Two layers, both polygons

I have two polygons layers, one (grey) is Roads, other (blue) is Fields. Can I calculate distances between Fields (by field unique ID number) using Roads layer as distance measurement? What tools or extensions should I use?

  • 1
    So for clarification: you want to calculate how far it is between any and all pair of fields, if you travel along the roads?
    – Martin
    Jun 12, 2014 at 7:12
  • Yes, exactly! :)
    – risk_ltu
    Jun 12, 2014 at 7:26

2 Answers 2


First, I think you will need to convert your road polygons to road centerlines, for which there is a Collapse Dual Lines To Centerline (Cartography) tool available, but it requires an Advanced level license.

Alternatively, to convert your polygons to lines you could try using Polygon To Raster (Conversion) followed by Raster to Polyline (Conversion).

Once you have your road network as line features ...

The ArcGIS for Desktop extension designed to model road networks is Network Analyst, but it can also do a lot more, and so may be overkill if your requirements are no greater than those that you have already described:

With the ArcGIS Network Analyst extension, you can answer questions like the following:

  • What is the quickest way to get from point A to point B?
  • Which houses are within five minutes of a fire station?
  • What market areas does a business cover?
  • A person wants to visit a store. Which branch should the potential customer visit to minimize travel time?
  • Which ambulances or patrol cars can respond quickest to an incident?
  • How can a fleet of delivery or service vehicles improve customer service and minimize transportation costs?
  • Where can a business open a store to maximize market share?
  • If a company has to downsize, which stores should it close to maintain the most overall demand?
  • What are live or historical traffic conditions like, and how do they affect my network analysis results?

Not really an answer but I don't think that I can add an image into a comment. If you are going to use tractors, trucks and harvesters for driving from field to field it is most common to define also "gates" which are the points where you can really enter the fields. You must also define if the gate or the centroid of the field is better for distance calculations. Gate is often good if you do work analysis, tractors are driving so much faster on the road than when pulling a plough on the field.

Roads, fields and gates

  • I think it is hard to do that in 4000 fields :) I have a center field there tractors starts travelling to the working fields. I only need some point of the field to get the distance, it might be the nearest point to the road. My question would be: is it possible to calculate distances in polygons? In my example, roads as polygons.
    – risk_ltu
    Jun 12, 2014 at 10:56
  • I understand. Coarse plan I would follow in your situation is to acquire roads as connected lines from some other source (faster) or if you do not find such, skeletonize the road polygons into centerlines yourself (educating). Next, find closest distances from field polygons to the road network. Third, compute distance along the road from your central field to fields points with routing algorithm. Perhaps add distances from the roads to actual fields. I can see similarities with gis.stackexchange.com/questions/99779/…
    – user30184
    Jun 12, 2014 at 11:20

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