Best planning and implementation toolbox

Access Management:

Purpose of Tool:

Median placement can manage potential conflicts between automobiles and provide a refuge for pedestrians crossing the street.

Access management is a combination of design strategies and policies that are utilized to provide more efficient access to land uses through traffic operations and roadway design. These policies and strategies include (but are not limited to):
  • Limiting the number of driveways and curb cuts for a parcel
  • Constructing inter-parcel connections, such as internal access roads
  • Promoting a connected street system that avoids forcing traffic onto arterials
  • Constructing medians or turning lanes along major arterials to minimize turning movements that obstruct traffic flow
  • Spacing traffic signals further apart along major arterials where possible and coordinating signal timing

    Benefits of Using Tool:
    There are several benefits of using access management strategies and policies. Travel delays are minimized and emissions typically associated with “stop and go” traffic patterns are reduced. Access to the adjacent land uses is controlled and by minimizing turning movements, travel is safer both for drivers and pedestrians. In addition, studies have shown that access management strategies can functionally increase the capacity of a facility without physically widening the roadway. Access management strategies are often combined with streetscape and landscaping which can improve the aesthetics of a corridor, as well as enhance the character of the roadway and community.

    Steps Involved to Use Tool:
    A local government may implement access management through a number of avenues. It may choose to do so by changing local planning and engineering policies. For example, the jurisdiction may include access management standards in its development/subdivision regulations as part of the requirements for new development. The jurisdiction could also change permitting procedures and standards for driveway permit requests. Alternately, the local government can implement access management in specific areas; it may develop an access management plan to improve a specific corridor of concern, along with a work program with specific access management projects. Often, a regional or state-level agency, such as the jurisdiction’s metropolitan planning organization (MPO) suggest access management standards and help the jurisdiction implement these standards within the context of local and state regulations and the planning environment. State Departments of Transportation also often implement access management solutions in projects in order to improve congestion and safety along highways.

    Special Requirements to Use Tool:
    While regulatory requirements for access management vary widely among states and local governments, jurisdictions should consider potential regulatory hurdles that they may encounter while trying to implement access management. The State Department of Transportation, which engages in roadway design, maintenance, and planning controls the access on state routes. It is vital that the local government coordinate with the Department of Transportation in order to most effectively initiate access management.

    Specials Resources Needed to Use Tool:
    There no specific resources required to implement this tool. It may be helpful for the implementing agency to have a collection of resources regarding access management, such as the Transportation Research Board Access Management Manual. It is also useful to study other documents highlighting best practices in access management and how these have been implemented in different jurisdictions. The State Department of Transportation may already have an Access Management Manual or access management policies in place to guide local governments.

    Communities / Agencies that Have Used Tool:
    The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has worked closely with local governments on a number of access management improvements. Often, TxDOT is involved in the local governments’ preliminary review process for new developments to help manage access and driveway placement along corridors, coordinate thoroughfare planning, and protect and preserve state right-of-way for access improvements. In College Station, Texas, TxDOT coordinated with the local government on the widening of Texas Avenue, a 2.5-mile project. The project included access management features such as the installation of a median, access easements around clustered parcels, and shared driveways for two or more uses. Also, in the early 1990’s, the City of College Station conducted a corridor study along University Drive and subsequently adopted a zoning overlay district for the corridor. The overlay district required greater setback of parcels from the roadway and identified proposed access locations to consolidate existing driveways. In the late 1990’s, TxDOT began designing for the widening and installation of a median along University Drive. In addition to the widening and new median, TxDOT coordinated with the City on its previously adopted zoning overlay standards and constructed several access easements to complement the City’s plans for the corridor. 

    Contact (Texas Transportation Institute):
    Ed Hart

    Contact (TxDOT):
    Mark A. Marek, P.E. – Director of Design Division
    125 E. 11th Street
    Austin, Texas 78701-2483

    The Iowa Department of Transportation (Iowa DOT) has implemented a number of access management projects in the state. In the City of Des Moines, Iowa, SR 28/1st Street/63rd Street serves as a commuter route to Downtown Des Moines. As of the late 1980’s, the route had many commercial and high-density residential uses with several driveways that lined each side of the road. These factors created high traffic volume, numerous conflict points, and safety issues along the corridor. In 1991, Iowa DOT installed a full raised median and left-turn bays along the road. In addition, some driveways were consolidated and widened. While high traffic volumes remain, these improvements have significantly reduced the crash rate along the road (from 6.7 to 3.3 crashes per million vehicle-miles traveled) and improved traffic flow along the corridor (from level-of-service “B” and “C” to “A”).  Contact:

    Eric Wright - Access/Utility Policy Administrator
    Office of Traffic and Safety - Iowa DOT
    800 Lincoln Way
    North Annex
    Ames, Iowa 50010

    Metrics to Use to Monitor Tool Effectiveness:
    The Access Management Research and Awareness Program, sponsored jointly by the Center for Transportation Research and Education (Iowa State University) and Iowa DOT, presents case studies for successful access management projects in Iowa as well as metrics to determine the projects’ level of success. These metrics include reduction in the crash rates as well as total number of crashes, and improvement in roadway level-of-service (LOS).

    List of Resources to Obtain Additional Info:
  • National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Report 548: A Guidebook for Including Access Management in Transportation Planning (PDF):
  • 10 Principles of Access Management (PDF): 
  • Texas Case Studies in Access Management (Texas Transportation Institute and Texas Department of Transportation) (PDF):
  • Access Management Manual (Texas Department of Transportation) (PDF): 
  • Access Management Research and Awareness Program - Phase IV Final Report (Center for Transportation Research and Education/Iowa Department of Transportation): 
  • Access Management Handbook (Center for Transportation Research and Education):