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Geographic Information System Implementation of State Department of Transportation Right-of-Way Programs

Prepared for the Office of Real Estate Services
Federal Highway Administration
U.S. Department of Transportation

By

The Institute for Transportation
Morgan State University
Baltimore, Maryland 21251
Draft Final Report
July 2004

DISCLAIMER

The contents of this report reflect the views of the author, who is responsible for the facts and accuracy of the information presented herein. This document is disseminated under the sponsorship of the Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, in the interest of information exchange. The U.S. Government assumes no liability for the contents or use thereof.

1. Report No. 2. Government Accession No. 3. Recipient's Catalog No.
4. Title and Subtitle

Geographic Information System Implementation of State Department of Transportation Right-of-Way Functional Areas
5. Report Date

July 2004
6. Performing Organization Code:
7. Author(s)

Dr. Anthony A. Saka
8. Performing Organization Report No.
9. Performing Organization Name and Address

Institute for TransportationMorgan State University1700 E. Cold Spring LaneBaltimore, MD 21251
10. Work Unit No.
11. Contract or Grant No.
DTFH61-03-H-00121
12. Sponsoring Agency Name and Address

Office of Real Estate ServicesFederal Highway Administration (HEPR)400 Seventh StreetWashington, DC 20590
13. Type of Report and Period Covered

Guidelines
14. Sponsoring Agency Code
15. Supplementary Notes
16. Abstract

The use of Geographic information system (GIS) as a decision-support tool has been increasing steadily since the early 1990's. A number of the state transportation departments (DOTs) currently use GIS to implement programs involving spatial analysis and mapping. This report, based on the case study of eight state DOTs, documents the extent GIS technology is used in the various right-of-way functional areas, and the pros and cons associated with such endeavors. A combination of literature review, survey and interview on GIS application in right-of-way revealed that, although the use of GIS technology is still very much localized and in its infancy, the state DOTs are aware of the opportunities GIS presents in streamlining the implementation processes of right-of-way programs. Currently, GIS application in right-of-way largely involves mapping and inventory activities. A frequently cited hindrance to large-scale GIS application in the state DOTs is the lack of time and personnel resources. The general consensus is that adequate allocation of resources is necessary in order to mainstream the use of GIS in the implementation of right-of-way programs at the state DOTs. Best Practice Methods of GIS implementation is documented for the right-of-way functional areas most likely targeted for GIS application.
17. Key Words
GIS, Implementation, Right-of-Way, Functional Areas, Best Practice Methods.
18. Distribution Statement
19. Security Classification (of this report)

Unclassified
20. Security Classification (of this page)

Unclassified
21. No. of Pages

54
22. Price

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Abstract

Acknowledgement

List of Tables

Introduction

Study Objectives

Methodology

Literature Review

Survey of GIS Application in State DOT Right-of-Way Offices

Responses of Survey Participants

California

Florida

Maryland

Minnesota

New Mexico

New York

Ohio

Texas

Summary of Findings

Best Practice Methods

Conclusions

References

Tables

Appendix A: Sample Survey Questionnaire used in the Study

Appendix B: State DOT Right-of-Way Points of Contact Information

Appendix C: Survey Respondents Contact Information

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ABSTRACT

The use of Geographic information system (GIS) as a decision-support tool has been increasing steadily since the early 1990's. A number of the state transportation departments (DOTs) currently use GIS to implement programs involving spatial analysis and mapping. This report, based on the case study of eight state DOTs, documents the extent GIS technology is used in the various right-of-way functional areas, and the pros and cons associated with such endeavors. A combination of literature review, survey and interview on GIS application in right-of-way revealed that, although the use of GIS technology is still very much localized and in its infancy, the state DOTs are aware of the opportunities GIS presents in streamlining the implementation processes of right-of-way programs. Currently, GIS application in right-of-way largely involves mapping and inventory activities. A frequently cited hindrance to large-scale GIS application in the state DOTs is the lack of time and personnel resources. The general consensus is that adequate allocation of resources is necessary in order to mainstream the use of GIS in the implementation of right-of-way programs at the state DOTs. Best Practice Methods of GIS implementation is documented for the right-of-way functional areas most likely targeted for GIS application.

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

This report is based on a study sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration, United States Department of Transportation. The author thanks without implicating Michael Massaquoi, Eunice Omanya, Isaac Ewketu and Gbolahan Afonja of the School of Engineering for serving as student research assistants. The role of Alice R. Williams as Administrative Assistant, and in disseminating and collecting/recording the returned survey questionnaire is greatly appreciated. Many thanks go to the following state DOT personnel for their invaluable contribution in the study, including the documentation of their agencies' right-of-way activities: Mark S. Turner of California, John L. Garner of Florida, Ken Drury of Maryland, Richard Morey of Minnesota, Robert L. Lopez of New Mexico, William Moore of New York, David L. Blackstone of Ohio, and Jesse Cooper of Texas. Finally, thanks also go to Arnold Feldman and Lannie Graham of the Office of Real Estate Service, Federal Highway Administration for their support during the study.

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LIST OF TABLES

1. State DOT GIS Implementation of Right-of-Way Programs

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INTRODUCTION

In the United States, the implementation of statewide right-of-way programs generally falls under the purview of the state departments of transportation (DOTs). Right-of-way activities can be grouped under nine major functional areas: (1) planning and management, (2) property appraisal, (3) property acquisition, (4) relocation assistance, (5) property/asset management, (6) utility relocation/management, (7) outdoor advertising control, (8) corridor preservation, and (9) right-of-way mapping.

Planning and Management

This functional area encompasses the development and implementation of information and data gathering systems used to budget staff resources and capital outlay funds, including the preparation of estimates for future projects and certification of projects for construction when all the necessary rights have been acquired.

Property Appraisal

The preparation of valuation reports needed to acquire right-of-way, lease air rights, and dispose of excess land are the primary activities of the Property Appraisal functional area.

Property Acquisition

This functional area involves conducting activities necessary to acquire property and rights, including the condemnation process, needed to construct the transportation facility.

Relocation Assistance

This right-of-way functional area provides for the implementation of the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act that governs the relocation of displaced persons and businesses.

Property/Asset Management

This functional area involves the management of property/asset owned by the DOT and being held for future construction, including the promotion and pursuance of opportunities to optimize use of asset (e.g., sale of excess land, and development and leasing of airspace sites), and also the locating and maintenance of logo signs.

Utilities Relocation/Management

This functional area involves the control of right-of-way in order to provide for safe and efficient operation of highways and to utilize the full potential of the highway investment. It also involves activities necessary to locate utilities, adjust or relocate utility facilities that are in conflict with planned construction, and the establishment of utilities corridors that consolidate the locating of utilities that must transverse the highways so as to maximize use of limited available land or minimize road openings from utilities installation and maintenance.

Outdoor Advertising Control

This functional area involves the implementation of the local, state and federal highway beautification related laws for the regulation of outdoor advertising in order to promote the safety, convenience and enjoyment of public travel, to preserve the natural beauty and not aid in the free flow interstate commerce, and to protect the public investment in highway.

Corridor Preservation

Since the 1920s, many miles of valuable rail and other historical transportation corridors have been abandoned in the different parts of the country. Corridor Preservation involves the states' initiatives to purchase/reclaim, and rehabilitate abandoned transportation corridors to ensure compatibility with the surrounding land uses.

Right-of-Way Mapping

This functional area typically involves the preparation of maps and technical documents needed for acquisition of right-of-way and disposition of excess land.

The above listed right-of-way functional areas are usually dispersed amongst the different divisions of the state DOTs, including but not limited to the Division of Real Estate, Land Management, Mapping and Surveying, and Right of Way. The scope of involvement of the individual DOT divisions in the major right-of-way functional areas varies for the states.

Right-of-way related activities often go beyond the sphere of influence of the state DOTs. They also involve local, other state agencies, and even federal participations.

The scope and complexity of right-of-way activities require the use of modern technologies to streamline some of the implementation processes, particularly those involving mapping, inventory, and information storage and retrieval. Over the years, utility companies, some of whose activities parallel those of the state DOTs, have effectively used a hybrid mapping and database management system popularly known as automated mapping/facility management (AM/FM) to manage and maintain their utility network system. The success enjoyed in the use of AM/FM systems has inspired the growing use of a similar but more robust technology known as geographic information system (GIS) at the utility companies and other establishments that are engaged in activities involving spatial analysis.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), recognizing the myriad of opportunities that exist in the use of GIS technology, commissioned the project described herein to investigate the extent this technology is being leveraged by the state DOTs in the implementation of right-of-way programs, and the resources required to mainstream the use of the technology.

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STUDY OBJECTIVES

The primary purpose of this study is three fold: (1) To determine the extent of GIS utilization in implementing right-of-way programs at the state DOTs, (2) To assess the pros and cons associated with the use of GIS in implementing right-of-way programs, and (3) To document the type and level of federal assistance needed to increase the scope and effectiveness of using GIS technologies in the state DOT right-of-way activities.

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METHODOLOGY

The study constituted two major components: (1) Literature Review of past and ongoing efforts involving the application of GIS in right-of-way related projects, and (2) Surveying and interviewing of sampled state DOTs involved in GIS technology utilization in implementing right-of-way programs.

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Literature Review

The literature review focused on published efforts by private and public entities in the area of GIS application in right-of-way projects. The synopses of past or ongoing efforts as identified from the review of literature are documented below.

1Utility Management: The population of Texas increased by 20% between 1990 and 2000, and the expectations were that the growth trends would continue. For the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT), this meant effective management of the growing number of utilities in their rights of way was essential. The anticipated need for effective management of the utilities motivated the researchers at the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) to develop a GIS-based model for undertaking the inventory of utilities located within TXDOT rights of way, and a GIS/Internet based prototype system for automating the utility permitting process at TXDOT.

2Utility Management: A user manual was developed describing the procedures to install and use the aforementioned prototype GIS-based inventory of utilities.

3Planning and Management: GIS applications for locating and monitoring gas pipeline rights of way were developed for the areas near Rio Vista, California. The data layers developed for this project presented geographical features, such as land cover, elevation, aspects, slope, soils, hydrography, transportation, endangered species, and wetlands. GIS was used to develop and store spatial data from several sources for manipulation and to evaluate environmental and engineering issues associated with the siting, permitting, construction, maintenance, and monitoring of gas pipelines rights of way and to graphically display analysis results. Examples of these applications include (1) determination of environmentally sensitive areas, such as endangered species habitat, wetlands, and areas of highly erosive soils, and (2) classification of satellite imagery for land use/land cover that will streamline the identification of alternative right-of-way corridors that are located in non-environmentally sensitive areas or areas that do not pose severe engineering constraints.

4Planning and Management: The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) funded a two-year archeology study at the University of South Florida to address statewide patterns of archeologically significant sites and their implications for archeological resource management on FDOT lands. Road rights-of-way contain approximately 22% of all recorded archeological sites, which underscores FDOT's management responsibilities and potential contribution to the promotion of archeological knowledge of Florida's past. Specific accomplishments of the study included the development of an evaluation matrix for determining archeologically significant sites in which the sites are assigned overall point values based on measuring attributes in five categories of significance. The evaluation matrix provided a quantifiable means of determining archeologically significant sites by comparing individual sites attributes with those associated with sites in the same county in the categories of archeological context and site type, etc. GIS was employed in the study as a decision support system to determine sites meeting the criteria of archeological significance.

5Planning: The Prima Association of Governments (PAG), which is the metropolitan planning organization for the Tucson region and its member jurisdiction, implemented an inter-jurisdictional digital orthophoto project, highlighting the regional coordination necessary to conduct the project and to integrate GIS data with the orthophoto products. Some of the data features used in the project include identification and inventory, change detection, and rights-of-way mapping and road alignment studies.

6Planning: Dupage County division of transportation, Wheaton, IL was interested in the development of a GIS-based planning analysis tool that would allow staff to calculate the estimated right-of-way required and the associated acquisition cost based on road construction and alignment scenarios. The custom user-friendly GIS tool was developed in ArcView® that allows county staff to quickly evaluate different road expansion options.

7Miscellaneous applications: Several European countries are engaged in developing systems for managing data relevant to right-of-way functions. Norway has an integrated GIS system for implementing right-of-way programs that include property data by parcel, environmental data, property maps, and geo-referenced images of corrected vertical photographs. England is involved in developing a database system called Terrier that includes deed description, GIS data, and government survey grid information for each of the approximately 100,000 parcels the highway agency owns. England also has a property management database for all properties and is developing an acquisition information system capable of interfacing with the Terrier system.

The literature review effort revealed a small number of published documentations of GIS application in right-of-way programs. Most of the applications involved mapping, inventory or data storage/retrieval for property acquisition and management related activities.

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Survey of GIS Application in State DOT Right-of-Way Programs

The second stage of the study involved surveying and interviewing sampled state DOTs for their use of GIS technology in implementing right-of-way programs. The motivation was to assess the level of awareness at the state DOTs about GIS technology, to identify the right-of-way functional areas that involve GIS application, and the opportunities and constraints that exist in mainstreaming the use of GIS technology in implementing the state DOTs right-of-way programs.

Sampled State DOTs

A list of ten state DOTs known to be engaged in applying GIS technology in the implementation of their right-of-way programs was compiled by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), and made available for the sampling of the eight state DOTs surveyed and interviewed. A non-scientific method was used to sample and select the eight state DOTs studied, which henceforth will be referred to as the study participants. The selection of the eight study participants was based on geographic representation and preliminary interviews that verified their involvement in the application of GIS.

The following are the eight study participants: New York and Maryland from the eastern region; California and New Mexico from the western region; Ohio and Minnesota from the mid-western region; and Florida and Texas from the southern region.

Survey of GIS Application in State DOT Right-of-Way Programs

The survey questionnaire consists of fourteen questions designed to obtain detailed information on the right-of-way functional areas the study participants are engaged in, the functional areas involving or will involve the application of GIS, and the prevailing attitude amongst the study participants in the use of GIS, including the specific types of assistance needed from the FHWA in order to mainstream GIS application in state DOTs right-of-way activities. The survey questionnaire used in the study is presented in Appendix A. The study participants' primary points of contact and survey respondents, their mailing addresses, phone numbers and email addresses are presented in Appendix B and C, respectively.

The electronic and hard copies of the survey questionnaire were mailed to the eight study participants. Follow-up telephone calls were made or email sent to ensure successful dissemination of the questionnaire to all of the study participants, address questions relating to the survey, alert the participants about deadlines, or obtain additional information on the survey responses received from the participants.

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Summary of Responses of Study Participants

Based on the survey responses received, almost all of the study participants are engaged in right-of-way activities that largely encompass the nine major functional areas described above. However, as previously noted, the DOT divisions responsible for the individual functional areas vary for the states. Even within a given DOT division, responsibilities are spread out to different operational units. Consequently, the responses from the study participants documented herein should be considered non-exhaustive with respect to their state DOTs' level of involvement in the various right-of-way functional areas, but instead should be viewed as the opinions of the respondents. Specifically, the possibility exists that some of the respondents under-reported the right-of-way and GIS activities of their respective state DOTs. Below is the summary of the survey responses from the eight study participants.

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California

The California Department of Transportation has been using GIS since 1989. The current GIS platform includes ESRI Suite®, Intergraph GeoMedia®, and Oracle Spatial® customized system. The estimated annual operating cost of the GIS program is approximately $3 million.

Right-of-Way Areas involving GIS Application

GIS is currently being applied in or considered for Route Estimating, Excess Lands Tracking, Right-of-Way Engineering Document Retrieval System, and Asset Management.

Route Estimating: This application involves using GIS to estimate the required rights of way for projects programmed for implementation, including the identification of the land parcels being impacted by transportation improvement projects. Using right-of-way geographic map file from a Microstation®, Parcel map, Assessors database records and Aerial photos, Right-of-way Data Sheet, and scale drawing, the total acreage and amount of acquisition for each parcel is generated to facilitate the Route Estimating process.

Excess Lands Tracking: A GIS website is being developed in one of the district offices that enables the viewing of zoomed maps of Excess Lands, and retrieval of information on property location and status.

Right-of-way Document Retrieval: A GIS website has been implemented in several district offices capable of retrieving scanned right-of-way map documents via a map search interface.

Asset Management: GIS is currently being considered that will provide the divisional offices with the capability of developing information management systems/processes for acquiring, holding, improving, managing or disposing of real property assets, which include maintenance stations, equipment shops, office buildings (owned/leased), safety roadside rests, park and rides, vista points, weigh stations, and environmental mitigation sites.

Advantages and Disadvantages inherent in GIS Application

Although the applications described above are still in development, they have demonstrated how GIS technology can be used to streamline the process of implementing right-of-way projects. The perceived main advantage of GIS is faster information retrieval, although the benefits have been small in right-of-way functions thus far. The task of converting and maintaining documents in digital form remains a prerequisite to some potentially great advantages, as has obtaining existing parcel information from other agencies. The disadvantages of GIS application in right-of-way can be attributed to the costs of retraining of personnel and restructuring of responsibilities across the organization. The general perception is that there is the failure to initiate or sustain the additional effort to fully implement GIS, however large the anticipated benefits might be. For example, both right-of-way parcel maps and utility maps are used for a variety of purposes, all of which would benefit from full conversion to CADD and/or GIS, but tight capital outlay support budgets have not been able to fund staff engaging in such long-term infrastructure improvements. Another perceived disadvantage, generally amongst many land surveyors, is that the traditionally lower positional-accuracy of imagery, tax-assessor parcels, and other GIS layers, may lead to costly mistakes when property agents interpret a GIS map, or engineer's design around GIS utility lines.

Future Area of GIS Application

It is the ultimate goal of the Department to extend the application of GIS to encompass all of the major right-of-way functional areas but there is no established timeline to achieve this goal.

Internal and External Factors Impeding GIS Application

Factors perceived to be impeding the use of GIS include the lack of adequate funding; lack of awareness and understanding of technology; lack of training; lack of state and federal data models and standards to use; lack of uniformity in data formats, standards and accuracies between public agencies; redundant data entry between project and records management systems; budgetary constraints; delays in system acquisition/development; no approved feasibility study report; and lack of a statewide vision and plan for digital land records information system.

Additional Resources to Fully Leverage GIS Technology

The specific assistance needed from the FHWA in order to streamline ongoing and planned efforts to develop an effective GIS-based program includes the following:

A clear vision statement to guide the development and implementation of GIS in right-of-way activities; A comprehensive GIS training for managers, supervisors and technical experts; An inventory of existing GIS applications in right-of-way from DOTs worldwide; A study of how GIS could benefit right-of-way activities; The creation of a parcel boundary layer for a GIS base map; and

Enacting enabling legislation, policy development, interagency partnerships and agreements, and coordinating and collaborating efforts.

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Florida

The use of GIS in implementing right-of-way programs is in its infancy at the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) but the Department is fully aware of the potential of GIS technology.

Right-of-Way Areas involving GIS Application

GIS is currently being used in two right-of-way functional areas; i.e., Planning and Management, and Outdoor Advertising Control.

Planning and Management: The FDOT Turnpike Enterprise has implemented a GIS program that enables the display of property usage, environmentally sensitive areas, and other land use characteristics. The data obtained from the GIS is useful in developing right-of-way projects and overall turnpike management. FDOT also uses GIS to depict archeologically significant sites along rights of way.4

Outdoor Advertising Control: The Outdoor Advertising regulatory program uses GIS primarily for Quality Control of field data, including inventory and compliance with state and federal regulations.

Advantages and Disadvantages inherent in GIS Application

The use of GIS in right-of-way programs is so new that it is difficult to discern major advantages/disadvantages at the current level of implementation. Probably, the greatest challenge encountered to date is the cost of obtaining the base map data, which would allow for high accuracy in the display of geo-referenced data. The greatest advantage of GIS can be attributed to the superior graphic image obtained which is much easier to interpret than tabular data, and greatly enhances the speed of decision-making.

Future Area of GIS Application

There are currently no future plans beyond exploring more in-depth application of GIS in the two functional areas (i.e., Planning and Management, and Outdoor Advertising Control). A substantial expansion in the Outdoor Advertising area is anticipated in the near future.

Internal and External Factors Impeding GIS Application

The cost of development of the baseline data is perceived to be the most significant factor impeding the application of GIS in right-of-way programs.

Additional Resources to Fully Leverage GIS Technology

Technology resources, including educational and training programs tailored to successful use of GIS in right-of-way, are needed to expand the current use of GIS technology and also to explore other functional areas not currently considered.

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Maryland

Right-of-way activities are dispersed amongst several divisions of the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT). The documentation on MDOT GIS activities in right of way was based on the information obtained from the Office of Real Estate, one of the several MDOT divisions engaged in specialized right-of-way activities. The information provided herein should be treated as the perspective of the MDOT Office of Real Estate, and may not be a complete representation of MDOT's engagement in right of way related activities.

In the MDOT Office of Real Estate, GIS program which started in the late 1990's involves the ArcView® GIS and the MD Property View, a customized application that was developed by MD Department of Planning, and made available to the State agencies.

Right-of-Way Areas involving GIS Application

GIS application as reported by the Office of Real Estate is currently limited to two right-of-way functional areas, i.e., Property Acquisition and Property Management.

Property Acquisition: The application facilitates the display of Tax Assessment Data through a visual interface. It is used extensively by the Office of Real Estate to collect property information for acquisition related activities.

Property Management: A customized application named SHAGIS Data Viewer uses property coordinate information to display excess land parcels that may be available for disposal. The application is available statewide so that users can obtain information about the parcels before contacting the MDOT Real Estate Office.

Advantages and Disadvantages inherent in GIS Application

The advantages inherent in the use of GIS include the visual feature provided by GIS data and the efficiency in querying these data for details about a specific record. Current use of the MD Property View allows the importing of selected Tax Assessment records into the Office of Real Estate Management System (OREMS). The ability to import improves the process of retrieving individual data, particularly when dealing with projects that involve a large number of properties. The disadvantages are the lack of resources, mainly time and experience, needed to develop, sustain and enhance current and future applications.

Future Area of GIS Application

Over the years, there have been discussions on the use of GIS interface to access and display in excess of 60,000 right-of-way plats that provide detailed information about potential properties to be acquired and their respective owners. It is anticipated that future use of GIS will include the expansion of current application areas, i.e., Property Acquisitions and Property Management, and Records Research.

Internal and External Factors Impeding GIS Application

There are not enough time and resources available to fully explore all the benefits that GIS can offer in the area of right of way. Consequently, the lack of availability of needed time and technical resources is perceived to be the most significant factor impeding the application of GIS in right-of-way programs.

Additional Resources to Fully Leverage GIS Technology

Availability of technology resources, including people with the technical knowledge necessary to implement GIS initiatives, is needed.

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Minnesota

The GIS application in right-of-way at the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT), as reported by the Office of Land Management, involves the ArcGIS® and ArcView® platform. There is also an ongoing interest to develop a customized system that provides an interface between the ArcGIS® and Microstation® (the Department's CADD standard).

Right-of-Way Areas involving GIS Application

Current GIS applications in right-of-way include Utility Relocation, Asset Management, Public Access to Right-of-Way Maps, and Parcel Data Inventory and Mapping.

Utility Relocation: GIS is being used to track the location and condition of storm sewer for maintenance and relocation.

Asset Management: GIS is utilized to track sign locations for inventory and maintenance related activities.

Public Access to Right-of-Way Maps: The Office of Land Management (OLM) is in the process of scanning and geo-referencing the right-of-way maps so that they will be accessible over the web using a graphic spatial interface.

Parcel Data Inventory and Mapping: A statewide parcel data inventory research project was undertaken by MnDOT with University of Minnesota and Pro-West & Associates that resulted in the development of a GIS-based cadastral maps of parcel ownership to streamline the process of accessing information about properties and landowners required for undertaking property acquisition and right-of-way maintenance activities.

Advantages and Disadvantages inherent in GIS Application

The advantages of using GIS is evidenced in the scanned, geo-referenced maps, including Preservation of otherwise deteriorating hardcopies of maps; Less staff time taken in locating/filling requests; Ease of locating maps, especially for those not familiar with MnDOT map identification protocols; and Development of new processes/tools with broader spatial analysis application. The major disadvantages include the Resources required to prepare maps; Dealing with maps in multiple formats (e.g., CAD and Raster maps); Reliance on outside consultants for performance of some tasks; and Dependence upon other offices (e.g., IT) for support/cooperation.

Future Area of GIS Application

Right-of-way activities are not limited to a single office, so it is difficult to identify all of the planned future GIS initiatives in right-of-way. Within the OLM, however, the goal is to provide a graphic spatial reference/interface that will allow access and correlation of all OLM's graphic right-of-way products, to include right-of-way maps, right-of-way plats, Graphic Commissioner's orders, and right-of-way authorization/work/final maps.

Internal and External Factors Impeding GIS Application

There is currently no centralized control/coordination of GIS activities at the MnDOT. Some units of the MnDOT pursue their own GIS initiatives while others are dependent upon external expertise. There are also the issues of tight budget and the lack of awareness amongst key decision makers about the capabilities of GIS technology.

Additional Resources to Fully Leverage GIS Technology

Other than providing money, time, and expert personnel, there are two ways that FHWA could facilitate GIS development within right-of-way: (1) Provide a clear vision and standards for GIS application to right-of-way issues as part of a national right-of-way layer for the National Spatial Data Initiative (NSDI) and (2) Showcase examples of how others have successfully applied GIS to right-of-way issues by hosting meetings/seminars/workshops on such applications.

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New Mexico

Right-of-way activities at the New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) are mostly housed in the Right-of-Way Bureau. GIS implementation of right-of-way programs in NMDOT started as a pilot project around 1989, which was difficult to coordinate because of the lack of dedicated technical resource. The ArcView® platform, acquired in the later part of 2001, is being used by Right-of-Way Bureau for implementing GIS projects.

Right-of-Way Areas involving GIS Application

The Bureau currently has very experienced technical personnel that have gathered a lot of data over the years to support the GIS program. Current GIS applications in right-of-way involve: Property/Asset Management (including Airspace Leasing, Excess Land Inventory, Excess Land Disposition), and Land and Water Rights Acquisition.

Property/Asset Management: The Property Management Unit has taken the lead in implementing GIS in its everyday tasks, within the Right-of-Way Bureau. The first major undertaking was the entering of all non-right-of-way (NRW) parcels into ArcGIS®. NRW parcels are excess land parcels purchased as part of a construction project but not needed for right-of-way purposes. There are approximately 300 NRW parcels in the inventory that are located throughout the State that were purchased for about 12 million dollars. Entering the NRW parcels' information into the GIS took approximately a year because of the detailed nature of the information and the lack of resources. Prior to the implementation of GIS, spreadsheet or access database was used to prepare reports that included list of all the NRW parcels with their respective size and market value information. With the use of GIS, the scope of the report has been expanded to include an aerial photo with the parcel overlaid to show its relationship to major roadways, accesses, topography and other attributes to determine marketable properties in the NRW inventory. Entering the parcels into ArcGIS® format, albeit a long and tedious initiative, has simplified the process of storing, retrieving, displaying and producing parcel maps and information.

Excess Land Disposition: The State of New Mexico passed a new law at the 2004 Legislative Session that allows NMDOT to sell excess properties on the open market. Although new procedures for selling the excess properties will have to be established, the use of GIS has streamlined the process of identifying the excess properties. There are ongoing plans to scan and hotlink/hyperlink deeds, contracts, or other pertinent documents to the parcels in GIS database for quick display of information.

Miscellaneous Applications (Road Exchanges/Research): Large volume of requests for information on NMDOT owned properties, other private properties ownership, property abandonment, sale, lease, encroachments, preparation of quitclaim deeds for road exchanges with municipalities, etc are received by the Right-of-Way Bureau. The requests received covered 10,000 miles of roadways in a 400 square mile area of the State of New Mexico. Using GIS, the Property Management Unit handles the aforementioned large volume of request for information with a staff of four. Efforts are also being made to enter every request received in GIS to produce maps visualizing the nature of the request, and to facilitate data archiving for research and related activities, including presentations and preparation of reports.

The Right-of-Way Specialty Units (Indian Agent and Water Rights Agent) have taken a full advantage of the use of GIS in implementing projects in parallel with that of the Property Management Unit, including presentation of data for negotiation with the Indian Community and Water Rights inventories.

Advantages and Disadvantages inherent in GIS Application

The major advantages inherent in the Right-of-Way Bureau's, more specifically the Property Management Units', application of GIS are easy access to both visual and text data of NMDOT owned properties, resulting in minimum use of hardcopy data and operating cost. The disadvantage is the large amount of time and resources involved in learning GIS and developing GIS-support data.

Future Area of GIS Application

Future plan will be to leverage GIS technology in implementing every functional area the Right-of-Way Bureau is involved in.

Internal and External Factors Impeding GIS Application

The main problem affecting the GIS program has been inadequate resources, including funds and personnel. Consequently, there are not any specific GIS positions, classification or Units within the State Government, and GIS continues to be a small part of the overall IT budget. Also, the Right-of-Way Bureau, by keeping up with policy changes and new programs, lags behind in keeping pace with new developments in GIS technology.

Additional Resources to Fully Leverage GIS Technology

From the experience gained by the Right-of-Way Bureau in initiating the use of GIS, there is the urgent need to establish a GIS Section within the NMDOT that will be charged with GIS implementation of right-of-way programs. The Section should have enough personnel to effectively support the GIS implementation needs in the individual units of NMDOT, including the Right-of-Way Bureau. The GIS Section, with the assistance of FHWA, will also keep pace with the changing technology and massive amount of new data requirement to support future right-of-way and other programs of NMDOT.

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New York

GIS was introduced into right-of-way activities of the New York Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) in 1994. The GIS platform is a PC Desktop using the ESRI software products with some customization. GIS functionality and support is distributed statewide with core support provided by a centralized small unit in the NYSDOT Main Office.

Right-of-Way Areas involving GIS Application

GIS application in right-of-way currently involves Right-of-Way Mapping and Property Acquisition.

Right-of-Way Mapping: The Regional Right-of-Way Mapping Units have been involved in limited applications of GIS in right-of-way mapping.

Property Acquisition: Currently only a few of the eleven regional offices of the NYSDOT use GIS as an inventory tool for property acquisition. The specific tasks involve creating geographic features of scanned mapping of properties considered for acquisition in relation to existing highway boundary locations so that they can be indexed and retrieved using GIS.

Advantages and Disadvantages inherent in GIS Application

The use of GIS in right-of-way has so far not resulted in a significant advantage due to the limited scope of application as identified above. Nonetheless, there is growing awareness about the potential benefits of using GIS in implementing right-of-way programs of NYSDOT.

Future Area of GIS Application

The Department is currently working with a vendor to develop a comprehensive automation system for all its Real Estate functions, including Programming/Liaison, Acquisition/Relocation, Appraisal and Property Management (Use and Occupancy Permits/Leasing Program, Surplus Property Disposal Program and Sign Program [Logo and Outdoor Advertising]).

Internal and External Factors Impeding GIS Application

Budget constraint and the loss of many of the Department's staff to retirement have been hindering progress in GIS projects even though the importance of the projects is recognized. The tremendous amount of time and effort GIS projects require pose a challenge in obtaining the needed funding, and require the leveraging of external sources of funding (outside the Department) in order to sustain large-scale GIS applications.

Additional Resources to Fully Leverage GIS Technology

Currently the NYSDOT has an active GIS program that includes a unit that devotes most of its time to GIS applications. However, in order to increase the involvement of Right-of-Way functions with GIS, there would be the need to either increase the staffing in the Real Estate and Right-of-Way Mapping Sections or use the services of consultants. The Department needs to be made more aware than it currently is of the amount of time and money that could be saved from the implementation of GIS in right-of-way. One perceived important role of the FHWA is to support efforts to increase GIS benefit awareness, particularly in the area of right-of-way, at the state departments of transportation.

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Ohio

GIS was introduced into the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) in 1980. The GIS platform currently used is Integraph Geomedia®, which is a non-customized, off-the-shelf product.

Right-of-Way Areas involving GIS Application

GIS application in right-of-way includes the following activities: Planning and Management, Asset Management, Highway Scenic Activities, and Outdoor Advertising Control.

Planning and Management: GIS is used as an analyzing tool for detecting deficiencies in programming and scheduling of projects.

Asset Management: The majority of ODOT assets are accessible using GIS, which also provides reports on excess land and other inventories. GIS is also used to determine the location of Logo Signs based on average daily traffic (ADT) and other pertinent traffic and roadway information.

Highway Scenic Activities: State designated Scenic Routes are mapped, tracked or maintained using GIS.

Outdoor Advertising Control: Billboard locations are tracked using GIS/GPS interface for regulatory and inventory purposes.

Advantages and Disadvantages inherent in GIS Application

GIS usage provides for very efficient processes of implementing right-of-way programs, when data is available. However, large amounts of GIS-support data, including property owners/parcel data, are generated locally and their availability/accuracy is largely dependent on the effort of the local government.

Future Area of GIS Application

In addition to the four functional areas identified above, future use of GIS will include tracking and mapping of right-of-way variations, identification of property owners, estimation of purchase cost, and serving as a resource for public meetings. Ultimately, it is the goal of ODOT to extend the use of GIS to all of its right-of-way functional activities.

Internal and External Factors Impeding GIS Application

There was no report given on the factors impeding GIS usage in right-of- way programs.

Additional Resources to Fully Leverage GIS Technology

The GIS program at ODOT is considered to be at the advanced stage and does not anticipate the need for external resources. However, availability of accurate local data, including parcel/property ownership data, is deemed necessary to fully leverage the GIS capability of ODOT.

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Texas

GIS was introduced in the implementation of Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) right-of-way programs since 2001, using a customized GIS platform.

Right-of-Way Areas involving GIS Application

GIS application includes three right-of-way functional areas: Utilities Management and Relocation, Right-of-Way Mapping, and Outdoor Advertising Control.

Utilities Management and Relocation: There are two projects planned for statewide implementation. The first project is On-line Permitting of Utility Installations in a GIS database to enable quick retrieval of information. The second project involves the use of GIS and survey data in construction projects to provide the capability for undertaking inventory of Utility facilities with accurate location information.

Right-of-Way Mapping: Data files of scanned right-of-way maps are attached to GIS maps and made available on the Internet for public use.

Outdoor Advertising Control: Sign data are collected with a GIS/GPS interface to display three-dimensional location (coordinate) information that facilitates inventory, tracking and maintenance related activities.

Advantages and Disadvantages inherent in GIS Application

The mapping and displaying of rights-of-way on the Internet has reduced personnel time for retrieving and copying maps. The effort has also reduced the time for all users to locate maps.

Future Area of GIS Application

There is a plan to use GIS in the area of Highway Scenic Activities (regulation of outdoor advertising) that will involve the establishment and maintenance of databases of sign locations. Future efforts will also include a full GIS inventory of right-of-way maps and utilities, and integrating GIS with the existing Right-of-Way Information System program to facilitate easy access to parcel data.

Internal and External Factors Impeding GIS Application

The following are some of the notable challenges involving GIS application in right-of-way: Collecting utility location data in an accurate manner, Availability of surveying and inspection resources to collect data, and Establishment of uniform data formats to facilitate efficient data collection, storage and sharing.

Additional Resources to Fully Leverage GIS Technology

Resources are needed to promote the use of a uniform standard for GIS applications, particularly those involving right-of-way and parcel mapping. There is also the need to establish recommended ways of interacting with other right-of-way support programs.

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SUMMARY OF FINDINGS

GIS implementation of state DOT right-of-way programs is not a novel concept as evidenced in the literature review and survey/interview results documented above. Table 1 depicts reported known use of GIS for the implementation of the study participants' right-of-way programs.

Almost all of the state DOTs (if not all) are believed to be involved in the nine major right-of-way functional areas described herein. However, for those participating state DOTs whose right-of-way programs are non-centralized but dispersed amongst several of the divisional units, their involvement in using GIS to implement right-of-way programs may have been underreported by the survey respondents. Nonetheless, the current level of state DOTs involvement in GIS implementation of right-of-way programs is generally limited to two or three of the major functional areas as depicted in Table 1.

The four most frequently cited right-of-way functional areas involving GIS applications include Property/Asset Management, Right-of-Way Mapping Property Acquisition, and Outdoor Advertising Control. While the use of GIS in right-of-way generally remains localized at the regional offices and currently focuses on a few of the functional areas, there is great potential to mainstream the application of this technology in the implementation of right-of-way programs at the state DOTs if the required resources (including technical personnel and facilities) are made available.

All of the eight participating state DOTs are aware of the benefits inherent in GIS implementation of right-of-way programs, including streamlined data archiving and sharing, visual display of information, superior mapping capability, and efficient tracking and inventory processes.

Frequently cited factors perceived to impede progress in GIS implementation of right-of-way programs at the state DOTs include the lack of earmarked resources (personnel and facilities) for GIS initiatives, and difficulty in obtaining accurate parcel map and supporting data at the local government level.

The general consensus amongst the participating state DOTs was that, other than providing funding to support GIS utilization in right-of-way activities, opportunities exist for the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to undertake GIS awareness campaign, establish uniform standards/ Best Practice Methods, provide information on technology, success stories, planned technical workshops, and training programs.

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Best Practice Methods

As earlier mentioned, GIS implementation of right-of-way programs at the state DOTs is still in its infancy and continues to evolve to encompass more functional areas. The major right-of-way functional areas targeted herein for Best Practice Methods (BPM) of GIS application are Property Acquisition, Property Appraisal, Relocation Assistance, Utility Relocation/Management, Outdoor Advertising Control, Property/Asset management, and Corridor Preservation. Current or potential application of GIS in the above listed functional areas are briefly summarized as follows:

Property Acquisition

Property Appraisal

Relocation assistance

Utility Relocation/Management

Outdoor Advertising Control

Property/Asset Management

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CONCLUSIONS

This report documents a study of GIS implementation of state DOTs right-of-way programs. The study was primary based on the experience of eight states and involved combination of exhaustive literature review, survey and interviews. The study revealed that state DOTs Right-of-Way Offices are increasingly using GIS technology but most of such efforts are improvised with little or no earmarked resources, non-centralized or uncoordinated, and involve a few right-of-way functional areas. Increased resource (time, personnel and facilities) allocation is required in order to fully leverage the opportunities presented by GIS in the implementation of right-of-way programs.

Although GIS-related initiatives in most cases are locally driven because of their reliance on local data, the federal government can play significant roles in mainstreaming GIS implementation of right-of-way programs at the state DOTs by acting as a liaison and technology broker, particularly in the areas of training and dissemination of information on successful applications of GIS in right-of-way. Opportunities also exist for the federal government (FHWA) to work with the states in establishing uniform standards and BPMs for GIS implementation of right-of-way programs.

Finally, additional research is needed that will exhaustively document BPMs for guiding the state DOTs in their GIS implementation of right-of-way programs.

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REFERENCES

  1. Quiroga, C. "Research Improves Right-of-Way Management." Texas Transportation Researcher, Vol. 39, Issue 1, 2000, page 12.
  2. Quiroga, C., Ellis, C., Shin, S.Y., and Pina, R. A Data Platform for Managing Utilities along Highway Corridors: User Manual, Texas Transportation Institute, Texas A & M University, College Station, TX 77843, USA, February 2002.
  3. Sydelko, P.J. Use of Geographic Information System for Applications on Gas Pipeline Rights of Way, Report No. NAL-TR-1194T, Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, IL 60439, USA, 1993.
  4. Weisman, B.R. Archeology at the Crossroads: A New Direction in Transportation Archeology in Florida: Recommendations for the Management of Archeological Resources on FDOT Properties, Florida Department of Transportation, Tallahassee, FL 32399-0450, USA, April 1999.
  5. Gunning, A.S. "GIS Application Using Digital Orthophoto Data." Eight TRB Conference on the Application of Transportation Planning, Texas Transportation Institute, Texas A & M University, College Station, TX 77843, USA, April 2001.
  6. Loper, J., Meyer, R., and Searles, K. "Dupage County DOT Desktop Right of Way Analysis," Geographic Information Systems for Transportation Symposium: Forging Partnerships for the New Millenium - GIS Minneapolis, MN, March 2000, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Washington, DC 20590.
  7. Moeller, Richard et al. "Right of Way Databases and GIS System." European Right-of-Way and Utilities Best Practices. Publication No. FHWA-PL-02-013, Office of International Programs, FHWA, US DOT (HPIP), Washington, DC, August 2002.

Table 1 State DOT GIS Implementation of Right-of-Way Programs

Right-of-Way Functional Areas CA FL MD MN NM NY OH TX
Planning and Management   X         X  
Right-of-Way Mapping X     X   X   X
Property Appraisal                
Property Acquisition X   X   X X    
Relocation Assistance                
Property/Asset Management X   X X X   X  
Outdoor Advertising Control   X         X X
Utility Relocation/Management       X       X
Corridor Preservation                

Note: 'X' represents involvement in GIS application in right-of-way functional area as reported in the survey.

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APPENDIX A: Sample of Survey Questionnaire

  1. Information about the person completing this questionnaire:

    Name:

    Title:

    Address:

    Telephone number:

    Email:

  2. Information about the primary point-of-contact for the State Right-of-way agency:
    Name:

    Title:

    Address:

    Telephone number:

    Email:

  3. Please use a checkmark (x) to identify all of the major right-of-way functional areas listed below that are applicable to your agency:
    • Planning and Management
    • Right-of-way Engineering
    • Property Appraisal
    • Property Acquisition
    • Relocation Assistance
    • Property Management
    • Utility Relocation
    • Asset Management
    • Outdoor Advertisement
    • Utility Management
    • Corridor Preservation
    • Others (please specify)
  4. Does your agency currently use geographical information systems (GIS)? Please indicate "Yes" or "No" (Skip questions 6 through 11 if you indicate "No")
  5. If you indicate "Yes" in question 4, please specify the year your agency introduced the use of GIS.
  6. Please list the GIS platform (brand) currently used by your agency. Indicate whether or not it is a customized system that is tailored to your agency's need. Please also indicate the initial cost of procuring the GIS and the annual operating cost.
  7. Please list all of the major right-of-way functional areas in your agency (as identified in question 3) involving the application of GIS.
  8. For each of the major right-of-way functional areas listed in question 7, please give a detailed description of the specific task(s) performed using the GIS.
  9. Please document, as much as you can, the advantages and/or disadvantages inherent in your agency's application of GIS in the major right-of-way functional areas listed in question 7. You are strongly encouraged to attach additional information materials to supplement your documentation.
  10. Does your agency have a future plan to apply/expand the application of GIS in any of the major right-of-way functional areas? (Skip question 11, if you indicate "No")
  11. Please list all of the major right-of-way functional areas considered by your agency for future GIS-related applications.
  12. Are there internal/external factors that impede the use of GIS in your agency? If so, please identify the factors.
  13. Please provide a detailed documentation of the additional resources your agency would need in order to fully leverage GIS technology in its activities? We are particularly interested in knowing how (other than funding) the FHWA can assist in streamlining your agency's effort to develop an effective GIS program.
  14. Please list the name, complete address, phone number, and email of the person in your agency we may send a copy of the final report of this study:
    • Name:
    • Address:
    • Phone Number:
    • Email:
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APPENDIX B: State DOT Right-of-Way Point of Contact Information

CALIFORNIA

Brice Paris
Chief, Division of Right of Way and Land Surveys
California Department of Transportation
1120 N Street, MS 37
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 654-5075
Brice_Paris@dot.ca.gov

FLORIDA

John L. Garner
Manager, Righ-of-Way Production & Program Operations
605 Suwannee St, MS 22
Tallahassee, FL 32399
(850) 414-4558
john.garner@dot.state.fl.us

MARYLAND

Chris Larson
Director, Office of Real Estate
211 E. Madison St
Baltimore, MD 21201
clarson@sha.state.md.us

MINNESOTA

Allan Pint
Director, Office of Land Management
MS 630
395 John Ireland Blvd
St Paul, MN 55155-1899
(651) 296-1132
pint1All@dot.state.mn.us

NEW MEXICO

Ron Noedel
Right-of-Way Operation Section Chief
New Mexico Department of Transportation
P.O. Box 1149
604 West San Mateo
Santa Fe, New Mexico 87504-1149
(505) 827-2495
ron.noedel@nmshtd.state.nm.us

NEW YORK

William Moore
Land Surveyor
New York State Department of Transportation
Design Services Bureau/Design Division/Land Surveying Section
50 Wolf Road
Albany, New York 12232
(518) 457-1902
wemoore@dot.state.ny.us

OHIO

David L. Blackstone
GIS Manager
Office of Technical Services
Ohio Department of Transportation
1980 West Broad Street
Columbus, Ohio 43223
(614) 466-2594
Dave.Blackstone@dot.state.oh.us

TEXAS

John P. Campbell, P.E.
Right-of-Way Division Director
118 E. Riverside Drive
Austin, Texas 78704
(512) 416-2901

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APPENDIX C: Survey Respondent Contact Information

CALIFORNIA

Mark S. Turner, Chief
Division of Right of Way and Land Surveys
1120 N Street, MS 37
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 227-7669
Mark_Turner@dot.ca.gov

FLORIDA

John L. Garner
Manager, Right-of-Way Production & Program Operations
605 Suwannee St, MS 22
Tallahassee, FL 32399
(850) 414-4558
john.garner@dot.state.fl.us

MARYLAND

Ken Drury
Real Property Specialist
211 E. Madison St
Baltimore, MD 21201
(410) 545-0032
kdrury@sha.state.md.us

MINNESOTA

Richard Morey
Assistant Director, Office of Land Management
MS 630
395 John Ireland Blvd
St Paul, MN 55155-1899
(651) 296-1131
Richard.morey@dot.state.mn.us

NEW MEXICO

Robert L. Lopez
Property Management Unit Supervisor, Right-of-Way Bureau
New Mexico Department of Transportation
P.O. Box 1149
604 West San Mateo
Santa Fe, New Mexico 87504-1149
(505) 827-5349
robert.lopez@nmshtd.state.nm.us

NEW YORK

William Moore
Land Surveyor
New York State Department of Transportation
Design Services Bureau/Design Division/Land Surveying Section
50 Wolf Road
Albany, New York 12232
(518) 457-1902
wemoore@dot.state.ny.us

OHIO

David L. Blackstone
GIS Manager
Office of Technical Services
Ohio Department of Transportation
1980 West Broad Street
Columbus, Ohio 43223
(614) 466-2594
Dave.Blackstone@dot.state.oh.us

TEXAS

Jesse Cooper, RPLS
Map, Survey, and Utility Section Director
118 E. Riverside Drive
Austin, Texas 78704
(512) 416-2874
jcoope2@dot.state.tx.us

Updated: 09/05/2014
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