Skip to content U.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Highway AdministrationU.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Highway Administration

Office of Planning, Environment, & Realty (HEP)
PlanningEnvironmentReal Estate

HEP Events Guidance Publications Awards Contacts

Awards

PEER OF THE YEAR: Edward Rush

Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) - Office of Right-of-Way

Photograph of Mr. Edward Rush, Manager of Appraisal and Cost Estimates in the Central Office of ROW, FDOT.
MR. EDWARD RUSH, MANAGER OF
APPRAISAL AND COST ESTIMATES IN
THE CENTRAL OFFICE OF ROW, FDOT.

Over his professional career, Mr. Rush has worked in the real estate field for 27 years, nearly all of which have been in the technical field of eminent domain Appraisal and Appraisal Review with FDOT. During this time, Mr. Rush has firmly developed his technical knowledge and expertise to the point of gaining statewide recognition and respect among both his peers and private sector real estate appraisal professionals. As a decentralized agency with eight districts and a central headquarters, FDOT finds program and process consistency to be a particular challenge. Mr. Rush has been the strongest, single most effective influence in the development of consistency between the districts in the areas of appraisal and appraisal review. He has accomplished this through self-initiated facilitation of course development and delivery of multiple training courses jointly for the public and private sectors.

Serving in his current position as Manager of Appraisal and Cost Estimates for FDOT's Central Office of ROW, Mr. Rush has facilitated the improvement and growth of Florida's statewide appraisal program to the level of excellence it experiences today. Among his significant achievements, Mr. Rush has established a battery of appraisal-related and project management courses to ensure the continued technical growth of employee trainees and consultant appraisers working for the department. Mr. Rush has also enabled the nurturing of a cohesive FDOT appraisal program and enhanced the effectiveness of communication between the Central Office and district offices. Mr. Rush approaches his job daily with a positive "How can I make the program better today?" attitude. He openly accepts challenges, is adaptable to change, and displays a devoted mentoring and coaching management style on an ongoing basis while setting and fulfilling a high level of performance expectations for himself. Mr. Rush is set to retire from FDOT in August 2012 and will leave behind a legacy of excellence.

INNOVATION AWARD: Minnesota DOT (MnDOT)

Office of Land Management
Geo-Spatial Enablement of Right-of-Way Electronic Land Management System (REALMS)

Photograph of Mr. Kevin Leonard and Mr. Roy Blanke from the Office of Land Management, MnDOT, in front of projector screen displaying the REALMS tool.
MR. KEVIN LEONARD AND MR. ROY
BLANKE FROM THE OFFICE OF LAND
MANAGEMENT, MNDOT.

This Award recognizes Mr. Kevin Leonard and Mr. Roy Blanke of the MnDOT Office of Land Management for their geo-spatial enablement of REALMS, creating a work environment that brings intelligent mapping to the fingertips of ROW practitioners. The REALMS geographic information system (GIS) goes beyond the query of databases to organize and present data geographically. The system also provides the ability to manipulate and analyze data to aid the planning and project development decision-making process. All relevant data can now be comingled with other map-based information systems (e.g., flood plains, historic sites, contamination maps, and aerial photos).

Not only does the REALMS GIS work environment address historical information, but it also assists with the current acquisition and property management processes. Spatially enabling ROW products provides valuable information to scoping, planning, and design personnel, giving them more accurate information earlier in the process and allowing for better and more cost effective decision making. The ability to graphically represent the current state of acquisition during public forums while collaborating with other stakeholders impacted by the ROW acquisition process has proven the system to be an effective communication tool, minimizing misunderstandings and easing public fears.

The use of this system has shown the value of a powerful GIS tool and has been leveraged to develop modules for other agency needs, including, but not limited to, identifying contaminated soils within the ROW, railroad agreements, and agency-wide base maps. Immediate returns on investment include the provision of real time color-coded parcel status for ROW project management, time and cost savings through intelligent ROW design, and improved oversight capabilities.

For "next generation" projects planned for the future, ROW status of fee or easement, access control, permits, and leases will be mapped quickly from the REALMS GIS environment for project scoping, alternative analysis, cost estimating, and risk assessment.

Contributors: Kevin Leonard, Roy Blanke, Jim Magoon, and Blaine McKeever, Office of Land Management, MnDOT; Karen Scott and Gabriella Tsurutani, Office of Information and Technology Services, MnDOT; Peter Girard and Andy Buck, Applied Geographics; Brian Bjelland, ProWest & Associates, Inc.; and Terese Rowekamp, Rowekamp & Associates.

LEADERSHIP AWARD: Virginia DOT (VDOT)

Right-of-Way and Utilities Division
Division Regionalization and Reorganization

Eight photographs of employees of the VDOT Right-of-Way and Utilities Division.
MEMBERS OF THE VDOT
RIGHT-OF-WAY AND UTILITIES
DIVISION.

This award recognizes Mr. Richard Bennett and the Right-of-Way and Utilities Division's regionalization and reorganization in the face of significant statewide staff reductions. The VDOT was recently faced with reducing staff across the entire project development group, which included the Right-of-Way and Utilities Division (Division). This staff reduction decreased the number of ROW personnel in the Central Office and nine Construction District Offices to only 148, a 40 percent reduction, presenting a significant management challenge. With the considerable staff reductions, it was apparent that there was insufficient staff to continue the full range of operations in each of the nine Construction District Offices. The Division, led by Mr. Richard Bennett, State ROW Director, chose to meet this challenge by regionalizing its forces based on geography and workload and forming three regional ROW offices that replaced the nine district ROW offices. Each region was assigned a designated manager and staff that report to the State ROW Director in the Central Office.

Each regional office is staffed with an appraisal team, acquisition team, special projects team, and a central statewide property management group. The acquisition teams include negotiators, relocation specialists, and paralegals. The special projects teams perform all preliminary ROW estimates and plan reviews for VDOT administered projects and perform oversight and support for design-build projects, Public-Private Partnership (P3) projects, and locally administered projects. The disposal and leasing of ROW is now handled by a central statewide property management group.

Another significant change made as part of the reorganization was in the eminent domain area. A central eminent domain section was created to coordinate condemnation cases statewide. Having a group dedicated solely to eminent domain cases has already proven its worth, helping the division and counsel to better understand landowner issues; assisting counsel in making better presentations at trial or mediation; bringing more uniformity and focus to settlements and settlement justifications; and, ultimately, resolving more cases without the necessity for trial.

Regionalization and the ability to assign work and resources on a statewide priority basis rather than a district basis has enabled the division to continue to meet project schedules with a substantially reduced work force. Shifting resources to projects when needed has increased the Division's flexibility in responding to unanticipated needs and critical situations. The focused teams have provided more prompt and more consistent guidance to design-builders and other non-VDOT project managers.

Contributors: Mr. Richard Bennett and Mr. C.L. "Les" Griggs, Jr.

STEWARDSHIP AWARD: Utah DOT (UDOT)

Right-of-Way Division
Innovative Property Acquisition Techniques

Eight photographs of employees of the VDOT Right-of-Way and Utilities Division.
EMPLOYEES OF UDOT, HDR, AND PARSONS
BRINCKERHOFF.

This award recognizes employees of UDOT, HDR, and Parsons Brinckerhoff for their roles in developing property acquisition techniques for the Mountain View Corridor (MVC) freeway development project. The team created acquisition teams focused on property owner's needs, implemented a system to work with lending institutions to protect owners' financial statuses, and adopted web-based tracking systems to streamline the acquisition process. The MVC ROW team proactively sought to partner with landowners to achieve the best solutions for both the individuals and the state.

At the outset of the project, the ROW team was faced with acquiring ROW for the MVC across 421 separate owner's properties, which included 803 different parcels, during a declining market, and with properties facing short sales and/or foreclosures. The processes the team implemented allowed increased collaboration with both landowners and the MVC design team. Through these relationships, the team found new solutions to modify, streamline, and accelerate the acquisitions process. Additionally, the team created a system to work directly with the lending institutions to protect owners' credit and financial status where possible. The team also used two electronic systems, ePM ROW and ProjectWise software, to track all property needed for MVC throughout the acquisition process and to store and retrieve documents electronically. Lastly, the team was able to use its corridor preservation program to help with the preservation of the preferred alignment and acquisition of property for future expansion not currently part of a funded project.

As a direct outcome of these actions, the ROW team has resolved all but six of the acquisitions to date, resulting in a less than 2 percent condemnation rate for this project.

Contributors: Ryan Woehl, GIS; Carol Bellinger, ROW Manager; Wendy Hansen, Acquisition & Relocation; Jeremy Christensen, Design Engineer; Tammy Evans, Coordinator; Greg Martin, Acquisition and Title Coordinator; Dian McGuire, UDOT ROW Lead; Wayne Larsen, Appraiser Manager; Jill Cates, Acquisition and Short Sale Coordinator; Jesse Barton, Design Engineer; Lisa Fazzini, Administrative; Ed Rock, Project Manager; and John Barnhill, Graphic Design.

STREAMLINING AND INTEGRATION AWARD: Mississippi DOT (MDOT)

Outdoor Advertising (ODA) Program
Permit and Sign Streamlining Program

Photograph of Ms. Celina Sumrall, Mr. David Brown, Mr. Doug Hornback, Ms. Kaamilya Young, and Mr. Donald Campbell from MDOT.
MR. DAVID BROWN, MS. CELINA SUMRALL, MR.
DOUG HORNBACK, MS. KAAMILYA YOUNG, AND
MR. DONALD CAMPBELL FROM MDOT.

This award recognizes MDOT's Outdoor Advertising Program and the individuals that assisted with the development of an in-house computer program designed to streamline the Outdoor Advertising (ODA) permitting process and creation of an efficient, well-managed inventory of ODA signs adjacent to state-controlled routes.

After realizing that an off-the-shelf program was unable to meet the state's ODA program management needs, the Maintenance Division decided to design its own ODA system. Working with talented information systems staff, the team tailored the program to meet MDOT's specific needs. As a result, this well-designed system not only manages sign inventory but allows easy access for a sign owner to request permits, check permit status, and request a vegetation removal permit on a sign via the agency's website. Additionally, the program provides the Division with efficient, user-friendly invoicing capabilities and retains historical data. The general public can also access information regarding a sign in their area via the website.

MDOT believes its new ODA program is a leap forward from the previous program in terms of efficiency and interagency coordination. The implementation of the program has allowed for a decrease in permit officer staff, resulting in a more focused chain of command, increasing efficiency and uniformity. The program has also improved interdivision and interagency coordination by allowing agency employees to check site statuses from their offices. Overall, savings in software maintenance fees by developing in-house software and from the reduction of permit officer workload is estimated to be $89,000 annually.

Contributors: Celina Sumrall, State Maintenance Engineer, MDOT Maintenance Division; David Brown, MDOT Information Systems; Doug Hornback, State Permit Officer, MDOT Maintenance Division; Donald Campbell, District Permit Officer, MDOT Maintenance Division; and Kaamilya Young, Administrative Assistant, MDOT Maintenance Division.

TECHNICAL SPECIALTY AWARD: Massachusetts DOT (MassDOT)

Right-of-Way Bureau, Office of Outdoor Advertising
License and Permit Database

Photograph of Mr. Edward Farley and Ms. Sue Welliver from MassDOT on either side of a screen showing their winning database.
MR. EDWARD FARLEY AND MS.
SUE WELLIVER FROM MASSDOT.

This award recognizes Mr. Edward Farley, Ms. Sue Welliver, and Mr. Thomas Gray for the design and implementation of an inclusive database system that allows access to license and permit information by both staff and the public. The database has proven to be a useful tool both internally, at monthly public meetings, and online, creating complete transparency for all outdoor advertising sign permits issued by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Prior to the development of a sign inventory database, the only document monitoring sign inventory was an excel spreadsheet.

The system now allows all license and permit information to be stored, added, deleted, modified, and searched. It also includes links to photographs of signs, Google Earth, and Google Maps which are frequently utilized during public meetings for communal viewing when discussing a particular location. In addition, the database is linked to MassDOT's website, which provides an online interactive map that showcases and allows user searches by company, city/town, and sign type.

In concert with this database initiative, the Right-of-Way Bureau has made significant progress in proposing far-reaching revisions to the state outdoor advertising statutes and regulations as well as to the Federal-State Outdoor Advertising Agreement in an effort to promote transparency in the permitting process and to clarify jurisdictional and enforcement issues. Future steps include scanning all paper files to make them available via the database and allowing for paperless online renewals via the Outdoor Advertising website.

Contributors: Edward Farley, Sue Welliver, Chris Quinn, Eileen Fenton, and Thomas Gray.

JUDGES AWARD: Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT)

Right-of-Way Office
Acquisition Cost Estimation Tools

Photograph of Mr. Wesley Brock and Mr. Barry Baynes from the Office of Right-of-Way, GDOT.
MR. WESLEY BROCK AND MR. BARRY
BAYNES FROM GDOT'S OFFICE OF
RIGHT-OF-WAY

This award recognizes Mr. Barry Baynes and Mr. Wesley Brock of GDOT's Office of Right-of-Way for their innovative use of technology to increase the accuracy of GDOT ROW cost estimates. They developed two new tools: the Right-of-Way and Utility Relocation Cost Estimate Tool (RUCEST) for the ROW planning stage and a newly created detail cost estimate program. These new programs have improved GDOT's ability to deliver projects on time and within budget.

In recent years, FHWA Georgia Division and GDOT leadership have noticed funding issues and shortfalls due to existing cost estimation procedures, which were impacting program delivery. A 2007 process review uncovered insufficient data, insufficent record keeping, large cost increases from preliminary to detail cost estimates, and an inconsistent application of GDOT procedures. Mr. Baynes and Mr. Brock committed time and resources to examining current practices and creatively improving the GDOT cost estimation process. Their final product greatly improves estimating ROW project costs.
RUCEST uses aerial imagery from GIS and Google Maps to better determine cost estimates. Some of the tools included in the system are terrain, typical section, zoning, and length inputs, creating a more accurate "location specific" estimate. This new program has increased the accuracy of cost estimates during the planning phase of projects. In 2010, GDOT ROW rolled out the new detail cost estimation process that Mr. Baynes and Mr. Brock designed. The process is highly interactive, prompting the user to consider many market factors. In addition, the system uses historic averages to predict costs and stores the history of all projects inputted into its database. The program calculates personnel costs, budgets for internal and external services, allows adjustment for regions, and categorizes costs in enough detail to allow users to track expenditures based on the project schedule.

Since the implementation of these tools, there has been a measurable improvement in the accuracy of ROW costs. GDOT has noticed more dependable delivery of the ROW phase, a decrease in delays in obtaining funding, and no surprise shortfalls at the end of the ROW process. Mr. Baynes and Mr. Brock demonstrated initiative and commitment to improving the ROW delivery, and the benefits from this initiative and their commitment will be enjoyed by GDOT for many years to come.

Contributors: Barry Baynes, Wesley Brock, and Howard Copeland.

TRIBAL PARTNERSHIP AWARD: Wisconsin DOT (WisDOT)

Northeast Region Technical Services Section and Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin
Effective Partnership Development

Photograph of members of the Wisconsin DOT and the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin.
MEMBERS OF THE WISCONSIN
DOT AND THE ONEIDA TRIBE
OF INDIANS OF WISCONSIN.

This award recognizes the work of WisDOT - Northeast Region Technical Services Section and the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin to foster a unique, proactive, and collaborative working relationship to improve communications, harmonize decision making processes, and reduce overall inefficiencies. The development of this present relationship has provided each group with valuable insights into each other's organizational structures and processes. The groups are now working more efficiently toward a common goal--better and safer highways.

Prior to establishing an enhanced working relationship with the Oneida Tribe, WisDOT had limited time and staff with tribal expertise to present relevant project information to the tribe. This process consumed a large amount of acquisition time, which limited results and was less effective for meeting short project timelines.

The WisDOT - Northeast Region, led by its Technical Services Real Estate Section, implemented a regular meeting schedule with the Oneida Division of Land Management, separate and apart from the Oneida Land Commission, in an effort to become proactive in the shared relationship with the Oneida Tribe. The monthly tribal consultation meetings are held at the Oneida Tribe's Land Management office, allowing for more effective communication between WisDOT and the Oneida Tribe regarding policies and procedures. Information exchanged at the meetings generally includes items such as ROW parcel acquisition updates, information on real estate acquisition procedures, tribal land ownership verification discussions, current project design issues, and future project concerns. If solutions to issues cannot be solved at the monthly meeting and additional work is needed, individual meetings between WisDOT and the Oneida tribal staff are planned.

This tribal consultation and outreach has proven to be an effective tool for the Northeast Region and will continue to be used, developed, and improved. To strengthen the relationship, WisDOT and Tribal members recently gathered for a tour of the Oneida Nation. Other future activities include providing WisDOT staff with training related to Tribal Property and plans for a future joint presentation at a local chapter meeting of The International Right-of-Way Association.

Contributors: Kathy Curren, Curt Van Erem, Alice Meurer, Norman Pawelczyk, Dan Segerstrom, and Derek Weyer of WisDOT and Mary Jo Nash, Diane Wilson, Sheila Huff, Carla Clark, and Sandra Wondra of the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin.

CURRENT INITIATIVE AWARD: Arizona DOT (ADOT)

Right-of-Way Group Plans Section
On-Line Plans Resource

Photograph of Arizona Plans Section Team, from left to right: Ms. Paula Gibson, Mr. Jessie Zavalza, Mr. Henri Verdugo, Mr. John Eckhardt, Mr. Carwin Gardner, and Mr. Ben Black in front of the Arizona DOT building sign.
PLANS SECTION TEAM, FROM LEFT TO
RIGHT: MR. JESSIE ZAVALZA, MS. PAULA
GIBSON, MR. HENRI VERDUGO, MR.
JOHN ECKHARDT, MR. CARWIN
GARDNER, AND MR. BEN BLACK.

This award recognizes members of the ADOT Right-of-Way Group, Plans Section, for their development and implementation of a website, called the "On-Line Plans Resource," that allows public and private access to existing right-of-way (ROW) plans for the state highway system. This project represents an excellent example of a project that contributes to FHWA's Everyday Counts initiative.

The Right-of-Way Group, Plans Section, of ADOT is responsible for developing, housing, and maintaining the department's historic ROW mapping and new ROW plans for the entire state highway system. Additionally, the Plans Section is responsible for making this information available to other Sections within the department, other government and municipal agencies, civil engineering designers, land surveyors, and the general public. In the past, this information was only available by making a request by telephone or by visiting the Plans Section office in Phoenix, AZ. As such, obtaining ADOT ROW information was not convenient for many and created a burden on personnel and the general public.

DEMOLITION DATABASE: ARCGIS AERIAL MAP SCREEN LINKED TO THE DEMOLITION DATABASE
DEMOLITION DATABASE: ARCGIS AERIAL
MAP SCREEN LINKED TO THE DEMOLITION
DATABASE

To improve the accessibility and efficiency of providing ADOT's ROW information, the Plans Section has developed a website that is readily accessible to everyone and is set up in an uncomplicated, easy-to-use format. This innovative approach creates ROW solutions before they become a problem, protects the rights of property owners, harnesses technology for the public good, and improves ROW practices and processes by enabling efficient record storage/retrieval. The ability of the general public, such as surveyors, to access the data online from rural locations has been efficient, creating significant cost savings.

The "On-Line Plans Resource" is an excellent demonstration of developing and implementing an innovative idea in an easy-to-use format for both public and private benefit and contributes to the efficiency of the ROW process.

Contributors: Paula Gibson, Jessie Zavalza, Henri Verdugo, John Eckhardt, Carwin Gardner, and Ben Black.

Updated: 04/02/2013
HEP Home Planning Environment Real Estate
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000