I have the following shapefiles:

  • Polyline: Detailing a road network.
  • Polygon: Containing approx. 2000 polygons enclosing sections of that road network.
  • Point: Containing numerous (OS Addressbase) points falling within each of the polygons.

Using ArcGIS for Desktop, I would like to identify and extract to a new shapefile the point within each polygon that is closest to the road network, and also calculate the distance that each closest point is from the road network.

  • Do you have an ArcGIS Desktop Advanced license, with which you can use the Near tool to find the closest distance?
    – John
    Commented Aug 17, 2015 at 6:51
  • I have an Advanced License and have tried playing around with the Near tool, but as far as I understand this doesn't tell me which Point in each Polygon is closest to the Line.
    – Lavalas
    Commented Aug 17, 2015 at 17:05

1 Answer 1


Seems to me that you need to clip your road feature first using your polygons. Then begin the point selection process.

Other thing to consider is how the road feature is drawn. Is it a polyline? Is a single feature? If you're trying to get only 1 point that is closest then you need to make sure the individual roads are 1 feature too.

This would be so much easier if you knew the minimum distance for a point. My initial thought was to use a simple 'select by location' with a minimum distance to narrow down your selection. I will try and work on this and see what I come up with. This seems like a geoprocessing tool for spatial statistics.

I wanted to iron out some of the variables in your question first before I continue.

  • Thank you for your thoughts so far. The road feature is a polyline but I have successfully dissolved this into a single feature. I have also clipped it to the polygons. If it helps, I don't think the closest Point within each Polygon will ever be more than 300m away from the Line.
    – Lavalas
    Commented Aug 17, 2015 at 17:08
  • OK. Would you happen to have a dummy gdb that you could share? I will be on a long flight later this afternoon and could use something to keep me busy. I figured I would ask instead of trying to create it myself.
    – AReaGIS
    Commented Aug 18, 2015 at 18:03
  • I would tend to agree that the 'Near' tool would accomplish your goal. There are a couple of ways which you could pursue this. Either run the 'Near' tool on all your points and use the road feature as what you are measuring against and you will have a newly calculated field. Then you would need to select the roads of interest individually and by sorting you can find your point, nearest the road. I do understand though that this workflow is not very automated and would require much more time.
    – AReaGIS
    Commented Aug 18, 2015 at 19:14
  • The other workflow I was thinking was selecting your road of interest first and then select only the points within a specified distance. Afterwards, run the 'Near' tool again to isolate those points. Again, not very automated but I thought I would offer a suggestion in the hopes that it helps you move forward.
    – AReaGIS
    Commented Aug 18, 2015 at 19:15

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