TRB Access Management AHB70

Increasing the awareness and use of Access Management

Importance of Access Management


With fewer new arterial roadways being built, the need for effective systems management strategies is greater than ever before. Access management is particularly attractive as it offers a variety of benefits to a broad range of stakeholders. By managing roadway access, government agencies can increase public safety, extend the life of major roadways, reduce traffic congestion, support alternative transportation modes, and even improve the appearance and quality of the built environment.

Without access management, the function and character of major roadway corridors can deteriorate rapidly. Failure to manage access is associated with the following adverse social, economic, and environmental impacts:

  • An increase in vehicular crashes,
  • More collisions involving pedestrians and cyclists,
  • Accelerated reduction in roadway efficiency,
  • Unsightly commercial strip development,
  • Degradation of scenic landscapes,
  • More cut-through traffic in residential areas due to
    overburdened arterials,
  • Homes and businesses adversely impacted by a continuous
    cycle of widening roads, and
  • Increased commute times, fuel consumption, and vehicular
    emissions as numerous driveways and traffic signals intensify congestion and
    delays along major roads.

Not only is this costly for government agencies and the public, but it also adversely affects corridor businesses. Closely spaced and poorly designed driveways make it more difficult for customers to enter and exit businesses safely. Access to corner businesses may be blocked by queuing traffic. Customers begin to patronize businesses with safer, more convenient access and avoid businesses in areas of poor access design. Gradually the older developed areas begin to deteriorate due to access and aesthetic problems, and investment moves to newer better-managed corridors.

After access problems have been created, they are difficult to solve. Reconstructing an arterial roadway is costly and disruptive to the public and abutting homes and businesses. The shallow property depth, multiple owners, and right-of-way limitations common to older corridors generally preclude ffective redesign of access and site circulation. In some cases, a new arterial or bypass must be built to replace the functionally obsolescent roadway, and the process begins again in a new location. Access management programs can help stop this cycle of functional obsolescence, thereby protecting both the public and private investment in major roadway corridors.

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