Why Use Access Management?
The need to effectively manage transportation networks is greater than ever before. Increasing congestion and decreasing revenues for transportation improvements result in the deterioration of roads and create a visually unappealing environment. Access management provides a cost effective approach to improving mobility, reducing congestion, and increasing safety on roadways.
When access is managed insufficiently, the public, businesses, and governments suffer. Citizens experience increased delays in travel time, more accidents, and higher fuel costs due to idling on congested roadways.
Local businesses suffer, too. Closely spaced and poorly designed driveways make it more difficult for customers to enter and exit businesses safely. Traffic backups and accidents may block access to developments, particularly corner businesses. When this occurs, customers start visiting businesses with safer, more convenient access and avoid businesses that are unsafe or difficult to access. Gradually the older developed areas deteriorate due to access and aesthetic problems, and investment moves to newer better-managed corridors.
Failure to manage access is associated with the adverse social, economic, and environmental impacts, including:
- An increase in vehicular crashes
- More collisions involving pedestrians and cyclists
- Accelerated reduction in roadway efficiency
- Unsightly commercial strip development
- Degradation of scenic landscapes
- More cut-through traffic in residential areas due to overburdened arterials
- Homes and businesses adversely impacted by a continuous cycle of widening roads, and
- Increased commute times, fuel consumption, and vehicular emissions as numerous driveways and traffic signals intensify congestion and delays along major roads.
Safety Benefits of Access Management
Inadequate access management can result in traffic operation and safety problems, such as blocked movements into and out of driveways, conflicting and confusing turns at intersections, and insufficient distance for vehicle maneuvers. Research suggests that:
- Crash rates increase as the number of driveways per mile increases.
- Crash rates are lower on roadways with a non-traversable median than roads with two-way left turn lanes or no medians.
- U-Turn movements are generally safer than direct left turns and result in fewer accidents resulting in injuries or fatalities.
- Drivers making U-turns experience less delay than drivers making a direct left turn under high volume conditions.
- Medians improve pedestrian safety because they provide a refuge as pedestrians cross the road.
Economic Benefits of Access Management
In addition to preserving the functional integrity of the roadway, access management helps preserve long-term property values and the economic viability of abutting development.
- Properly designed entrances shared by multiple businesses allow for more on-site parking, more customer options to access your site, and improved landscaping or other site amenities;
- Frontage/reverse frontage roads allow customers to enter and exit businesses conveniently and safely, away from the faster moving traffic on the main roadway;
- Internal connections between businesses allow customers to circulate easily, without reentering a busy road.
- Increasing the investment return on capital improvements, often funded by tax revenues;
Environmental Benefits of Access Management
Individual access roads and driveways can carve up rural landscapes and damage sensitive ecosystems, such as preserves and washes. Additionally, improved traffic flow translates into greater fuel efficiency and reduced vehicular emissions. The efficient traffic movement translates into direct air quality benefits because fewer brake dust particulates and emissions for slowing or stopped vehicles are being released into the air. Other environmental benefit include:
- Increased safety for pedestrian traffic, which results in increased ridership;
- Reduction in travel time, fuel consumption, and vehicular emissions;
- Preservation of the existing roadway means new roads with additional lanes are needed less frequently; and
- Increased coordination between land use and transportation decisions.