[Federal Register Volume 74, Number 165 (Thursday, August 27, 2009)]
[Notices]
[Pages 43743-43746]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E9-20679]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Highway Administration


Access to the Interstate System

AGENCY: Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), DOT.

ACTION: Notice of revised policy statement.

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SUMMARY: This document issues the revised FHWA policy statement 
regarding requests for new or modified access points to the Interstate 
System. The policy includes the requirements for the justification and 
documentation necessary to substantiate any request that is submitted 
to FHWA for approval.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For technical information: Mr. Jon 
Obenberger, Office of Program Administration (HIPA-20), (202) 366-2221. 
For legal information: Mr. Robert Black, Office of the Chief Counsel 
(HCC-32), (202) 366-1359, Federal Highway Administration, 1200 New 
Jersey Avenue, SE., Washington, DC 20590. Office hours are from 7:45 
a.m. to 4:15 p.m., e.t., Monday through Friday, except Federal 
holidays.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    The surface transportation system plays a key role in shaping the 
economic health, quality of life and sustainability of a metropolitan 
area, region, and State. The Interstate System is a critical element 
providing a network of limited access freeways which facilitate the 
distribution of virtually all goods and services across the United 
States. The Interstate System also influences the mobility and safety 
of people and goods by providing access to local highways and a network 
of public

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streets. As a result, it is in the national interest to preserve and 
enhance the Interstate System to meet the needs of the surface 
transportation system of the United States for the 21st century.
    The FHWA's Policy on Access to the Interstate System provides the 
requirements for the justification and documentation necessary to 
substantiate any proposed changes in access to the Interstate System. 
This policy also facilitates decisionmaking regarding proposed changes 
in access to the Interstate System in a manner that considers and is 
consistent with the vision, goals and long-range transportation plans 
of a metropolitan area, region and State. This policy reflects the 
congressional intent and direction provided in section 1909(a)(3) of 
the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A 
Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) (Pub. L. 109-59, 119 Stat. 1144), which 
amended section 101 of title 23, United States Code by adding 
subsection (b)(3)(H): ``the Secretary should take appropriate actions 
to preserve and enhance the Interstate System to meet the needs of the 
21st century.''
    Section 111 of title 23, United States Code, provides that all 
agreements between the Secretary and the State departments of 
transportation (State DOTs) for the construction of projects on the 
Interstate System shall contain a clause providing that the State will 
not add any points of access to, or exit from, the project in addition 
to those approved by the Secretary in the plans for such project, 
without the prior approval of the Secretary. The Secretary has 
delegated the authority to administer 23 U.S.C. 111 to the Federal 
Highway Administrator pursuant to 49 CFR 1.48(b)(1). A formal policy 
statement including guidance for justifying and documenting the need 
for additional access to the existing sections of the Interstate System 
was published in the Federal Register on October 22, 1990 (55 FR 
42670), and modified on February 11, 1998 (63 FR 7045).
    The FHWA has adopted the AASHTO publication ``A Policy on Design 
Standards--Interstate System'' as the standard for projects on the 
Interstate System as incorporated by reference at 23 CFR 625.4(a)(2). 
Section 625.4(a)(2) further requires that access to the Interstate 
System shall be fully controlled, and that access to the Interstate 
System shall be achieved by interchanges at selected public highways.

Summary of Changes

    The changes in FHWA's policy were made to reflect the direction 
provided in SAFETEA-LU, to clarify the operational and safety analysis 
and assessment of impacts that provides the basis for proposed changes 
in access to the Interstate System, and to update language at various 
locations to reference Federal laws, regulations, and FHWA policies. 
The following specific revisions have been made to the existing policy 
statement:
    1. Updates were made to Requirement 1 clarifying the need for 
agencies to analyze and justify that the projected design-year traffic 
demands cannot be adequately accommodated by existing access to the 
Interstate.
    2. Additional examples were added to Requirement 2 to identify the 
type of improvements to be considered in the planning for and 
development of proposed changes in access.
    3. Text was added to Requirement 3 to clarify that the safety and 
operational analysis to be performed and documentation to be submitted 
provide the justification for proposed changes in access.
    4. Revisions were made to Requirement 4 clarifying the need to meet 
or exceed design standards for all roadway improvements included in 
proposals to change access.
    5. Changes were made to Requirement 5 to reference the current 
requirements contained in SAFETEA-LU and 23 CFR part 450.
    6. Text was added to Requirement 6 clarifying the analysis to be 
performed in support of proposed changes in access involving multiple 
interchanges.
    7. Clarification to Requirement 7 was made identifying the 
justification needed to support any proposed change in access due to 
changes in land use or density of development.
    8. Revision was made to Requirement 8 to clarify and avoid 
duplication with Requirement 5.
    9. Updates were made to the Application section to reference 
current Federal laws, regulations, and FHWA policies. Revisions were 
made to paragraph 4 and a new paragraph 5 was added to clarify what is 
a change in access and how this policy may apply to different types of 
access changes. Paragraph 8 was added to clarify how FHWA's review and 
approval of proposed changes in access relate to other Federal actions, 
reviews, and approvals. Paragraph 9 was added to clarify that proposals 
for changes in access need to be reevaluated and the proposal 
resubmitted to FHWA for review and approval if the project has not 
proceeded to construction within 8 years.
    The revised policy statement also includes various editorial 
changes to enhance clarity and readability. The revised policy 
statement is as follows:

Policy

    It is in the national interest to preserve and enhance the 
Interstate System to meet the needs of the 21st Century by assuring 
that it provides the highest level of service in terms of safety and 
mobility. Full control of access along the Interstate mainline and 
ramps, along with control of access on the crossroad at interchanges, 
is critical to providing such service. Therefore, FHWA's decision to 
approve new or revised access points to the Interstate System must be 
supported by substantiated information justifying and documenting that 
decision. The FHWA's decision to approve a request is dependent on the 
proposal satisfying and documenting the following requirements.

Considerations and Requirements

    1. The need being addressed by the request cannot be adequately 
satisfied by existing interchanges to the Interstate, and/or local 
roads and streets in the corridor can neither provide the desired 
access, nor can they be reasonably improved (such as access control 
along surface streets, improving traffic control, modifying ramp 
terminals and intersections, adding turn bays or lengthening storage) 
to satisfactorily accommodate the design-year traffic demands (23 CFR 
625.2(a)).
    2. The need being addressed by the request cannot be adequately 
satisfied by reasonable transportation system management (such as ramp 
metering, mass transit, and HOV facilities), geometric design, and 
alternative improvements to the Interstate without the proposed 
change(s) in access (23 CFR 625.2(a)).
    3. An operational and safety analysis has concluded that the 
proposed change in access does not have a significant adverse impact on 
the safety and operation of the Interstate facility (which includes 
mainline lanes, existing, new, or modified ramps, ramp intersections 
with crossroad) or on the local street network based on both the 
current and the planned future traffic projections. The analysis shall, 
particularly in urbanized areas, include at least the first adjacent 
existing or proposed interchange on either side of the proposed change 
in access (23 CFR 625.2(a), 655.603(d) and 771.111(f)). The crossroads 
and the local street network, to at least the first major intersection 
on either side of the proposed change in access, shall be included in 
this analysis to the extent necessary to fully evaluate the safety and 
operational impacts that

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the proposed change in access and other transportation improvements may 
have on the local street network (23 CFR 625.2(a) and 655.603(d)). 
Requests for a proposed change in access must include a description and 
assessment of the impacts and ability of the proposed changes to safely 
and efficiently collect, distribute and accommodate traffic on the 
Interstate facility, ramps, intersection of ramps with crossroad, and 
local street network (23 CFR 625.2(a) and 655.603(d)). Each request 
must also include a conceptual plan of the type and location of the 
signs proposed to support each design alternative (23 U.S.C. 109(d) and 
23 CFR 655.603(d)).
    4. The proposed access connects to a public road only and will 
provide for all traffic movements. Less than ``full interchanges'' may 
be considered on a case-by-case basis for applications requiring 
special access for managed lanes (e.g., transit, HOVs, HOT lanes) or 
park and ride lots. The proposed access will be designed to meet or 
exceed current standards (23 CFR 625.2(a), 625.4(a)(2), and 
655.603(d)).
    5. The proposal considers and is consistent with local and regional 
land use and transportation plans. Prior to receiving final approval, 
all requests for new or revised access must be included in an adopted 
Metropolitan Transportation Plan, in the adopted Statewide or 
Metropolitan Transportation Improvement Program (STIP or TIP), and the 
Congestion Management Process within transportation management areas, 
as appropriate, and as specified in 23 CFR part 450, and the 
transportation conformity requirements of 40 CFR parts 51 and 93.
    6. In corridors where the potential exists for future multiple 
interchange additions, a comprehensive corridor or network study must 
accompany all requests for new or revised access with recommendations 
that address all of the proposed and desired access changes within the 
context of a longer-range system or network plan (23 U.S.C. 109(d), 23 
CFR 625.2(a), 655.603(d), and 771.111).
    7. When a new or revised access point is due to a new, expanded, or 
substantial change in current or planned future development or land 
use, requests must demonstrate appropriate coordination has occurred 
between the development and any proposed transportation system 
improvements (23 CFR 625.2(a) and 655.603(d)). The request must 
describe the commitments agreed upon to assure adequate collection and 
dispersion of the traffic resulting from the development with the 
adjoining local street network and Interstate access point (23 CFR 
625.2(a) and 655.603(d)).
    8. The proposal can be expected to be included as an alternative in 
the required environmental evaluation, review and processing. The 
proposal should include supporting information and current status of 
the environmental processing (23 CFR 771.111).

Application

    This policy is 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. 103(c)(4)(A) or other legislation.
    Routes approved as a future part of the Interstate System under 23 
U.S.C. 103(c)(4)(B) represent a special case because they are not yet a 
part of the Interstate System. Since the intention to add the route to 
the Interstate System has been formalized by agreement, any proposed 
new or significant changes in access beyond those covered in the 
agreement, regardless of funding, must be approved by FHWA.
    This policy is not applicable to toll roads incorporated into the 
Interstate System, except for segments where Federal funds have been 
expended or these funds will be used for roadway improvements, or where 
the toll road section has been added to the Interstate System under the 
provisions of 23 U.S.C. 103(c)(4)(A). The term ``segment'' is defined 
as the project limits described in the Federal-aid project agreement.
    Each break in the control of access to the Interstate System right-
of-way is considered to be an access point. For the purpose of applying 
this policy, each entrance or exit point, including ``locked gate'' 
access, is considered to be an access point. For example, a diamond 
interchange configuration has four access points.
    Ramps providing access to rest areas, information centers, and 
weigh stations within the Interstate controlled access are not 
considered access points for the purpose of applying this policy. These 
facilities shall be accessible to vehicles only to and from the 
Interstate System. Access to or from these facilities and local roads 
and adjoining property is prohibited. The only allowed exception is for 
access to adjacent publicly owned conservation and recreation areas, if 
access to these areas is only available through the rest area, as 
allowed under 23 CFR 752.5(d).
    Generally, any change in the design of an existing access point is 
considered a change to 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 for the purpose of 
applying this policy.
    All requests for new or revised access points on completed 
Interstate highways must closely adhere to the planning and 
environmental review processes as required in 23 CFR parts 450 and 771. 
The FHWA approval constitutes a Federal action and, as such, requires 
that the transportation planning, conformity, congestion management 
process, and the National Environmental Policy Act procedures be 
followed and their requirements satisfied. This means the final FHWA 
approval of requests for new or revised access cannot precede the 
completion of these processes or necessary actions.
    To offer maximum flexibility, however, any proposed change in 
access can be submitted by a State DOT to the FHWA Division Office for 
a determination of engineering and operational acceptability. This 
flexibility allows agencies the option of obtaining this acceptability 
determination prior to making the required modifications to the 
Transportation Plan, performing any required conformity analysis, and 
completing the environmental review and approval process. In this 
manner, State DOTs can determine if a proposal is acceptable for 
inclusion as an alternative in the environmental process. This policy 
in no way alters the planning, conformity or environmental review and 
approval procedures as contained in 23 CFR parts 450 and 771, and 40 
CFR parts 51 and 93.
    An affirmative determination by FHWA of engineering and operational 
acceptability for proposals for new or revised access points to the 
Interstate System should be reevaluated whenever a significant change 
in conditions occurs (e.g., land use, traffic volumes, roadway 
configuration or design, environmental commitments). Proposals shall be 
reevaluated if the project has not progressed to construction within 8 
years of receiving an affirmative determination of engineering and 
operational acceptability (23 CFR 625.2(a)). If the project is not 
constructed within this time period, an updated justification report 
based on current and projected future conditions must be submitted to 
FHWA to receive either an affirmative determination of engineering and 
operational acceptability, or final approval if all

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other requirements have been satisfied (23 U.S.C. 111, 23 CFR 625.2(a), 
and 23 CFR 771.129).

Implementation

    State DOTs are required to submit requests for proposed changes in 
access to their FHWA Division Office for review and action under 23 
U.S.C. 106 and 111, and 23 CFR 625.2(a). The FHWA Division Office will 
ensure that all requests for changes in access contain sufficient 
information, as required in this policy, to allow FHWA to independently 
evaluate and act on the request. Guidance to assist with the 
implementation and consistent application of this policy can be 
accessed electronically through the FHWA Office of Infrastructure's Web 
page at: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/programadmin/index.htm.

Policy Statement Impact

    The policy statement, first published in the Federal Register on 
October 22, 1990 (55 FR 42670), and modified on February 11, 1998 (63 
FR 7045), describes the justification and documentation needed for 
requests to add or revise access to the existing Interstate System.
    The revisions made by the publication of this policy statement 
reflect the direction provided in SAFETEA-LU, clarify the operational 
and safety analysis to accompany proposed changes in access on the 
Interstate System, and update language at various locations to ensure 
consistency with other Federal laws, regulations and FHWA policies. 
State DOTs should take these factors into consideration when making 
requests for new or revised access points, but the overall effort 
necessary for developing the request will not be significantly 
increased.

(Authority: 23 U.S.C. 111 and 315; 49 CFR 1.48)

    Issued on August 18, 2009.
Victor M. Mendez,
Federal Highway Administrator.
[FR Doc. E9-20679 Filed 8-26-09; 8:45 am]
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