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I am working on a thematic map in QGIS 3.4 where I created a shp layer for lines to draw streets on top of a background map. The problem is individually drawn streets that intersect.

Is there a way to join or merge the streets that intersect?

Now they are just on top of each other, and it looks ok if using a simple fill color. I'd probably like to use the existing symbology for roads with black outline, so in this way the streets look awful and clumsy. I found a plugin for 'merge lines' but couldn't get this working.

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If this is just a case of symbology and you don't wish to to actually modify features themselves, you can enable symbol levels from symbology menu in layer properties. This way, in your case white color, will be drawn over the black one resulting in the desired effect. Where you find the symbol levels setting might differ between different symbology options (categorized, graduated etc).

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