Roadways are important and costly public facilities whose performance deteriorates when unrestricted access is permitted. For example, closely spaced curb cuts, median openings across turn lanes, driveways at major intersections, and poorly coordinated traffic signals create unsafe and congested conditions. Access management systematically controls the location, spacing, design, and operation of driveways, median openings, interchanges, and connections to roadways. Managing access can increase public safety, reduce traffic congestion, improve fuel efficiency, improve air quality through reduced vehicular emissions, and preserve or enhance the appearance and property values of abutting development. Access management can be applied, to greater or lesser degrees, to all roadways including freeways, major and minor arterials, major and minor collectors, and local streets. The appropriate type of access management varies according to the roadway function and traffic characteristics, the character of the abutting land, and the long-term planning objectives.
Access management requires trade-offs among competing objectives pertaining to roadway performance; the safety of drivers pedestrians, and cyclists; and multiple, direct site access. Consequently, policy decisions must be made regarding the appropriate type and amount of access that should be available. Decisions are made and policies may be established that affect access management and land development by local-, metropolitan-, regional-, and state-level planners, engineers, elected officials, and other decisionmakers.
Despite the growing evidence that access management is effective as a relatively inexpensive transportation enhancement strategy, it has been an underutilized tool. A critical way to encourage wider acceptance and implementation of access management is to introduce access management into the planning process. Decisionmaking for roadways and adjacent development begins with land-use and transportation plans; therefore, access management needs to be considered when developing these plans.
In the past few decades, a substantial amount of research has been conducted on access management. These research projects have provided insights into the impacts of access management and identified best practices for access management applications. The biennial TRB National Conferences on Access Management, initiated in 1993, and sessions at other state and national conferences have provided a forum for dialogue on access management issues and further expanded the body of information on access management practices, policies, and experience.
In early 2003, TRB will publish a manual that provides technical information on access management techniques. The manual is intended to assist state transportation agencies, local governments, metropolitan planning organizations, and their consultants to develop and implement access management programs. The manual presents practical information on a range of issues and applications, drawing upon the knowledge of the many experienced practitioners that participated in development of the manual. The research that is proposed by this project (NCHRP Project 08-46) will complement the forthcoming TRB manual by addressing how access management can be incorporated into transportation plans. (See Special Note A.)
OBJECTIVE. The objective of this research is to produce a guide for transportation policymakers and practitioners on how to incorporate access management into transportation plans. The scope of this study includes statewide, metropolitan, local, and rural regional transportation plans.
TASKS. Accomplishment of the project objective will require at least the following tasks. (1.) Conduct a literature review on access management focusing on its role in and importance to transportation plans. This task should include a review of conference papers, transportation planning manuals, and other related documents. (2.) Identify transportation agencies that have formally integrated access management into their transportation plans. This task should address the following question: (1) which agencies are integrating access management into their transportation plans, (2) why was access management incorporated into these plans, and (3) what was the process was for including access management in these transportation plans? (3.) Based on the results of Task 2, identify the benefits and challenges of including access management in transportation plans. (4.) Develop and assess approaches for incorporating access management into transportation plans that are appropriate for transportation planning agencies of various types and sizes. Include, at a minimum, how access management can be incorporated in policy, strategy, project, and performance-measurement elements of transportation plans. (5.) Prepare an outline of the guide for transportation policymakers and practitioners on how to incorporate access management into transportation plans. (6.) Prepare an interim report that presents the results of Tasks 1 through 5. The research agency will meet with the project panel to discuss the interim report, refine the approaches for incorporating access management into transportation plans, and revise the outline for the guide. (7.) Obtain feedback from transportation planners and representatives of appropriate stakeholders to evaluate approaches developed in Task 4 and refined in Task 6 for incorporating access management into transportation plans and the outline for the guide. (8.) Prepare a working paper for review by the panel that presents the results of Tasks 7. (9.) Prepare the guide for transportation policymakers and practitioners on how to incorporate access management into transportation plans. Prepare a final report describing the research conducted for this project.
The project was completed in August 2005. The final report was published as NCHRP Report 548.