Access Management Regulations and Standards
- Summary of the 2011 regulatory changes
- Access management regulations: Principal arterials 24 VAC 30-72 (114 KB)
- Access management regulations: Minor arterials, collectors, and local streets 24 VAC 30-73 (206 KB)
Reductions to the Signal / Intersection / Entrance Spacing Standards
The spacing standards are located in Appendix F of the Road Design Manual to allow their periodic review and adjustment as necessary.
During the second half of 2011 the approved exceptions to the standards were evaluated. VDOT staff, transportation engineering consultants, and various stakeholders offered comments and suggestions.
Based on this information, the spacing standards have been revised to assure they are reasonable in providing access to property, yet effective in preventing traffic crashes and maintaining highway capacity. The January 2012 Appendix F contains these new standards.
What Is Access Management?
Access management focuses on the location, spacing, and design of entrances, street intersections, median openings, and traffic signals. Each of these creates conflict points where vehicles have to stop or slow down, disrupting the flow of traffic.
As the number of conflict points increase, so does traffic congestion and crashes. Better management of access to the highway can reduce the number of conflict points and their adverse impact on highway operation and public safety. Roads are a critical public resource and constitute a major investment of the public’s money. Access management can maximize this investment.
In other states, access management has led to a more efficient traffic flow that raises the average travel speed allowing the roadway to move more traffic.
Because the motorist spends less time waiting in traffic, fuel efficiency is maximized, air pollution is reduced, and commuting times become shorter. Businesses benefit because better mobility expands their market area.
Virginia’s Access Management Legislation
The 2007 General Assembly unanimously approved legislation (Chapter 863) (PDF, 32 KB) directing the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) to develop access management regulations and standards during 2007 with the goals to:
- Reduce traffic congestion
- Enhance public safety by reducing conflicting traffic movements
- Reduce the need for new highways and road widening by maximizing the performance of existing state highways
- Support economic development by promoting the efficient movement of goods and people
- Preserve the public investment in new and existing highways
- Ensure that private property is entitled to reasonable access to the highways.
To accomplish these legislative goals regulations and standards were adopted for: spacing entrances, intersections, median openings and traffic signals; locating entrances a safe distance from intersection turning movements and from interchange ramps; providing vehicular, and where appropriate, pedestrian circulation between adjoining properties; and sharing highway entrances.
The 2008 General Assembly directed VDOT to implement the access management regulations and standards in phases according to a highway’s functional classification.
Access Management Regulations and Standards
The first phase regulations and standards applied to VDOT highways functionally classified as principal arterials and took effect July 1, 2008. The second phase regulations and standards applied to VDOT highways classified as minor arterial, collector, and local and became effective on Oct.14, 2009.
Information on the functional classification of highways, , a PowerPoint presentation on the regulations and standards, and a frequently asked questions reference guide are below.
- About Highway Functional Classifications (PDF, 35 KB)
- Maps that identify the classification of state highways by locality and region
- Map of Principal Arterials for Access Management Regulations
- List of Principal Arterials for Access Management Regulations
- PowerPoint presentation on the regulations and standards (PDF, 3 MB)
- Frequently Asked Questions on the regulations and standards (PDF, 110 KB)
The regulations and standards only apply to VDOT-controlled highways. They do not apply to roads that are maintained by localities (such as cities, towns, and Henrico and Arlington Counties).
All parcels of land abutting a state highway will be provided with reasonable access to the highway, except for limited access highways. The regulations will not be retroactive. They apply to new requests for access.
Exceptions to the spacing standards are listed in the regulations for: older business corridors of urban highways, streets internal to new urbanism and traditional neighborhood developments, and highway corridors with access management plans.
Procedures are included for requesting exceptions with deadlines for VDOT decisions. Use the application forms below.
- Principal Arterial Exception Request Form AM-1
- Minor Arterial, Collector, Local Street Exception Request Form AM-2
Development of the Access Management Regulations and Standards
To assure a wide variety of viewpoints were considered, a multi-step process was used to gain public input.
During 2007, a VDOT technical committee prepared the first draft of the regulations and standards.
The documents were then reviewed and refined by a policy advisory committee composed of representatives from local government, development, environmental, and transportation engineering organizations.
Over 250 public comments were received. A public hearing was conducted.
The policy advisory and the technical committee evaluated the comments and used them to revise the regulations and standards. They were approved by the VDOT commissioner and became effective July 1, 2008 for VDOT principal arterials.
During 2008 and 2009, the regulations and standards prepared in 2007 for VDOT minor arterials, collectors and local streets were reviewed in accordance with the 2008 General Assembly legislation.
More than 200 written and public hearing comments were received from local governments, developers, transportation engineering consultants, environmental and business organizations, pedestrian/bicyclist groups, and individuals. The comments were used to extensively revise the regulations and standards.
The executive branch approved the final regulations and standards for minor arterials, collectors and local streets and they became effective on Oct. 14, 2009.
Additional Information on Access Management
From the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA):
- Virginia Tech access spacing study (62 KB) An excerpt is presented from a study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute on the relationship between managing access near intersections and accident rates.
Also: The Transportation Research Board of the National Academies in Washington, D.C., has a Web site that is a good resource for information on access management, including research studies, handbooks, and links to other states’ access management Web sites.