Puerto Rico Addresses

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A physical address describes where a person, business, or lot is physically located, not necessarily where mail is received.

Puerto Rico does not have a systematic or logical addressing process for physical addresses, most places relay only on mailing rural routes (highway contracts and boxes).

Physical addresses are a fundamental part of the operation of any country. Its indispensable for the delivery of government and business services and crucial for emergency services.

The lack of a proper addressing system has created a lot of obstacles that hurt our economy, the quality of services and create an unfavorable impression on visitors. The ever increasing use of technology has aggravated the problem. Our use of smartphones, e-comerce and the implementation of E-911 and Internet Telephony requires a systematic addressing.

The purpose of this project is to help document physical addresses and provide street address markers to help navigation and as a general data source. We hope this project will help create a systematic addressing process in Puerto Rico's municipalities. That we can make address location simpler for people and businesses, and that we can help project a positive and progressive image for Puerto Rico.

Current issues

Home and locations addresses vary. Some are quite descriptive for example "Calle Betances, Esquina Calle Colon". Some residential developments have good street names and use a sequential house numbering. Other addresses use the distante from the start of a street.

Many addresses use the distance from the start of a street (origin).

Issues with this practice:

  • Most of the technology including GPS and others are built thinking on the US Standard measurements based on miles instead of kilometers. Cars sold in PR are build to measure miles.
  • While roads have kilometers and hectometers markers, there are many problems with these markers. Many roads and segments of roads do not have these markers. The condition of these markers may not be legible. Their location or poor road maintenance (eg: tall grass) may hide them from view.

The implementation of E-911 establishes a structured number-street address scheme common with US addresses, that is not compatible with many of the physical address schemes currently used.

Our road data is poor. Many roads lack identification (number or name). We have a lot of duplicate street names and unnecessary name changes.

Most of the road information available is provided from limited sources. We see this when we use GPS and map applications in our smartphone. In the case of OpenStreet Maps is mainly data from TIGER (Topologically Integrated Geographic Encoding and Referencing system) (US Census Bureau). This data while it is good it has a lot of errors.

Task: Fix Road Information

In order to add address nodes in OSM we need to have a reliable source of road information as such It is a priority to fix road information in OSM. This mean adding missing roads, adding road names and numbers, ensuring roads segments properly identify the beginning and end of a road.

Roads are more problematic in residential an rural locations.

HELPING OUT: When working on OSM and you identify a road that has no name or number add the tag pr:noname. The value for this tag is the name of the "Barrio", "Urbanizacion" or nearest location. If the road connects to another road that has a name or number, add the number following a semi-colon. Examples: pr:noname=Bo Cuchillas or  pr:noname=Bo Cuchillas;PR-444.

Notes: city-style addresses

A city-style address has a structure number, a street name and a 5-digit ZIP code.

Even numbers on the right and odd numbers on the left.

TIGER Address Ranges County-based Relationship File Record Layout:

  • FROMHN=From house number
  • TOHN=To house number
  • SIDE=side indicator flag
  • ZIP=5-digit ZIP code

Notes: Street naming

From Emery County [1]:

"Assigning street names is not the most complex part of addressing; but in practice, the task may appear deceptively simple. The importance of carefully reviewing new street proposals and understanding their placement in the context of the county road system is fundamental to an efficient and effective addressing program and cannot be overemphasized.

Problems in assigning street names become manifest as new development occurs and as existing streets are rerouted or intersect with new streets. As an area grows, a lack of county-wide coordination and inadequate control and review mechanisms inevitably result in continuous roads changing names several times, numbering becoming non-sequential, and/or street names being duplicated."

From APA (American Planning Association, formerly ASPO) :

No duplication of names or numbers. It is preferable not to have differentiation by a suffix "street" or "avenue." For example, "Washington Street" and "Washington Avenue" can too easily be confused, since o en "avenue" and "street" are synonymous in the public mind. In some communities "place" is used to indicate a minor street closely associated with a major street — for example, "St. Anne Place" might be located a half block from "St. Anne Street." The suffix differentiation "place" is more defensible than the former example, since "place" generally connotes a subsidiary street, and because it more unusual that the ordinary suffixes, "street" and "avenue."

Continuation of a street name. A street should have one name only and should have the same name throughout its entire length. If the street is not a through street but is broken by intervening land uses and is laid out in substantially the same location at a more distant point, the same name should be used on all of the "links."


Urban Development and Planning in the Built City: Cities under Pressure for Change - An Introduction

Street Addressing Standards and Guidelines for the State of Georgia

Tiger Shape Data