Develop an access management program


The State should develop an access management policy. The spread of commercial development in shallow strips along state highways is made possible when direct access to the highway is not actively managed. A lack of access planning creates a number of problems. By facilitating strip commercial development in unincorporated areas, a lack of access planning can undermine municipal efforts to revive downtown shopping districts. In town centers or dense urban core areas, excessive driveways can both reduce vehicle capacity and create less pedestrian-friendly sidewalk environments.

Many departments of transportation believe they only have an indirect role in managing access to state highways, and usually deny access permits only based on traffic safety and facility operation standards. However, when a state transportation department grants access to owners of commercial parcels, it creates the perception of vested development rights and increases the pressure on local governments to approve development proposals. Therefore, it is important that programs to manage access to the state highways be cooperatively developed between state transportation departments and local governments.


In order to be successful, state highway access management programs should be:

The State's access management policy should include different spacing standards for access to freeways and arterials. On freeways, the critical element of an access management policy is to have large spacing(i.e., more than five miles) between interchanges to encourage clustered development in the corridor. On arterials, the standards for spacing are more complicated. The State may want to limit driveway permits for individual businesses, but encourage multiple access points into residential neighborhoods (see Action #5, Encourage Connected Street Networks, in this section).

It is important to note, however, that if access management is overdone, it can have the unintended consequence of causing rather than alleviating congestion by putting too many vehicles through too few access points. In Oregon, Portland Metro has documented that arterial networks should have intersections every 330 to 500 feet to make transportation networks work most efficiently. The point may be to limit the number of driveways, but not necessarily limit the number of intersections.


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