Roads are an integral parts of your city’s layout and form the network that connects all residential zones, stores, services, and just about every other building in the game.


  • Roads are drawn from point A to point B following the grid layout of the map
    • No diagonals or curved free form
  • All buildings are placed along roads
  • There is currently NO way to rearrange or move roads
    • You must bulldoze roads to delete them from the map
  • Bulldozing roads only refunds 50% of its value
  • Utility Buildings pass their service through roadways
    • You MUST have at least 1 road connecting your Utility Buildings to your Residential Zones
      • Bulldozing road networks connecting utilities will instantly disconnect all utilities and Sims will immediately start to become unhappy

Upgrading Roads

Tier Lane Type Price Per 1 Length Requirements
Base (Tier) 1 2 Free Tutorial
2 4 §300 ??
3 6 ?? 15
  • Only upgrade your roads when absolutely necessary (flashing red traffic problems)
  • Only upgrade to Tier 2 roads
    • This saves you valuable capital to invest in services and solves your traffic problems
    • If you need to bulldoze roads, you can at least get away with a lower cost upgrade versus paying for a six lane
  • Only upgrade roads if you are dead set on its position on the map
    • Wasteful to bulldoze an upgraded road (especially a Tier 3 upgrade)
You can move high population buildings around to empty parts / low traffic areas to delay upgrading roads
DO NOT upgrade roads in your commercial/industry areas as these areas do not generate traffic
Having a road right along the edge of the map is wasteful as you can only utilize one side of the road (with the road taking up valuable 1xN amount of space)
Play around with layouts to try and maximize each tile you have

Grid Size

These are suggestions from my experience. There is a lively debate on what the quote “BEST” layout is. I will update as I experiment with higher level buildings.

  • Grid Area 1: I recommend a 4×5 city grid
    • Allows up to 4 2×2 residential plots
      • Total grid size: 4×4
    • Allows up to 4 1×1 mixed use plots for parks and Tier 1 Services
      • Total grid size: 1×4
  • Grid Area 2: I then recommend a 4×11 city grid
    • Allows up to 10 2×2 residential plots
      • Total grid size: 4×4
    • Allows up to 4 1×1 mixed use plots for parks and Tier 1 Services
      • Total grid size: 1×4
    • Can accommodate a multitude of different Coverage Service & Specialization Building configurations.
  • Build roads AROUND these grid areas
Sample Grid Layout
Orient your map with the entrance facing North
A Note On Sample Grid Layout
I chose this grid style because I prefer less roads if possible. You can adjust this grid by having a road run horizontal at row 6 (Grid Area 2). You now have a more traditional 4×5 grid to work with.

See an in-depth city layout post here

Roads – Building LayoutExpansion

  • jserrano

    I would guess that a road would ask to be upgraded based on the building’s density along the road. So I would expect that a length of road 10 squares long would require upgrade if, say, 8 fully grown residential zones are facing it. Does any one know what are the thresholds that make a road ask for an upgrade?

  • PAW

    I conducted some traffic experiments with some skyscrapers (see picture).
    – First, two skyscrapers and no traffic jams
    – Add a short piece of road connecting the dedicated roadways of the two buildings
    – Voila! – traffic jams

    Based on this and other experiments I think this is about how it works:
    – Each skyscraper requires a minimum number of dedicated road “segments”
    – Dedicated meaning it can’t be claimed by another residential area. Not sure how the game allocates road segments among multiple residential areas.
    – A single square of two-lane road is one road segment. A single square of four-lane road is two segments because a four-lane road is for this purpose the same as two two-lane roads in a single road square, and etc. for larger roadways
    – A skyscraper needs about five dedicated contiguous road segments to avoid traffic jams

    I have only 1 small section of 4-lane highway, the rest of my city is two-lane roads (I can always spend money on roads later, right?). I have had to make some loopy and twisting road configurations to satisfy the traffic formula, but so far, so good (population 60k).

  • MarcusDrake

    There’s a much easier way to avoid traffic problems: Build one continuous road and eliminate intersections. My road weaves back and forth through the city and I never have traffic issues and only need 4 lane roads. I have only one intersection at the far end of the city where the main road branches out. It could be arranged to have no intersections at all if one so wished.

    • MarcusDrake

      Here’s my one intersection:

  • richmaster

    So now it’s mandatory to upgrade to tier 3? Gonna cost me 22 grand! What the hell? I have abandoned buildings all over the place.

    • MarcusDrake

      See my comment above. I have a current pop of 271k and no tier 3 (6 lane) roads anywhere in my city and it is very compact.

  • Borch25

    @ MarcusDrake: did you utilize the Department of Transportation and bus terminals to relieve traffic? I have a very similar road pattern (only one intersection, not “downtown”) and not even 60k population. I spent the flippin’ money on the DOT and then 4 keys on the bus terminal, with no relief. Not sure if you have to have a second terminal or what, but this seems obvious to me that the game tries to force you to spend real live cash to get enough money to keep up. If you go compact so that vital services cover your area with only a single or double tier two set of buildings, then you have traffic. Spread out and traffic is a non-issue but now you have to buy more health, fire, and police buildings to keep the little critters happy.

    • MarcusDrake

      Hey, just noticed this. Sorry! I did get the DOT, but I saved up and got the heliport. Regardless of whatever public transportation solution you choose it has no positive effect on traffic, in fact it can make it worse. Traffic primarily depends on just these factors: Population density, length of road, size of road, number of service vehicles on road. The number of vehicles you see on the streets is not a reflection of the actual traffic determined by the system. The only vehicles you can see that matter are the service vehicles: Ambulances, buses, fire engines, police cars, etc. The more services you have, the more traffic you add, so I avoid those which put more cars on the road, like bus terminals. I buy only the highest tier services for the most part, although I do have a couple smaller fire stations I keep off to the side for expansion as I found fire coverage was harder to control than the others because of the footprint of the zone shape. Keeping a small empty (devoid of service buildings and residential) buffer zone at the end of the blocks keeps traffic down. I added a skyscraper to the end of a block and got traffic immediately, so I moved it back two squares and it was fine again.

  • Archieeyes

    I’ve been using the bulldoze method to keep the population density low enough to stop the traffic jams until i can afford to either upgrade the roads or buy more services. Sims stay happy and i get more cash!

  • MagicBob

    At the moment there is still a very easy loophole for traffic. As soon as a road segment turns yellow bulldoze it and replace it with a new free road. This seems to reset the traffic buildup. I haven’t paid for a road upgrade yet and am at 80k population with 26 high rises and sky scrapers.

    It reminds me of the really old original SimCity trick of only building rail in place of road. Citizens would ask for roads but it did not effect any metric of the game to not have them as long as rail was in place.

  • MagicBob

    There is a loophole. As soon as a T1 road shows yellow, bulldoze and replace. This seems to reset the traffic buildup. I have 80k pop from 26 high rise and skyscrapers, no traffic, and all T1 roads.

  • Moacir Silveira Junior

    Friend, in this item “DO NOT upgrade roads in your commercial/industry areas as these areas do not generate traffic”, its wrong, i think, in my simcity buildit, heavy traffic in industry, and the red “!” in road icon is always active….

    • Lindsey Chiu

      I have to upgrade for my industry areas too. I’ve noticed if there’s more than one way in and out it doesn’t need to be upgraded so soon.

    • Dimitra SpiderAunt

      Yes, but it doesn’t affect sims’ happiness. I have active red icon in the industry area but still my sims are 100% happy. So it doesn’t bother me! 🙂

  • Seth Johnson

    Grid system is not the best approach if you want to minimize traffic. Snake 1 road through the layout (like grid system but will all the intersections and joining roads removed) and you will be amazed at how many sims you can cram on a street before the road needs to be upgraded. You also maximize your build space because there is less road taking up valuable space. Less intersections = Less traffic, that is the key.

    • eliezer cazares

      pics or it didn’t happen :v

  • saagar wani

    if you have basic 2 lane road & don’t want to waste money to upgrade if it’s asking for upgrade then just bulldoze it & rebuild the road.

  • dada wowo

    if you have a higher tier road and you dont want to upgrade it, I simply move a building on the affected route, build a tier 1 road in its spot, bulldoze the road and replace the building.