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State highway, state road or state route can refer to one of three related concepts, two of them related to a state government in a country that is divided into states (including the United Statesmarker, Australia, and Mexicomarker):
  1. A road numbered by the state, falling below numbered national highways (like U.S. Routes) in the hierarchy. Route numbers are used to aid navigation, and may or may not indicate ownership or maintenance.
  2. A road maintained by the state, including nationally-numbered highways and un-numbered state highways
Depending on the state, state highway may be used for one meaning and state road or state route for the other.A third meaning, used in some countries such as New Zealandmarker, uses the word "state" in its sense of a nation. By this meaning a state highway is a road maintained and numbered by the national government rather than local authorities.


The usage of the terms "state highway", "state route", etc. may vary from country to country or even from state to state. In the United States, it is not uncommon for the general public to use different conventions even within a particular state. For example, in Washingtonmarker, a state highway would be referred to as SR 500 (for State Route 500). In Oregonmarker, it could be referred to as OR 18 (for Oregon Route 18), while in Idahomarker it would be SH-51, short for State Highway.

National usage

Australian state route marker


Australia's State Route System is a system of urban and inter-regional routes that are not covered by the National Route System, or the National Highway System. These routes are marked with a blue shield. Sometimes a state route may be formed when a former national route is decommissioned.


Italy's Strade Statali extend for some 12,000 km, overseen by the Azienda Nazionale Autonoma delle Strade (ANAS) founded in 1946, replacing the A.A.S.S. (Azienda Autonoma delle Strade Statali) of 1928.


In Indiamarker, State Highway refers to the numbered highways which are laid and maintained by the State Government. The are not related to National Highways and are not involved with the NHAI or the Central Government in any way.


Mexican state highway marker
Mexicomarker's State Highway System is a system of urban and state routes constructed and maintained by each Mexican State. The main purpose of the state networks is to serve as a feeder system to the federal highway system. All states except the Federal District operate a road network. Each state marks these routes with a white shield containing the abbreviated name of the state plus the route number.

New Zealand State Highways are actually National Highways

New Zealand state highway marker
New Zealandmarker State Highways are actually National Highways, because New Zealand is not divided into "states" the way that Australia, the United States, Mexicomarker, Brazilmarker, Germanymarker ("Lander") etc., are, or into provinces the way that Canadamarker and Francemarker are.

New Zealand's state highway system is a nationwide network of roads covering the North Islandmarker and the South Islandmarker. As of 2006, just under 100 roads have a "State Highway" designation: Transit New Zealand administers them. The speed limit for most State Highways is 100 km/h, with reductions when a State Highway passes through a densely-populated area.

The highways in New Zealand were originally designated on a two-tier system, National (SH 1–8) and Provincial, with national highways having a higher standard and funding priorities. Now all of them are State Highways, and the network consists of SH 1 running the length of both main islands, SH 2–5 and 10–58 in the North Island, and SH 6–8 and 60–99 in the South Island. National and Provincial highways are numbered approximately North to South. State Highway 1 runs the length of both islands.

United States

Default U.S. state highway marker
State highways are generally a mixture of primary and secondary roads, although some are freeways (for example, Route 128 in Massachusetts, Ronald Reagan/Cross County Highway (Route 126) in Cincinnati, or parts of Route 101 in New Hampshire). Each state has its own system for numbering and its own marker. The default marker is a white circle containing a black sans serif number (often inscribed in a black square or slightly rounded square), according to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). However each state is free to choose a different marker, and most states have. States may choose a design theme relevant to its state to distinguish state route markers from interstate, county, or municipal route markers. Several states simply use an outlined shape of its state; others, such as Pennsylvania, nicknamed the "Keystone State," uses the shape of a keystone for its state highway markers. Kansas uses the shape and color of a sunflower. Yet other states, such as Illinois and Indiana, use neither the MUTCD default nor a theme design. Instead these states standardized white signs with a black-border, containing only the state name and route or highway number.

Some states have a system of secondary highways in addition to state routes. A prominent example is Missourimarker, which designates its so-called supplemental routes with letters instead of numbers. Texasmarker also has a system of farm & ranch highways that are separate from the Texas State Highways.


Brazilmarker is another country that is divided into States and has state highways.


Canadamarker is divided into provinces, but that is just another word for a "state", and Provincial Highways in Canada are equivalent to State Highways in Australia, the United States, Mexico, and other countries. Such can be seen by eyeball inspection, and it is also true that Provencial Highways are paid for by the provinces, just as State Highways in the above-mentioned countries are paid for by the states.

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