Width of Roads

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by Prof1000, Apr 9, 2008.

  1. Prof1000

    Prof1000 New Member

    Hi When making roads what width should they be in HO. Thanks in advance.

  2. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    The answer to this one is really "it depends". A little more info please...

    Is it 1860 or 1960?
    City or country?
    Interstate or cart-track?
    Mountains or prairies?
    etc, etc...

  3. Prof1000

    Prof1000 New Member

    Hi It is 1960 city roads

  4. TruckLover

    TruckLover Mack CH613 & 53' Trailer

    This is how Woodland scenics recommends on the back of there "Paving Tape" product

    Scale:~~~City Street:~~~Country Road:~~~Highway Lanes:~~~Sidewalk:


    HO Scale~~~4 1/8"~~~~~~~~2 1/2"~~~~~~~1 5/8-2 1/2"~~~~~~~1/2"

    N Scale~~~~2 1/4"~~~~~~~~1 3/8"~~~~~~~~7/8-1 3/8"~~~~~~~1/4"

    Hope this helps :thumb:
  5. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    Per my "Traffic & Highway Engineering" textbook, the "ideal" lane width is 12'. Anything narrower results in lower speed restrictions...regardless of the number of driveways and such. But, city councils don't always care what civil engineers think ;-)
  6. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    Five minutes and a tape measure will answer all of those questions with total accuracy.

    BTW - the width of main streets in Western towns and cities is the distance needed to turn a wagon and team around without backing.
  7. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Interesting. If true, it's not restricted to just Western towns, as plenty of Eastern towns were built in the horse and buggy era.

    My hometown in southern Ontario had a 100'+ right-of-way. It currently has two lanes of traffic in each direction, angle (not parallel) parking, plus a boulevard with trees down the middle...! :eek:

  8. Jim Krause

    Jim Krause Active Member

    As usual, a great bunch of posts regarding something that we all think about at some point while building our layouts. Thanks for the info. Jim K.
  9. b28_82

    b28_82 Member

    So that would explain why a lot of older towns have/had the capacity for 4 lane roads and parking. I knew there had to be some reason other than planning ahead because I doubt 100 years ago they would have imagined that there would be 4 lane roads in these small towns
  10. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    Mountain Man, that's a cool detail.

    I know why the streets of Paris, France are wide...anyone whom has ever seen Les Mis can understand why after several revolutions in 60ish yrs, Napoleon III bulldozed the old Paris and build wide streets that couldn't be barricaded by revolutionaries.

    Now taking that to Colorado...and think of all the violence in that era...such as the miner union (or teamsters?) blowing up a station on the F&CC...and I can see where that could have (purely speculating here...just to be clear)...impacted urban planning of the day as well.
  11. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    They have wide streets in downtown Salt Lake City. I can't remember the reasoning, but it was something Brigham Young decided.

    For a model railroad...this may be a place for selective compression. Scale-width streets may take up just a wee bit too much of that precious plywood real-estate :) Most of the model railroads I have seen have narrow streets. If it is done well, you never notice. The tricks are - keep the streets at a diagonal to the viewer, make foreground streets scale width but background streets narrower, don't use huge vehicles (hummers and the like), and don't show cars passing each other (otherwise it may be obvious their mirrors would hit!)

  12. jeffrey-wimberl

    jeffrey-wimberl Active Member

    Average lane width here is 11'. That equates to 1.5" in HO scale, so a two lane road without shoulders would be 3" wide. Throw in another 2" for a 2 7' wide shoulders (2 11' wide lanes with a 7' wide shoulder each) comes out to 5" wide for HO scale. 7' (1"), 11' (1.5"), 11' (1.5"), 7' (1").
  13. Roger Hensley

    Roger Hensley Member

    Here in Anderson Indiana, each lane was about 12 feet wide. It was dependent upon the type of roadway (main street, residential or back country road, etc) but most business streets and highways were built at about 12 feet per lane. Earlier, in the twenties, roads were only about 20 feet wide total, so, if the portion of the town you wish to model was built in that era, a 20 foot roadway is fine.

    If each lane were 10 feet wide, that would be 1 and 3/8s inch. So a two lane street would be 2 and 3/4 inches. 10 feet is what I use for the lanes of my city streets. Modern hiway lanes would be wider. Parking lanes would have been more narrow in the 50s, say 8 or 8 1/2 feet.

    As a guide in HO:
    8' = 1 1/8
    10' = 1 3/8
    12' = 1 5/8
    15' = 2 1/16
    20' = 2 3/4
    25' = 3 7/16

    Around here, little has changed in the city streets since the late 40s. A few sidewalks have been removed to widen the lanes and a few streets have had major work done on them to add additional lanes, but the width still stands at about 10 to 12 feet per lane and most side streets are really about three lanes wide total. Small towns would have been this way as well. Some of the main streets in small towns actually had wider streets and also used angle parking.

    Country lanes and county roads were much narrower back then, in some cases no more than 12 or 13 feet total. If you met a farm truck you were in big trouble. Part of the problem with all of this is that the width of streets and roads vary according to where you are and what the local street and hiway departments did. This is why there are no set widths for streets in any scale. You can calculate what you need according to your area and era always keeping in mind what looks good to you. Rather than calculate 3.5 mm equal 1 foot, I just used a scale rule and a regular ruler to change the actual scale feet into inches so the figures are not exact, but are very close. I highly recommend a scale rule. The one I have is a 'General' no. 1251. It's been well worth the money.

    Oh, one other thing, sidewalks in the business district were about 10 feet wide.
  14. CNJ999

    CNJ999 Member

    What most are overlooking is the unspoken question of what is of primary importance to you: are you modeling a city, or a railroad? Layout space for nearly all of us is precious and to model city streets at full scale width as part of a scene that is really no more than a background to your railroad, is downright wasteful and foolish.

    One needs only give the "impression" of reasonably-sized streets in modeling. Compression of their width is required if you intend to replicate any sort of believable street grid. Unless you are modeling a section of modern multi-lane interstate through your city, 3-inches is a very acceptible width for most streets in the immediate foreground and 2"-2.5" for those behind, especially if their view is partially obscured by structures. Considering that most real railroads pass through the older sections of cities, most of those streets would be fairly narrow in reality anyway.

    Such dimensions as I've indicated above are what I've observed to be the general practice on several large, impressive, successful representations of urban areas on layouts I've seen and of the scale I have employed for my own 3x10 foot major downtown urban scene on my layout.

  15. jbaakko

    jbaakko Active Member

    I've been using metric measurements, because they're easier to compare to HO Scale, after all 3.5MM=1'. I use:
    12' Lane = 4.20cm
    Two lane road would then be 8.4cm
    My general rule for overhead clearance is 15' = 5.26cm.
  16. lester perry

    lester perry Active Member

    I just put 2 vehichles side by side and measured them. here is what I got.

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