- Briefing Room
U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
It is in the national interest to preserve and enhance the Interstate System. The FHWA policy on access to the interstate system was developed to ensure that new or modified access are properly reviewed and the highest level of service in terms of safety and mobility can be maintained. A revised policy statement for Access to the Interstate System was published in the Federal Registry on August 27, 2009 effective immediately. The revised policy clarifies the requirements, provides additional examples, requires a conceptual plan of the type and location of the proposed signs for each design alternative, and provides clarification in the application of the policy. The revisions were necessary to reflect the direction provided in SAFETEA-LU, clarify the operational and safety analyses that accompany proposed changes in access on the Interstate System, and to ensure consistency with other Federal laws, regulations and FHWA policies. Due to the complexity of adding or revising Interstate access, FHWA has developed an Interstate System Access Information Guide that clearly defines and explains what should be included in the Access Justification Report submitted by MoDOT to the FHWA Division Office. The Guide will only be available on-line as a living document similar to MoDOT's Engineering Policy Guide (EPG).
The new Interstate System Access Information Guide clearly states which access changes will require FHWA review and action in Section 3.3.1. If an Access Justification Report (AJR) is required, MoDOT shall follow the process outlined in the Guide. In order to provide the best results and properly respond to MoDOT's AJR proposals: (1) a meeting between FHWA Division representatives and MoDOT must be scheduled early in the process to explicitly define the purpose and need, project goals and objectives, and establish the project study framework, (2) at the draft AJR stage another meeting between FHWA Division representatives and MoDOT including the Project Manager is needed to properly discuss the progress and answer questions, (3) at the formal AJR submission stage, include a completed copy of the FHWA Policy Points Promptlist for review by the FHWA Division representative. The Interchange Design Promptlist will be utilized by the FHWA Division representative during the review process. The Guide does not clearly state when FHWA Headquarters approval is necessary for an AJR, therefore a Delegation of Authority for Access Approval link has been provided for clarification.
The FHWA Division Office will assist MoDOT in determining the level of effort necessary for those projects that may not require FHWA review and action as stated in Section 3.3.2 of the Guide and as denoted by X** on the Delegation of Authority for Access Approval. Although AJR approval may not be needed; coordination with FHWA Division Office is necessary to determine if any analysis is required based on the context of the project. If it is determined these changes may require an analysis of the planning, environmental, design, safety, and/or operations of the proposed improvements, MoDOT shall coordinate with the FHWA Division Office to determine the type and extent of analysis required. If an analysis is necessary, a meeting between FHWA Division representatives and MoDOT must be scheduled early in the process to explicitly define the purpose and need, project goals and objectives, and establish the project study framework. FHWA Division Office has determined a minimum level of effort required under the Policy for the following changes to Interstate facilities, however each project will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
Modification or reconstruction of intersections (i.e. Roundabouts, Diverging Diamond) at the ramp terminus may not require an Access Justification Report; however, based on coordination with FHWA, analysis of the potential consequences of this change on the safety and operational performance of the Interstate may be required.
Modification or construction of C/D or outer road system may not require an Access Justification Report; however, based on coordination with FHWA, analysis of the potential consequences of this change on the safety and operational performance of the Interstate may be required.
Shift of a ramp's location within the same interchange configuration, which results in ramp spacing that meets FHWA's design criteria. If the interchange is reconfigured in such a way that the travel patterns change with the same number of access points, coordination of the project should be performed with FHWA Division Office to determine the type of review and process to be considered. Changing the location of a ramp could result in changes to the safety and operational performance of the Interstate System.
Addition of lanes to an on-ramp may not require an Access Justification Report be submitted; however, based on coordination with FHWA, analysis of the potential consequences of this change on the safety and operational performance of the Interstate may be required.
Addition of a single auxiliary lane between two adjacent interchange ramps where the single auxiliary lane does not function as a mainline travel lane.
Modification of the length of acceleration or deceleration lanes involved with any ramp.
Improvement of traffic signals at ramp termini with local roads should be reviewed to ensure that the changes in the signalization do not result in queue spillback into the mainline lanes of the Interstate and that sufficient storage is provided.
Implementation of ramp metering or other active control of vehicles entering the Interstate System.
Relocation or shifting of the existing on-ramp or off-ramp termini (i.e., moving the ramp end that connects with the local road) along the same roadway.
Addition of left-turn storage lanes, right-turn storage lanes, and through travel lanes at the terminus of existing ramps.
Construction of new signing, striping, and/or resurfacing of an Interstate on-ramp or off-ramp, where geometric features are not changed.
Installation of roadside guardrail and concrete barriers (such as for resurfacing and safety projects).
Construction of overpasses or grade separation structures without ramps along Interstate facilities. The approval of air-rights over Interstate facilities is addressed as part of the location and design concept acceptance with the NEPA process and approval of plans, specifications, and estimate.
Chapter 7 and 8 of the Guide discuss the safety and operational considerations respectively. These chapters describe in detail the analysis that may be required to verify the performance of the Interstate based on the proposed change. FHWA Division Office will work with MoDOT to achieve the proper level of effort required on a case-by-case basis and may require more analysis than the minimums listed above.
In the event that a route has been approved for future interstate designation, MoDOT shall contact the FHWA Division representative to determine what may be necessary to ensure compliance with the interstate access requirements. Each project will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
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