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 assure the applicant that the requested access will be approved; however, it may considerably improve the likelihood of a favorable decision by SHA and expedite the review process.
As explained in Chapter 3, access controls are property rights owned by the State that legally deny access to and from abutting properties. Highways are considered fully controlled, partially controlled, or uncontrolled facilities. The degree of access control reflects the highway's function within the overall transportation network and the service characteristics that it must provide. This section describes the SHA policy with respect to granting access along highways with different levels of access control.
Access to fully controlled facilities, including freeways and expressways, is limited to grade-separated interchanges.
Access to partially controlled facilities is limited to grade-separated interchanges or at-grade intersections with public roads. These facilities do not provide direct access to private property.
Uncontrolled highways do not have continuous access controls between approved interchanges or street connections. Access controls have been established, or are being established, along many primary highways; however, on any highway, there may be localized, detached, or nonexistent access controls. Access along uncontrolled facilities is regulated by the SHA permit process and local government's subdivision and development process. Access that may be acceptable along these highways varies with the function of the highway, as discussed in Section 8.2 below.
As explained in Chapter 2, the many highways comprising the State highway system have different functional requirements that must be preserved in order for the system to function properly. Appropriate control of access helps to maintain traffic operating conditions that are consistent with the functional requirements of various types of highways. A general description of each type of highway and the appropriate access characteristics may be found in the AASHTO publications. The following policy guidelines are applied:
Access on uncontrolled primary highways shall be consistent with the following guidelines:
Access on Secondary Highways with an Arterial functional classification shall conform to the following guidelines, which are less restrictive than those applied to Primary Highways.
By virtue of their functional and operational characteristics, collector routes are better-suited than arterial routes for serving multiple local street connections and commercial access points. Access on Secondary Highways with a Collector functional classification shall conform to the following guidelines, which are less restrictive than those for Secondary Arterial Highways.
All proposed site access is evaluated with regard to programmed improvements, future highway needs, SHA planning initiatives, corridor access and preservation initiatives. SHA's Highway Needs Inventory (HNI) and the Maryland Department of Transportation's Consolidated Transportation Program (CTP) are be utilized for this, along with the appropriate representatives in SHA's planning, design, and District offices. Access must be located and designed for compatibility with programmed highway improvements and long-term regional transportation needs.
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 improve-ments that are only generally identified in the HNI are considered in determining the appropriate number and location of access points, but the developer is not typically required to design their access based on these concepts. However, EAPD'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.
All points of access shall adhere to the safety criteria for acceptable intersection or stopping sight distance, or both, in accordance with current Administration standards and engineering practices. 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.
Sight distance shall be measured and evaluated for each proposed point of State highway access in accordance with the current version of AASHTO's A Policy on Geometric Design of Highways and Streets. The required stopping sight distance shall be available along the highway in both directions from the proposed access point. The required intersection sight distance and clear sight triangles shall be demonstrated for the range of proposed turning movements at the access point, in accordance with the AASHTO models. Appropriate adjustments to the required sight distance shall be made for road grades, skew, and predominant bus on truck traffic. The design speed for the highway shall be determined by adding 10 mph to the posted speed limit. Sight distance standards for full movement access on undivided highways are tabulated in Appendix B.
Applicants may be required to submit a sight distance profile and certification sealed by a licensed professional. A sight distance profile is required for all proposed public street access points and may be required for any commercial access point, at the discretion of the EAPD representative.
Access points which do not or would not meet both the intersection sight distance and stopping sight distance criteria as outlined above are considered "substandard". When an existing or proposed access point is determined to have substandard sight distance, the applicant shall be required to consider a different location for the access, including available public road access. If a different location is either not available or would not have significantly better sight distance, then the following options shall be evaluated:
Prospective developers should be advised that the scope of improvements required to overcome sight distance deficiencies may considerably exceed what would normally be required for the same development for access with adequate sight distance. Many older highways have alignments that are substandard with respect to current geometric design practices. Proposing access along such alignments does not relieve the developer of the requirement for adequate sight distance, nor does it obligate the SHA in any way to construct, or otherwise participate in, sight distance mitigation.
On uncontrolled highways, the number of access points for subdivision or site access shall conform to the following guidelines or those outlined in 10.2, 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.
A. Maximum Number of Access Points. The State regulations specify that a maximum of two entrances may be allowed in the first 200 feet of frontage. For each additional l00 feet of frontage thereafter, a maximum of one entrance may be permitted, subject to the final decision of SHA. Regardless of frontage, a development may be restricted to a single entrance and exit.
B. Commercial Sites – Short Frontage. Commercial sites with under 400' of frontage will be limited to a single point of access unless otherwise warranted by demonstrated traffic operations or site circulation considerations. For small sites, use of a single access point will generally maximize available parking and may reduce the scope of road improvements required for access.
C. Commercial Sites – Large Frontage. Commercial sites with more than 400' of frontage will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis and will generally be allowed no more than two access points, regardless of the frontage available.
D. Small Sites with Special Traffic Circulation. Service stations, fast food operations, banks, small drug stores, and similar uses located on individual sites may have a requirement for highly defined on-site traffic circulation patterns. Drive-thru service is characteristic of these land uses. Such patterns may justify more than one access point; however, each may be restricted to one-way movement.
E. Industrial Sites. Individual industrial facilities will generally be limited to no more than two points of access unless otherwise warranted by demonstrated logistical or operational considerations. Two points of access may be allowed to facilitate separate entrances for facility operations, such as shipping/receiving, and passenger vehicle use.
F. Adjacent Intersections. Properties that are located where normal operations of one or more stop-controlled or signalized intersections on the State highway significantly affect traffic operations (e.g. queuing delays) will typically be limited to one point of access on the State highway. A second access point may be acceptable where warranted by demonstrated traffic patterns or design vehicle turning movements.
G. Inter-Parcel Connections. The use of existing inter-parcel connections, or establish- ment of new connections, is encouraged. This helps to reduce traffic in and out of the State highway, alleviating localized congestion, and provides for easy access between adjacent properties. This may be particularly advantageous for commercial and retail centers. The availability of inter-parcel connections should reduce the number of access points required along the State highway for individual properties.
H. Multiple Lots and Pad Sites. Individual lots and/or pad sites as part of an overall subdivision or development project will be considered as a single development for plan review purposes. Arrangements for access to lots being conveyed to independent legal entities must be established through appropriate easements, inter-parcel connections, etc. Where highway access to individual lots is proposed, it must be consistent with approved access concepts for the overall subdivision or development.
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 10.8 also apply and may govern the acceptable spacing.
Corner clearance is defined as the distance between the radius return points of the intersection and the first commercial entrance, respectively.
*NOTE: On primary highways, entrances may not be located within the influence area of dedicated right or left turning lanes for the adjacent intersection.
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 10.8 also apply and may govern the acceptable spacing.
Openings in the median of a divided State highway may only be permitted where approved by the SHA Deputy Administrator. 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 10.8.1, unless otherwise acceptable to SHA:
Notes for Secondary Arterial Highways:
Notes for Collector Highways:
Feasibility of the proposed access in conformance with the Entrance Standards of Chapter 11, Street Connection Standards of Chapter 12, and Site Access Improvement Standards of Chapter 13, shall be demonstrated. Where these standards cannot be met, the applicant may be required to use a different access location, including available public road access. If a different access location is either not available or would not significantly improve the feasibility of constructing the standard improvements, the following options shall be explored:
In some cases, acceptable improvements may only be attainable through the acquisition of right-of-way, relocation of existing utilities, impacts to environmental areas, etc. The applicant is required to submit documentation of these arrangements to demonstrate the feasibility of the improvements.
In addition to the above criteria, the following factors are considered in EAPD's evaluation of the proposed access points:
Each project will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Presence of the above factors may result in more restrictive access or necessitate additional improvements to support the requested access.
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