Access management

Access management allows agencies to manage vehicle access points, like driveways and intersections, to help road users safely and efficiently access desired locations like residences and businesses.

Key characteristics

Setting/Location

All, Corridor, Urban, Suburban, Rural, Neighborhood

Technology

Collaboration

WSDOT regions

Statewide

Other names

  • Driveway management
  • Ingress/egress management
  • Turning restrictions
  • Median treatments
  • Access control

Strategy description

Access Management consists of selecting where vehicles can enter and exit the roadway to get to desired locations like residences, business, and other services. Successful management of these access points promotes the safe and efficient use of the transportation system.

Access management balances road user needs between access and mobility, which varies depending on the type of road and its primary purpose. For example, freeways do not allow intersections or driveways. Instead, they use off-ramps and on-ramps for vehicles to enter and exit the road. In contrast, local neighborhood streets focus on access to homes and businesses, with driveways and intersections spaced closer together.

Access management techniques to control roadway access:

  • Spacing of intersections and driveways
    Increasing the distance between roadway access points improves traffic flow and minimizes the risk of intersection-related collisions
  • Turn lanes
    Dedicated left- and right-turn lanes at intersections and two-way center turn lanes along corridors or primary routes help keep traffic flowing
  • Turning restrictions
    By not allowing certain vehicle movements—often left turns at an intersection or from a business driveway—traffic flow and safety improve. Typical treatments for this are raised concrete medians or plastic delineators.
  • Intersection design 
    Roundabouts, for example, support smooth traffic flow, reduce the number of conflict types, and reduce the severity of any collisions that may still occur
  • Right-of-way management
    Agencies can acquire and reserve property (i.e., “right-of-way”) to maintain sight distance, limit additional access, and prepare for upcoming projects

Adapted from Federal Highway Administration (1).

Managing access impacts both the flow of traffic and those who want to access the property, including residents, business owners, and their patrons. When limiting access, agencies should make sure that they fully understand the access needs and then communicate it to all stakeholders.

When to use this strategy

Access management makes sense for all roadways, with the application varying widely depending on the roadway’s mobility and access needs. Every corridor’s or primary routes’ access should be managed to ensure safe and efficient travel for all road users.

Individual techniques and tools:

  • Intersections can be spaced in early planning and development to help ensure efficient traffic flow. This is especially true with signalized intersections, where spacing directly affects the ability to connect the signals together and coordinate traffic flow along the corridor or primary route.
  • Driveway placement occurs during permitting, either for a new development or revision to an existing property. The ability for drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists, and others to see their surroundings and each other while traveling is a major factor in the proper placement of entrances and exits.
  • If traffic efficiency or safety issues have been linked to access, then agencies can reduce the access points to improve flow. For example, closing a driveway that is very close to a signalized intersection can reduce congestion, as well as the number of congestion-related collisions.

Strategy benefits:

  • Improves mobility through decreased travel times and increased reliability
  • Reduces the number and severity of collisions
  • Reduces environmental impacts such as emissions and fuel consumption (less air pollution and wasted fuel from idling vehicles)
  • Provides greater transportation mode choices through accessible roadway designs that account for all users

What you need in order to implement

Policy needs:

  • Each agency should have an access management policy that provides guidance for each roadway’s design.

Planning needs:

  • The most effective way for agencies to manage access is planning for access and mobility needs before designing and constructing a road project. It is harder to take access away once it has been given versus planning for it from the beginning. Some access management techniques require construction with full design and environmental review.

Coordination needs:

  • The agency must work with all stakeholders when working on an access management project, including property owners, residents, local businesses and business associations, and emergency services.

Equipment needs:

  • Some techniques only need signage and plastic delineators. Larger projects require construction equipment and materials.

Maintenance Needs:

  • Agencies should check signage and delineators regularly, and replace these items as needed.

Agency resources needs:

  • Costs range widely for access management treatments, as do the resources needed to implement them. Small signing and striping projects can often be completed by agency maintenance staff. Larger construction projects will require designers, project managers, environmental specialists, and construction inspectors to ensure proper implementation.

Learn more about this strategy

Federal Highway Administration Access Management website.

Federal Highway Administration, Corridor Access Management, FHWA-SA-17-052, 2017.

Williams, K., V. Stover, K. Dixon, and P. Demosthenes. Access Management Manual, 2nd ed. Transportation Research Board of the National Academies, Washington, D.C., 2014.


Works cited:

(1) Adapted from Federal Highway Administration’s “What is Access Management?” web page.

About key characteristics

Location notes:

Access management can be applied everywhere, but access is managed differently depending on the roadway type and traveler needs.

Cost notes:

Costs for access management vary widely. Low-cost treatments include signage, striping, and delineators. Curbing and median barriers are medium-cost items. Some access management requires high-cost solutions, such as full redesign and reconstruction of an intersection or interchange.

Technology notes:

Access management is typically focused on roadway infrastructure solutions, not technology. In some rare cases, agencies may consider time-of-day turning restrictions using changeable, roadside message signs or traffic signal timing.

Collaboration notes:

Agencies must collaborate with all stakeholders when working on an access management project, including property owners, residents, local businesses, and business associations. Agencies must also collaborate with emergency services to ensure emergency vehicles can navigate areas with limited access. For example, a sloped curb design disallows general vehicles from crossing it, but a fire truck could drive over the curb during an emergency response.

Conditions this strategy addresses