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Interpretation Letter I-40(I)-Status of Reference Documents in the MUTCD

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-----Original Message-----

Tuesday, October 07, 2003 10:19 AM
Huckaby, Ernest

Subject: ITE-MUTCD

October 6, 2003

Michael B. Thompson
17213 Deer Meadow
Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70816

Mr. Ernest Huckaby, PE
FHWA, Office of Transportation Operations
400 Seventh Street
HOTO, Washington, DC 20590

Subject: Interpretation

Dear Mr. Huckaby,

My name is Mike Thomson. I review proposed new and existing commercial building plans for code compliance for traffic, drainage, and sewer for the Department of Public Works Division, City of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Page 1A-7 found in the MUTCD, edition 2000 states interpretations should be sent to FHWA. I called Friday, and Ms. Rose told me you are the person I should direct code/compliance interpretations to. I have some interpretations/questions I hope you can find time to help me with.:

  1. The 2000 Edition of the MUTCD states the following: The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) publishes the MUTCD, which contains all national design, application and placement standards for traffic control devices. The purpose of these devices, which includes signs, signals, and pavement markings, is to promote highway safety, efficiency, and uniformity so that traffic can move efficiently on the Nations's streets and highways.
  2. Please reference pages 1A-10-1A-12 in the 2000 Edition of the MUTCD. The way I understand: The beginning pages of the MUTCD, it states all fifty (50) states must abide by the MUTCD. MUTCD also references the ITE and AAHSTO,
    1. Does the MUTCD reference item (F) "A Traffic Engineering Handbook," 1999 Edition (ITE)?
    2. Does the MUTCD reference item (H) "A Policy on Geometric Design of Highway and Streets, "1994 Edition (American Association of Sate Highway and Transportation Officials AASHTO?
    3. If a and b are referenced by the MUTCD, are the two considered part of the MUTCD Manuel?

Why am I asking the above? Recently I reviewed a set of plans for a proposed 5000 sq. ft. building to be built adjacent to a collector street in a commercial park (subdivision). The plans showed a truck well on the side of the building large enough to accommodate a WB-50 or WB-40 semi-trailers Using the Turning Vehicle Templates, A Transportation Design Aid published by the ITE, it was clearly obvious by placing the templates on the 25' radius driveway shown, the site (parking lot) did not have adequate footage for a semi-trailer to maneuver into and out of the truck well without using the street for maneuverability or use both lanes of traffic to exit. (Trying to squeeze too much onto a small parcel of land).

To make a long story short I sent the planes back and asked the Designer to show on the plans a semi-trailer would have sufficient maneuverability for this site. The Contractor went over my head and I was told because Baton Rouge's local ordinance (The Unified Development Code-UDC) did not reference the ITE or the Templates published by ITE, I could not use the templates. Effectively, this meant I could throw away the templates and as long as a drive way shows a 25' radius, everything traffic wise would be ok. Baton Rouge's UDC does specify a minimum of a 25' radius for commercial driveways). In this case a minimum 25' radius driveway would not work! That's the reason why I asked if the MUTCD referenced the ITE and AASHTO.

  1. Is a driveway that connects to any public street/highway considered part of the infrastructure. AAHSTO seems to say it is, but I can't seem to nail it down! Certainly it affects the flow of traffic.

Mr. Huckaby, any help or light you can shed on the above would be Greatly Appreciated!!!

Yours truly,

Michael B. Thompson, Combination Inspector II, Commercial Plans Analyst for Traffic, Sewer, and Drainage.
City of Baton Rouge-DPW-Inspection Division
E-Mail- (
Fax #- (225-389-7861)
Work # (225-389-3214 or 389-3198
Home # (225) 273-0189)