Jeff Stephenson, P.E., is the Team Leader of [...]
There are many factors to consider when choosing a site for development, and it’s always important to consider the location from a transportation perspective. As with many other areas of civil engineering, it is always beneficial to start by doing a little homework first.
Find out if there are agencies governing the access for a site and what their requirements are. I have found that no one knows the roads better than they do, so they can be a great resource. They receive complaints about the roadway and often have projects planned for improving those areas. Knowing about problems and plans on the front end will help you produce a better product.
After you’ve done some research on the site, what are some other considerations regarding traffic and transportation?
Understand access. Consider the type of access the development will require and what access is permitable from the governing agency. For example, most convenience developments, such as gas stations and fast food restaurants, prefer to be on the corner. Often corner parcels have restrictions about spacing requirements for access points and types (full access, right in right out, etc.). These restrictions are typically more stringent near intersections, which will limit access options for the parcel. Well-planned access points with appropriate spacing and traffic control provide efficient traffic flow for development and also lessen impact of the project to the surrounding roadway network.
Signal locations and median openings. Traditionally, developments prefer direct access to signal locations, median openings or both. In the interest of increasing the safety performance of roadways, many municipalities/agencies have written policies that now prohibit that type of connection or have minimum requirements for spacing, so knowing what the policy is on the front end is critical.
Surrounding roadway network. Consider the surrounding roadway network, and know your budget for improvements. In many situations, there are improvements that can be made to the existing roadway network that would allow it to accommodate proposed developments. In some situations where the surrounding network is currently performing poorly this can be very expensive and occasionally cost prohibitive for the development.
There are a lot of things to consider. Because Sain Associates is a multi-disciplinary firm, we can present the pros and cons of site locations from a transportation angle and a site engineering angle. Our transportation staff can provide valuable input to the site plan in the conceptual stage. With the combined experience of our engineers, there aren’t many situations we haven’t encountered or lessons we haven’t learned.