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Allegan County (Michigan) Official Road Map 2014-2015

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Chris Bessert

Chris Bessert


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I'm posting links to my 2014-2015 Allegan County Official Road Map in the hopes that everyone will tear it to shreds. Granted, there are some things on the maps I make that won't change regardless of any feedback received (well... never say never!), but I always enjoy getting feedback on my cartographic work. I try to actively solicit feedback from users—after all, the maps are for them!—but I don't have a lot of opportunity to get the cartographer/geographer input so that I can improve my maps.


This is one of those free "general purpose" county road maps that so many counties in the U.S. distribute. In Michigan, our Road Commissions (similar to a county highway department) are still "required" to make a map showing their road systems, but like many counties we like to make ours useful for more than just that, including all sorts of recreational, cultural and tourist-oriented information. New to this edition are approximate locations of near-shore Lake Michigan shipwrecks, private lands enrolled in our state's Hunting Access and Commercial Forest programs (which allow for public use of those lands for limited hunting and recreation in return for a tax break), and the new U.S. Bike Route 35 up the lakeshore. Like I said, I always love hearing the opinions of my fellow cartographers and GIS professionals. I really hope some of you will take a few moments to review the map and let me know what you think!


Front of Map (Whole County, 1 : 85,000) - 5.2 MB PDF

Back of Map (Inset Maps, 1 : 25,000) - 3.7 MB PDF


Thanks so much,



Christopher J. Bessert

Dennis McClendon

Dennis McClendon

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I think it’s very nice work, and only a few small things bother me:


  • I’d like to see the PLSS section lines differentiated in color, not just line weight, from roads.  I think it’s too easy for people to assume the road continues but gets narrower from this symbolization.  Personally, I’d try using ocher or green for the section lines and section numbers, and change the private roads to some other color that’s more related to the gray.  I sometimes use a reddish gray, 40M 30K.
  • I think the drainage network is a bit strong, left over from when printing wasn’t as precise as it is now.  I’d try 70C instead of 100C for the streams and lake outlines.
  • Letterspacing mixed case type bothers me irrationally.  I’d make it LAKE MICHIGAN
  • The county highway shields are awfully fussy.  Why not remove the yellow and thin gray strokes outside the blue pentagons?
  • On the other hand, I think the state highway shields should match what you see on the road: white numbers in a black diamond.
  • I feel like the county parks should be in green, not purple.  I might explore a yellow-green for the wildlife reserves, as those are presumable woodlots and the like that aren't as intensively used for recreation as parks.
  • You’ve done a nice job of giving equal visual weight to various symbols by reversing them out of round-cornered squares.  But I think point of interest could just be the red square (maybe a little smaller) with nothing inside.  Symbols that only appear once or twice, like county courthouse and county office, could also become red squares with labels.
  • In the legend, there’s no need to have a category and hyphen, such as Place: or Hydrology:

Dennis McClendon, Chicago CartoGraphics

Dale Sanderson

Dale Sanderson

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Nice job Chris, this looks very good.  It's great when government entities invest the time and effort to produce high-quality cartography.

Maybe you could share a little bit about what you used as source material, and what software you used.  

Also, stylistically, I think I notice a strong resemblance to the style used by NovoPrint maps... any truth to that?

Dale Sanderson
professionally: cartographics manager for Dex One
personally: cartophile and road-geek (my website)

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