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A beltway, loop (American English), ring road, or orbital motorway (British English) is a circumferential highway found around or within many cities.

Beltway, orbital motorway, perimeter loop, beltline, and similar terms refer to an expressway/motorway/freeway style standard road that often originally enclosed the built up area and was later encroached upon by developed areas.

Ring road may sometimes refer to a beltway-style road, but more commonly indicates a road or series of roads within a city or town that have been joined together by town planner to form an orbital distributor style road, but where the standard of road could be anything from an ordinary city street up to an expressway level. The principal difference is that a ring road is an orbital distributor road system designed from already existing roads, as opposed to a beltway which is designed from new as such a road system. A ring road designation also implies a more inner-city road designed to route traffic around a city centre, as opposed to routing traffic around a larger conurbation.

Many beltway-style roads are part of a wider highway system; for example, in the United Statesmarker, beltways are commonly a part of the Interstate Highway System. Where the routes come full circle, using inner/outer directions is a common way of uniformly signing the directions of travel on beltways in America, as the usual compass directions (e.g., eastbound) become meaningless in a full loop.

In the United States, beltway also has a political connotation (e.g., politics inside the Beltway), derived metonymically from the Capital Beltway encircling Washington, D.C.marker

Geography can sometimes complicate the construction of a beltway. One example is Stockholmmarker, where there is a semi-beltway (Essingeleden). To be completed, most of it will have to run in submarine tunnels.

Cities with notable beltways or ring roads

Many cities and metropolitan areas deal with ring roads and beltways in unique ways, giving the roads recognizable differences. Some cities have elected to construct multiple ring roads and beltways.

North America


Atlantamarker has one loop, Interstate 285, referred to as the "Perimeter Highway"


Baltimoremarker has one loop, Interstate 695 (also known as the Baltimore Beltway; officially designated as the McKeldin Beltway).


Because of its seaside location, Boston cannot have full-circle ring roads. However, it has two as-complete-as-possible circumferential highways: Massachusetts Route 128 (now also Interstate 95) and Interstate 93 as an inner route and Interstate 495 as an outer route. Arguably, an inconsistent third, outermost ring-road exists (not all of it expressway), consisting of New Hampshire Route 101, New Hampshire Route 13, Massachusetts Route 13, Interstate 190, Interstate 290, Massachusetts Route 146, Rhode Island Route 146, and Interstate 195.


Charlottemarker, North Carolinamarker has two freeway loops, Interstate 277 and Interstate 485, and one city-designated ring route, Charlotte Route 4. The two Interstate loops are signed with Inner/outer directions.


Dallasmarker has several loops: Loop 12, the LBJ Freeway, the George Bush Turnpike, and Belt Line Road


Anthony Henday Drive circles Edmontonmarker, with completion planned by 2015. This will be the first of Edmonton's three proposed ring roads. An inner ring road will consist of Yellowhead Trail, Whitemud Drivemarker and Wayne Gretzky Drivemarker. A third, outer outer ring road is under planning with construction planned in approximately 30 years.


Guadalajara has an incomplete beltway, known as Periférico Manuel Gómez Morín, which began as a single-lane bypass road that was later widened to three lanes. It starts at the exit highway to Zapotlanejo, circles the city on the northeast, north, east and south, then ends southeast at the highway that reaches out to Chapala. Urban sprawl in the gap has made it infeasible to close the ring.

Hampton Roads

The Beltway is also notable for featuring two bridge-tunnel structures: the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnelmarker, connecting Norfolkmarker and Hamptonmarker; and the Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnelmarker, connecting Suffolkmarker and Newport Newsmarker. Together with the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel (situated farther east and not part of the Beltway), Hampton Roadsmarker is home to the only three bridge-tunnel structures in the United Statesmarker.


Houstonmarker has three loops and a proposed fourth and fifth: the small loop around downtown, the inner Interstate 610, intermediate Beltway 8, the outer Grand Parkway with currently only one section completed. Further construction is temporarily halted because of controversies of the SH99 passing through some neighborhoods and groups protesting the extensive environmental and quality of life damage to the region. There are also plans for a Prairie Parkway even further out.


Indianapolismarker has one loop, Interstate 465. This beltway is nearly rectangular in shape. Many of the area's most prominent routes are signed along the beltway instead of going through the city.


Memphismarker has one completed freeway loop, I-240, and one under construction, I-269. In addition, Memphis has a parkway system forming an inner beltway around the downtown area – the South Parkway, East Parkway, and North Parkway – which was built in the early 20th century.

Mexico City

Mexico Citymarker has the Anillo Periférico, a complete freeway loop with a double-decker road in some sections, the latter of which gained major media attention when Mexico City mayor Andrés Manuel López Obrador began the project, which was completed in 2006. A second freeway loop, a toll road known as Libramiento Arco Norte forms a new loop around the city, parts of which are still under construction.

Minneapolis/Saint Paul

Minneapolismarker and Saint Paulmarker have one beltway signed as two different interstates bisected by Interstate 94, the northern portion being Interstate 694 and the southern half Interstate 494marker.


Phoenixmarker has four freeway loops: Loop 101, Loop 202, and Loop 303 around the suburbs, along with Interstate 10 and Interstate 17 forming an inner loop around Downtown Phoenix.


Pittsburghmarker, Pennsylvaniamarker has a series of color-coded ring roads known as the Pittsburgh/Allegheny County Belt System.


Raleighmarker, North Carolinamarker has one completed beltway, known as the Capital Beltline or Interstate 440, which pioneered the Inner/outer directional system. The system, however, is being phased out to prevent confusion with the city's second beltway, known as the "Outer Loop" or Interstate 540, which is under construction.

Washington, D.C.

Washington D.C.marker's beltway (Interstate 495) is called the Capital Beltway and is the source of the phrase "inside the Beltway".


Winnipegmarker's Perimeter Highway (PTH 100 and 101) was Canada's first major beltway around a major city. It was built in the late 1960's early 70's due to the cancellation of freeways to be built in the city. It is known as the By-Pass or simply The Perimeter to the locals. The southern portion forms part of the Trans-Canada Highway.



The S100 that circles central Amsterdam (yellow) and the larger A10 (red) and its numerous connecting highways.
Amsterdammarker has the A10 which circles Amsterdam through its outer boroughs. It connects to the A1, A2, A4 and A8 motorways. The local S100 serves as the ring around central Amsterdam, and the southernmost section of the A9 connects the southern suburbs such as Osdorp, Amstelveenmarker and Amsterdam Zuidoostmarker.


The Antwerp ringroad is one of the busiests roads in Europe with over 180,000 vehicles a day. A motorway bypass encircles much of the city centre. Known locally as the "Ring" it offers motorway connections to Brussels, Dusseldorf (Germany) and Liège, Ghent, Paris (France) and London (United Kingdom) and Rotterdam and Bergen op Zoom (Netherlands). The banks of the Scheldt are linked by three road tunnels (in order of construction): the Waasland Tunnel (1934), the Kennedy Tunnel (1967) and the Liefkenshoek Tunnel (1991). Currently a fourth high volume highway link called "Oosterweel connection" is in the tendering stage. It will entail the construction of a long viaduct and bridge (the Lange Wapper Bridge) over the Eilandje (a neighbourhood in the north of the city) as well as a tunnel under the Scheldt. The completion date is as yet uncertain. The cost of the connection is estimated at € 2.2 billion. Due to a lack of public support, the construction is delayed until a referendum has been held.


Athensmarker is encircled by the system of Attiki Odos motorway with three main avenues, forming a Π around the Athens Basin. To the northern side, the main section (number 6) connecting Elefsinamarker shipyards-industrial zone with the Athens International Airportmarker in Spata and counts about 50 km. To the western side, Aigaleomarker Avenue, encircling Mount Aigaleomarker and to the eastern side, the Hymmetus Ring. As supplementary avenues there are also NATO Avenue, running across the Elefsinamarker Basin next to Mount Aigaleomarker, Katehakimarker Avenue, connecting NE (Papagoumarker) and SE (Ilioupolimarker) suburbs of Athens aligned with Mount Hymmetus and finally Varis-Koropiou Avenue, connecting the vicinity of Athens International Airport and the SE coast of Athensmarker, near the suburb of Voulamarker, in the back side of Mount Hymmetus. To the south side (coast), Poseidonos Avenue (Or "Paraliaki (Παραλιακή): Greek for "Coastal (Road)") runs from Piraeusmarker (Faliro Interchange) to Voulamarker, aligned with the coast, until it meets Varis-Koropiou and then it continues to the countryside Souniomarker Avenue, towards Sounio and Lavriomarker.

The quality of the encircling system varies from motorway of high standards and fully computerised control and service (northern section of Attiki Odos) to more simple two-lanes avenue, like Aigaleomarker Avenue. Most of the system, maybe except the mountainous parts (Aigaleo, Katehaki and Hymmetus Ring), is a high-speed traffic system of roads. Usually the most speedy traffic is noticed on the coastal Poseidonos Avenue, thus making it need increased attention.


Berlinmarker is surrounded by Bundesautobahn 10 as its outer ring which mostly runs in the state of Brandenburgmarker. It is approximately in length which makes it the longest beltway in Europe. An inner ring was planned, but only half was completed (Bundesautobahn 100).


Brussels is circled by two ring roads

The city centre, sometimes known as "the pentagon", is surrounded by the "Small ring", a sequence of boulevards formally numbered R20. These were built upon the site of the second set of city walls following their demolition. Metro line 2 runs under much of these.

The town is skirted by the European route E19 (N-S) and the E40 (E-W), while the E411 leads away to the SE. Brussels has an orbital motorway, numbered R0 (R-zero) and commonly referred to as the "ring". It is pear-shaped as the southern side was never built as originally conceived, owing to residents' objections.

Currently a high capacity ringroad is in the early stages of planning. It will be built next to the R0 to increase its capacity by 100%. Completion date is set to 2014.


Dublinmarker has three generations of partial ring roads. Due to its location on the sea, there is no complete ring road as yet. with the combined South Circular Roadmarker and North Circular Roadmarker forming the oldest, and inner pair dating from the 19th century.

The M50 motorway forms the middle, most complete and most heavily trafficked (85k-90k cars/day) ring road with an eventual plan to form a complete ring via an undersea tunnel or bridge.

The Outer Ring Road forms the newest partial ring, running along the west of the cities outer suburbs. Eventual plans are to link it to sections of the R121 road which provides a similar service in the north west of the city, with land being reserved for this.

In addition, Dublin City Council has signed two "orbital routes" consisting of existing roads, but following these requires turning at many junctions.

The Hague

The Haguemarker is circled by four ring roads:
  • The "Ring" is the main beltway, roughly 34 km long; It is also called the "International ring".
  • Around the city centre, there is the "CentrumRING", roughly 11 km long.
  • The historical downtown is circled by the P-route, a ring road that passes all the main parking spaces in The Hague-downtown. It is roughly 5 km long.
  • The whole agglomeration of the Haguemarker is partly circled by "Randweg Haaglanden". It is made up of the motorways A20, A12 & N11 & is 65 km long.


Helsinki has three ring roads, though because of the city's coastal location, all are partial rings. The innermost road is Ring I (Finnish Kehä I), numbered as Regional Highway 101. The intermediate road is Ring IImarker (partly completed, other portions under study). The outermost road is Ring III, numbered as Highway 50 (and, for most of its length, also designated and signed as European route E18).


Lisbonmarker has the Circular Regional Interior de Lisboa and the Circular Regional Exterior de Lisboa. Neither forms a complete loop.


Londonmarker has the London Inner Ring Road (which circles Central London), the North and South Circulars, at a greater distance from the centre (roughly at the Zone 3/4 boundary), and the larger M25marker orbital motorway (which encircles Greater Londonmarker).


Madridmarker, Spainmarker is served by three beltways:
  • M-30, which at a mean distance of to the Puerta del Solmarker has been overtaken by the city in most of its length.
  • M-40, which borders Madrid at a mean distance of , with connections to the southern metropolitan towns and projects westwards to reach Pozuelo de Alarcónmarker for a total length of .
  • M-50, which was planned as a full ring but is not "closed" as of 2008, though projects by the Autonomous Community of Madridmarker to connect both ends through a tunnel are being aired. It is long and services mainly the metropolitan area at a mean distance of .
Also, the half-loop M-45 runs between the M-40 and the M-50 at the east, where the two beltways are more separated; and there are plans to build a fourth full loop, the M-60, which would be over long and encompass the whole metropolitan area of Madrid. This proliferation of orbital motorways is partially due to the traditional high radiality of the Spanish highway network, which routed most cross-country traffic through Madrid.


Manchestermarker, Englandmarker has two beltways:
  • The M60 Orbital Motorwaymarker runs 35 miles (56 km) and was created between 1960-2006 by the amalgamation and renumbering of several existing motorways (M62, M63 and M66) and some new build to create an entirely circular route around the city of Manchestermarker and seven neighbouring Metropolitan Boroughs. In 2004, it briefly held the record for the UK's busiest stretch of road (when a part of the M25 was undergoing roadworks); the northern sector of M60 carried an average of 181,000 vehicles per day between junctions 16 and 17.


A50 + A51 + A52


Moscowmarker, Russiamarker has three beltways:

Moscow Central Ring Road is a planned road which will consist of parts of Moscow Small Ring and Moscow Big Ring. Planned length is about , it will be opened in 2015.

Inside the Moscow city limits there are three ring roads: the central Boulevard Ring, which is generally two lanes each way with narrow tree-lined parks between the carriage ways; the Garden Ring, which has at least four lanes each way and no gardens; and the Third Ring, which was constructed in the late 1990s and early 2000s and combined existing roads and new highways. A fourth ring, between the Third Ring and the MKAD, is planned.


Tangenziale also know as GRAP


Parismarker has the Boulevard Périphérique as its innermost ring. The next ring outwards, the A86 autoroute known as Le Superpériphérique, is expected to be completed in 2010. Highway A104, known as La Francilienne for circling the region of Ile-de-Francemarker, is a third, longer ring road.


Grande Raccordo Anulare


There are several motorways which run to/from Rotterdam. The following four are part of its 'Ring' (ring road): A20 (Ring North): Hoek van Holland — Rotterdam — GoudaA16 ,(Ring East): Rotterdam — Breda (- Belgium) ,A15 (Ring South): Europoort — Rotterdam — NijmegenA4 ,(Ring West).



The city of Bangaloremarker has an Outer Ring Roadmarker. A Peripheral Ring Road is under construction. An elevated core ring road is proposed.


The modern civic scheme of Beijing, China, is based on a number of ring roads, consecutively numbered from 2nd to the projected 7th. The innermost 2nd Ring Roadmarker was built on the site previously occupied by the moat of the Beijing city wall.


Chennaimarker city has two ring roads: Inner Ring Road and Chennai Bypass. An Outer Ring Road and an elevated beltway system are under construction.


The capital of Indonesia, Jakartamarker, has 2 sections of road circling the city:
  • JORR: Jakarta Outer Ring Road (id= Jalan Tol Lingkar Luar Jakarta)
  • Jakarta Inner Ring Road (id= Jalan Tol Dalam Kota Jakarta). Some sections in the north are elevated roads.

Hong Kong

A circular motorway, Route 9, circles the New Territories and connects all the suburbs north of the urban areas together.

Hyderabad (India)

The city of Hyderabadmarker has an Inner Ring road. An outer ring road is under construction.


A long circular beltway connects the Afghan capital Kabulmarker with the large Afghan cities of Heratmarker, Kandaharmarker, Mazar-e-Sharifmarker and Jalalabadmarker.

Kuala Lumpur

Malaysia's capital has three ring roads: MRR2, Middle Ring Road 1, and Inner Ring Road.

New Delhi

India's capital has two ring roads running around it.


Route 100, the Seoul Ring Expressway, encircles the city and is complete. An outer beltway, Route 400, is under construction 60 km south of the city.


The Chinese city of Shanghai gained its first ring road in the inter-war years in the form of the Zhongshan Road, a partial ring that enclosed the existing urban area, which was primarily made up of foreign concessions.

In the 1990s, an Inner Ring Road was constructed, mainly consisting of elevated roadways built on top of the Zhongshan Road, but which eventually made a complete circle around the urban core. A Middle Ring Road and an Outer Ring Road (the A20 Expressway) were later added.



Christchurchmarker has a ring road circling the inner suburbs of the city mainly consisting of State Highways 73, 74 and 74A. It is identifiable by a black R on a white pentagonal sign


The Metropolitan Ring Road, Melbournemarker circles the city in the outer suburbs.


Sydneymarker has the Sydney Orbital Network, a ring consisting of several motorways.



The Johannesburg Ring Road encircles the city of Johannesburgmarker. It consists of three freeways (N1, N3, N12).


Durban's Outer Ring Road runs up and down the coast, funnelling traffic away from the CBD through the expanse of the Durbanmarker Metro Area.


Plans for ring roads around Cape Townmarker and Pretoriamarker are in the pipeline.

Addis Ababa

The inner ring road in Addis Ababa currently extends some 33.3 km around the city. It was conceived in the mid-1990s with the goal of connecting the five main radial routes into the city, which itself is located in the middle of the country, which run from the cities of Jimmamarker, Debre Zeit, Asmaramarker, Debre Marqosmarker, and Ambo to the capital. The ring road is unique in the fact that it takes into account the large amount of pedestrian traffic. In May 2009 a new interchange at Gotera was inaugurated; the interchange having been paid by the Chinese government and built by the Shanghai Construction firm.


  1. Strange Maps, Does My Metro Area Look Big in This Ring Road?, Comment of May 25, 2009 @ 1:37 pm. Accessed 2009.09.24

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