Minnesota Department of Transportation

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MnDOT Policies

Route Numbering and Control Section

Designation process for the Trunk Highway System

MnDOT Policy # AD007
Revised: March 12, 2022

View/print signed policy (PDF)

Link to procedures

Please go to the MnDOT Org Chart to find specific contact information: Org Chart.

Responsible Senior Officer: Deputy Commissioner/Chief Engineer
Policy Owner: Director, Office of Transportation System Management
Policy Contact: Geographic Information & Mapping Supervisor, OTSM

Policy statement

This policy establishes the framework by which the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) determines the location of numbered (both statutory and signed) routes and control sections that form the trunk highway system.

Statutory routes are described in Minnesota Statutes and prescribe the routes of trunk highways including the beginning and end points and any locations through which the route is required to pass. Trunk highway routes numbered 1 through 70 are designated as the constitutional routes of the trunk highway system and may not be altered without amending the Minnesota Constitution. Routes numbered 71 and above are designated as legislative routes and may be altered by the legislature. Note: The statutory route number is not necessarily the same as how the route is designated by sign in the field.

The trunk highway system is also divided into sections, officially designated as Control Sections, which have fixed termini even though the route or highway number on which they are located may be changed. Control sections provide a uniform system of identification and designation for projects and accounting records and permit correlation of construction and maintenance costs.

Route numbering and control section assignments use increasing direction mainline route centerlines when determining the route description. Other highway elements, such as ramps, are subject to modification and thus are not a stable and consistent application of network designation.

MnDOT establishes routes that avoid gaps in route mainlines and the doubling back of routes.

Route descriptions:

  • Do not define ownership of the infrastructure.
  • Do not define financial responsibility for construction or maintenance of that infrastructure.
  • Do not determine legal liability for tort claims defined by other laws, policies, and agreements.

The Route Numbering & Control Section (RNCS) Committee ensures that each decision or recommendation regarding route numbering and control sections complies with this policy. Typical actions necessitating changes to route numbers, designations, and control sections that are approved by the committee and implemented by District staff include:

  • Changing a statutory or signed route number
  • Relocating a statutory or signed route to a different highway
  • Creating a new statutory or signed highway route
  • Proposing a new highway right of way corridor
  • New highway construction
  • Creating control sections for MnDOT state projects for other modes of transportation
  • Changing the number or location of routes carrying special designations, such as Business or Memorial routes

The RNCS Committee considers a number of documents, when deciding whether the route numbering and control section determination complies with statues, regulations, and policy:

Follow the Route Numbering and Control Section Action Proposal Procedures to submit proposals.

Reason for policy

  • Ensure compliance with AASHTO & FHWA requirements.
  • Ensure compliance with Minnesota Statutes Chapters 161, “Trunk Highways” and 162, “State-Aid Road Systems.”
  • Ensure compliance with the Constitution of the State of Minnesota, Article XIV which creates the Trunk Highway System and requires that it be constructed, improved, and maintained as public highways by the state.
  • Maintain the stability and completeness of the control section network.
  • Provide a consistent and reliable method for determining route number and control section designations through the establishment of a committee with representation from all affected offices to oversee all matters related to these assignments.
  • Provide an overview of the RNCS Committee, the decision-making process, and the responsibilities of the committee members.
  • Define the terms used to describe route numbering and control section designation.
  • Establish the comprehensive MnDOT database, the Linear Referencing System (LRS), as the authoritative source for locations along the highways.
  • Establish the Control Section Report as the official published record for control section and route changes.


All MnDOT employees must comply with MnDOT policies.

Key stakeholders with responsibilities under this policy include:

  • Route Numbering and Control Section Committee
  • District Project Managers, District RNCS Coordinators, or District Engineers
  • Office of State Aid
  • District State Aid Engineers
  • Office of Tribal Affairs
  • Office of Government Affairs
  • Office of Land Management
  • Office of Traffic Engineering
  • Office of Transportation System Management
  • District Maintenance Staff
  • Office of Maintenance and District Engineers


Commissioner’s Order

An official act or determination of the Transportation Commissioner, Deputy Transportation Commissioner, or other official under delegated authority.

Note: See Minnesota Statutes §161.09 for trunk highways, Minnesota Statutes §162.02 for county state-aid highways, and Minnesota Statutes §162.09 for municipal state-aid streets.

Constitutional Route

The initial set of Statutory Routes numbered 1 - 70, described in Minnesota Statutes §161.114. The prescribed Statutory Routes cannot be altered without changing the State Constitution.

Control Section

A specific segment of the trunk highway road system having fixed termini, usually at intersections with other trunk highways, county lines, or other geographical features. The trunk highway system is divided into shorter, more manageable segments (i.e., control sections) for recordkeeping, maintenance, construction, and other administrative purposes.

Note: Control section numbers are revised due to jurisdictional transfers (typically from state to county) when new highway segments or entirely new trunk highways are built. Authority comes from the Route Numbering and Control Section Notification Memo.

Control Section Number

A numerical attribute in the Linear Referencing System (LRS) which uniquely identifies a specific Control Section.

Note:  The Control Section Number is a combination of the two-digit Minnesota county code plus a two-digit roadway section identifier.

Control Section Record Report

A sequential listing of Control Sections with signed route descriptions, termini and major junctions, lengths, statutory routes, and maintenance areas.

Derived from MnDOT’s Linear Referencing System (LRS) and available in eDOCS and online at https://www.dot.state.mn.us/roadway/data/data-products.html#CSSR.

Increasing Direction

The side of the road in which traffic travels with increasing reference posts (mile markers).

Indian Country

As defined in 18 United States Code section 1151, Indian country includes reservations, allotments, and dependent Indian communities. Indian country may include off-reservation land.

Note: See the Indian Country Guidance and the MnDOT Tribal Map Application for additional information.

Jurisdictional Transfer

A release, reversion, or turnback in accordance with Minnesota Statutes §161.16 and MnDOT's Right of Way Manual.

Legislative Route

The set of Statutory Routes numbered 71 or higher, described in Minnesota Statutes §§161.115 161.117 161.12. The Statutory Routes were added to the trunk highway system by the Legislature under the provisions of Article 14 of the State Constitution. Legislative Routes can be altered by the Legislature.

Linear Referencing System (LRS)

A software tool that allows for the maintenance of Linear Referencing Methods (LRM) and provides tools for keeping associated event data synchronized.

Note: LRS software maintains a route network with associated measures so that attributes can be assigned to the routes by those measures. As the route network changes, the tool also maintains the associated attributes (events) keeping them in sync with the network. The LRS is a suite of tools including the modules Roads & Highways, Roadway Characteristics Editor, Data Reviewer, and Workflow Manager.

Mainline Route Centerline

A line equidistant from the edges of the main-traveled lanes of traffic. Divided roadways have a centerline for each direction of travel whereas undivided roadways have one centerline.

Note: Does not include ramps, connectors, cloverleafs, J turns, reduced conflict intersections, roundabouts, etc.

Memorial Routes

Routes along Minnesota roadways, as defined in Minnesota Statutes §161.14, designated to memorialize specific people, concepts, or ideals.

Route Numbering and Control Section Notification Memo

An official notice of a change to the trunk highway system. The RNCS Committee publishes the notification memo on an online site and distributes it by email to various staff throughout MnDOT. It describes a numbered trunk highway route and/or the limits of a control section. It also notifies staff of changes to statutory routes approved by the Legislature. Changes reflect data in the Linear Referencing System.

Note: See the Route Numbering and Control Section Committee SharePoint site for copies of notification memos and additional information.

Signed Route

An official designation of a state-owned route defined by Commissioner’s Order or a Route Numbering and Control Section Notification Memo. The number assigned to the route may or may not coincide with a statutory route number describing the destinations or the numbered route. Signed routes receive a number that is shown on signs along the route for the traveling public to follow. The signed route does not imply any ownership, fiscal or legal responsibility, or lack thereof. Signed routes may be a Minnesota Highway, US Highway, or Interstate, which together form the Trunk Highway System.

State Aid Route

A public highway designated to be part of either the County State-Aid Highway (CSAH) System or the Municipal State-Aid Street (MSAS) System that is eligible for funding assistance pursuant to Article 14 of the Minnesota Constitution.

Statutory Route

Routes described in Minnesota Statutes §§161.114, 161.115, 161.117, and 161.12 (and possibly additional future statutes). The text describing the route usually lists a set of cities served by the route "affording (them) and intervening and adjacent communities a reasonable means of communication each with the other and other places within the state." This has been interpreted to mean that if a bypass is desired around a city named in the text, the city must first annex the land required for the new alignment so that the new route still passes through the city limits. Note: there is not a one-to-one relationship between Statutory Routes and Signed Routes.

Trunk Highway System

All roads established or to be established under the provisions of Article 14, Section 2 of the Constitution of the State of Minnesota, "Public Highway System." This system includes highways that are constructed, improved, and maintained as public highways on the Interstate system.


Route Numbering and Control Section (RNCS) Committee

  • In conjunction with the Office of State Aid and district representatives, ensure each decision or recommendation regarding statutory or signed route numbering and control section follows this policy.
  • Assist districts and other offices in implementing the RNCS Committee actions.
  • Issue Route Numbering and Control Section Notification Memos.
  • Chair of RNCS Committee represents MnDOT on the AASHTO Committee of Transportation Officials on Route Numbering.

District Project Managers, District RNCS Coordinators, or District Engineers

  • Coordinate with local agencies regarding project development and delivery.
  • Coordinate early and meaningfully with Tribal Nations before a decision that impacts tribal interests is made in accordance with Minnesota Statutes §10.65.
  • Participate in the RNCS Committee when issues regarding their district are discussed.
  • Notify RNCS Committee of construction or maintenance sub area boundary changes.
  • Determine when a statutory or signed route will need a new or modified route number or control section.
  • Prepare and submit the RNCS Action Proposal Worksheet to the RNCS Committee.
  • Ensure the RNCS process is completed before the commencement of any work.
  • Complete the required AASHTO form when changes occur to an Interstate or U.S. highway width, length, number of lanes, alignment, or signed route number.
  • Ensure that RNCS Committee decisions are implemented.

Office of State Aid

  • Along with the District State Aid Engineers, act as a liaison between the local agencies and MnDOT when the proposed changes to the RNCS on trunk highways affect the local roadway system.
  • Review and comment on proposed RNCS Committee decisions.
  • Work with District staff to negotiate turnback agreements.

District State Aid Engineers

  • Along with the Office of State Aid, act as a liaison between the local agencies and MnDOT when the proposed changes to the RNCS on trunk highways affect the local roadway system.

Office of Tribal Affairs

  • Act as a liaison between Tribal Nations and MnDOT when proposed RNCS changes occur within Indian Country.

Office of Government Affairs

  • When notified by the RNCS Committee about a change in a legislative trunk highway route, develop bill language for legislative vote and assist with any legislative questions about the proposed change.
  • When notified by the RNCS Committee about a change in a constitutional route, determine the process for seeking a constitutional amendment.

Office of Land Management

  • Review and advise the RNCS Committee about relocation of constitutional routes.
  • Coordinate the timeline for creation, modification, or relocation of legislative routes.

Office of Traffic Engineering

  • Advise district offices and the RNCS Committee about proposals for signed route numbering system modifications and the potential impacts to route signage.
  • Provide expertise to the RNCS Committee on the application and location of special route designations.

Office of Transportation System Management

  • Maintain various lists, including:
    • Active control sections and their limits
    • Statutory Routes and their limits
    • Memorial Routes and their limits
  • Notify the RNCS Committee of how their proposed changes will affect route length or termini.
  • Draft and disseminate Route Numbering and Control Section Notification Memos.
  • Support the RNCS Committee with any other documentation or mapping needs.

District Maintenance Staff

  • Notify the RNCS Committee of changes to summer and/or winter maintenance boundaries.
  • Update signing in the field to reflect route number changes.

Office of Maintenance and District Engineers

  • Approve changes to the signed route number or control section recommended by the RNCS Committee.

Policy Owner (Director, Office of Transportation System Management)

  • Review the policy every two years, or sooner as necessary, to ensure the policy remains up-to-date.
  • Ensure procedures, forms, and other documents associated with the policy remain current.
  • Work with the Policy Coordinator to revise the policy and/or confirm its accuracy.
  • Communicate policy revisions, reviews, and retirements to stakeholders.

Resources and related information


Processes, Procedures, and Instructions


History and updates


June 2, 2015


  • First Revision: March 12, 2022

Policy Review

This policy's next scheduled review is due March 2024.