Section 4: Additional Access to the Interstate System

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According to the Code of Federal Regulations, 23 CFR 630, proposals for new or revised access points to the existing interstate system should meet the following requirements:

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  • The existing interchanges and/or local roads and streets in the corridor can neither provide the necessary access nor be improved to satisfactorily accommodate the design year traffic demands while at the same time providing the access intended by the proposal.
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  • All reasonable alternatives for design options, location and transportation system management type improvements (such as ramp metering, mass transit, and HOV facilities) have been assessed and provided for if currently justified, or provisions are included for accommodating such facilities if a future need is identified.
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  • The proposed access point does not have a significant adverse impact on the safety and operation of the interstate facility based on an analysis of current and future traffic. The operational analysis for existing conditions shall, particularly in urbanized areas, include an analysis of sections of interstate to and including at least the first adjacent existing or proposed interchange on either side. Crossroads and other roads and streets shall be included in the analysis to the extent necessary to assure their ability to collect and distribute traffic to and from the interchange with new or revised access points.
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  • The proposed access connects to a public road only and will provide for all traffic movements. Less than "full interchanges" for special purpose access for transit vehicles, for HOV's, or into park and ride lots may be considered on a case by case basis. The proposed access will be designed to meet or exceed current standards for federal aid projects on the interstate system.
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  • The proposal considers and is consistent with local and regional land use and transportation plans. Prior to final approval, all requests for new or revised access must be consistent with the metropolitan and/or statewide transportation plan, as appropriate, the applicable provisions of 23 CFR part 450 and the transportation conformity requirements of 40 CFR parts 51 and 93.
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  • In areas where the potential exists for future multiple interchange additions, all requests for new or revised access are supported by a comprehensive interstate network study with recommendations that address all proposed and desired access within the context of a long term plan.
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  • The request for a new or revised access generated by new or expanded development demonstrates appropriate coordination between the development and related or otherwise required transportation system improvements.
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  • The request for new or revised access contains information relative to the planning requirements and the status of the environmental processing of the proposal.

    According to the federal regulations, the application of these requirements is as follows:

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  • These requirements are applicable to new or revised access points to existing interstate facilities regardless of the funding of the original construction or regardless of the funding for the new access points. This includes routes incorporated into the interstate system under the provisions of 23 U.S.C. 139(a) or other legislation. Routes approved as a future part of the interstate system under 23 U.S.C. 139(b) represent a special case because they are not yet a part of the interstate system and the requirements contained herein do not apply. However, since the intention to add the route to the interstate system has been formalized by agreement, any proposed access points, regardless of funding, must be coordinated with the FHWA Division Office.
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  • These requirements are not applicable to toll roads incorporated into the interstate system, except for segments where federal funds have been expended, or where the toll road section has been added to the interstate system under the provisions of 23 U.S.C. 139(a).
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  • Each entrance or exit point, including "locked gate" access, to the mainlanes is considered to be an access point. For example, a diamond interchange configuration has four access points. Generally, revised access is considered to be a change in the interchange configuration even though the number of actual points of access may not change. For example, replacing one of the direct ramps of a diamond interchange with a loop, or changing a cloverleaf interchange into a fully directional interchange would be considered revised access.
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  • All requests for new or revised access points on completed interstate highways must be closely coordinated with the planning and environmental processes. The FHWA approval constitutes a federal action, and as such, requires that the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) procedures are followed. The NEPA procedures will be accomplished as part of the normal project development process and as a condition of the access approval. This means the final approval of access cannot precede the completion of the NEPA process. To offer maximum flexibility, however, any proposed access points can be submitted in accordance with the delegation of authority for a determination of engineering and operational acceptability prior to completion of the NEPA process. In this manner, the state highway agency can determine if a proposal is acceptable for inclusion as an alternative in the environmental process. These requirements in no way alter the current implementing procedures as contained in 23 CFR part 771.
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  • Although the justification and documentation procedures can be applied to access requests for non-interstate freeways or other access controlled highways, they are not required. However, applicable federal rules and regulations, including NEPA procedures, must be followed.

    The request should contain sufficient information to independently evaluate the proposal and ensure that all pertinent factors and alternatives have been appropriately considered. The extent and format of the required documentation and justification should be consistent with the complexity and expected impact of the proposal. No specific documentation format or content is prescribed. The Design Division can provide assistance with documentation and examples of proposals. The final documentation for these requests should be sent to the Design Division for coordination with the FHWA Division Office.

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