I'm trying to get the TIGER/line files for roads to create a raster of major and minor road density for about half of the USA.

The problem is the interactive tool provided (https://www.census.gov/cgi-bin/geo/shapefiles/index.php?year=2020&layergroup=Roads) is very limited in use, in that you can only download the primary roads nationwise. I also need secondary roads, and preferably even unpaved roads, but it seems like those can only be downloaded per county?

I thought the tigris package in r would help, but it seems like while there is a way to request multiple counties at once (see https://rpubs.com/walkerke/tigris01) I would still need to type every county to get all roads for a state, and do this for the +/- 30 states I need the data for?

I'm hoping someone knows how I can get my hands on primary, secondary, and preferably all roads of the contiguous United States, or a simpler way to get it per state?

  • 1
    If it’s open data that you seek then I think the place to ask is the Open Data Stack Exchange.
    – PolyGeo
    Aug 31, 2021 at 23:38

2 Answers 2


They have less advertised Esri geodatabase files that contain the full country:



http://download.geofabrik.de/ It's OSM data but much more comprehensive. I know this is late but I thought I would answer for all the people researching the same topic.

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