Highway classification for the Golden Road (Northern Maine)

There is a privately-owned road called the Golden Road in northern Maine that connects the town of Millinocket to the Canadian border, some 96 miles away. It is own by several paper companies that collectively own the bulk of the land in the Maine North Woods. It’s impossibly remote. The US/Canada border crossing at the end of it is only open to logging trucks bound for a sawmill located just on the Canadian side of the border. Two-thirds of this road is unpaved. The logging companies allow public access, as it’s the main thoroughfare through this part of Maine to access the land, not only for timber but also for various kind of recreation.

Recent Slack and Discord discussions on how to classify this road are inconclusive. The road is currently tagged highway=tertiary or highway=secondary for its entire length (the section tagged =secondary can be found here).

I will attempt to relay some of the key arguments made so far:

@Adam_Franco wrote:
It is used to access private cabins on lakes and various areas for outdoor recreation. It is certainly much more “major” than all of the other roads in this part of Maine.

At some point, being a collector for thousands of miles of tracks and connecting logging camps, quarries, and other dispersed infrastructure takes some paper-company roads out of “land access track” and to some other category. Most logging isn’t done from the Golden Road but from its tributaries.

@Friendly_Ghost wrote:
If the road is just there for the transportation of logs, that’s a track .

It doesn’t seem to be a proper part of the road network, just a partly paved track deep into nowhere for logging.

A major/collector track is still a track. We simply don’t have tags to distinguish major and minor tracks. I also doubt any other map makers have made a distinction here.

User dmich9 on Discord wrote:
Would it not be a minor/unclassified with surface gravel? It is a small road allowing access to all the track roads and their subsequent plots

@bhousel wrote:
it sounds pretty highway=track to me

@ezekielf wrote:
Looks like there are plenty of other non track roads branching off it too. For example. If the Golden Road were to be downgraded to track then those all probably should be as well. It would be weird to have dangling stretches of higher classification roads in the middle of nowhere.

secondary feels like too high a classification to me. tertiary seems like it may be appropriate given role this road appears to play in this extremely rural area. I’d say it should at least be unclassified . track seems too minor to me.

Based on this discussion, the possible options from low to high to classify this road are track, unclassified, or tertiary. The option that changes the status quo the least would be to downgrade the current secondary sections down to tertiary so that it would at least be consistent from end to end. However, there are strong arguments for lower classifications as well.

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Ce sujet de discussion accompagne la publication sur https://community.openstreetmap.org/t/highway-classification-for-the-golden-road-northern-maine/106950