FAQs Access Management Permits

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. Visit Access Management/Permits for contact information at all seven Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA) district offices.

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 of exit or entry. 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.

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 MDOT 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; rather it comes in the middle or even toward the end of the process. The best approach is to establish early and continuous project coordination with MDOT SHA, county, and municipal governments.  Staff at your local MDOT SHA district office can give you specific information about the steps required for your project.

Can access to a State highway be denied?

Yes, but… MDOT SHA 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 property owners are entitled to access to a State highway that abuts their property unless certain conditions identified in Code of Maryland Article §8-625 apply, or the State owns access controls along the highway right of way.

Will my project necessitate improvements to the roadway system?

It depends upon the estimated traffic impacts that will result from the project. Each project is reviewed on a case-by-case basis by staff at your local MDOT 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 MDOT SHA Access Manual. Make sure to contact your local MDOT SHA district office for answers to questions about your specific project.

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 MDOT 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 guidelines in the MDOT SHA Access Manual. Contact your local MDOT SHA District Office to get answers to questions about your specific project.

 

Will a traffic impact study (TIS) be required?

It depends upon the estimated traffic impact resulting from the project.  A TIS is generally required for 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). Sometimes a TIS is required for a development that generates less than the 50-trip threshold if MDOT SHA anticipates operational and traffic capacity problems.  You may find it helpful to consult a list of design standards and guidelines in the MDOT SHA Access Manual. Contact your local MDOT SHA District Office to get answers to questions about your specific project.

What if the right of way necessary for highway improvements and 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 MDOT SHA before use and occupancy

MDOT SHA will work with the development team and the relevant county/municipal government to identify strategies that allow development if the safety and integrity of the state roadway network are maintained.  If the developer cannot acquire right of way from a third party for the State roadway improvements, then MDOT SHA, the developer, and the county/municipal government may review additional options.  All alternatives considered will be at developer expense.

Where does MDOT SHA’s authority to grant access to State highways come from?

MDOT SHA is authorized under Maryland Law to control access along State highways to provide a safe, properly functioning highway system.  Control of access is accomplished through statutory and regulatory mechanisms, including acquisition of certain real property rights and the access permit process.

The Annotated Code of Maryland grants MDOT 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 (COMAR).

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 COMAR.