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November 14, 2008
Associate Administrator Gloria Shepherd signed a memorandum on May 23, 2007, detailing the right-of-way input needed with regard to Major Projects Teams. The memorandum is available at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/real_estate/right-of-way/policy_and_guidance/majpolguid.cfm. Major projects are defined as projects over $500 million. This substantially increased the number of projects on which the FHWA Realty Professionals are providing oversight, including assurance that the right-of-way portion of the cost estimate is accurate.
The Secretary of Transportation has previously announced a department-wide initiative to reduce congestion. The Office of Real Estate Services has two initiatives that contribute to this initiative.
Right-of-way support for Access Management, a CD called Reduce Congestion through Access Management — Safe Access is Good for Business! The Office of Real Estate Services supports improved operations by showcasing techniques for congestion relief, decreasing conflict points, and increasing the ease of through traffic. In 2007, the Office of Real Estate Services distributed a new CD containing an access management primer and video that explains access management to business owners, to win their support for access management related congestion reduction projects. The primer and video can be downloaded free by going to http://www.accessmanagement.info and http://www.teachamerica.com/amv/ . The CD is available from Kathleen.Facer@fhwa.dot.gov or calling 785-271-2448 x 224.
On January 27, 2007, the Office of Real Estate Services issued policy and guidance on supercompensation payments incurred for acquisition of real property on projects eligible for Federal-aid highway funding. Supercompensation payments are those State mandated payments which are in excess of the fair market value of a condemned property. Supercompensation
payments, where necessary to satisfy just compensation requirements under applicable State law, are a direct cost of acquisition that is eligible for reimbursement pursuant to 23 CFR 710.203. This payment is considered a component of the acquisition cost, and as such, must be included when calculating replacement housing payments. This treatment is similar to that of court awards and administrative settlements.
The Office of Real Estate Services is partnering with the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) to sponsor a study called Right-of-Way Methods and Tools to Control Project Cost Escalation. This study, reviewing best practices specifically focused on the right-of-way aspects of cost estimating, will not be available until late 2008. The 2007 NCHRP Report 574 is a guidebook on highway cost estimation management and project cost estimation procedures that aim for consistency and accuracy between long-range transportation planning, priority programming, and preconstruction cost estimates. This guide provides strategies, methods, and tools to develop, track, and document realistic cost estimates.
Potential Uniform Act Statutory Update
The FHWA completed several activities to determine the need for and the feasibility of updating the Uniform Act. Activities included nationwide listening sessions involving our State partners and others on needed changes and our national business relocation study. The FHWA convened a Federal interagency working group to review, analyze and consolidate requested changes, and develop a suggested Uniform Act statutory update. We are continuing to move forward with a legislative proposal of suggested updates to send to the Offices of the Secretary of Transportation and Management and Budget.
Relocation Moving Cost Schedule
Input from each State Department of Transportation (State DOT) has been received. The new fixed residential moving cost schedule was published in the Federal Register in August 2008, and can be found at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/real_estate/uniform_act/policy_and_guidance/fixsch96.cfm.
Outdoor Advertising Control Guidance
On September 25, 2007, the Office of Real Estate Services issued guidance on off-premise changeable message signs. This memorandum is available at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/real_estate/oac/policy_and_guidance/offprmsgsnguid.cfm.
Federal Land Transfer Manual
An updated Federal Land Transfer Manual is nearing completion. An earlier study analyzed a system of checks and balances in providing land necessary for transportation purposes. The study results are available at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/real_estate/uniform_act/acquisition/interagency/. We have developed a Federal land transfer forum on the Real Estate Exchange Community of Practice at https://collaboration.fhwa.dot.gov/dot/fhwa/rex/default.aspx. The forum includes a reference section for sample agreements. Additional pertinent Federal land transfer information and links will be added in the future.
Right-of-Way and Utility International Scan, 2008
In September 2008 an International Scan entitled, "Integrating and Streamlining Right-of-Way and Utility Processes with Planning, Environment and Design" was conducted, with destinations in Australia and Canada. Gerald Solomon, Director, Office of Real Estate Services, FHWA and John Campbell, Director, Right of Way Division TxDOT were co-chairs of the Scan team. The Scan report should be available soon. We will be looking for ways to implement Scan findings and recommendations. We are currently developing guidance for realty pilots to test right-of-way practices investigated during the scan. We hope to have at least 5 pilots under way during this fiscal year. If you have an idea that you would like to pilot, please contact your FHWA realty point of contact.
Federal Agency Update (FAU); formerly Public Real Estate Education Symposium (PRES)
In February, the Office of Real Estate Services participated in the annual Public Real Estate Education Symposium (PRES) of the International Right-of-Way Association (IRWA) in Dallas, Texas. Gerald Solomon, John Turpin, Marshall Wainright and David Walterscheid moderated sessions that included an eminent domain update, conflict of interest in the appraisal process, emerging technologies in right-of-way and public/private partnerships, among others. We received very positive feedback on the presentations. We are now preparing presentations for the FAU, scheduled for January 13-15, 2009, in Las Vegas, NV. Details can be found at www.irwaonline.org.
Access Management National Conference in Maryland
The Office of Real Estate Services supported the 8th national conference held on July 13-16, 2008 in Baltimore, MD. Planners, right-of-way professional and traffic engineers shared experiences in implementing access management policies and tools. The next national conference will be in 2010 in Natchez, MS.
The FHWA Right-of-Way Project Development Guide (PDG)
The Office of Real Estate Services has been updating the sixteen chapters of the online Project Development Guide. It is undergoing legal review and should be posted early in 2009.
Uniform Act Competency Building program
This study was carried out to determine how to best ensure that right-of-way professionals have access to tools and techniques to demonstrate and enhance Uniform Act professionalism and skills. The study pointed out the need for a right-of-way program recognizing the specialized abilities required to implement the Uniform Act. A right-of-way professional competency building program has the potential to make a positive impact upon the FHWA and other Government agencies that provide services under the Uniform Act and the regulation, 49 CFR Part 24. We are discussing a mechanism for a developing a competency building program with major stakeholder involvement.
The Congress attached a paragraph regarding use of Federal Funds as related to Eminent Domain in Section 726 of the 2006 transportation appropriation act, P.L. 109-115, div A. Our previous Office of Real Estate Services guidance issued February 24, 2006, pertaining to Section, remained in effect for 2008. This provision prohibited use of Federal funds on projects that use eminent domain, unless the eminent domain is for a public use. The guidance states that transportation projects serveing a public use and should, in most cases, be exempt from this provision. The Division offices continue to ensure that programs and projects receiving FY 2006 , 2007and 2008 Federal financial assistance are in compliance, using methods such as, reviewing the project concept in planning, reviewing the purpose and needs statement in National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), or reviewing the application for funding.
The Office of Real Estate Services developed and submitted proposals for a right-of-way and design-build domestic scan for FY 2010. The Office of Real Estate Services has over the course of the last several years sponsored a number of domestic scans. Reports and information on the scans is available on our website: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/real_estate/right-of-way/program_administration/scans/. Oneexample of our previous domestic scans, is the 2006 right-of-way acquisition and utilities relocation scan to Austin, Texas; Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Orlando, Florida. Scan participants discussed best practices and lessons learned, including excellent teamwork examples. Participants were able to view first hand right-of-way acquisition underway for an arterial widening, and several project related complications, such as encroachments and environmentally required drainage ponds. The scan included innovative approaches to partnering with developers and a discussion of the Texas future toll road partnership. In Minnesota, the focus was on utilities, electronic project tracking, and visualization techniques.
The FHWA, with input from AASHTO Officials, developed a tool to assess the FHWA program delivery process. The Program Delivery Improvement Tool (PDIT) covers major program functions, including right-of-way and outdoor advertising control. This effort contributes to improving FHWA program stewardship.
The Office of Real Estate Services presented the 2008 Excellence in Right-of-Way Awards. Awards Categories includeleadership, innovation, stewardship, technical specialties including outdoor advertising control, streamlining and integration. An awards presentation was made at the 2008 AASHTO right-of-way and utilities subcommittee meeting. Information on previous awards programs is available here: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/real_estate/rowea/.
2008 awards recipients include:
Leadership: Texas Department of Transportation, the Turnpike Right of Way Authority Division, HDR Engineering and PBS&J.
Leadership Honorable Mention Award: Steve Damron; Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Division of Right-of-Way.
Stewardship Award: Maryland Department of Transportation, Maryland State Highway Administration District Three, District Four, District Five, the Special Acquisitions Division and the Office of Counsel.
Innovation Award: Florida Department of Transportation, District Three.
Streamlining and Integration Award: Virginia Department of Transportation.
Streamlining and Integration Honorable Mention Award: Texas Department of Transportation, the Turnpike Right-of-Way Authority Division, HDR Engineering and PBS&J.
Technical Specialties Award: Oregon Department of Transportation.
Surface Transportation Environment and Planning Cooperative Research Program (STEP)
We received over 20 ideas as a result of our 2008 Federal Register notice requesting stakeholder input to needed FY 09 STEP research. The STEP program is an opportunity for stakeholders to tell us what research is needed. Information is posted on the STEP website, http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/hep/step/resources/research_plans/fy08rp.cfm. We funded the following using STEP 08 funding:
AASHTOware has put together a task group comprised of State DOT, local public agencies, and FHWA professionals to develop specifications for a software product to calculate relocation benefits. On April 4, 2007, AASHTO issued a Request for Information for a potential new AASHTOWare® product to be developed through its cooperative software development program. Interested software development firms were asked to respond with a statement of qualifications as well as non-binding cost estimates. The proposed project, Turbo Relocation™, is a software solution which will address an emerging need to automate relocation calculations that can be used by any agency or their contractor to implement the requirements of the Uniform Act. In August 2008, AASHTOware convened a TURBO relocation steering committee comprised of representatives of the 13 State DOTS participating in TURBO development and FHWA. The steering committee has begun work to develop a request for proposals and will work towards contract award and imitation of development of TURBO during 2009. Inquiries may be directed to Vicki Schofield, Project Manager 202-624-3640 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Outdoor Advertising Control Stakeholders Assessment
Pursuant to an interagency agreement with the U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution (U.S. Institute), FHWA undertook a neutral assessment of the National Outdoor Advertising Control (OAC) Program. The goal was to use a neutral entity to reach out to parties interested in OAC in order to identify issues that cause controversy, perspectives of the various stakeholders, and the appropriate methods for addressing conflicts and improving OAC program results. This neutral assessment identified the following issues as important to stakeholders and holding significant potential for agreement:
This assessment also recommended the implementation of a national policy dialogue to address the aforementioned issues in a well-structured collaborative process. This research will support efforts to convene a group of representative stakeholders to provide feedback on possible courses of action to address areas of conflict and to improve OAC program results.
Integrating Geo-Spatial Technologies into the Right-of-Way Data Management Process
In 2008 the Office of Real Estate Services sponsored a follow-up ROW/GIS peer to peer exchange. MO, MN, WA, AR, and NV participated. An NCHRP research study is underway to develop a robust model to show how right-of-way elements can be incorporated into an enterprise GIS system. The final NCHRP report with a generalized right-of-way business process map may be available in 2009. The model developed can be used by states considering adapting to an enterprise GIS system.
Office of Real Estate Services Provides Training for the FHWA Realty Staff
The Office of Real Estate Services developed and delivered 16 ninety minute core right-of-way training sessions on subjects including the Uniform Act, appraisal, appraisal review, design/build, relocation assistance, outdoor advertising control, and environmental justice. The sessions were presented to FHWA Division Office realty staff via the Internet using Adobe software. Participation has been excellent and feedback received has been favorable. The session modules are being finalized so that they can be made electronically available on an as-needed basis in the future.
NHI Offers Certificates of Accomplishment
NHI offers Certificates of Accomplishment to support transportation professionals. The Certificates of Accomplishment represent suites of complementary NHI courses-bundled together-that enable participants to enhance their expertise in specific disciplines. The certificate program comes as a response to requests from industry partners with whom NHI works in serving the transportation industry. The following courses comprise the certificate of accomplishment in Relocation Assistance under the Uniform Act:
Professional Development Program (PDP)
In 2008, we welcomed two new participants into the Real Estate Services PDP. We are looking for more, so please spread the word! We are also looking for and training new coaches. PDP participants complete a two-year training program, rotating through Headquarters, State, and Division Offices to acquire needed skills. Recruitment is open periodically. For additional information contact Marshall Wainright at Marshall.Wainright@dot.gov
For Office of Real Estate Service program information, products, and publications please visit www.fhwa.dot.gov/real_estate/.