Eric Wood is our featured associate this month. [...]
As you are driving down the road, flicking on your turn signal to enter a turning lane, you are likely not thinking about why that turn lane is there, when the intersection behind you didn’t have one. You are also probably not thinking about the length of the turn lane, or the size of the median, or why the “Left Turn Only” sign is placed exactly where it is.
But we think about it. In fact, we have been studying the best ways to design all these things for years. Based on that experience, the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) asked us to partner with The University Transportation Center for Alabama and Skipper Consulting, Inc., on the creation of the new ALDOT Access Management Manual. The manual will help their maintenance personnel understand the standards for managing access to and from state roads and highways, and be used by developers and engineers in planning access for future projects.
I served as one of the editors of the new manual, along with Sain’s Transportation Team Leader Jeff Stephenson and several other engineering professionals. I have have had the opportunity to train ALDOT personnel in Montgomery and Birmingham over the past weeks (we will head to Mobile in June) on the ideas contained in the manual.
The Access Management Manual has been several years in the making. My fellow editors and I spent hours talking with other state DOT organizations about their access management practices. We interviewed DOT personnel in those states; researched information from national organizations like the Transportation Research Board, the Institute of Transportation Engineers, the Federal Highway Administration, and others; and pulled together all that input into standards specifically tailored to Alabama.
Part of the training we do is covering material in the manual, but it is also sharing with the attendees the actual projects we have worked on. Many of these projects are ones we have worked on with the ALDOT personnel who are in the training. We can give them actual examples of the items covered in the manual. We tell the attendees that the access management manual is the theory, and the projects are the art. We walk through how you apply all the different criteria from the manual to a real-life example.
These training sessions are a great way for us to share our subject matter expertise. I find that if I am teaching or training I always end up learning something new. I have practiced engineering all over the eastern United States and worked with lots of states on their driveway and access permitting issues, but there is always something new for me to learn and share.
Sain Associates, Inc., is headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama, with offices in Pulaski, Tennessee and Mandeville, Louisiana. Sain is a site engineering, traffic/transportation engineering and planning and land surveying firm with experience in more than thirty states.