Access Management Regulations and Standards
The Access Management Regulations for principal arterials and those for minor arterials, collectors, and local streets were combined into one set of regulations. No substantive changes were made.
The Access Management Regulations 24VAC30-73 took effect December 5, 2013 after having been reviewed via the Administrative Process Act.
This action benefits regulated parties as well as the general public since only one regulation can now be consulted for all highway classifications.
The Access Management Design Standards are located in Appendix F in VDOT’s Road Design Manual.
- Access Management Regulations 24VAC (114 KB)
- Access management design standards for entrances and intersections: Appendix F
No entrance to a VDOT highway may be constructed unless its location and design comply with the access management regulations and design standards. Permission to construct an entrance is granted through a land use permit.
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 VDOT to develop access management regulations and standards during 2007 with the goals to:
- Reduce traffic congestion
- Enhance public safety by limiting 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.
The first phase regulations and standards applied to VDOT highways functionally classified as principal arterials and took effect July 1, 2008. The second phase applied to VDOT highways classified as minor arterial, collector, and local and became effective on Oct.14, 2009. These two regulations were combined into one on December 5, 2013.
Information on the Regulations and Standards
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
- 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.
Exceptions to the spacing standards are listed in the regulations for: older business corridors of along VDOT highways, streets within traditional neighborhood developments, highway corridors with access management plans, and a traffic engineering study documenting a reduced spacing distance will not adversely impact highway safety and traffic flow;
Procedures are included for requesting exceptions with deadlines for VDOT decisions. Use the application form below.
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, VDOT prepared draft regulations and standards. The documents were then refined by a policy advisory committee with representatives from local government, development, environmental, and transportation engineering organizations.
A public hearing was conducted and public comments were solicited that were used to finalize the regulations and standards. They were approved by the VDOT commissioner 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 under the Administrative Process Act. Four public hearings were conducted and over 200 comments were received. The regulations and standards for minor arterials, collectors and local streets took effect on Oct. 14, 2009.
Both sets of regulations were consolidated into one regulation for all highway classifications on Dec 5, 2013.
Reductions to the Signal / Intersection / Entrance Spacing Standards
During the second half of 2011 the spacing standards in Appendix F of the Road Design Manual were evaluated. VDOT staff, transportation engineering consultants, and various stakeholders offered comments and suggestions.
Based on this information, the spacing standards were revised to assure they are reasonable in providing access to property, yet effective in preventing traffic crashes and maintaining highway capacity.
Additional Information on Access Management
From the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA):
- Benefits of access management (PDF, 809 KB)
- Safe access is good for business (PDF, 2.48 MB)
- 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.
- Prior List of Principal Arterials for Access Management Regulations
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.