blank space

South Dakota Department of Transportation
Project Synopsis

Title: Review of SDDOT Highway Access Control Process
Project Researcher: David Rose, Dye Mgmt. Group
Project Manager: Dave Huft
Research Period: 2/15/1999 - 2/29/2000
Cost: $175,000.00

Problem Statement:Like many states in the northern plains and the rocky mountain west, South Dakota lacks sound, consistently applied highway access policy and procedures. Although its Office of Roadway Design has recently begun to review the South Dakota Department of Transportations access policies, the policies date from the 1970s and do not adequately meet todays challenges. Under pressure from business and development interests, decisions are often made case by case, rather than by consistently applying a comprehensive policy. Local policies, when they exist, sometimes fail to align with state policies. The problem is further compounded in that access is a property right in South Dakota law. With the natural tendency for highway access to proliferate, communities suffer.

When access proliferates excessively, highways lose their intended function and capacity. Arterial roads, designed to connect communities, instead become congested with local traffic, leading to delays and safety problems, not only for motorized traffic but also for pedestrians and other nonmotorized traffic. Until recently, degradation of service has typically occurred in about thirty to forty years, but the pace appears to be accelerating.

The loss of capacity comes at high cost, both financial and aesthetic. Users experience delays, inconvenience, and increased vehicle operating costs. To compensate for lost capacity, government agencies add lanes, often consuming adjacent property. Costs of construction and right-of-way acquisition can be substantial. When capacity deteriorates excessively, or when no room exists for additional lanes, parallel routes must be constructed, further dissecting community neighborhoods, and at even greater cost.

Ironically, lax access policy also harms the very interests that press for it to begin with. As an arterial highway loses its capacity, traffic volume declines, causing loss of business along the route. Faced with declining volume, businesses relocate along another route, where the cycle begins anew.

Several barriers stand in the way of a sound and coherent highway access policy. StakeholdersCsuch as local officials, developers and business ownersCsometimes lack information about the long-term effects of lax access policy and, conversely, the benefits of sound policy. Those who understand the value of consistent policy lack ways to quantify and effectively communicate the costs and benefits to others. Finally, necessary partnerships, not only between state and local agencies, but also with business and political interests, may not be sufficiently cultivated.

Research is needed to develop a policy, procedures and design guidelines for controlling highway access in rural states of the upper great plains and the mountain west, and to evaluate and document the value of sound and coherent access policy. Furthermore, the research should produce materials that can effectively communicate with groups affected by highway access decisions, and help foster partnerships between those groups.

Findings: This report presents the reults and recommendations of a review of the South Dakota Department of Transportation's (SDDOT) highway access control process. This document presents recommendations that improve South Dakota's access policy. The document also recommends access criteria for driveway locations and design, a recommended permitting process, access management authority in South Dakota, the benefits of improved access management, tools for local government, perormance measures, and an implemenatation plan. The principal purpose of the review of SDDOT's highway access control process was to develop improved access policies, design guidelines and procedures for applying them. The policies, guidelines and procedures are intended to: Improve highway safety by minimizing the number, severity, and cost of accidents arising from access onto and off the highway system. Preserve investments in highways and roads by maintaining the functional intergrity of the system. Provide consistency and predictability regarding access. Improve coordination and consistency between state and local governments regarding access policies. Update the 1970's access management policies and design guidelines to provide and improved and consistent basis for managing highway access. Broad based stakeholder understanding of the safety and system benefits form improved access management formed an important element of the project.

Research Objectives:
1  To develop sound policies, design guidelines, and procedures for applying the policy and design guidelines, that state and local agencies can use to control access to rural and urban highways.
2  To define measures, identify sources of supporting data, and validate their ability to assess the effectiveness of access policies that are actually applied.
3  Using the recommended measures, to evaluate the potential value of consistent application of sound access policy at corridors and locations in South Dakota where access is proliferating, placing capacity and safety at immediate or imminent risk.
4  To equip state and local agencies to educate elected officials, business communities, and regulatory staff on the benefits of sound access policy and the impacts of access policy, process recommendations, procedures.

Research Tasks:
1  Meet with the project's technical panel to review the project=s scope and work plan.
2  Review the highway access regulations and policies of state and local agencies in South Dakota.
3  Through interviews with state and local planning professionals and officials, develop background and identify key issues related to control of highway access in South Dakota.
4  Through review of current and recent literature, and through contact with other states that are geographically and demographically similar, identify concepts and techniques for controlling highway access that are applicable to South Dakota's needs.
5  Develop information, based on state and regional data, to support legislation, rule making, and application of rules, citing information on accidents, costs, capacity impacts, long- and short-term economic effects on businesses, impacts on freight mo
6  Meet with the project's technical panel to summarize the findings of Tasks 2-5 and to propose, for the panel's approval, an updated plan for accomplishing the remaining tasks.
7  Draft an improved highway access policy, identifying any legislation needed to allow its adoption.
8  Draft design guidelines that address criteria, spacing, and limitations on highway access based on highway's functional classifications.
9  Propose a process to incorporate the recommended procedures and designs into local platting, building permit, and land use planning decisions and into state DOT reviews and approvals.
10  Draft a model ordinance, consistent with the state policy and design guidelines, that local agencies can adopt with minimal revision.
11  Propose practical measures, and identify supporting information sources, for assessing the effectiveness of access policies applied at the state and local level. Assess the measures' utility by applying them toa selected sample of existing locations
12  Prepare an implementation plan for equipping state and local officials to market the access policy, design guidelines, authorization process, and model ordinance to constituents throughout the state. (The marketing effort would be funded in part from
13  Prepare a technical memorandum and meet with the project's technical panel to review the draft highway policy, design guidelines, model ordinance, effectiveness measures, and implementation plan.
14  Conduct a series of regional workshops with elected officials, business leaders, developers, motor carriers, and other interests affected by highway access policy to validate the draft highway policy, design guidelines, model ordinance, effectiveness
15  Revise the draft highway policy, design guidelines, model ordinance, and effectiveness measures, based upon the comments and direction of the technical panel as well as feedback obtained from the regional workshops.
16  Prepare materials that state and local agencies can use to educate state and local business community, elected officials, regulatory staff on the benefits and impacts of access policy, process recommendations, and authorization procedures, and provid
17  Prepare a final report summarizing research methodology, findings, conclusions and recommendations.
18  Make executive presentations to SDDOT's Research Review Board and a meeting of local associations concerned with highway access policy.

Documents Available:
blank space