The Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA) is currently developing guidance to incorporating practical design into highway projects. These same guidelines will apply to access permit projects.
This document provides a brief description of practical design in general and how it can be applied to access management projects. All access permit projects should use the Practical Design philosophy. The focus of practical design in access management should be on safety, mitigation, context, and customer service. Each site should be reviewed independently based on the specific site characteristics and project purpose and needs. Design decisions must include justification and documentation.
Practical Design improves transportation systems by focusing resources on needs that deliver the highest return on investment. The Practical Design philosophy requires critical thinking and sound engineering judgment to achieve the best system improvements, while maintaining a safe and efficient transportation system. Important aspects include:
The basic purpose of any developer-initiated highway project is to provide safe and reliable access to the development for all roadway users. While land use decisions have been delegated to the local governments, MDOT SHA may require roadway improvements to mitigate the impact of development on the safety and operation of the surrounding roadway network. Improvements should be proportional to the proposed development’s impact. MDOT SHA works with local jurisdictions to determine mitigations that are acceptable to all parties.
All improvements shall provide for increased safety and access for pedestrians and bicycle traffic in a manner acceptable to the Administration per COMAR 11.04.05.03. All required roadway improvements must also be completed in accordance with Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
Once the basic scope of work has been determined the design work can begin. Within the MDOT SHA right of way (R/W), all work and materials must conform to AASHTO criteria as well as Administration specifications, standards, and addenda current at the time of the permit grant. The design work should focus on safety and operational performance and the project purpose and need. Design variations and exceptions may be necessary to support the project purpose and need based on safety and operational performance. Documentation must be provided to support these variations.
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