SimCity 2013 Roads Guide – Layout, Zoning and Traffic Control

Roads are an essential part to any city, without them your buildings have no access. Furthermore, your buildings also lack basic utilities that come with roads, which include sewage, power and water.

Without proper road access, nothing can effectively be built. Therefore, in this guide we shall look at the various types of roads you can build, each of them with their own number of lanes and traffic density. Roads are first classified into two types, streets and avenues.

For more help on SimCity, read our Education, Tourism and City Services Guide.

SimCity Roads Layout, Zoning and Traffic Control


Low Density Dirt Road:

  • Cost: 2
  • Number of Lanes: 1
  • Maximum Density Supported: Low

This road can be used as a cheap alternative where you are not expecting much traffic. It is generally best to use something else but it is useful when you want to get a little creative and need a rustic touch. You can use it to connect to utilities or buildings that you want to keep away from the populated areas.

Low Density Street:

  • Cost: 12
  • Number of Lanes: 2
  • Maximum Density Supported: Low

Perfect for that homely look, the low density streets can be used to connect smaller residential areas. Don’t make too many intersections because the low density and the stop signs along the way can cause a traffic jam.

Medium Density Street:

  • Cost: 16
  • Number of Lanes: 4
  • Maximum Density Supported: Medium

The medium density street is great for when you are starting out building your commercial and industrial areas. Just don’t use them for your city’s busiest areas. It is best used for medium density buildings where you need steady medium density traffic. Don’t make too many intersections to avoid traffic jams.

High Density Street:

  • Cost: 18
  • Number of Lanes: 4
  • Maximum Density Supported: High

The high density street is much like the medium density street except for one difference, the support for more density traffic. This is ideal when you want to create smaller high density zones throughout your city but for the most important zones, you might want to consider building avenues instead. Traffic lights and no stop signs mean that there is less risk of congestion when making intersections.


Medium Density Avenue:

  • Cost: 10
  • Number of Lanes: 4
  • Maximum Density Supported: Medium

The tree-lined avenue takes up more space but is perfect for medium density areas which might potentially need to be upgraded to higher density avenues. It looks perfect for connecting to your regional highway and can support the traffic coming from there.

High Density Avenue:

  • Cost: 20
  • Number of Lanes: 6
  • Maximum Density Supported: High

Replace the tree lining in the middle with more road and you have the busy high density avenue with two additional lanes. It is perfect for those high rise buildings and high density buildings that keep your sims employed.

High Density Streetcar Avenue:

  • Cost: 30
  • Number of Lanes: 6
  • Maximum Density Supported: High

Reserve these for the absolute busiest corners of your city. With added streetcar support, this avenue supports the highest density of traffic. You must first build a streetcar depot connected to the avenue to make use of the streetcar. With more people turning to the streetcar, it will also solve the traffic problem that the busiest streets tend to have.

How To Plan and Construct Roads

Well, we have seen the different types of roads and what functions they can fulfill. Now, let us get on to actually building the roads. The roads can be built using the roads menu; select the type of road you want to build and hold the left mouse button as you drag across the area you want to pace the road. Release the left mouse button to place the road or click the right mouse button instead to cancel.

In case you want to build a bridge or a tunnel, just drag the road across the area and if it’s over a body of water or through a steep hill, a bridge or a tunnel will automatically be created.

There are also several types of road tools you can use to create a road grid more easily and quickly. The curve and arc tool, for example, can be used to quickly create perfectly circular roads. The rectangle tool, similarly, can help you lay down entire blocks at one click of the button.

If you are having trouble planning the spacing for the zones in your layout, you can use the white dotted lines. Hover the cursor over a road to make the lines appear. You can figure out the spacing by referencing the lines.

Once you lay down the roads, you might want to upgrade or downgrade them afterwards. You can do this without rebuilding all over again. Upgrades will of course cost you money and downgrades are free. However, you cannot upgrade streets to avenues without demolishing because avenues require more space compared to streets. To upgrade/downgrade, just select a road segment and you will get some options where you can determine its density.

Make sure to plan ahead when building roads, plan your avenues and streets and intersections keeping in mind the traffic and the building around it. For important building with a high traffic such as hospitals and landmarks, it is best to use avenues so you don’t have to deconstruct later on.

In case of traffic jams, the road menu will inform you. Pay attention to how severe the situation is and accommodate the traffic accordingly. If all else fails, remember that you can always turn to mass transit alternatives.

There is much more to road planning than that, however, but experience might be the best teacher in this case. Try to consider every angle, all the residents that need to use the roads. For example, the employees at the residential areas need to get to the industrial area to work. The industrial areas need to dispatch freights to the commercial areas to sell manufactured products.

The utility vehicles also need to make their occasional rounds and then there is the low land value around the utility buildings to consider. Other occurrences can also appear on a short notice like emergencies such as a fire, in which case a crowded street or a clean open road can mean the difference of life and death. There can also be a surplus of tourists especially around certain attractions.

How To Manage Roads
Although road planning and construction is an initiative task in your city, it largely depends upon various other factors for good operation, such as the location of your Residential, Commercial, and Industrial zones, the location of the highway, the ability of your city to attract tourists, and more.

Thus, it’s important to understand how to manage roads carefully. Sure, the High Density Avenue sounds like an attractive offer, but you shouldn’t go jumping towards such large road systems until and unless you know what’s at stake.

For starters, you need to understand that your roads limit the density of the nearby zones. If you have higher density requirements, then consider going for the best solution to road management, which is the Mass Transit system. This system will greatly reduce the amount of cars on the roads by adding public transport services such as buses and streetcars.

If you wish to create a city with only low and medium densities, consider building the Medium and Low density avenues and roads. This will cap the density amount in the zones in vicinity of the roads – an ideal way to control your city’s inflation.

Another important thing to remember is to avoid creating intersections near the Highway. The highway rarely uses public transport, so if you have intersections there, there is a huge chance of major backups. Perhaps the ideal choice for connecting your city to the highway is the Medium Density Avenue.

Your roads are also responsible for the freights that the industry carries to the commercial zones, and also the ones that may come from the Ferry Terminals and airport. It’s important to create a system that avoids conventional traffic to come in contact with these freighters. Try building linear roads that run from industries to commercial areas, and also link your industries to the trade depots in such a manner that normal traffic doesn’t come there.

Garbage and recycling trucks will also be in the process of transporting material from one place to another, thus stopping near ever building. Make sure to avoid building recycling plants in places where the trucks would have to go through the avenues.

Another thing you’ll wish to keep in mind are the Fire and Police stations. Emergency vehicles will automatically take the shortest route in your city, and it’s always important that you zoom in and track them once in a while to understand the efficiency of your roads. If these all-important vehicles get stranded in traffic, then there are massive risks of life and building destruction.

Thus, it’s always a good idea to locate the Fire stations and police stations in the central area of the city, ideally near a high density avenue (if you have one).

Last but not least is tourism. Ideally, your road design should be such that your tourists do not have to use the roads at all! Try placing tourism attractions like casinos and landmarks near train stations and ferry terminals.

Make sure that accommodation modules are also built so that tourists don’t have to travel inside the city to spend their nights. It’s also extremely essential that you have the Bus and Streetcar terminals up and running when you decide to create a tourism infrastructure.

Contributor at SegmentNext.