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Author Topic: TX: Difference between Ranch Road and Farm Road  (Read 9364 times)

wxfree

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Re: TX: Difference between Ranch Road and Farm Road
« Reply #25 on: July 02, 2016, 03:05:41 PM »

The first FM road was built in 1936. They should be thought of simply as secondary state highways. That's it. Texas created a dilemma for itself by giving them an agricultural name. Other states in my opinion used better judgment by not doing that.

As far as loops go, they can be a partial or complete loop around a city, or the designation can be used in place of a BUSINESS XXX designation of an old alignment through then center of a city

I like the agricultural name.  I also like the distinctive signs.  They set the road system apart.  FM/RMs are my favorite roads, at least in rural areas.  That Texas Monthly article pretty well explains why.  The roads cross the "vastness and deep isolation of rural Texas" and feel like "driving on the land instead of past it" because they tend to follow the shape of the land instead of being straightened and well-graded.  I even appreciate the naming dilemma as a quirk of the system.  The Texas shape on the signs, or the name of the road when reading directions, lets you know to expect more hills and curves and narrower pavement than you'd normally find on the more improved primary state highway system.  The roads fill in gaps where full-standard highways aren't warranted.  The separate designation points out which roads are like that instead of leaving it to drivers to figure out, and making that designation agricultural points out the generally rural nature of the roads and is neat as a Texas oddity.
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dfwmapper

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Re: TX: Difference between Ranch Road and Farm Road
« Reply #26 on: July 06, 2016, 12:10:36 AM »

The first FM road was built in 1936. They should be thought of simply as secondary state highways. That's it. Texas created a dilemma for itself by giving them an agricultural name. Other states in my opinion used better judgment by not doing that.

As far as loops go, they can be a partial or complete loop around a city, or the designation can be used in place of a BUSINESS XXX designation of an old alignment through then center of a city
At least Texas has a system for delineating between primary and secondary highways. Go take a trip through Kentucky someday and try and figure out at a glance which are primary and which are secondary, especially when you get into the 3 and 4 digit numbers. Tennessee might actually be worse since their different signs are based on federal funding classification, not actual functionality, and often change back and forth on the same route number. Missouri's SSR (lettered highway) and Wisconsin's CTH systems are OK, but the reuse of designations in different counties isn't ideal.

Fun fact: the business routes in Texas used to all be internally designated as Loop routes, but back in 1990 they made BI/BU/BS/BF (Interstate/US/State/FM) routes into their own classes, and most of the old through-town routings were resdesignated appropriately. There are in 3 BF routes, BF 1960-A in Humble/Houston (https://goo.gl/maps/3jF5voYRSvx), BF 1431-J (bonus points for being off an RM) outside of Marble Falls (https://goo.gl/cNlfQb) which seems to be completely unsigned except for the green CR signs pointing to it as the way to access CR344, and BF 1187-C in Crowley (https://goo.gl/maps/GGYzFoTMiES2). There are also a few FM spurs that I'm aware of: off FM 1015 in Progresso (and incorrect signed as Business) (https://goo.gl/maps/EzEVbHKFTDv), off FM 118 in Jacobia (https://goo.gl/maps/6VZ7r2dfuPM2), and off FM 1201 serving Moss Lake (https://goo.gl/maps/6QiK3b9zRck). I'm pretty sure there are others.
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wxfree

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Re: TX: Difference between Ranch Road and Farm Road
« Reply #27 on: July 06, 2016, 02:07:02 AM »

The first FM road was built in 1936. They should be thought of simply as secondary state highways. That's it. Texas created a dilemma for itself by giving them an agricultural name. Other states in my opinion used better judgment by not doing that.

As far as loops go, they can be a partial or complete loop around a city, or the designation can be used in place of a BUSINESS XXX designation of an old alignment through then center of a city
At least Texas has a system for delineating between primary and secondary highways. Go take a trip through Kentucky someday and try and figure out at a glance which are primary and which are secondary, especially when you get into the 3 and 4 digit numbers. Tennessee might actually be worse since their different signs are based on federal funding classification, not actual functionality, and often change back and forth on the same route number. Missouri's SSR (lettered highway) and Wisconsin's CTH systems are OK, but the reuse of designations in different counties isn't ideal.

Fun fact: the business routes in Texas used to all be internally designated as Loop routes, but back in 1990 they made BI/BU/BS/BF (Interstate/US/State/FM) routes into their own classes, and most of the old through-town routings were resdesignated appropriately. There are in 3 BF routes, BF 1960-A in Humble/Houston (https://goo.gl/maps/3jF5voYRSvx), BF 1431-J (bonus points for being off an RM) outside of Marble Falls (https://goo.gl/cNlfQb) which seems to be completely unsigned except for the green CR signs pointing to it as the way to access CR344, and BF 1187-C in Crowley (https://goo.gl/maps/GGYzFoTMiES2). There are also a few FM spurs that I'm aware of: off FM 1015 in Progresso (and incorrect signed as Business) (https://goo.gl/maps/EzEVbHKFTDv), off FM 118 in Jacobia (https://goo.gl/maps/6VZ7r2dfuPM2), and off FM 1201 serving Moss Lake (https://goo.gl/maps/6QiK3b9zRck). I'm pretty sure there are others.

There are quite a few FM spurs, but unlike SSs, they're designated in the FM designations.  They don't have their own designation files, so you have to check all the thousands of FM/RM files to locate them.
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Henry

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Re: TX: Difference between Ranch Road and Farm Road
« Reply #28 on: July 06, 2016, 11:16:01 AM »

I-35 as the dividing line makes a lot of sense, as you'd see more farms to the east and ranches to the west.
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Re: TX: Difference between Ranch Road and Farm Road
« Reply #29 on: August 25, 2019, 10:33:02 AM »

Was reading that US 281 is pretty much the dividing line for Ranch to Market Roads and Farm to Market Roads.  However, at Round Rock (east of US 281) has a Ranch to Market designation (RM 620) and there are many in the Rio Grande Valley west of US 281 (Pharr and west) still designated FM Roads.

I am guessing there is really no line but more or less by the region of the state?

I did find an article in a Texas news website where a traveler wrote in to the editor to ask, but his answer was that US 281 is a general rule of being division between the two completely different names of designations, but not always.  Now not looking for the actual answer or to complain about this, but just to wonder what the thoughts are on this here in the forum.  Basically a discussion about the RM and FM thing in the Lone Star State.
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Re: TX: Difference between Ranch Road and Farm Road
« Reply #30 on: August 25, 2019, 10:45:05 PM »

After a small bit of research a few years ago, this is what I came up with.  It's about the most boring, but also most reasonable, explanation.  There are exceptions, so it doesn't explain every designation, but it seems to explain the overall pattern.

I've looked through old minute orders trying to find an explanation of the difference.  So far I've found no description of the establishment of the secondary system or any other explanation.

It may be helpful to look for patterns and hope they show an explanation.  In RM country, FMs tend to be along the Rio Grande or Pecos, possibly due to those areas being less inhospitable to farming, or short roads.  Alpine and Marfa each has a FM accessing a part of town (a residential area or park) - not ranches.  Dell City has FMs and is a farming community (using irrigation).  Van Horn has FMs and also has irrigated farming circles along them.  Another cluster of FMs around Pecos, Saragosa, Coyanosa, and Fort Stockton also has farming circles.

Just glancing at the Amarillo area, the RMs seem to line up pretty well with areas devoid of farming that's easily seen in satellite images.  The Lubbock area has FMs, and it's actually quite "farmy."  Even though it isn't a rainy area, the flat land causes water to soak into the ground instead of running off.  That water can be pumped out and used for irrigation.

My proposed explanation is rather boring.  It seems that the road type actually kinda represents the type of agriculture in that area.  The Hill Country, Stockton Plateau, and far west Texas (the ranching areas) seem to use RM except for farm areas.  There are, of course no definite boundaries and at some point someone just had to draw a line around the RM area.  It's interesting how that line goes right through Austin.  Within that area, the exceptions are usually pretty obvious results of the farms.  Outside of that area, FM is standard.  I have no explanation for the exceptions there, except that RMs are established based on some specific preference, perhaps as a novelty.
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J N Winkler

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Re: TX: Difference between Ranch Road and Farm Road
« Reply #31 on: August 26, 2019, 05:45:20 PM »

We have also had discussion of the difference between FM and RM in a roadtrip thread Rich started at around the same time as this one.  I think the statement that US 281 divides FM and RM was in the MTR FAQ at some point and originated from one of the early-noughties road enthusiast websites.  It comes the closest to being true around Austin (Balcones Escarpment).  The maps NE2 posted upthread give probably the most precise idea of the true spatial distribution of FM and RM.

I was told many years ago that FM is the default and a route with a given number is designated as RM instead if that is the preference of the abutting landowners.  This may account for the prevalence of FM even in areas that are rangeland at best.  (FM 170, which is probably the crown jewel of the system from scenic and touristic points of view, runs through scrub desert.)  What I do not know is how this preference is translated into a minute order that specifies RM rather than FM.  Is there a petition process?  Is it entirely up to the discretion of the district engineer or other TxDOT official?  Etc.
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Re: TX: Difference between Ranch Road and Farm Road
« Reply #32 on: August 26, 2019, 06:40:01 PM »

After a small bit of research a few years ago, this is what I came up with.  It's about the most boring, but also most reasonable, explanation.  There are exceptions, so it doesn't explain every designation, but it seems to explain the overall pattern.

I've looked through old minute orders trying to find an explanation of the difference.  So far I've found no description of the establishment of the secondary system or any other explanation.

It may be helpful to look for patterns and hope they show an explanation.  In RM country, FMs tend to be along the Rio Grande or Pecos, possibly due to those areas being less inhospitable to farming, or short roads.  Alpine and Marfa each has a FM accessing a part of town (a residential area or park) - not ranches.  Dell City has FMs and is a farming community (using irrigation).  Van Horn has FMs and also has irrigated farming circles along them.  Another cluster of FMs around Pecos, Saragosa, Coyanosa, and Fort Stockton also has farming circles.

Just glancing at the Amarillo area, the RMs seem to line up pretty well with areas devoid of farming that's easily seen in satellite images.  The Lubbock area has FMs, and it's actually quite "farmy."  Even though it isn't a rainy area, the flat land causes water to soak into the ground instead of running off.  That water can be pumped out and used for irrigation.

My proposed explanation is rather boring.  It seems that the road type actually kinda represents the type of agriculture in that area.  The Hill Country, Stockton Plateau, and far west Texas (the ranching areas) seem to use RM except for farm areas.  There are, of course no definite boundaries and at some point someone just had to draw a line around the RM area.  It's interesting how that line goes right through Austin.  Within that area, the exceptions are usually pretty obvious results of the farms.  Outside of that area, FM is standard.  I have no explanation for the exceptions there, except that RMs are established based on some specific preference, perhaps as a novelty.

I dunno...I've been on US 84 from I-20 west to the NM line, and the one thing I remember about that segment (especially west of Lubbock) was the persistent strong smell of cow. I'm not seeing any RMs out there.
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wxfree

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Re: TX: Difference between Ranch Road and Farm Road
« Reply #33 on: August 26, 2019, 10:13:23 PM »

Once you get up to the high plains, the whole area is covered with irrigation circles and other evidence of farming.  Below the escarpment looks like ranch land and should probably be RM area.  They seemed pretty attentive to making exceptions for riparian area and farmland in the far west part of the state, giving the roads there the FM designation, but they didn't make exceptions where they'd fit in the FM area below the Caprock.  Some of the land appears to be farmed, but there are areas that look too rocky, similar to the Hill Country.
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