User:Stretch Longfellow/Nebraska Highway Classification

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This is the project page for the State of Nebraska highway classification project. This page and its sub pages contain the current status, inventories, proposals, and implementation tracking for major highways in Nebraska.

If you are new to this wiki page, please look it over. If you are familiar with the current content and want to help the effort by joining the discussion or changing the map, please go to the last section of this wiki page titled Call to action.


This project is a state specific classification project that builds on the United States highway classification project. Reading that information is encouraged as it is the foundation for the work being done in Nebraska. It is also useful to refer to some of the other states' efforts which are linked to by that page. Many of the other state projects use good practices that can be used to inform our approach. Note also that there is a small community of Nebraska mappers who are using Slack to discuss this work. Refer to the #local-Nebraska Slack channel. Significant destinations in Nebraska were determined first by classification of city, then by any other significant rural population center worth considering. This table should be used when determining trunk road networks. Nebraska does not have an official designation of "town"; governmental classification jumps straight from village to city. Currently for OSM's classification system, cities with a population of under 10,000 are labeled as towns, as well as suburbs as per OSM guidelines.

Significant destinations in Nebraska
Population Center Population Classification Trunk Network Serving Other Notes
Omaha 487,300 City I 80, US 6, US 75, NE 133 Population only includes Omaha proper, not suburbs
Lincoln 292,657 City I 80, US 77, NE 2
Bellevue 63,757 Town US 75, NE 370 Suburb of Omaha
Grand Island 52,335 City I 80, US 30, US 34, NE 2
Kearney 33,959 City I 80
Fremont 27,373 City US 30, US 75, US 77
Hastings 25,037 City US 34
Norfolk 24,967 City US 81, US 275
Columbus 24,123 City US 30, US 81
Papillion 24,105 Town NE 370 Suburb of Omaha
North Platte 22,978 City I 80, US 83
La Vista 16,648 Town NE 370 Suburb of Omaha
Scottsbluff 14,282 City US 20, NE 71
South Sioux City 13,814 Town I 129, US 20, US 77 Suburb of Sioux City, IA
Beatrice 12,209 City US 77
Lexington 10,360 City I 80
Chalco 10,092 Borough/Suburb I 80 Census-designated place in Omaha
Gering 8,435 Town NE 71 Suburb of Scottsbluff
York 8,133 Town I 80, US 81
Alliance 7,971 Town NE 2, US 385


This page is a place to organize the classification of Nebraska highways to align with a more contemporary view of highway classifications. The goal is to start at the higher levels first by selecting the highways that are physically motorways and also the trunk highways that connect regional centers and then eventually work to provide a set of rules to classify other highways in the system at lower priorities. This work is inspired by and will consider broader US Highway Classification work being done.

Current status

This chart summarizes the current overall status of this project based on highway type. This chart will be updated as progress is made.

Summary Status of Nebraska Highway Classification Project
Highway type Inventory Proposal Implementation
Motorway Written; under review Proposal has been put forth; wiki page (this) has been updated to reflect the agreed guidelines. In progress
Expressway Written; under review Proposal has been put forth; wiki page (this) has been updated to reflect the agreed guidelines. In progress
Trunk Written; under review Proposal has been put forth; wiki page (this) has been updated to reflect the agreed guidelines. In progress
Primary Coming Soon In progress
Other types Not within scope of project at this time


The US highway classification project suggests a process to use for a project like this. Before doing any changes to the map based on this, please refer to the Process to Follow section below which summarizes that guidance and provides Nebraska specific information. Like anything else in this wiki and on this project, discussion and changes are encouraged.

Proposed guidelines

This section contains guidelines for approval by the participants of the classification discussion. This section serves two purposes: 1) to document the agreed guidelines; and, 2) to track progress as it is made against these guidelines. Before doing any OSM reclassification of highways be sure to read this section and the next section which details the process including the use of special hash tags and recommended changeset text.

Tagging general guidelines

Motorways and Trunk Roads

In general, Nebraska follows the US guidelines. Please review sections 2.1 Motorway and 2.2 Trunk. The text here simply summarizes the general US guidance for motorways and trunk roads and does not provide any different guidance. The general guideline for motorways is that the highway is either a signed Interstate highway or it possesses a set of physical characteristics about grade separation, on/off ramps, at-grade intersections, divided carriageways, and that it is designed for high speed for long distances. That wiki (in section Exceptions and Borderline Cases) addresses how to address gaps in Interstate Highways. There are no such gaps in Nebraska.

As with the motorway consensus, Nebraska's trunk guidance tracks closely with US Highway reclassifcation guidance. Before this proposal was developed, highway=trunk was mostly used for high-speed routes with divided carriageways that did not classify as highway=motorway, as was true in much of the United States.

The agreed to consensus in Nebraska adopts the new view of highway=trunk that is most accepted in the United States today. That is, so long as they are reasonably well-built, highways are trunks if they connect population centers or regions. These trunks should form a network with motorways that is neither too dense nor too sparse. This network of motorways and trunk roads should avoid spurs when at all possible.

Refer to the specific route by route proposals listed below.

Motorway islands

The US Exceptions section also defines and addresses how to handle "motorway islands". The US guidelines give the states some leeway in how to handle them. While it provides general guidance, it provides each state the ability to provide its own guidance provided there is discussion and consensus about the approach. Please review the US guidelines. Following are the proposed Nebraska specific guidelines.

If a section of highway appears to meet the US physical definition of a motorway and it is an "island", use the following guidelines to determine whether to categorize it as a motorway or trunk. (Note that while there may be instances of motorway islands that are parts of primary or lesser highways, none were encountered so far, so "trunk" is used here.)

General guidelines to follow for classifying possible motorway islands
1 If the candidate has three or more grade-separated interchanges and travels a minimum of 5 miles it should be categorized as motorway motorway
2 If the candidate has two grade-separated interchanges it should be classified as trunk unless: trunk
a It is discussed in a forum such as Slack and the consensus is it should be a motorway motorway
3 If the candidate has only a single grade-separated interchange, it should be classified as trunk unless: trunk
a It is discussed in a forum such as Slack and the consensus is it should be a motorway motorway

Currently, there are no motorway islands in Nebraska, although the NE 2 segment that forms the Lincoln South Beltway that is due for completion in 2023 will be one once it opens until the rest of the Lincoln West Beltway is upgraded to freeway.

Where does the motorway end? Consider each end of the island independently. For each end, as long as the other physical attributes apply, the end of the motorway island will be delimited by the first at grade intersection encountered. If the first at grade intersection for both sides of the divided highway is the same, then that is where the end should be marked. But what do you do if one carriageway has an intersection that is not shared by the other carriageway? If you applied the rule to each carriageway independently then one of motorway's carriageways would be longer than the other. The consensus in a discussion in the #highway-classification channel of Slack seems to be that the longer one should be truncated to match the shorter one.

Motorway spurs

There is no clear guidance about "motorway spurs" in the US guidance other than the network of highway=motorway or highway=trunk roads "should collectively form a coherent network of interconnected roads without dangling spurs or 'islands' of disconnected roads." The following is how to handle motorway spurs in Nebraska.

A motorway spur meeting the US physical criteria that exists, or is created in the future, is acceptable in Nebraska if it connects to a motorway network. An example is a motorway leaving the Lincoln metro area that peters out and becomes a trunk highway until it reaches some regional center. If the part of the highway "beyond" the motorway spur should be trunk and the spur meets the physical criteria of being a motorway, then it is appropriate to leave the motorway as mapped or, in the future, map it as a motorway if it meets the physical criteria of being one.

A spur should have some characteristics of the motorway it branches off of. For example, Storz Expressway has an interchange as it spurs off of North Freeway in Omaha. However, US 77 does not have any interchanges or separated grades outside of the beltway before an at-grade intersection, so it is not a motorway spur of the beltway.

If there are motorway spurs that do not meet the above criteria (i.e. they do not morph into a trunk highway that connects to a regional center) then they should be discussed individually in the #local-nebraska Slack channel or the talk page as a possible exception to this overall guidance.

Where does a motorway spur end? Use the same guidance as for motorway islands.

Interstate non-motorways

In Nebraska, all Interstate highways (76, 80, 129, 180, 480, 680) are mapped as motorways. Both I 129 and I 180 do have slight stretches past their first interchange to avoid a spur that would not de-escalate to a trunk road. Nebraska does not have any Business Interstates (the last two in Sidney and Pine Bluff have been decommissioned, the latter of which is still in place on the Wyoming side of the border but not Nebraska). Nebraska does have an extensive signed Alternate Interstate system following alongside I 80, generally following US 30, US 34, and US 6 and linked to the main freeway through several connecting roads. I 80 Alt should have the same priority as the level of road it follows and should not be elevated solely based on the fact that it is an alternate interstate route.


The US Highway reclassification page has a section mostly devoted to expressways titled Exceptions and Borderline Cases. The guidance provided there seems to apply well in Nebraska, as well as the Key:expressway page itself and the graphic below.

Expressway or Not.png

Nebraska will follow the US Guidelines for expressways. Note that in the discussions for these qualifications, it was agreed that limited access does not mean that it has to have separated-grade interchanges. Often for Nebraska expressways due to their rural nature, this means that intersections with rural county roads are typically limited to an intersection per mile, with possibly intersections for driveways approximately at half-mile intervals. All intersections should have at minimum left turn lanes to minimize impact to traffic. Speed limits of expressways in rural areas is typically 70 MPH as opposed to the usual 65 MPH default of highways.

Urban areas will need further discussion, but at minimum they should have partially controlled access (such as using frontage roads). Secondary roads and below should not be classified as expressway without discussion, likely elevating status to primary. It is proposed that urban expressways would have a maximum of one intersection per half mile, and speed limits of 55 MPH or greater.

In the event that a trunk road does NOT need the standards of expressway (such as a super 2 or within an urban area where the median may be removed in favor of a center lane), the tag expressway=no should be used. This is not required on primary roads and below, but may be used if felt necessary.

Note that in some cases, the name of the route may contain the word "expressway" but not meet the OSM standards of an expressway. For example, the Kearney East Expressway is a two-lane undivided road along its northern and part of its eastern alignment; this does not meet the OSM or MUTCD standards of expressways.

It is also important to note that unlike motorway and trunk guidelines, there are no current requirements for expressways to be networked as it is more of a rendering tool than a routing tool.

Additionally, usage of the term "super 2" varies from state to state. In states such as Kansas, this refers to a two-lane road that otherwise functions as a freeway with entirely controlled interchanges, which does meet the above qualifications for expressway. In Nebraska however, NDOT has taken to referring to a super 2 as a two-lane road with alternating passing lanes.[1] This does not meet the standards for expressways.

Route by route guidelines

This section has the specific highway by highway guidelines. Also provided in each of the tables is a column to track progress.

Motorway and Trunk detailed guidelines

This section provides details of what should be done for all highways in Nebraska that are either currently tagged highway=motorway and highway=trunk or in the views of this project, should be. These sections are combined because the networks should be interconnected. For all of the highways listed below, mappers should verify that the highway sections currently tagged as motorway and trunk actually meet the general guidelines given above. Consider for each section of each highway whether it ends in the right place. This includes especially considering the end points of motorway islands and motorway spurs. Additionally, any incorrect gaps should be fixed. A gap can be formed due to not tagging the segment with highway=motorway or highway=trunk or not having the segment correctly part of a route relation for that highway. All highways named below should be carefully reviewed for all of these things. The table provides some indication based on the inventory for which highways are known to have islands, spurs or gaps. The inventory process may have missed something so it is important for mappers to carefully review the entire highway route.

Of note in identifying motorway segments of state highways, Nebraska prevents concurrencies of state highways and interstates, resulting in two unusual gaps on NE 10 and NE 71 as they intersect I 80 in different locations but do not run concurrent with I 80. NE 2 is a more extreme version of this, with a gap between its terminus near Grand Island and where it resumes at US 77 near Saltillo.

The following chart provides a simple list of the motorways and trunk roads to be carefully mapped according to the guidelines. Notes follow to explain the columns in the table. In instances of concurrency, the primary highway is listed.

Class Highway Network Ref Beginning/


S I Motorway segments Progress Notes
US I 76 US:I 76 throughout length All Complete
I 80 80 throughout length All Complete
I 129 129 Exit 1–Iowa (South Sioux City) All Complete
I 180 180 I 80–9th/10th St (Lincoln) All Complete
I 480 480 throughout length All Complete
I 680 680 throughout length All Complete
US 6 US:US 6 NE 31–IA State Line 204th St–96th St (Omaha) Complete
Holdrege–Hastings Complete
US 20 20 Entire length I-129 Needs review
US 26 26 WY State Line–NE 28B Link Complete
US 30 30 Grand Island–IA State Line Complete Construction North Bend–Fremont
US 34 34 La Platte–IA State Line Complete
I-180–O St (Lincoln) Needs review
CO State Line–Haigler Rejected Proposed by CO working group
US 75 75 KS State Line–Sorensen Pkwy Plattsmouth–North Omaha Complete
US 77 77 KS State Line–Fremont I NE 2–Yankee Hill Rd (Lincoln)

Pioneers Blvd–I 80 (Lincoln)



Construction in Fremont
Dakota City–IA State Line Complete
US 81 81 KS State Line–Norfolk

Norfolk–SD State Line



US 83 83 throughout length Complete
US 183 183 KS State Line–Holdrege Complete
US 275 275 Omaha–Norfolk Omaha–Fremont Complete Construction around Scribner
US 281 281 Hastings–Grand Island Complete
US 385 385 NE 62A Link–SD State Line Complete
NE NE 2 US:NE 2 Alliance–Grand Island Needs review
Lincoln–IA State Line I US 77–S 134th St (Lincoln) Complete
NE 31 31 Gretna–Omaha Complete
NE 71 71 Kimball–Scottsbluff Complete
NE 133 133 Omaha–Blair Complete
NE 370 370 throughout length Complete
NE 28B Link US:NE:Link 28B throughout length All Complete
NE 62A Link 62A throughout length Complete
Lincoln 9th St/10th St Rosa Parks Way–I 180 Needs review North/south routes
Rosa Parks Way throughout length Needs review Slight extension onto L St
Omaha Abbott Dr N 10th St–Story Expwy Complete
Cuming St US 75–N 10th St Complete
Storz Expwy throughout length North Fwy–N 16th St Complete


  1. Network is the network identifier used in the route relation for this highway
  2. Ref is the reference number used in the route relation. For example: network US:US ref 169 refers to US Highway 169
  3. S I indicates whether this highway is part of a S(pur) of a motorway/trunk network or a motorway I(sland)
  4. Beginning/Ending shows where the motorway classification should begin/end, from west to east or south to north (following mile markers)

Expressway detailed guidelines

The following chart details specific places where expressway=yes should be used in Nebraska. In instances of concurrency, the primary highway is listed.

Table S2: Expressways
Class Highway Beginning/Ending Class Gaps Progress Notes
US 6 Lincoln/Waverly Primary Needs review Considered urban or rural? Long enough to merit? Does connect Lincoln and Waverly.
20 Jackson/Dakota City Primary Complete
26 Morrill/Minatare Trunk Mitchell Complete Extension to NE 62A Link planned
30 Sidney Primary Needs review
Columbus/Fremont Trunk Complete New North Bend-Fremont route under construction
34 Lincoln Primary Complete
LaPlatte/IA State Line Trunk Complete Extends into IA
75 Paul/Nebraska City Trunk Complete
Plattsmouth Trunk Complete Extension to NE 1 under construction
Omaha/Wash. Co. Line Primary Complete
77 Beatrice/Wahoo Trunk Complete
Fremont Trunk Complete Under construction
Dakota City/SD State Line Primary/


Complete Extends into SD
81 KS State Line/York Trunk Complete Extends into KS
Bellwood/Hadar Trunk Columbus


83 Lake Maloney/North Platte Trunk Complete
275 Battle Creek/Stanton Primary/


Norfolk Complete
Scribner/Fremont Trunk Complete Extension to West Point under construction
Omaha/IA State Line Primary Omaha Complete

Removed; needs review

Extends into IA

In Omaha, max speed limit 45 MPH (truck 35 MPH) but frequent frontage roads and some interchanges

281 Hastings/St. Libory Primary/


Grand Island Complete
285 NE 62A Link/Alliance Trunk Complete
NE 2 Lincoln/IA State Line Trunk Complete Extends into IA
10 Kearney Primary Complete Does not include I 80 interchange itself
31 Gretna/Omaha Trunk Gretna Needs review Review urban segments
35 Norfolk Primary Complete
64 Valley/Omaha Primary Needs review Review urban segments
71 Kimball/Scottsbluff Trunk Complete Does not include I 80 interchange itself
133 Omaha/Blair Trunk Complete
370 Entire length Trunk Needs review Review urban segments
17J Link Entire length Primary Needs review
55X Link Entire length Primary Proposed
Bellevue Harlan Dr To Ft. Crook Rd Primary Complete
Ft. Crook Rd Entire length Primary Removed; needs review Has interchanges but speed limit 45 MPH
Columbus Lost Creek Pkwy/

E 5th Ave

US 81–US 30 Primary Needs review Bypass around Columbus; alt truck route
Lincoln Nebraska Parkway Lincoln Primary Complete Apples Way to NE 2
Rosa Parks Way Entire length Primary Proposed Speed limit 50 MPH; only one intersection
Warlick Blvd Entire length Primary Proposed Speed limit 50 MPH; only one intersection
Omaha Abbott Dr Entire length Trunk Proposed Wait until Eppley construction is complete to evaluate
Sorensen Pkwy Entire length Primary Proposed
Storz Expwy Entire length Trunk Complete

Default classifications by type

This is a general guide when mapping Nebraska highways, with the minimum for each type of highway based on general OSM guidelines. Note that highways can be marked as higher levels if appropriate, but should not be marked below this without discussion.

Excluding BIA and USFS routes, Nebraska highways are all paved with only four exceptions: NE 18, NE 65, NE 67, and NE 67C Spur.

Nebraska's secondary state highway system is unique in the US; each highway is numbered based on the primary county it passes though in alphabetical order (i.e. Adams County will have highways beginning with 1, while York County will have 93), followed by a single letter and a classification of Link, Spur, or Rec (Recreation Road). Because of this numbering system, people often think it is a county highway system, but it is part of the state highway network. Also note that the numbering system does not match the license plate numbering system that Nebraska uses to designate counties.

Table S3: Classifications by type
Type of Highway Subcategory Network Classification Exceptions Notes
Interstate US:I motorway
Alternate US:I:Alternate tertiary Should follow classification of the road it follows; do not determine classification based on presence of I 80 ALT
Business US:I:Business:Loop Not currently present in Nebraska (I 80 Pine Bluff Loop ends at the WY border; decommissioned in NE)
US:I:Business:Spur Not currently present in Nebraska (Sidney spur decomissioned)
US Highway US:US primary
Business US:US:Business secondary Business routes are not part of the state highway system in Nebraska but some cities sign them independently
Truck US:US:Truck tertiary
State Highway US:NE secondary Gravel highways (NE 18, 65, and 67) should be tertiary for the length containing gravel between connecting highways NE 25A is a mainline highway despite having a letter in its name
Business US:NE:Business secondary Business routes are not part of the state highway system in Nebraska but some cities sign them independently
Link US:NE:Link tertiary Unsigned links under a half mile should be tagged as unsigned_ref= and *_link Despite being a spur into west Lincoln, NE 55K Link is signed as a link highway.
Recreation Road US:NE:Rec unclassified Most are unsigned and poorly documented. Typically does not enter city limits, so they are isolated from the highway network.
Spur US:NE:Spur tertiary
Truck US:NE:Truck tertiary
US Forest Routes Highway (multiple; forest specific) tertiary Much tagging needs to be updated
Road (multiple; forest specific) track Much tagging needs to be updated
Bureau of Indian Affairs Routes US:BIA unclassified Much still needs to be mapped, many are poorly documented.
County Highway N/A Nebraska does not have a county highway network. DO NOT tag roads with ref=CR ##. We've had some bad imports that include this.

Process to follow

This section has two parts: the overall process to be followed by the states in their highway classification effort and some guidance specific to Nebraska on how to actually make map changes.

Overall process

The US 2021 highway classification guidance describes a recommended process to be followed by the states. The following table summarizes the approach recommended and an easy to refer to status of the entire project.

As we expect to do this project in phases, some of these steps will be repeated. New charts may be developed below for new phases of the project. For the first phase the emphasis is on Motorways and Trunk highways.

Table S4: Nebraska Motorways, Expressways, and Trunk Highways
Step Step description Notes Status
1 Read and digest US approach Done
2 Draft specific guidelines This wiki page is the repository of Nebraska guidelines Ongoing
Develop a motorway highway proposal Proposed
Develop an expressway highway proposal Proposed
Develop a trunk highway proposal Proposed
Develop a primary highway proposal
3a Contact other local mappers A number of local mappers will be invited to the discussion both in Slack and via direct messages in OSM. Began
3b Achieve consensus Achieve consensus for a motorway highway proposal Proposed
Achieve consensus for an expressway highway proposal Proposed
Achieve consensus for a trunk highway proposal Proposed
Achieve consensus for a primary highway proposal
4 Achieve buy-in and update guidelines Agree general guidelines and revise wiki.
Agree motorway highway guidelines and revise wiki.
Agree expressway guidelines and revise wiki.
Agree trunk guidelines and revise wiki.
Agree primary highway guidelines and revise wiki
5 Re-tag highways per guidelines See some notes below about the re-tagging process See Mapping steps and progress tracking section below

For communications and consensus building the primary mechanisms are this wiki and its discussion page as well as the Slack #nebraska-local channel.

Mapping status and progress tracking

This section provides a suggested approach to making changes based on the agreed guidelines.

While anyone can update anything in Nebraska in any order based on these guidelines, it is suggested that mappers communicate in Slack (if possible) about their intents and progress. This will help avoid two mappers updating the same highway at the same time. Alternatively to using Slack you may update this wiki page with status information.

Each of the tables for motorways, expressways and trunk highways have a tracking column (called Progress) which will be updated periodically by a wiki editor with these statuses:

  • blank (i.e. not started);
  • in progress (i.e. started but not finished);
  • done (i.e. this highway is done).

Any line in the tables that is not marked done is a candidate for work.

For all work done for this re-classification project the following changeset comment is suggested:

Implementation of agreed Nebraska highway classification changes. #us-highway-classification #ne-highway-classification

The above will notify other mappers of the guidelines being followed and provide some hash tags that might be trackable to measure progress US wide.

It is important to carefully map the entire highway (e.g. the motorway or expressway segments) as there are often gaps. These gaps may be because the individual part is not tagged correctly or that it is not properly part of a highway route relation.

The US classification page recommends using expressway=yes under certain conditions and ensuring highway=trunk and highway=trunk_link roads (whether existing or newly classified) address whether or not bicycle and foot traffic are allowed. In Nebraska bicycles and pedestrians are allowed on any non-freeway road not otherwise posted, so in general bicycle=yes and foot=yes tags should be used.

The US page gives some tips on using JOSM to do the updating and gives some ideas about useful Overpass Turbo queries (in support of JOSM -- not sure if they work with ID). It also provides a possibly useful query to validate what you have done.

Potential scope expansions

 The following are not within scope at this time. The overall guideline might be to follow the normal tagging guidance for this (point to US, or point to the generic wiki pages?) highway=primary, secondary, tertiary, unclassified, residential, service roads (including driveways and parking aisles), tracks
possibly include metro areas (e.g. Omaha, Lincoln, Fremont, Grand Island)
Consider how to handle "special highways" such as memorial highways
scenic roads (Nebraska and national --

Call to action

This section provides a current list of ways community members can contribute to the Nebraska highway classification effort. This list is expected to change frequently as progress is made or stumbling blocks are encountered. Please feel free to add to this list. All items in this list should be things that can be worked on right now as opposed to future work.

Read, Write, Review

These items are about the wiki and the proposals. They include advancing the community understanding of what needs to be done in Nebraska in the short term. The unordered short list follows:

  • If you have not reviewed the entirety of this wiki, a good first step is to look it over. It is the most detailed description of what we have done so far and what is left to do.
  • If you are not now participating in Slack, consider joining the Slack #local-nebraska channel. It has the most current and active discussion this author knows of dealing comprehensively with mapping topics in Nebraska including highway reclassification. It also has other focused discussion channels on a whole range of US mapping topics.
  • If you are aware of any other active discussions about highway tagging that would be relevant to Nebraska, please let us know (you can add pointers right here!)
  • Reach out to other mappers you know that are actively mapping motorways or trunk highways in Nebraska. Let them know about this wiki and also Slack if they are so inclined.

Change the OSM Map

The motorways, expressways and trunk highways guidelines have been agreed and mappers may begin making changes based on the guidelines. Please also refer to section 6.2 which provides some minimal process steps to ensure that mapping is done in an orderly fashion and that other mappers can be notified that the changes conform to these guidelines.