What is the proper way to handle complex/branching intersections in linear referencing? I have a road shapefile I was going to linear reference, but I have some segments that are very complex. I have tried ignoring their complexity and locating them on my route like they were a simple line, but I ended up with problems since the tool doesn't distinguish between the parallel segments and assigns them to segments seemingly at random. I have tried researching solutions, but am stuck. See below my failed attempt at locating features along the route. Bad output The points' intended locations are shown below spread across the road segments at my points of interest. Goal output Do I have to simplify this segment of the route somehow or are there other steps/tool settings that will enable the proper location of the points on my existing route?

  • For a better understanding of Linear Referencing I would suggest simplifying your tests and diagrams to no more than about 3 lines, routes and events.
    – PolyGeo
    Commented Sep 17, 2017 at 21:57
  • I have been tinkering with simpler tests and building my understanding, but this is a route I need to linear reference. Could you at least offer a good google search term? I have read a lot of documentation, and I don't know where to look next. Commented Sep 17, 2017 at 22:43
  • Don't forget to take the Tour to learn about our focussed Q&A format. I recommend not thinking about GIS SE as being some sort of online GIS tutor. For your questions to be answered here they should as much as possible describe not just what you want to do, but precisely what you have tried and where you are stuck trying that. I have not touched Linear Referencing for a while I have always found it best to try an transform what I want to do into a simple test that I run. If I get stuck I describe the tools and parameter values used in a question here.
    – PolyGeo
    Commented Sep 17, 2017 at 22:48
  • Perhaps search on "snapping routes linear referencing" or "linear referencing branching routes" but without a simpler example of what you are trying to do in your question I'm not certain that either is what you are after.
    – PolyGeo
    Commented Sep 17, 2017 at 22:51

2 Answers 2


As far as I know there are no perfect solution for this. I have tried these three different way, none are perfect.

  1. Go from multipart to single part and give each part it's own route ID (You may create your route ID like ROUTE-1_PART-A, ROUTE-1_PART-B, ..., ROUTE-1_PART-C it will allow you to select all route belonging to the same previous multipart line).
  2. Edit the multipart line to reorder and/or flip the different part so there is a logical progression of the M value preventing to much jumping around (in most case you can only get a somewhat logical progression of M value...)
  3. Simplify your line to have only one single line and and use an offset field to locate your points at the right location

About using ArcMap to create routes from existing lines says:

Complex routes

The process of creating a complex route is very similar to that of creating a simple route. The only real difference is that you must build a complex route in pieces. Once the pieces are created, they can be merged.

The workflow shown in the task for creating a complex (looping) route is not the only one. With your knowledge of editing in ArcMap, you might choose a workflow that is more appropriate for your organization.

The workflow for Creating a complex (looping) route will need some modification.

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