I have a Roads line feature class and a Zones polygon feature class. I want to make a model that splits the Roads lines using the Zones polygons. The output is to be lines, just like the original, and I only need the attributes from roads, not zones.

I think the operation is equivalent to the Split Geoprocessing tool, except I want the output to be a single line feature class (not separate feature classes for each zone).

What is the best geoprocessing tool to use for this? It's been so long since I've done geoproccessing that I'm a bit rusty on the subtle differences between tools and which tools do the job best.

Advanced ArcGIS Desktop license.

  • Sorry but i am a bit confused. Your output is line feature or polygon feature with roads attributes?
    – Losbaltica
    Feb 18, 2017 at 19:37
  • @Losbaltica : The output is to be a line feature class with roads attributes. I've updated the question.
    – User1974
    Feb 18, 2017 at 19:55

2 Answers 2


Split Line at Points (requires an Advanced license) is best when you don't want polygon attributes. You would first run the Intersect tool with an output type of points to get the points that will split your lines, then use the Split Line at Points tool.

The Intersect tool (Basic license or above) works, but it requires that the polygons completely encompass all lines to ensure the output has all of the original lines and it will assign attributes from both feature classes. This tool may create duplicate lines when they fall along the boundary between two polygons. Polygons that overlap will cause duplicate lines within the overlap.

The Identity tool (requires Advanced license) will work with a polyline input and a polygon identity feature set to retain all polyline features. Attributes and/or FIDs of both feature classes will be in the output. The Keep_Relationships option will generate a single line when it lies on the boundary of two polygons. Polygons that overlap will cause duplicate lines within the overlap.


Take a look at this: How To: Split line features where they cross polygon boundaries

They are suggesting two methods:

  1. Split Line at Point method
  2. Intersect method

Another way would be to use a geodatabase topology rule, for example see this question: Adding vertices to existing lines where they intersect using ArcPy?

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