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Select Office or Topic to see a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

 

 

1. Who can I talk to about getting access to a state highway?

The best person to talk to is the Regional Engineer for the district in which your project is located. Please see the top of our home page  for contact information for all seven district offices, or refer to our statewide communication matrix.

2. What is the purpose of controlling access to state highways?

The purpose of the law is not to discourage or suppress development in the state but rather to ensure that access to state highways is granted at the safest point(s) to enter or exit the highway. The State may limit access to a single point along any highway. Where other public road access is available, such as a county roadway, the State may deny access to a primary highway.

3. How do I get access to a state highway for my project?

The process is outlined in our access management flowchart. In most cases the applicable county or municipal government will take the lead in the development review and approval process with SHA available as needed to address highway access issues. Reviewing proposed access to a highway is usually not the first step in the development review process but rather comes somewhere in the middle or even toward the end. The best approach is to establish early and continuous project coordination with SHA, county, and municipal governments.  Staff at your local SHA District Office can give you specific information about what steps will be required for your project.

4. Can access to a state highway be denied?

Yes, but SHA always prefers to work with developers to establish access that meets the needs of development while providing for the safe and efficient flow of traffic. Under Maryland law a property owner is entitled to access to a state highway that abuts his or her property unless certain conditions identified in §8-625 apply or the State owns access controls along the highway right-of-way.

5. Will my project create a need for improvements to the roadway system?

It depends upon the estimated traffic impacts resulting from the project. Each project is reviewed on a case-by-case basis by staff at your local SHA District Office to determine if there will be a need for roadway improvements. You may find it helpful to consult a list of design standards and other guidelines in the SHA Access Manual but please contact your local SHA District Office to get answers to questions about your specific project.

6. Are there design standards that I must follow?

Yes.  In most cases the State of Maryland follows guidelines published by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) however SHA staff always exercise judgment and carefully evaluate the unique circumstances of each project.  You may find it helpful to consult a list of design standards and other guidelines in the SHA Access Manual, but please contact your local SHA District Office to get answers to questions about your specific project.

7. Will a traffic impact study (TIS) be required?

It depends upon the estimated traffic impacts resulting from the project.  A TIS is generally required for any proposed development that will generate more than 50 peak-hour trips as calculated using the current edition of the Institute of Transportation Engineers Trip Generation Manual. In some cases a TIS may be required for a development that generates less than the 50-trip threshold if SHA anticipates operational and/or traffic capacity problems.  You may find it helpful to consult a list of design standards and other guidelines in the SHA Access Manual, but please contact your local SHA District Office to get answers to questions about your specific project.

8. What if the right-of-way necessary for highway improvements and/or highway access has not been acquired?

An access permit may still be issued if the following conditions are met:
 
  • The roadway improvements can be phased to mitigate the  traffic impacts generated by the development and to provide a safe access to the state roadway
  • All state roadway construction and access improvements are completed prior to use and occupancy
  • The right-of-way for the state roadway improvements is conveyed to SHA prior to use and occupancy
SHA will work with the development team and the relevant county and/or municipal government to identify strategies that will allow the development to proceed so long as the safety and integrity of the state roadway network is maintained.  If the developer is unable to acquire right-of-way from a third party for the state roadway improvements then SHA, the developer, and the county and/or municipal government may review additional options.  All alternatives considered will be at developer expense.

9. Where does SHA’s authority to grant access to state highways come from?

SHA is authorized under Maryland Law to control access along state highways in order to provide and maintain a safe and properly functioning highway system.  Control of access is accomplished through a number of statutory and regulatory mechanisms including the acquisition of certain real property rights and the access permit process.
 
The Annotated Code of Maryland grants the State Highway Administration (SHA) the right to do the following:
  • Limit the design, width, and locations of existing access points
  • Prevent an entrance from any commercial or industrial property into any highway unless and until an access permit has been issued

The State's Authority pertaining to commercial, industrial, and subdivision access is based on the Transportation Article Sec. 2-103(b)(2); 8-202(b)(2)(i); 8-203(a); 8-204(b), (c), (i); 8-625; and 8-646; Annotated Code of Maryland.  Regulations are found in Title 11, Subtitle 04, Chapter 05 of the Code of Maryland Regulations.

The State's Authority pertaining to residential access is based on the Transportation Article, Sec. 2-103(b); 8-202(b)(2)(i); 8-203(a); and 8-204(b), (c), (i); Annotated Code of Maryland.  Regulations are found in Title 11, Subtitle 04, Chapter 06 of the Code of Maryland Regulations.

 
 
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Maryland Department of Transportation

 

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