which is a 12' lane in HO scale, just for the extra room it affords.

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  10. #10


    Man, wouldn't you know it, but I haven't touched a TxDOT project since March when we got construction approval for our plans. Today that project came up at work since it's going to construction. Coincidence? Or just plain jinx?


    I wouldn't be surprised to find out that there are some roads that narrow, especially in days gone by. And I agree with the idea of "selective compression" as a good approach for most people, though I choose to model much smaller areas and do them as close to scale as possible. Just personal preference.


    Try searching for Snyder, OK and you'll get some decent aerials that could be useful in scaling roads, building arrangements, etc. Also, try contacting the Kiowa County Tax Assessor at:

    You might be surprised at how useful tax appraisal maps can be. Another resource is Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps. Good luck.

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