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Utility Relocation and Accommodation on Federal-Aid Highway Projects
Appendix B

23 CFR, Part 645, Subpart B
Accommodation of Utilities

Sec.

  • 645.201 Purpose.
  • 645.203 Applicability.
  • 645.205 Policy.
  • 645.207 Definitions.
  • 645.209 General requirements.
  • 645.211 State transportation department accommodation policies.
  • 645.213 Use and occupancy agreements (permits).
  • 645.215 Approvals.

Authority: 23 U.S.C. 101, 109, 111, 116, 123, and 315; 23 CFR 1.23 and 1.27; 49 CFR 1.48(b); and E.O. 11990, 42 FR 26961 (May 24, 1977).

Source: 50 FR 20354, May 15, 1985, unless otherwise noted.

§ 645.201 Purpose.

To prescribe policies and procedures for accommodating utility facilities and private lines on the right-of-way of Federal-aid or direct Federal highway projects.

§ 645.203 Applicability.

This subpart applies to:

  1. New utility installations within the right-of-way of Federal-aid or direct Federal highway projects,
  2. Existing utility facilities which are to be retained, relocated, or adjusted within the right-of-way of active projects under development or construction when Federal-aid or direct Federal highway funds are either being or have been used on the involved highway facility. When existing utility installations are to remain in place without adjustments on such projects the transportation department and utility are to enter into an appropriate agreement as discussed in § 645.213 of this part,
  3. Existing utility facilities which are to be adjusted or relocated under the provisions of § 645.209(k), and
  4. Private lines which may be permitted to cross the right-of-way of a Federal-aid or direct Federal highway project pursuant to State law and regulations and the provisions of this subpart. Longitudinal use of such right-of-way by private lines is to be handled under the provisions of 23 CFR 1.23(c).

§ 645.205 Policy.

  1. Pursuant to the provisions of 23 CFR 1.23, it is in the public interest for utility facilities to be accommodated on the right-of-way of a Federal-aid or direct Federal highway project when such use and occupancy of the highway right-of-way do not adversely affect highway or traffic safety, or otherwise impair the highway or its aesthetic quality, and do not conflict with the provisions of Federal, State or local laws or regulations.
  2. Since by tradition and practice highway and utility facilities frequently coexist within common right-of-way or along the same transportation corridors, it is essential in such situations that these public service facilities be compatibly designed and operated. In the design of new highway facilities consideration should be given to utility service needs of the area traversed if such service is to be provided from utility facilities on or near the highway. Similarly the potential impact on the highway and its users should be considered in the design and location of utility facilities on or along highway right-of-way. Efficient, effective and safe joint highway and utility development of transportation corridors is important along high speed and high volume roads, such as major arterials and freeways, particularly those approaching metropolitan areas where space is increasingly limited. Joint highway and utility planning and development efforts are encouraged on Federal-aid highway projects.
  3. The manner is which utilities cross or otherwise occupy the right-of-way of a direct Federal or Federal-aid highway project can materially affect the highway, its safe operation, aesthetic quality, and maintenance. Therefore, it is necessary that such use and occupancy, where authorized, be regulated by highway agencies in a manner which preserves the operational safety and the functional and aesthetic quality of the highway facility. This subpart shall not be construed to alter the basic legal authority of utilities to install their facilities on public highways pursuant to law or franchise and reasonable regulation by highway agencies with respect to location and manner of installation.
  4. When utilities cross or otherwise occupy the right-of-way of a direct Federal or Federal-aid highway project on Federal lands, and when the right-of-way grant is for highway purposes only, the utility must also obtain and comply with the terms of a right-of-way or other occupancy permit for the Federal agency having jurisdiction over the underlying land.

[50 FR 20354, May 15, 1985, as amended at 53 FR 2833, Feb. 2, 1988]

§ 645.207 Definitions.

For the purpose of this regulation, the following definitions shall apply:

Aesthetic quality-- those desirable characteristics in the appearance of the highway and its environment, such as harmony between or blending of natural and manufactured objects in the environment, continuity of visual form without distracting interruptions, and simplicity of designs which are desirably functional in shape but without clutter.

Border area-- the area between the traveled way and the right-of-way-line.

Clear roadside policy- that policy employed by a transportation department to provide a clear zone in order to increase safety, improve traffic operations, and enhance the aesthetic quality of highways by designing, constructing and maintaining highway roadsides as wide, flat, and rounded as practical and as free as practical from natural or manufactured hazards such as trees, drainage structures, nonyielding sign supports, highway lighting supports, and utility poles and other ground-mounted structures. The policy should address the removal of roadside obstacles which are likely to be associated with accident or injury to the highway user, or when such obstacles are essential, the policy should provide for appropriate countermeasures to reduce hazards. Countermeasures include placing utility facilities at locations which protect out-of-control vehicles, using breakaway features, using impact attenuation devices, or shielding. In all cases full consideration shall be given to sound engineering principles and economic factors.

Clear zone-- the total roadside border area starting at the edge of the traveled way, available for safe use by errant vehicles. This area may consist of a shoulder, a recoverable slope, a non-recoverable slope, and/or the area at the toe of a non-recoverable slope available for safe use by an errant vehicle. The desired width is dependent upon the traffic volumes and speeds, and on the roadside geometry. The current edition of the AASHTO Roadside Design Guide should be used as a guide for establishing clear zones for various types of highways and operating conditions. This publication is available for inspection and copying from the FHWA Washington Headquarters and all FHWA Division Offices as prescribed in 49 CFR part 7. Copies of current AASHTO publications are available for purchase from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, Suite 225, 444 North Capitol Street, NW., Washington, DC 20001, or electronically at http://www.aashto.org/.

Direct Federal highway projects-- those active or completed highway projects such as projects under the Federal Lands Highways Program which are under the direct administration of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

Federal-aid highway projects-- those active or completed highway projects administered by or through a State transportation department which involve or have involved the use of Federal-aid highway funds for the development, acquisition of right-of-way, construction or improvement of the highway or related facilities, including highway beautification projects under 23 U.S.C. 319, Landscaping and Scenic Enhancement.

Freeway-- a divided arterial highway with full control of access.

Highway -- any public way for vehicular travel, including the entire area within the right-of-way and related facilities constructed or improved in whole or in part with Federal-aid or direct Federal highway funds.

Private lines-- privately owned facilities which convey or transmit the commodities outlined in the definition of utility facility of this section, but devoted exclusively to private use.

Right-of-way-- real property, or interests therein, acquired, dedicated or reserved for the construction, operation, and maintenance of a highway in which Federal-aid or direct Federal highway funds are or have been involved in any stage of development. Lands acquired under 23 U.S.C. 319 shall be considered to be highway right-of-way.

State transportation department -- the transportation department of one of the 50 States, the District of Columbia, or Puerto Rico.

Transportation department -- that department, agency, commission, board, or official of any State or political subdivision thereof, charged by its law with the responsibility for highway administration.

Use and occupancy agreement-- the document (written agreement or permit) by which the transportation department approves the use and occupancy of highway right-of-way by utility facilities or private lines.

Utility facility-- privately, publicly or cooperatively owned line, facility, or system for producing, transmitting, or distributing communications, cable television, power, electricity, light, heat, gas, oil, crude products, water, steam, waste, storm water not connected with highway drainage, or any other similar commodity, including any fire or police signal system or street lighting system, which directly or indirectly serves the public. The term utility shall also mean the utility company inclusive of any substantially owned or controlled subsidiary. For the purposes of this part, the term includes those utility-type facilities which are owned or leased by a government agency for its own use, or otherwise dedicated solely to governmental use. The term utility includes those facilities used solely by the utility which are a part of its operating plant.

[50 FR 20345, May 15, 1985, as amended at 51 FR 16834, May 7, 1986; 53 FR 2833, Feb. 2, 1988; 55 FR 25828, June 25, 1990; 60 FR 34850, July 5, 1995; 61 FR 12022, Mar. 25, 1996; 65 FR 70311, November 22, 2000]

§ 645.209 General requirements.

  1. Safety. Highway safety and traffic safety are of paramount, but not of sole, importance when accommodating utility facilities within highway right-of-way. Utilities provide an essential public service to the general public. Traditionally, as a matter of sound economic public policy and law, utilities have used public road right-of-way for transmitting and distributing their services. The lack of sufficient right-of-way width to accommodate utilities outside the desirable clear zone, in and of itself, is not a valid reason to preclude utilities from occupying the highway right-of-way. However, due to the nature and volume of highway traffic, the effect of such joint use on the traveling public must be carefully considered by highway agencies before approval of utility use of the right-of-way of Federal-aid or direct Federal highway projects is given. Adjustments in the operating characteristics of the utility or the highway or other special efforts may be necessary to increase the compatibility of utility-highway joint use. The possibility of this joint use should be a consideration in establishing right-of-way requirements for highway projects. In any event, the design, location, and manner in which utilities use and occupy the right-of-way of Federal-aid or direct Federal highway projects must conform to the clear roadside policies for the highway involved and otherwise provide for a safe traveling environment as required by 23 U.S.C. 109 (l)(1).
  2. New above ground installations. On Federal-aid or direct Federal highway projects, new above ground utility installations, where permitted, shall be located as far from the traveled way as possible, preferably along the right-of-way line. No new above ground utility installations are to be allowed within the established clear zone of the highway unless a determination has been made by the transportation department that placement underground is not technically feasible or is unreasonably costly and there are no feasible alternate locations. In exceptional situations when it is essential to locate such above ground utility facilities within the established clear zone area of the highway, appropriate countermeasures to reduce hazards shall be used. Counter-measures include placing utility facilities at locations which protect or minimize exposure to out-of-control vehicles, using breakaway features, using impact attenuation devices, using delineation, or shielding.
  3. Installations within freeways.
    1. Each State transportation department shall submit an accommodation plan in accordance with §§ 645.211 and 645.215 which addresses how the State transportation department will consider applications for longitudinal utility installations within the access control lines of a freeway. This includes utility installations within interchange areas which must be constructed or serviced by direct access from the main lanes or ramps. If a State transportation department elects to permit such use, the plan must address how the State transportation department will oversee such use consistent with this subpart, title 23 U.S.C., and the safe and efficient use of the highways.
    2. Any accommodation plan shall assure that installations satisfy the following criteria:
      1. The effects utility installations will have on highway and traffic safety will be ascertained, since in no case shall any use be permitted which would adversely affect safety.
      2. The direct and indirect environmental and economic effects of any loss of productive agricultural land or any productivity of any agricultural land which would result from the disapproval of the use of such right-of-way for accommodation of such utility facility will be evaluated.
      3. These environmental and economic effects together with any interference with or impairment of the use of the highway in such right-of-way which would result from the use of such right-of-way for the accommodation of such utility facility will be considered.
      4. [Reserved]
      5. A utility strip will be established along the outer edge of the right-of-way by locating a utility access control line between the proposed utility installation and the through roadway and ramps. Existing fences should be retained and, except along sections of freeways having frontage roads, planned fences should be located at the freeway right-of-way line. The State or political subdivision is to retain control of the utility strip right-of-way including its use by utility facilities. Service connections to adjacent properties shall not be permitted from within the utility strip.
    3. Nothing in this part shall be construed as prohibiting a transportation department from adopting a more restrictive policy than that contained herein with regard to longitudinal utility installations along freeway right-of-way and access for constructing and/or for servicing such installations.
  4. Uniform policies and procedures. For a transportation department to fulfill its responsibilities to control utility use of Federal-aid highway right-of-way within the State and its political subdivisions, it must exercise or cause to be exercised, adequate regulation over such use and occupancy through the establishment and enforcement of reasonably uniform policies and procedures for utility accommodation.
  5. Private lines. Because there are circumstances when private lines may be allowed to cross or otherwise occupy the right-of-way of Federal-aid projects, highway agencies shall establish uniform policies for properly controlling such permitted use. When permitted, private lines must conform to the provisions of this part and the provisions of 23 CFR 1.23(c) for longitudinal installations.
  6. Direct Federal highway projects. On direct Federal highway projects, the FHWA will apply, or cause to be applied, utility and private line accommodation policies similar to those required on Federal-aid highway projects. When appropriate, agreements will be entered into between the FHWA and the transportation department or other government agencies to ensure adequate control and regulation of use by utilities and private lines of the right-of-way on direct Federal highway projects.
  7. Projects where State lacks authority. On Federal-aid highway projects where the State transportation department does not have legal authority to regulate highway use by utilities and private lines, the State transportation department must enter into formal agreements with those local officials who have such authority. The agreements must provide for a degree of protection to the highway at least equal to the protection provided by the State transportation department's utility accommodation policy approved under the provisions of § 645.215(b) of this part. The project agreement between the State transportation department and the FHWA on all such Federal-aid highway projects shall contain a special provision incorporating the formal agreements with the responsible local officials.
  8. Scenic areas. New utility installations, including those needed for highway purposes, such as for highway lighting or to serve a weigh station, rest area or recreation area, are not permitted on highway right-of-way or other lands which are acquired or improved with Federal-aid or direct Federal highway funds and are located within or adjacent to areas of scenic enhancement and natural beauty. Such areas include public park and recreational lands, wildlife and waterfowl refuges, historic sites as described in 23 U.S.C. 138, scenic strips, overlooks, rest areas and landscaped areas. The State transportation department may permit exceptions provided the following conditions are met:
    1. New underground or aerial installations may be permitted only when they do not require extensive removal or alteration of trees or terrain features visible to the highway user or impair the aesthetic quality of the lands being traversed.
    2. Aerial installations may be permitted only when:
      1. Other locations are not available or are unusually difficult and costly, or are less desirable from the standpoint of aesthetic quality,
      2. placement underground is not technically feasible or is unreasonably costly, and
      3. the proposed installation will be made at a location, and will employ suitable designs and materials, which give the greatest weight to the aesthetic qualities of the area being traversed. Suitable designs include, but are not limited to, self-supporting arm-less, single-pole construction with vertical configuration of conductors and cable.
    3. For new utility installations within freeways, the provisions of paragraph (c) of this section must also be satisfied.
  9. Joint use agreements. When the utility has a compensable interest in the land occupied by its facilities and such land is to be jointly occupied and used for highway and utility purposes, the transportation department and utility shall agree in writing as to the obligations and responsibilities of each party. Such joint-use agreements shall incorporate the conditions of occupancy for each party, including the rights vested in the transportation department and the rights and privileges retained by the utility. In any event, the interest to be acquired by or vested in the transportation department in any portion of the right-of-way of a Federal-aid or direct Federal highway project to be vacated, used or occupied by utilities or private lines, shall be adequate for the construction, safe operation, and maintenance of the highway project.
  10. Traffic control plan. Whenever a utility installation, adjustment or maintenance activity will affect the movement of traffic or traffic safety, the utility shall implement a traffic control plan and utilize traffic control devices as necessary to ensure the safe and expeditious movement of traffic around the work site and the safety of the utility work force in accordance with procedures established by the transportation department. The traffic control plan and the application of traffic control devices shall conform to the standards set forth in the current edition of the "Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices" (MUTCD) and 23 CFR part 630, subpart J. This publication is available for inspection and copying from the FHWA Washington Headquarters and all FHWA Division Offices as prescribed in 49 CFR part 7.
  11. Corrective measures. When the transportation department determines that existing utility facilities are likely to be associated with injury or accident to the highway user, as indicated by accident history or safety studies, the transportation department shall initiate or cause to be initiated in consultation with the affected utilities, corrective measures to provide for a safer traffic environment. The corrective measures may include changes to utility or highway facilities and should be prioritized to maximum safety benefits in the most cost-effective manner. The scheduling of utility safety improvements should take into consideration planned utility replacement or upgrading schedules, accident potential, and the availability of resources. It is expected that the requirements of this paragraph will result in an orderly and positive process to address the identified utility hazard problems in a timely and reasonable manner with due regard to the effect of the corrective measures on both the utility consumer and the road user. The type of corrective measures are not prescribed. Any requests received involving Federal participation in the cost of adjusting or relocating utility facilities pursuant to this paragraph shall be subject to the provisions of 23CFR part 645, subpart A, Utility Relocations, Adjustments and Reimbursement, and 23 CFR part 924, Highway Safety Improvement Program.
  12. Wetlands. The installation of privately owned lines or conduits on the right-of-way of Federal-aid or direct Federal highway projects for the purpose of draining adjacent wetlands onto the highway right-of-way is considered to be inconsistent with Executive Order 11990, Protection of Wetlands, dated May 24, 1977, and shall be prohibited.
  13. Utility determination. In determining whether a proposed installation is a utility or not, the most important consideration is how the STD views it under its own State laws and/or regulations.

[50 FR 20354, May 15, 1985, as amended at 53 FR 2833, Feb. 2, 1988; 60 FR 34851, July 5, 1995; 65 FR 70311, November 22, 2000]

§ 645.211 State transportation department accommodation policies.

The FHWA should use the current editions of the AASHTO publications, "A Guide for Accommodating Utilities Within Highway Right-of-Way," and Roadside Design Guide to assist in the evaluation of adequacy of STD utility accommodation policies. These publications are available for inspection from the FHWA Washington Headquarters and all FHWA Division Offices as prescribed in 49 CFR part 7. Copies of current AASHTO publications are available for purchase from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, Suite 225, 444 North Capitol Street, NW., Washington, DC 20001, or electronically at http://www.aashto.org/. At a minimum, such policies shall make adequate provisions with respect to the following:

  1. Utilities must be accommodated and maintained in a manner which will not impair the highway or adversely affect highway or traffic safety. Uniform procedures controlling the manner, nature and extent of such utility use shall be established.
  2. Consideration shall be given to the effect of utility installations in regard to safety, aesthetic quality, and the costs or difficulty of highway and utility construction and maintenance.
  3. The State transportation department's standards for regulating the use and occupancy of highway right-of-way by utilities must include, but are not limited to, the following:
    1. The horizontal and vertical location requirements and clearances for the various types of utilities must be clearly stated. These must be adequate to ensure compliance with the clear roadside policies for the particular highway involved.
    2. The applicable provisions of government or industry codes required by law or regulation must be set forth or appropriately referenced, including highway design standards or other measures which the State transportation department deems necessary to provide adequate protection to the highway, its safe operation, aesthetic quality, and maintenance.
    3. Specifications for and methods of installation; requirements for preservation and restoration of highway facilities, appurtenances, and natural features and vegetation on the right-of-way; and limitations on the utility's activities within the right-of-way including installation within areas set forth by § 645.209(h) of this part should be prescribed as necessary to protect highway interests.
    4. Measures necessary to protect traffic and its safe operation during and after installation of facilities, including control-of-access restrictions, provisions for rerouting or detouring traffic, traffic control measures to be employed, procedures for utility traffic control plans, limitations on vehicle parking and materials storage, protection of open excavations, and the like must be provided.
    5. A State transportation department may deny a utility's request to occupy highway right-of-way based on State law, regulation, or ordinances or the State transportation department's policy. However, in any case where the provisions of this part are to be cited as the basis for disapproving a utility's request to use and occupy highway right-of-way, measures must be provided to evaluate the direct and indirect environmental and economic effects of any loss of productive agricultural land or any impairment of the productivity of any agricultural land that would result from the disapproval. The environmental and economic effects on productive agricultural land together with the possible interference with or impairment of the use of the highway and the effect on highway safety must be considered in the decision to disapprove any proposal by a utility to use such highway right-of-way.
  4. Compliance with applicable State laws and approved State transportation department utility accommodation policies must be assured. The responsible State transportation department's file must contain evidence of the written arrangements which set forth the terms under which utility facilities are to cross or otherwise occupy highway right-of-way. All utility installations made on highway right-of-way shall be subject to written approval by the State transportation department. However, such approval will not be required where so provided in the use and occupancy agreement for such matters as utility facility maintenance, installation of service connections on highways other than freeways, or emergency operations.
  5. The State transportation department shall set forth in its utility accommodation plan detailed procedures, criteria, and standards it will use to evaluate and approve individual applications of utilities on freeways under the provisions of § 645.209(c) of this part. The State transportation department also may develop such procedures, criteria and standards by class of utility. In defining utility classes, consideration may be given to distinguishing utility services by type, nature or function and their potential impact on the highway and its user.
  6. The means and authority for enforcing the control of access restrictions applicable to utility use of controlled access highway facilities should be clearly set forth in the State transportation department plan.

(Information collection requirements in paragraphs (a), (b) and (c) were approved under control number 2125-0522, and paragraph (d) under control number 2125-0514)

[50 FR 20354, May 15, 1985, as amended at 53 FR 2834, Feb. 2, 1988; 55 FR 25828, June 25, 1990; 65 FR 70311, November 22, 2000]

§ 645.213 Use and occupancy agreements (permits).

The written arrangements, generally in the form of use and occupancy agreements setting forth the terms under which the utility is to cross or otherwise occupy the highway right-of-way, must include or incorporate by reference:

  1. The transportation department standards for accommodating utilities. Since all of the standards will not be applicable to each individual utility installation, the use and occupancy agreement must, as a minimum, describe the requirements for location, construction, protection of traffic, maintenance, access restriction, and any special conditions applicable to each installation.
  2. A general description of the size, type, nature, and extent of the utility facilities being located within the highway right-of-way.
  3. Adequate drawings or sketches showing the existing and/or proposed location of the utility facilities within the highway right-of-way with respect to the existing and/or planned highway improvements, the traveled way, the right-of-way lines and, where applicable, the control of access lines and approved access points.
  4. The extent of liability and responsibilities associated with future adjustment of the utilities to accommodate highway improvements.
  5. The action to be taken in case of noncompliance with the transportation department's requirements.
  6. Other provisions as deemed necessary to comply with laws and regulations.

(Approved by the OMB under control number 2125-0522)

§ 645.215 Approvals.

  1. Each State transportation department shall submit a statement to the FHWA on the authority of utilities to use and occupy the right-of-way of State highways, the State transportation department's power to regulate such use, and the policies the State transportation department employs or proposes to employ for accommodating utilities within the right-of-way Federal-aid highways under its jurisdiction. Statements previously submitted and approved by the FHWA need not be resubmitted provided the statement adequately addresses the requirements of this part. When revisions are deemed necessary the changes to the previously approved statement may be submitted separately to the FHWA for approval. The State transportation department shall include similar information on the use and occupancy of such highways by private lines where permitted. The State shall identify those areas, if any, Federal-aid highways within its borders where the State transportation department is without legal authority to regulate use by utilities. The statement shall address the nature of the formal agreements with local officials required by § 645.209(g) of this part. It is expected that the statements required by this part or necessary revisions to previously submitted and approved statements will be submitted to FHWA within 1 year of the effective date of this regulation.
  2. Upon determination by the FHWA that a State transportation department's policies satisfy the provisions of 23 U.S.C. 109, 111, and 116, and 23 CFR 1.23 and 1.27, and meet the requirements of this regulation, the FHWA will approve their use on Federal-aid highway projects in that State.
  3. Any changes, additions or deletions the State transportation department proposes to the approved policies are subject to FHWA approval.
  4. When a utility files a notice or makes an individual application or request to a STD to use or occupy the right-of-way of a Federal-aid highway project, the STD is not required to submit the matter to the FHWA for prior concurrence, except when the proposed installation is not in accordance with this regulation or with the STD's utility accommodation policy approved by the FHWA for use on Federal-aid highway projects.
  5. The State transportation department's practices under the policies or agreements approved under § 645.215(b) of this part shall be periodically reviewed by the FHWA.

(Information collection requirements in paragraph (a) were approved by the OMB under control number 2125-0514)

[50 FR 20354, May 15, 1985, as amended at 53 FR 2834, Feb. 2, 1988; 60 FR 34851, July 5, 1995; 65 FR 70311, November 22, 2000]

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