This chapter describes the standard criteria used by SHA to evaluate proposed state highway access for compliance with highway safety standards and consistency with the functional and operational requirements of the state highway. Prime considerations in SHA’s evaluation of proposed access include but are not limited to:
Collectively, these standards are used to determine the acceptable number and location of access points for a specific subdivision or development project and the range of turning movements that may be permitted at each approved access point. Standards applied to the design of entrances, street connections, and road improvements for site access are covered in separate chapters.
It should be noted that compliance with the standards outlined in this chapter does not ensure that the requested access will be approved, but it may shorten the length of time between the initial application and the granting of a permit.
1.1 Future Highway Needs
All proposed site access is evaluated with regard to programmed improvements, state, county, and local planning initiatives, SHA's Highway Needs Inventory (HNI), and the Maryland Department of Transportation's Consolidated Transportation Program (CTP). Evaluations are made by appropriate representatives in SHA's planning, design, and district offices.
When the proposed access is located within the limits of a state highway improvement that is specifically identified in the CTP, the location and design of the access must be consistent with the objectives and design of the SHA project. Depending on the schedule and funding status of the SHA project, the developer may be required to construct a portion of the ultimate highway improvement, such as widening near the requested access or construction of a service road.
Future highway improvements that are identified in the HNI are considered in determining the appropriate number and location of access points, and the developer is not typically required to design their access based on these concepts, but SHA’s policy is to require requested access to be consistent with corridor access management and preservation efforts as well as local and regional master plans. Additionally, the local government may require appropriate dedication or reservation of land for future long-range highway needs.
1.2 Sight Distance Standards
All points of access shall adhere to the safety criteria for acceptable intersection and stopping sight distance in accordance with current Administration standards and engineering practices. Sight distance shall be measured and evaluated for each proposed point of state highway access in accordance with the State’s adopted version of AASHTO’s A Policy on Geometric Design of Highways and Streets. Applicants are strongly advised that sight distance should be evaluated for each desired point of access prior to seeking preliminary subdivision or site plan approval from the local approving authority. SHA cannot recommend action on a filing that involves access to a state highway until adequate sight distance is demonstrated. In no instance will prior subdivision or site plan approval by the local authority relieve the applicant from having to meet the State's sight distance requirements.
1.3 Number of Access Points
On uncontrolled highways, the number of access points for subdivision or site access shall conform to either the following guidelines or those outlined in Chapter 2, whichever are more restrictive. SHA may consider exceptions based on unusual site usage, site constraints, future development, or traffic patterns. In the discussion below, “access” refers exclusively to state highway access points and “frontage” refers exclusively to state highway frontage.
1.3.2 Number of Subdivision Access Points
1.4 Commercial Entrance Spacing Standards
Access points shall comply with the commercial entrance spacing standards identified in this section. Where full movement access is proposed, the median crossover spacing standards of 1.6 Median Crossover Spacing also apply and may govern the acceptable spacing.
1.4.2 Spacing Between Entrances
1.4.3 Corner Clearance from Adjacent Intersections and Interchanges
Table 1.4.3 Corner Clearance Standards
1.5 Street Connection Spacing
Access points shall comply with the street connection spacing standards identified in this section. Where full movement access is proposed, the median crossover spacing standards of 1.6 Median Crossover Spacing also apply and may govern the acceptable spacing.
1.6 Median Crossover Spacing
Openings in the median of a divided state highway may only be permitted where approved by the SHA Deputy Administrator and Chief Engineer. This requirement applies to all crossovers requested in any median, existing or proposed, for any purpose. Proposed median openings in existing or proposed medians are evaluated with respect to the criteria of this section.
Existing median openings on divided highways are evaluated on a case-by-case basis. SHA may require closure of existing median crossovers to address anticipated traffic and safety conditions associated with the proposed highway access point(s). Moreover, SHA may require construction of a raised median along an undivided highway to control turning movements associated with the requested access. This requirement is most typical where access is proposed near existing signalized intersections. When a median is constructed along an undivided highway, whether by SHA or a developer, the owners of abutting properties are not entitled to financial compensation for the loss of full movement or directional access across the median.
Proposed median crossovers shall comply with the spacing standards given in Table 1.6.1, unless otherwise acceptable to SHA:
1.7 Other Factors
In addition to the above criteria, the following factors are considered in SHA’s evaluation of the proposed access points:
Each project will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Presence of the factors above may result in more restrictive access or necessitate additional improvements to support the requested access.
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