Improving National Land Cover Database Estimates of Road Network Impervious Cover Using Vector Road Networks in GIS

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Polyline data are often adequate for qualitative representation of roadways for mapping and GIS yet they are often lacking when compared with surface coverages, such as raster data, for performing quantitative environmental simulation modeling where spatial representations are necessary. Widely used land cover raster data, such as the National Land Cover Database (NLCD), were however not collected with sufficient spatial resolution to allow adequate representation of small-scale features such as roadways. Using tools available in ArcGIS software, vector road files were obtained from the Accident Location Information System (ALIS) at the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) and converted to raster data to create spatially explicit representations of impervious area associated with roadways. Comparison of this new coverage with the NLCD results in an increase of approximately 3120 km2 of newly identified impervious coverage for New York State (NYS) not present in the NLCD, representing a 244 percent increase from the transportation class in the NLCD. Of the land cover that would be reclassified to roadway using this methodology, approximately 40 percent would be reclassified from forest land, 31 percent from agricultural land, and 28 percent from the residential land cover classifications.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2008

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  • Surveying and Land Information Science (SaLIS) is the official publication of the American Association of Geodetic Surveying (AAGS) and the Geographic and Land Information Society (GLIS).

    SaLIS is a scientific journal devoted to reporting research and new work conducted to advance geodetic surveying, land surveying, large-scale mapping, and geographic information systems designed to advance the development and management of the cadastral parcel data layer and other land information applications. SaLIS publishes research articles, technical papers, technical notes, papers on the current state of surveying education, surveying history, book reviews, and current literature reviews. Every four years, the journal publishes the U.S. Report to the International Federation of Surveyors (FIG). The Proceedings of the Surveying Teachers Conference are published bi-annually.

    For information about AAGS visit
    For information about GLIS visit

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