Frontage roads provide access to homes and businesses which would otherwise be cut off by a limited-access road and connect these locations with roads which have direct access to the main roadway. Frontage roads give indirect access to abutting property along a freeway, either preventing the commercial disruption of an urban area that the freeway traverses or allowing commercial development of abutting property. At times, they add to the cost of building an expressway due to costs of land acquisition and the costs of paving and maintenance.
However, the benefits of developing nearby real estate can more than offset the cost of building the frontage roads. Furthermore, a frontage road may be a part of an older highway, so the expense of building a frontage road may be slight. And finally, the cost to purchase access rights from adjacent property may exceed the costs to build frontage roads. Conversely, the existence of a frontage road can increase traffic on the main road and be a catalyst for development; hence there is sometimes an explicit decision made to not build a frontage road.
A backage road is a similar concept, but lies on the back side of the land parcels that abut the controlled access's right of way. Like the frontage road, it serves mainly to provide access to those parcels as an alternative to a frontage road.
There are several advantages to using frontage roads. One advantage is to separate local traffic from through traffic. When frontage roads are lacking in an urban area, the highway is used as a local road, reducing speeds and increasing congestion. Another advantage occurs when the highway is closed or just obstructed. This pushes traffic off the highway. Where an urban area has frontage roads, the traffic can easily bypass the obstruction or closure on the frontage road. Where an urban area has no frontage road, traffic is diverted onto and congests local roads, since there is no formal (frontage road) alternative.
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