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How To: Split line features where they cross polygon boundaries

Summary

Instructions provided describe two possible methods for breaking lines apart where they cross polygon boundaries. Other techniques may be possible as well.

The first option, which requires an Advanced license, returns lines that are split at polygon boundaries, and includes all geometry in the original line feature class. The second option, which can be done with a Basic license, also returns lines that are split at polygon boundaries, but includes only the line segments that overlap the polygons, omitting any line segments that lie outside of all polygons.

Procedure

  • Split Line at Point method

    1. Use the Analysis Tools > Overlay > Intersect tool to find the points where the polygon boundaries intersect the lines to generate a feature class of type Point. That is, the tool’s Output Type field is set to Point.

    2. Use the output points in Data Management Tools > Features > Split Line at Point tool to break apart the lines at the point locations (this tool requires an Advanced license).

  • Intersect method

    If an Advanced license is not available, use the Analysis Tools > Overlay > Intersect tool to find the geometry common to both line and polygon feature classes. That is, the tool’s Output Type field is set to Input or Line.

    The output geometry is just the line features that overlap the polygons. Lines or line parts falling outside the polygon boundaries are not included in the output.