Montana Administrative Register Notice 18-143 No. 12   06/20/2013    
Prev Next





In the matter of the amendment of ARM 18.5.103, 18.5.104, 18.5.105, 18.5.112 and repeal of ARM 18.5.101, 18.5.102, and 18.5.113 pertaining to highway approaches










TO: All Concerned Persons


1. On July 20, 2013, the Department of Transportation proposes to amend and repeal the above-stated rules.


2. The Department of Transportation will make reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities who wish to participate in this rulemaking process or need an alternative accessible format of this notice. If you require an accommodation, contact Department of Transportation no later than 5:00 p.m. on July 11, 2013, to advise us of the nature of the accommodation that you need. Please contact David L. Ohler, Department of Transportation, P.O. Box 201001, Helena, Montana, 59320; telephone (406) 444-6094; fax (406) 444-7206; TDD (406) 444-7696 or (800) 335-7592; or e-mail dohler@mt.gov.


3. The rules as proposed to be amended provide as follows, new matter underlined, deleted matter interlined:


18.5.103  DEFINITIONS  (1)  "Approach" means that section of the highway right‑of‑way between the outside edge of shoulder and the right‑of‑way line which is designed as a highway for the movement of vehicles between the highway and the abutting property.

(2)  "Approach flare or radii" means the angle or curve radius connecting the approach to the outside edge of the highway shoulder.

(3)  "Approach transition" means the area from the edge of an urban approach sloped to match the curb and border area elevations.

(4)  "Approach angle" means the angle between the highway centerline and the extended approach centerline measured in a clockwise direction from the highway centerline.

(5)  "Approach width" means the width of the approach excluding flares or transitions measured at right angles to approach centerline.

(6)  "Border area" means the area between the outside edge of shoulder or curbline and the right‑of‑way line.

(7)  "Corner clearance" (At an intersecting street or highway) means the distance, measured along the outside edge of shoulder or curb line, between the end of intersecting curb radius, edge of pavement of the intersecting highway, or frontage boundary line and the extension of the nearest approach edge, including flares or radii.

(8)  "Department" means the Montana Department of Highways.

(9)  "Distance between approaches" means the distance measured along the curb line or outside edge of shoulder between the extensions of the near edges of adjacent approaches, excluding flares.

(10)  "Flare tangent distance" or "transition tangent distance" means the distance measured along the curb line or outside edge of shoulder, from the extension of the approach edge to the end of the approach flare or transition.

(11)  "Frontage" means the distance a separate property is contiguous to highway right‑of‑way measured along the curb line or outside edge of shoulder, between frontage boundary lines of the property.

(12) "Frontage boundary line" means a line perpendicular to the highway centerline that passes through the point of intersection of the property line and the highway right‑of‑way line.

(13) "Joint use approach" means an approach shared by two adjacent property owners for service and connection to both their properties.

(14) "Plot plan" means a sketch to show the District Engineer the approximate location of the approach. It can show the distance from the nearest milepost or station marker. In the case of an approach in an urban area, city streets would be good ties. It should be on 8 1/2" x 13" paper and show the highway right‑of‑way.

(15) "Private approach" means an entrance to and/or from a commercial, industrial or residential property.

(16) "Property line clearance" means the distance measured along the curb line or outside edge of shoulder between the frontage boundary line and the extension of the nearest edge of the approach, including flares or radii.

(17) "Public approach" means an entrance to and/or from a highway, street, road, alley or other public right‑of‑way.

(18) "Safety zone" means the area between the outside edge of shoulder or curb line and the right‑of‑way.

(19) "Setback distance" means the horizontal distance measured at right angles to the highway centerline between the right‑of‑way line and permanent fixtures such as gas pump islands, signs, display stands, buildings, etc. The setback distance should be adequate to provide designated parking on private property.

(20) "Sight distance" means the length of highway ahead visible to the driver. The minimum sight distance available on a highway should be sufficiently long to enable a vehicle traveling at or near the likely top speed to stop before reaching an object in its path.

(21) "State" means State of Montana Department of Highways.

(22) The words "shall," "should" and "may" are used to describe specific conditions and in order to clarify their meanings, the following definitions apply:

(a) "Shall" means a mandatory condition.

(b) "Should" means an advisory condition.

(c) "May" means a permissive condition.

(1) "Approach" means that section of the highway right-of-way between the outside edge of shoulder and the right-of-way line which is designed as a highway for the movement of vehicles between the highway and the abutting property.

(2) "Department" means the Montana Department of Transportation.

(3) "Person" means an individual, partnership, corporation, organization, or governmental agency.

(4) "Change in use" includes, but is not limited to, changes from residential to commercial, commercial to industrial, residential to industrial, or vice versa; or a change in the volume of traffic or use of an approach. 


AUTH:  60‑2‑201, MCA

IMP:  60‑2‑201, 60-5-101, 60-5-105, 60-5-107, MCA



(1) Any person wishing to construct a new approach or to modify an existing approach must obtain an approach permit from the department.

(2)  Any person proposing a change in use of property served by an existing approach must obtain a new approach permit from the department.

(1)(3)  A request An application for a an approach permit to construct or reconstruct any residential, commercial, industrial, public street or road an approach should shall be made to the appropriate District Engineer district having jurisdiction over the area office. The form can be found on the department's web site at www.mdt.mt.gov.

(2)(4)  The proper applicant for an approach permit is the owner of the property. being served, the contract purchaser or the owner of a long‑term lease with the remaining life greater than five years, or their authorized agents. (A real estate sales agent, contractor constructing a building or improvement on the property or a short‑term leasee does not ordinarily have authority to agree to the conditions on an approach permit in behalf of the owner of the land.) The application must be signed by the owner of the property.

(3)(5)  A brief description of the proposed work shall be included in the request together with a plot plan and A site plan drawing with sufficient detail shall be provided to the department to show the location of the work; preferably tied to the nearest highway milepost or station marker.  The name, address and telephone number of the applicant shall also be included.

(4)(a) Upon receipt of this request, the District Engineer will arrange for a meeting with the applicant, at which time details of the proposed work will be discussed and the "Driveway Approach Application and Permit" (MTCE 112‑A) completed and signed by the applicant. In cases where the District Engineer determines that the approach will have a significant effect, the applicant may be required to include either an Environmental Impact Statement or traffic study with the approach application.

(b) The District Engineer shall also confirm that the requested approach will not be constructed within an existing or proposed limited access area.

(5) The District Engineer, in conjunction with the District Traffic Engineer, is delegated authority to approve curb cuts, public and private approaches serving businesses, residences, and agricultural uses in rural and urban areas without further consultation if the traffic conditions are not congested. In congested areas, usually urban situations, the District Engineer and District Traffic Engineer can request the Manager, Traffic Unit, Helena, for further technical aid. If this is the case, the approach should be scaled onto existing plan and profile sheets showing the highway right‑of‑way and sent to Helena.

(6) When the appropriate approvals as outlined above have been secured, the District Engineer will distribute approved copies of the permit as follows: original to District Engineer to file; one copy to the applicant.

(6) The applicant shall submit an Environmental Checklist Form with the approach permit application. The form can be found on the department’s web site at www.mdt.mt.gov.

(7) The department will not review or approve a permit application until all necessary information has been provided to the department.

(7)(8)  The District Engineer department may, at his discretion, set a time limit for building the requested approach.  Failure to construct the approach within the specified time limit shall require the property owner applicant to obtain a new approach permit.

(8)(9)  Construction work on the public right‑of‑way will not be allowed to commence until an approved permit has been issued as prescribed above.  

(10) An approach permit will only be granted for property that has legal access to the highway right-of-way.

(11) A decision to grant, deny, or cancel an approach permit is solely within the discretion of the department.


AUTH:  60-2-201, MCA

IMP:  60-2-201, 60-5-101, 60-5-104, 60-5-105, MCA


18.5.105  GENERAL REQUIREMENTS  (1) Applications. Application for an approach permit shall be made by the owner or contract purchaser, who shall represent all of the parties interests, and such permits shall be only for the bona fide purpose of securing or changing access to his property, but not for the purpose of parking or servicing vehicles on the Department of Highways right‑of‑way.

(2) Private approach.

(a) Private approaches do not necessarily warrant state installed traffic control devices.

(b) The permittee shall do all construction work and pay all costs in connection with the construction of approaches and their appurtenances on the right‑of‑way. In areas outside the corporate limits of municipalities, the department may assist in establishing the flow‑line grade for drainage structures and finished grades for driveway surfaces or may provide other assistance which the District Engineer agrees to perform, provided that materials are furnished at the site as required.

(3) Public approach. The permittee shall do all work and pay all costs in connection with construction of approaches and their appurtenances on the right‑of‑way. In areas outside the corporate limits of municipalities, the department may assist in establishing flow‑line grades for drainage structures and finished grades for driveway surfaces or may provide other assistance which the District Engineer agrees to perform.

(4) Number and arrangements of driveways. The number of approaches should be the minimum number required to adequately serve the needs of the adjacent property. Frontage of 100' or less will be limited to one approach. No more than 2 approaches will be granted to any single property tract or business establishment. Exception may be made where the frontage exceeds 500 feet or special conditions exist which may benefit the traveling public. In the case of shopping centers or large traffic generators which have 2 or more approaches, it is desirable to have only one approach on the mainline and the other approach onto the side streets.

(5) Consolidation. Where the probability exists that several adjacent approaches serving limited frontage of one or more property owners will be needed, provisions should be made to provide a frontage road on the private properties and connected to the highway only at well spaced locations. If the department approved such a system, an approach permit shall be issued to all property owners concerned and shall state that there is an agreement that all properties shall have access to the highway via the frontage road or a joint use driveway system.

(6) Use. For other than private residential approach applications, buildings both proposed and existing and appurtenances and dimensions thereof shall be indicated on the plans, including a notation as to present use of the buildings and details of internal traffic circulation, parking and traffic signs.

(7) Construction and reconstruction.

(a)(1) All The construction of new or modified approaches not installed as part of a construction or reconstruction project shall be the responsibility of the permittee and shall be constructed in conformance with the applicable regulations or and as approved by the department.

(b) If it is determined by the department that an existing approach which has been destroyed, removed or relocated by the construction, reconstruction or the limiting of access on a section of highway is to be replaced, the approach shall be replaced or reconstructed by the department to a design compatible with these regulations.

(c) Provisions for the safe and efficient passage and protection of vehicles and pedestrians during the construction of the approach is very important. 

(2) During the progress of the work, the permittee shall erect and maintain such barricades, signs, and other traffic control devices shall be erected and maintained by the permittee, as may be deemed necessary by the department.

(d) No driveway, approach or other improvement constructed on the right‑of‑way may be relocated or its dimensions altered without a duly executed permit from the department.

(8) Inspection ‑ The department shall inspect permittee installed approaches at the time of construction and occasionally thereafter.

(9) Maintenance.

(a) With regard to permittee installed approaches,

(3) The permittee shall be responsible for any changes, maintenance, and/or repairs to existing approaches deemed necessary by the department shall be the responsibility of the permittee.

(b)(4)  The department reserves the right to may make any changes, additions, repairs, or relocations to any approach or its appurtenances within the highway right‑of‑way.

(10) Indemnification.

(5)  The permittee shall hold harmless the department and its duly appointed agents and employees against any action for personal injury or property damage sustained by reason of exercise of his permit.

(11) Limitation. These regulations shall apply on all highways under jurisdiction of the department as defined by law.

(12) Signs. The permittee shall not be permitted to erect any private sign, either fixed or movable, on or extending over any portion of the highway right-of-way. If a marker is considered necessary to delineate an approach, it will be of the standard size, color and mounting height. See page 18‑92. 


AUTH:  60‑2‑201, MCA

IMP:  60-2-201 60-5-101, 60-5-104, 60-5-105, MCA



(1)  Design Details

(a)  The department may authorize or require certain changes in the design limits herein when such changes are necessary to preserve the normal and safe movement of traffic or to permit reasonable access.  When physical factors make it impractical to obtain reasonable access within these requirements, appropriate variations may be authorized after review of the proposed approach design by the Chief, Preconstruction Bureau.  Sight distance, as controlled by the design speed of the highway, must be maintained in all cases.  The following diagram illustrates required sight distances along major highways:





(b)  Design details should conform to the "Standard" charts or be within the "Range" charts for public approaches, right turn lanes and tapers or private approaches.  These charts are available from the Department of Highways upon request.

(2) Location

(a)  Location of approaches shall be selected to first provide maximum safety for highway traffic and secondly, to provide convenience for users of the driveway.

(b) All parts of entrances and exits, including the radii but not including right‑turn lanes and tapers on highway right‑of‑way, shall be confined entirely within the permittee's property frontage.

(3)(1) Materials ‑ The permittee shall furnish all materials necessary for the construction of the approaches and appurtenances authorized by the permit.  This shall include drainage pipe, curb and gutter, concrete sidewalks, topsoil or sod, etc., as required.  All materials, including base and surfacing, shall be of satisfactory quality and shall be subject to inspection and approval by the department.

(4)(2)  Base and Surfacing ‑  It shall be the responsibility of the permittee to supply, place, and properly compact the approach fill and base material in accordance with department requirements.  All base material shall consist of sand, sand‑gravel or sand and rock mixtures containing the sufficient granular fines to fill the voids between the larger gravel and stone, and to permit compaction.  In areas without curb and gutter, the approach base and surfacing shall consist of an adequate depth of granular material.  When deemed necessary by the department for maintenance or operational purposes, the property owner shall furnish and place bituminous surfacing.  This surfacing should normally extend a minimum distance of 12 feet from the outside shoulder line or to the right‑of‑way line, whichever is less.  Any distance to the right‑of‑way line beyond 12 feet should be gravel surfaced. Infrequently used field approaches may extend a lesser dis­tance.  A 5‑foot minimum is recommended.  Commercial approaches are normally required to be surfaced.

(5)  Corner Clearance ‑ Corner clearance at the intersection of a state highway with another highway or street approach shall provide for a sufficient distance from the intersection to preserve the normal and safe movement of traffic through it.  If the driveway is to be located adjacent to a highway or street intersection, the following requirements shall apply:

(a)  Curbed ‑ If the intersecting highway is curbed, the end point of curvature of the driveway radius shall be a minimum distance of 20 feet from the end point of curvature of the intersecting highway radius, or a minimum distance of 10 feet inside the abutting property frontage, whichever will provide the greater distance.

(b)  Uncurbed ‑ If the intersecting highway is uncurbed, the end point of curvature of the driveway radius shall be a minimum distance of 50 feet from the edge of pavement of the intersecting highway, or a minimum distance of 10 feet inside the abutting property frontage, whichever will provide the greater distance.

(c)  Signalized ‑ At signalized intersections or those determined by the department to have potential for signalization, the near side corner clearance shall be a minimum distance of 30 feet (curbed section) and 40 feet (uncurbed section) from the end point of the driveway radius or inside the abutting property frontage.  Far side clearance should be a minimum of 20 feet.

(6) Drainage

(a)(3)  Drainage in highway ditches shall not be altered or impeded except as noted under subsection 7 authorized and approved by the department.  When drainage structures are required, size of opening, length of pipe and other design features must be approved by the District Engineer.

(b)  All approaches shall either drain away from the traveled way or have sufficient crown to cause all drainage to run to the sides of the approach rather than drain onto the high-wav.  Approaches shall also be constructed so as not to impair drainage within the highway right‑of‑way, to alter the stability of the roadway subgrade or materially to alter the drainage of the areas adjacent to the highway right‑of‑way.  Culverts and drop inlets shall be installed where required and shall be the type and size specified by the department.  Where the border area is regraded and/or landscaped, it shall have sufficient slope, culverts and drop inlets for adequate drainage.

(7)  Safety or Buffer Zone ‑ The safety or buffer zone shall include all parts of the highway right‑of‑way between the curb or shoulder line and the right‑of‑way line along the permittee's property frontage except the areas contained in the approaches.  The safety zones adjacent to an approach may be filled in provided the requirements for drainage and the fol­lowing requirements are fully complied with:

(a)  The filled‑in area shall be sufficiently delineated with curbs, guardrails or delineators to prevent use of the area for parking or travel.  Reflectorized delineators in rural areas are desirable.

(b)  The filled‑in area should extend from behind the sidewalks, or where no sidewalk exists, as provided in the permit.  Provisions will be made by the department to provide conformance with proposed future improvements to the existing highway section.

(c)  When physical barriers are installed within the safety zone, they shall be installed according to the appropriate Department Standard Drawing.  The barrier line nearest the highway shall be on line with existing curbs, or established curb line, provided the District Engineer or his authorized representative does not require a greater distance when needed to preserve the safety and utility of the highway or provided conformance with proposed highway improvements.

(d)  An attempt should be made to provide an aesthetically pleasing safety zone by grading and seeding where possible.  The placing of ground cover and use of other beautification principles is desirable; however, planting trees and shrubs that may in the future restrict sight distance will not be allowed.

(8)  Approach Grade

(a)  The approach grade or slope of the approach shall be constructed to conform to the slope of the roadway shoulder from the edge of the traffic lane to the shoulder line and thence shall be sloped downward within the range of .02 ft./ft. to .08 ft./ft. for a distance necessary to place the low point of the driveway approximately 8 inches below the shoulder elevation.

(b)  On curbed sections of the highway, if the maximum allowable slope shown is not great enough to bring the approach to the level of the sidewalk, a depressed sidewalk may be constructed.  The connection between the original sidewalk and the depressed sidewalk shall be made through a warped section, the slope of which shall not vary more than 6 percent from the longitudinal grade of the original sidewalk.  All new curbs and sidewalks should be constructed to the line and grade of the existing curb or sidewalk with every effort to construct a sidewalk that is level and free of dips.  The maximum gradient limits beyond the outer edge of the sidewalk shall be the same as for uncurbed approaches.

(c)  Where approaches have side slopes, these slopes should be constructed at a 6:1 ratio or flatter.

(9)  Setback Distance

(a)  The setback distance from the right‑of‑way line to the nearest edge of gas pump islands, vendor stands, tanks, water hydrants and other improvements should be at least 15 feet.  A greater distance is recommended in rural areas where free movement of large vehicles is anticipated.

(b)  Sufficient storage area off the highway right‑of‑way shall be provided by the landowner to prevent the servicing, stopping and storing of vehicles on the approach and to prevent a vehicle from backing out of an approach onto the traveled way.  This requirement is especially applicable to parking lots, gas stations, garages, drive‑in cafes, drive‑in theatres, truck terminals and other roadside businesses' where a large number of vehicles enter and leave the property in a short period of time.  Where necessary to prevent vehicle encroachment on the highway right‑of‑way, physical barriers may be installed on the right‑of‑way line.  Such barriers are to be installed so as not to constitute a hazard to pedestrian or vehicle traffic.

(c)  Poles, signs, displays, etc., which may restrict the sight distance of a vehicle entering or leaving the establishment, may not be installed between the right‑of‑way line and the setback line.

(10)  Dedicated Streets

(a)  A dedicated street or roadway is considered to be a public approach and shall comply with all applicable regulations.  The only exception is that the width of the approach can be widened to match the street; however, the width of the street surface should be governed by the expected traffic volumes and not the street right‑of‑way width.

(b)  Developers of subdivisions or housing tracts shall obtain approval from the local unit of government having jurisdiction over the dedicated street or road.  The governmental unit shall then submit the approach application to the department.

(11)  High Volume Rural Access ‑ Those access approaches which will generate 25 or more left turning vehicle movements per peak hour entering the facility, or have the obvious potential for expansion to this level, should be designed to the shape and dimensions of department standards for high volume approaches.

(12)  Mail Box Locations ‑ Mail boxes placed along non‑controlled access highways are a potential hazard to out‑of‑control vehicles.  This hazard should be minimized by utilizing the following guidelines:

(a)  Mail boxes should be similar in size, weight, and material to boxes approved by the United States Postal Service.

(b)  The supports should not be larger than 4" x 4" timber, 2" pipe or equivalent strength material.

(c)  Unusual post design is discouraged.  The weight of any support should not exceed 30 pounds, including the portion in the ground.

(d)  If a concrete foundation is used, the top of the foundation should not project more than 4 inches above ground.

(e)  No more than 3 mail boxes may be mounted on one post.

(f)  Mail boxes should be mounted 38 inches vertically from edge of shoulder to bottom of the box. The lateral clearance should be a minimum of 18 inches and a maximum of 24 inches.


AUTH:  60‑2‑201, MCA

IMP:  60-2-201, 60-5-101, 60-5-104, 60-5-105, MCA


REASON: The Department of Transportation is proposing amendments to Title 18, chapter 5, subchapter 1, Highway Approaches. This is necessary to reflect changes made to design standards since the rules were last amended in 1983. In addition, most of the design standards are being eliminated from the administrative rules, and the standards will be addressed during the permitting process itself rather than by administrative rule. In addition, the rules are being simplified. Finally, the changes reflect the change of the name of the Department of Highways to the Department of Transportation.


4. The department proposes to repeal the following rules:


18.5.101  PREFACE  


AUTH:  60‑2‑201, MCA

IMP:  60‑2‑201 MCA


18.5.102  GENERAL POLICY  


AUTH:  60‑2‑201, MCA

IMP: 60‑2‑201, MCA




AUTH:  60‑2‑201, MCA

IMP:  60‑2‑201, MCA


REASON:  The proposed repeal of ARM 18.5.101, 18.5.102, and 18.5.113 is necessary because the rules contain outdated and archaic information that is no longer used by the department in consideration or grant of approach permits. Any language in the rules that is still used by the department has been moved to other rules being amended.


5. Concerned persons may submit their data, views, or arguments concerning the proposed actions in writing to: David L. Ohler, Department of Transportation, P.O. Box 201001, Helena, Montana, 59620; telephone (406) 444-6094; fax (406) 444-7206; or e-mail dohler@mt.gov, and must be received no later than 5:00 p.m., July 18, 2013.


6. If persons who are directly affected by the proposed actions wish to express their data, views, or arguments orally or in writing at a public hearing, they must make written request for a hearing and submit this request along with any written comments to David L. Ohler at the above address no later than 5:00 p.m., July 18, 2013.


7. If the agency receives requests for a public hearing on the proposed action from either 10 percent or 25, whichever is less, of the persons directly affected by the proposed action; from the appropriate administrative rule review committee of the Legislature; from a governmental subdivision or agency; or from an association having not less than 25 members who will be directly affected, a hearing will be held at a later date. Notice of the hearing will be published in the Montana Administrative Register.  Ten percent of those directly affected has been determined to be 25 persons based on the number of existing highway approaches.


8. The department maintains a list of interested persons who wish to receive notices of rulemaking actions proposed by this agency.  Persons who wish to have their name added to the list shall make a written request that includes the name, e-mail, and mailing address of the person to receive notices and specifies for which program the person wishes to receive notices. Notices will be sent by e-mail unless a mailing preference is noted in the request.  Such written request may be mailed or delivered to the contact person in 5 above or may be made by completing a request form at any rules hearing held by the department.


9. An electronic copy of this proposal notice is available through the Secretary of State's web site at http://sos.mt.gov/ARM/Register.  The Secretary of State strives to make the electronic copy of this notice conform to the official version of the notice, as printed in the Montana Administrative Register, but advises all concerned persons that in the event of a discrepancy between the official printed text of the notice and the electronic version of the notice, only the official printed text will be considered.  In addition, although the Secretary of State works to keep its web site accessible at all times, concerned persons should be aware that the web site may be unavailable during some periods, due to system maintenance or technical problems.


10.  The bill sponsor contact requirements of 2-4-302, MCA, do not apply.



/s/ Carol Grell Morris                                   /s/ Michael T. Tooley                      

Carol Grell Morris                                         Michael T. Tooley

Rule Reviewer                                             Director

                                                                        Department of Transportation


Certified to the Secretary of State June 10, 2013.



Home  |   Search  |   About Us  |   Contact Us  |   Help  |   Disclaimer  |   Privacy & Security