Section 2: Application of Access Criteria

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This section discusses the application of access connection criteria on the state highway system. The criteria are intended to provide reasonable access, while ensuring the safe and efficient operations of each roadway type.

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Application of the Criteria

The access connection distances in the following sections are intended for application to state highways where municipalities have not been granted location permitting authority (as described in Chapter 3, Section 1 ). The access connection distances in the following sections are intended for passenger cars on a level grade. These distances may be increased for downgrades, truck traffic, or where otherwise indicated for the specific circumstances of the site and the roadway. In other cases, shorter distances may be appropriate to provide reasonable access, and such decisions should be based on safety and operational factors supported by an engineering study.

The distance between access connections is measured along the edge of the traveled way from the closest edge of pavement of the first access connection to the closest edge of pavement of the second access connection (Refer to Figure 2-1).

Access Connection Spacing Diagram (click in image to see full-size image) Anchor: #i999708

Figure 2-1. Access Connection Spacing Diagram

Conditions for granting access to the state highway system will be stated in the access permit. Violation of the conditions under which the permit was granted, as determined by the Department, may require reevaluation of the access by TxDOT.

Where topography or other existing conditions make it inappropriate or not feasible to conform to the connection spacing intervals, the location of reasonable access will be determined with consideration given to topography, established property ownerships, unique physical limitations, and/or physical design constraints. The selected location should serve as many properties and interests as possible to reduce the need for additional direct access to the highway. In selecting locations for full movement intersections, preference will be given to public roadways that are on local thoroughfare plans.

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Sale of TxDOT Controlled Access

In locations where TxDOT controls the access along the state highway, a request to purchase the access must first be submitted to the local District office and then sent to the TxDOT Administration through the Design Division. If the Administration concurs with the purchase request, then the Commission will consider the sale of the access. It is important to understand that access is an interest in real property and cannot be sold without Commission approval.

While the data will vary based on the individual request or location, information required for submission of a request to sell TxDOT controlled access may include:

  • District, county, city, highway, location, and right of way points of proposed access breaks
  • Dated chronology of correspondence, meetings, or discussion concerning the access request
  • Participants in the request process, including city, county, developers, consultants, legal counsel, etc.
  • Any local funding contributions (amount or percentages)
  • Highway layout showing the proposed access site and the upstream/downstream roadway system and associated access (including roadway/driveway geometrics if applicable to resolution)
  • Future development (both of the roadway and adjacent property)
  • Present and future traffic volumes, including turning movements, at intersections and access points within the logical termini
  • Any engineering studies or traffic modeling that have been completed
  • Unified Transportation Program (UTP) status
  • Environmental status
  • Right of Way (ROW) status
  • District discussion/comments on present and future impacts to the state highway system

Refer to Chapter 3, Section 4 for engineering study and/or Traffic Impact Analysis (TIA) discussion.

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Access Management Coordination with Municipalities

Access management techniques that are tailored to a particular highway segment may be established in a corridor access management plan (refer to Chapter 3, Section 3). Also, municipalities that have location permit authority, as described in Chapter 3, Section 1, will govern access connection location decisions within their jurisdiction. Municipalities wanting this authority are encouraged to develop access management guidelines or plans for the state highway system within their jurisdiction, or adopt the Department guidelines.

Granting location permit authority to municipalities does not preclude the need for engineering driveway locations. Any impacts to drainage or hydraulics on the state highway system resulting from access connections must be coordinated with TxDOT prior to any local access location approval. Issuance of access permits by a municipality must address driveway geometrics, utility location/relocation, compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Texas Accessibility Standards (TAS), environmental requirements, wetland considerations if appropriate, and all other applicable state and federal laws, rules, and regulations.

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Approval of Existing Access and Additional Access Requests

As of the effective date of this manual, all previously permitted access will be “grandfathered” as accepted access. However, property owners must coordinate with the Department or the municipality responsible for access permitting prior to making any property modifications that will result in changes to the traffic patterns associated with the access. [See Chapter 2, Deviation Process (TxDOT as Permitting Authority) for additional discussion.] This paragraph will not operate to convey property rights or eliminate the need to purchase access in locations where TxDOT controls the access.

In areas where local access management guidelines or plans are not in place, municipalities should contact TxDOT, prior to the approval of new developments, with respect to the state highway access that will be provided. This will enable the Department to identify any problems with the proposed access and to suggest alternatives. Early state and local coordination will also help reduce unnecessary delays in the access permitting process.

In the absence of any safety or operational problems, additional access connections may be considered if the size and trip generation potential of the proposed development requires additional access in order to maintain good roadway traffic operations. Any additional access must not interfere with the location, planning, and operation of the public street system. Where the property abuts or has primary access to a lesser function road, to an internal street system, or by means of dedicated access easement, any access to the state highway will be considered as an additional access.

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Deviation Process (TxDOT as Permitting Authority)

This deviation process applies except within the jurisdiction of municipalities that have access connection location permit authority. A spacing that is shorter than the minimum allowable, as set forth in this document, is considered a deviation from the guidelines. Deviations shall be submitted to the proper TxDOT District office for a decision. If the deviation is denied by TxDOT, reference can be made to dispute resolution, Chapter 3, Section 2, of this manual.

It should be noted that a lesser connection spacing than set forth in this document may be allowed without deviation in the following situations:

  • To keep from land-locking a property where such land-locking is solely the result of action by TxDOT (for example, design and construction modifications which physically prevent a driveway installation due to grade changes, retaining walls, or barrier installations) where TxDOT does not control the access; or
  • Replacement or re-establishment of reasonable access to the state highway system under highway reconstruction/rehabilitation projects.

The above references to land-locking do not apply to circumstances where an existing larger tract of land is subsequently (after the effective date of this manual) further subdivided (and the subdivided lots sold to separate owners) and the original tract of land either already has an existing permitted access connection point, or would qualify for such an access connection point based upon the spacing requirements of this manual. Potential land-locking caused by subdivision and resale is the result of such subdivision process and will not alone justify variances or deviations in the spacing requirements contained in this manual. Therefore, as part of the subdividing process, the party proposing the subdivision (and the municipality approving such subdivisions) should require and provide some type of internal access easements to the existing access connection points (or to such access connection point locations that qualify for future permits based on this manual's spacing requirements).

When a deviation is approved for an access connection spacing that is less than the given connection spacing criteria, the permit will include conditions such as the maximum permitted traffic volume to ingress and egress the property or other conditions with respect to granting the deviation. Violation of the conditions under which the deviation was granted may require reevaluation of the access permit, particularly if safety or crash records indicate deteriorated traffic safety on the abutting state highway.

For municipalities that have access connection location permit authority, refer to the deviation procedures outlined in Chapter 3, Section 1.

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Median Openings

Median treatments and other design of median openings play a critical role in the operation and safety of roadways. These design requirements are not addressed in this manual. Median design and minimum median opening spacing requirements can be found in the TxDOT Roadway Design Manual, Chapters 2 and 3.

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Emergency Access

Direct emergency access (to be used by authorized emergency vehicles only) may be permitted if it is not feasible to provide adequate emergency access to a secondary roadway. A written explanation with references to local criteria from an appropriate government public safety official will be included with the permit application.

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Field Drives

Field drives will be permitted where, in the determination of TxDOT, the field has no other reasonable access. Typically, one field drive to a property under the same ownership or controlling interest may be granted; additional field drives may be permitted if the necessity for such additional access (due to topography or ongoing agriculture activities) is demonstrated. Field drives will be kept to the minimum necessary in order to provide reasonable access. A permit for a field drive will state the conditions as to its use by agricultural equipment only. A change in the use of the property may require a reevaluation of the access permit as determined by the Department or municipality that has been granted access connection location permit authority.

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