What is Access Management?
Access Management can:
· Improve public safety by reducing the number of crashes
· Improve the driving experience by increasing mobility and decreasing delay
· Provide necessary and safe access to property
· Minimize costs by making more efficient use of the existing roadways
The Benefits of Access Management
Being involved in a traffic crash is the number one fear of motorists. Approximately 50% to 60% of crashes occur when a motorist is turning into or out of a driveway or intersection. Studies show that a proper Access Management program can reduce the number of these crashes by as much as 50% providing safer access for property owners and uninterrupted travel for motorists. By reducing the number of crashes, such a program can save lives as well as millions of dollars in auto repair and insurance claims.
Increased Travel Speeds
Access Management can safely increase travel speeds as much as 40% to 50% resulting in time saved and a broader travel range. For example, with an effective Access Management program, the shopping mall or businesses you once avoided due to traffic congestion is now more accessible.
There are numerous benefits for those who own property along an access managed roadway. A business is accessible to more customers if travel times and speed are improved on the highway network. For example, a business can more than double its market area if the average speed along the roadway is increased from 30 mph to 40 mph.
Also, business locations are more attractive destinations for motorists as a result of less congestion and a more aesthetically pleasing landscape. Through a successful program, we can provide a safer and more efficient highway system.
One method of access management is a raised median. This was done with the project on SR 309 (Elida Road) on the west side of the City of Lima, and is now being done with the project on SR 309 (Harding Highway) on the east side of Lima. This raised median will prevent vehicles from turning left into and out of drives and concentrate left turn movements at the signalized intersections. This will reduce conflict points and provide a safer road.
How will vehicles get to businesses on the other side of the median and from one business to another?
On SR 309 (Elida Road) on the west side of the City of Lima, passenger vehicles are able to make U-turns at an unsignalized median break and minor signalized intersections. Vehicles on the south side of SR 309 west of Cable Road are now able to to travel from one business to another using American Ave., which is located behind the businesses.
How will businesses be affected by the raised median?
Often businesses are concerned that they will be adversely affected by the installation of a raised median. Kristine M. Williams, AICP, of the Center for Urban Transportation Research, University of South Florida prepared a synthesis of recent research on the economic impacts of access management. The conclusions section of this document states in part "These results generally indicate that median projects have little overall adverse impact on business activity. Although some business report increases in sales and some report decreases, the majority of businesses report no change in business activity following a median project."
A report of the Texas Transportation Institute of the Texas A&M University System titled "A Methodology for Determining Economic Impacts of Raised Medians: Final Project Results" stated in part "When combining all business types together, the research found that business owners who were present before, during, and after the median installation felt that their regular customers would be likely to continue to use their businesses. In contrast, those businesses that were interviewed prior to the installation of the raised median thought their customers would be less likely to continue to use their businesses. Therefore, for the case studies investigated in this project, the perceptions appear worse than reality."
A report of the Florida Department of Transportation titled "Access Management Balancing Access and Mobility Answers to Your Questions" has various frequently asked questions including "Do access management projects harm businesses?" "What positive impacts will good access management have on my business?" and "Will customers make U-turns to access businesses?" Another source of answers for questions business owners have is the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) brochure "Safe Access is Good for Business."
There was a project on Colerain Avenue in Colerain Township in Hamilton County Ohio that added a raised median barrier. We contacted Frank Birkenhauer, Assistant Administrator and Director of Development of Colerain Township. On April 19, 2005 he informed us that "we have had just under 20 million in new investment last year and we are on course with a current zone change to exceed $60 million this year. It is interesting to note that just south of Galbraith and Colerain...(where the access management improvements stopped) there has been less than 600K in new investment. I believe this to be a significant difference in pre-post improvement investment." This indicates that not only was there not a negative impact due to the access management project, there was a positive impact. A PDF file of a presentation by the Colerain project consultant Edwards and Kelcey has information about the project.
When would a raised median be used instead of a two-way left-turn lane?
Two-way left-turn lanes (TWLTLs) are useful in many cases. While the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) is replacing the TWLTL on SR 309 (Elida Road) just west of the City of Lima, we had another project which added a TWLTL on section of SR 81 (Allentown Road) which is also just west of the City of Lima. In adding a TWLTL to a road without median treatment, rear-end accidents can be reduced by removing the left turning vehicles from the through lanes. The addition of a TWLTL will also reduce delay for through vehicles they will not have to wait for the left tuning vehicles to turn.
TWLTLs can be useful. They work best on roads where the traffic volumes are moderate and the demand for mid-block left turns are high. However, as the traffic volumes of roads increase, the TWLTLs lose their effectiveness. In the case of the section of SR 309 just west of the City of Lima this section of road which has a TWLTL and high traffic volumes has repeatedly appeared high on ODOT's Highway Safety Program (HSP) listing of the top accident locations in the state. A study of the traffic accident data found that many of the problem areas can be corrected through the application of access management principles to reduce potential conflict points. There will be less conflict points with raised median then there are with the TWLTL.
Other Sources of Information on Access Management
The ODOT Office of Roadway Engineering Services has an access management section of their website. From this section you can get the State Highway Access Management Manual and other information about access management.
ODOT State Highway Access Management - Policy 21-002(P) - Effective March 31, 2005
(requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)
Transportation Research Board Committee on Access Management
There is a Safe Access is Good for Business video on the site of Teach America. This video has information on the need for access management, some techniques, and the effects on businesses.
The Allen County Access Management Regulations are available from this page of the site of the Lima-Allen County Regional Planning Commission.
ODOT District One Planning & Engineering Web Site Manager: Charles Schreck