Many transportation agencies are finding creative ways to meet the funding demands of highway investments. Innovative uses of ROW, including property management practices, advertising and sponsorships, and airspace leasing, may offer transportation agencies with new revenue streams, as well as cost savings and social and environmental benefits.
Property management is managing and administering property acquired for highway purposes so that the public interest is served. Transportation agencies' responsibilities regarding property management are described in law (23 CFR 1.23 "Highway Purposes" and 23 USC 111) and FHWA regulation (23 CFR 710.403). Accordingly, the temporary or permanent occupancy or use of right-of-way for non-highway purposes may be allowed, if FHWA determines that such occupancy, use, or reservation is in the public interest and will not impair the highway or interfere with the free and safe flow of traffic thereon
The term "airspace lease" covers the range of leases for highway air rights. "Air rights" is a legal term used in highway terminology to describe that area above or below the plane of the transportation facility and located within the right-of-way boundaries. The right to use this area by public entities or private parties for interim non-highway uses may be granted in airspace leases, as long as such uses will not interfere with the construction, operation or maintenance of the facility; anticipated future transportation needs; or the safety and security of the facility for both highway and non-highway users. Private or public uses of airspace may occur, but the protection and preservation of the nation's highway capacity is essential.
It is the FHWA's policy to allow the use of signs to acknowledge the provision of highway-related services under both corporate and volunteer sponsorship programs. It is essential that good, basic engineering practices be followed, such as simplifying sign message content, using reasonable sign sizes consistent with the provisions of the MUTCD, and minimizing driver distraction.