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A freeway is a limited access divided highway with grade separated junctions and without traffic lights or stop signs. This term is used in the United States, Canada, Australia, and South Africa. A freeway is roughly equivalent to a motorway in the United Kingdom, Ireland and New Zealand.

In the United States, the term freeway is used nationwide. In some regions of the U.S., other terms are also used, including expressway, Interstate Highway, thruway, highway, and turnpike. While some people use these terms interchangeably, turnpikes and thruways usually have associations with toll roads, such as the New Jersey Turnpike, Ohio Turnpike, Pennsylvania Turnpike, West Virginia Turnpike, Florida's Turnpike, and the New York State Thruway. Consequently, the term freeway is often used to refer to a toll-free highway[1][2] as opposed to its original meaning[3][4] – in which the component "free" implies freedom from traffic interference rather than "at no cost" – still used in other countries and in parts of the U.S.

The word freeway was coined by the "Father of American Zoning," Edward M. Bassett, in an influential article published in February 1930.[5][6][7] Bassett argued that roads should be classified into three basic types: highways, parkways, and freeways.[7] In Bassett's zoning and property law-based system (he was a Columbia-trained lawyer), abutting property owners have the rights of light, air, and access to highways, but not parkways and freeways; the latter two are distinguished in that the purpose of a parkway is recreation, while the purpose of a freeway is movement.[7] Thus, as originally conceived, a freeway is simply a strip of public land devoted to movement to which abutting property owners do not have rights of light, air, or access.[7]


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