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Office of Planning, Environment, & Realty (HEP)

Office of Real Estate Services Newsletter

Volume 3, Number 2

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Message from the Acting Director - Janis Gramatins

Janis Gramatins
Janis Gramatins

The FHWA Office of Real Estate Services has been fortunate in having Gerald Solomon as our Director for the past 2+ years. Gerry brought with him a positive energy and desire to enhance the visibility of our profession, and inspires those who work with him to try to do the same. Now that he has been asked to take on an even more complex set of duties in shepherding environmental documents, I have been asked to fill his chair for a while.

My first thought was - how can I possibly do that? But after the panic receded, I realized that we have developed a strong Office Unit Plan, and each of us has specific duties and responsibilities that support our mutual goals. Our HEPR "ship" is pretty well on course, and no major efforts by the steersman are really needed right now… (I am personally still eager, however, to have a Chief for our office so that I can again concentrate primarily on Program Implementation Team activities…).

But, there is always room for improvement (and improvisation), and I look forward to working with our office as well as our many partners to maintain and improve the numerous and complex activities that FHWA Real Estate Services are responsible for. We do so many things in a wide variety of areas - The Uniform Act and its interpretation still continues to be a major concern for our Office as it goes into its 40th year. Unique acquisition and relocation issues continue to challenge us at many levels, and will continue to do so as long as people are as complex as they are. The Highway Beautification Act (HBA) and its related issues take a disproportionate amount of effort as we are in our 45th year of its implementation. It seems that the original intent of the lawmakers is often under question today, and it is not always easy to pinpoint their exact expectations or how more current developments should be viewed. But we continue to do our best to provide fair and impartial assistance to our partners and stakeholders, always with an eye to the public good.

FHWA is now undertaking a major effort to show how we can help move projects along more quickly and effectively. Our "Every Day Counts" (EDC) initiative has just been announced at AASHTO, and our Real Estate component will concentrate on identifying and implementing current flexibilities in law and regulations, as well as assisting in program and process reviews that reduce the time and effort needed for core Real Estate activities. While there are a number of hurdles to overcome, we will be working with our Divisions and State partners to increase their use in the interest of project streamlining and timeliness. You will be hearing a lot more about that over this summer, so stay tuned…

For further information contact Janis Gramatins at:

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Technology Advancement

Turbo Relocation™ Software for Determining and Calculating Relocation Assistance Benefits


The member agencies of the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) identified a need for a software tool to automate the benefit determination and calculation of relocation assistance that is provided to individuals, families, and businesses displaced as a result of public construction projects, in conformance with the requirements of the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970 (Uniform Act), as amended. This need is based on some of the contemporary issues within member agencies including, but not limited to:

As a result, AASHTO is developing a Turbo Relocation™ software product to automate relocation benefit determinations and calculations that can be used by any agency, or their contractor(s), to address the requirements of the Uniform Act.


The Turbo Relocation™ software concept was first identified through a focus group of FHWA and AASHTO member agency representatives, which established the need for a software solution in the relocation benefits arena as well as the general project concept. As a result of these efforts, in January 2006, the Executives of the AASHTO Subcommittee on Right-of-Way and Utilities requested that AASHTO staff, representing the AASHTOWare® Cooperative Software Development program, investigate the further development of a software solution. Based on an analysis performed by AASHTO staff as well as feedback from the user community at the AASHTO/FHWA Conference on Right-of-Way and Utilities in May 2006, the AASHTO Subcommittee on Right-of-Way and Utilities officially requested that AASHTO staff, through the AASHTOWare® program, form a Steering Committee to define a project proposal and leverage the benefits of cooperative software development. Over the next year, the Turbo Relocation™ Steering Committee identified the requirements of a potential software product and prepared a Request for Information (RFI) as a means of collecting information needed in preparation for the project solicitation and software development.

The RFI was issued to seek qualified professional services in connection with the potential future development and ongoing maintenance of the AASHTOWare® Turbo Relocation™ software, under a cooperative software development project. In addition to the statement of qualifications, AASHTO sought non-binding cost estimates for the software development described herein, and a general description of the firm's proposed approach to delivery.

In November 2007, AASHTO issued a project solicitation package to its membership. In June 2008, sufficient commitments were received to proceed with the project and in November 2008, a Request for Proposal (RFP) was issued to select a contractor to perform the services necessary to develop the Turbo Relocation™ product. Only those firms which responded to the RFI were eligible to respond to the RFP.

In March 2009, the Task Force selected BEM in Chatham, NJ as the project's contractor and in May, the development work began.

Turbo Relocation Development Objectives

The scope of the Turbo Relocation includes the following frameworks of functionality:

  1. The general application framework - the foundation of the application upon which all functionality is built.
  2. The Turbo Relocation™ desktop, - the basic data management and review workspace for users.
  3. The security model framework - providing the means to control access to capabilities and data in the application in a granular fashion, based on roles.
  4. The reporting subsystem - a generic capability for producing reports from Turbo Relocation™, including selection and display of predefined user reports.
  5. The two relocation modules: Residential and Non-Residential.
System Overview

Turbo Relocation will be an interactive software product that will prompt the user to enter data while in the office or in the field to determine and calculate the relocation assistance benefits in conformance with the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970 (49 CFR Part 24), as amended. Users will be able to follow a series of prompts to navigate in "tutorial" mode, or directly access the relocation assistance benefit calculators contained within the product. The system output will consist of reports containing summary data sheets of the data entered as well as the calculated values. The software is intended to serve AASHTO member agencies, LPAs, and consultants in performing the relocation assistance benefits determination and payment calculation process.

Turbo Relocation™ will also be a Web enabled application using a Web browser to run the application on a central Web server (to be housed at the member agencies) over a network such as the World Wide Web or an intranet, with additional standalone functionality for remote field use that provides data synchronization with the central data repository.

Navigational Interface

All pages in the Turbo Relocation™ Web application will share a common navigational layout, which will provide access to the different functional areas of the application. These include Login, Find Project, the Relocation Modules, Reports, Bypass to Calculators, Projects, Help, Account Info, Configuration, Administration, and Logout.

As part of the interactive aspect of the program, the system will provide links to specific regulations required by the Uniform Act to instruct the user and/or require additional documentation if specified parameters are exceeded.


The Turbo Relocation™ software will be designed to address a variety of requirements to meet the needs of the user community to assist in the benefit determination and calculation of relocation

benefits for two types of relocations: residential and non-residential.

Residential Relocation Module
The Residential Relocation module will provide for the determination and calculation of relocation benefits for residential relocations. Within the Residential Relocation Module, there are four types of benefit calculations: Owner Occupant, Tenant, Mobile Home, and Personal Property.

Non-Residential Relocation Module
The Non-Residential Relocation module will provide for the calculation of relocation benefits for non-residential relocations (Business, Farm, and Non Profit Organization). Within the Non-Residential Relocation Module, there are two types of benefit calculations defined as follows: Owner Occupant and Tenant.

Task Force

The AASHTOWare® Turbo Relocation® Task Force was appointed in February 2009 and is comprised of representatives from eight AASHTO member agencies and a liaison from the FHWA. The agencies include Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Idaho, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, and South Carolina. The Turbo Relocation Task Force is charged with overseeing the software development.

Benefits of the AASHTOWare® Software Development Program
Next Steps

Project development began in May 2009. It is anticipated that Turbo Relocation will be released in October 2010.

For additional Information

Contact: Vicki Schofield
AASHTO Project Manager
(202) 624-3640

Simulation and Visualization of Transportation Systems

Traffic Simulation Model
Traffic Simulation Model

Tremendous advancements in simulation technology have brought about new capabilities in modeling transportation systems and land use planning. Current traffic simulation models are able to model multi-modal systems/events in a large area. A parallel advance in visualization systems, capable of operating on ubiquitous personal computers, makes possible the rendering of the transportation system in 3-D, virtual reality. This technology has been developed for high-performance gaming engines, and can be applied to the traffic simulation models. These visual technologies can be applied to areas like roadway design, congestion planning, estimating emissions, and the impact of transportation projects on real estate. By utilizing this technology, researchers, analysts, and planners can view the transportation system through various perspectives in a very rich virtual environment that contains high-fidelity terrain and structures representative of the real world.

City planners, traffic engineers, and other decision makers can apply this simulation technology to various problems, such as:

There are two ways to show the behavior of the traffic in the real world surroundings (3D). The first way is to import the output from traffic simulation software (VISSIM, Paramics, WATSim, etc) to 3D modeling software (Studio Max, Maya, etc) and show the animation in non-real time. The second way is to import 3D models from 3D modeling software to traffic simulation software and show the simulation in real time. The University of Central Florida-Center for Advanced Transportation Systems Simulation (UCF-CATSS) has developed a high fidelity 3-D simulation and visualization of traffic flow along the I-4 corridor and the proposed Central Florida Commuter Rail System. The system effectively immerses the users through virtual, real world viewpoints (i.e., traffic camera, helicopter, driver, pedestrian) thus allowing the users to view the I-4 corridor and proposed train stations through various perspectives in a very rich virtual environment that contains high-fidelity terrain and structures representative of the metropolitan area of Orlando, Florida.

Traffic Simulation Model
Traffic Simulation Model

The system architecture has been delicately constructed with components that can be easily modified to support the need for different applications other than the I-4 corridor. The system's visualization is driven by commercial gaming technologies, which communicates with the simulation software. The simulation is used to feed traffic flow into the gaming visualization system. Vehicular models populate the database and are controlled via our parallel discrete event simulation engine. The genius of this approach is that the visualization is developed from "as-built" CAD data and can realistically represent the "true" surroundings of the area being viewed.

A parallel discrete event simulation approach provides immense benefits including:

Shankar Ramasamy, P.E.,
Research Associate at the Centre for Advanced Transportation Systems Simulation of University of Central Florida.
For more information, please contact

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Right-of-Way Awards Program

Congratulations to the Winners of the 2010 Excellence in Right-of-Way Awards

2010 Right-of-Way Awards web page
2010 Right-of-Way Awards web page

Congratulations to the winners of the 2010 Excellence in Right-of-Way Awards and all who were nominated for these awards. This biennial awards program was developed by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to honor those who excel in improving the real property acquisition process while ensuring that property owners and tenant rights are protected. These awards recognize outstanding innovations that enhance the right-of-way professionals' ability to meet the challenges associated with acquiring real property for a Federal-aid project.

This year, FHWA received many impressive entries describing exceptional right-of-way programs, projects, and leaders from around the country. The five award categories include Innovation, Leadership, Stewardship, Streamlining and Integration, and Technical Specialties. The winners demonstrate successful methods to effectively acquire property and manage right-of-way for Federal-aid projects. The 2010 award recipients were honored during the FHWA and AASHTO Subcommittee on Right-of-Way and Utilities annual meeting in San Diego, California.

This newsletter article reflects the assistance of technology in the right-of-way process and shines a spotlight on improved communications, teamwork, and hands-on assistance. I am pleased to share these great ideas from around the country that benefit the right-of-way community and the public.

Once again, I congratulate the winners of the 2010 Excellence in Right-of-Way Awards! Thank you for developing innovative ways to meet the challenges of acquiring real property and serving the public.

Gloria M. Shepherd
Associate Administrator for Planning, Environment, and Realty

The Right-of-Way Awards website can be found at

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2011 STEP Research Program

2011 STEP Research Program

Gloria M. Shepherd, Associate Administrator
Gloria M. Shepherd,
Associate Administrator

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is soliciting recommendations for utilization of funding that is being provided through the Surface Transportation Environment and Planning Cooperative Research Program (STEP) for FY 2011. STEP is an FHWA administered source of funding for research related to realty, planning, and environment. The FHWA anticipates that STEPor a similar program providing resources for national research on issues related to realty, planning, and environmentwill be included in future surface transportation legislation. Real Estate Services is one component of the STEP emphasis areas and is also further subdivided into Outdoor Advertising Control (OAC) and Real Estate Program Stewardship. We are requesting input from our partners and stakeholders who have an interest in collaborating on research plans and initiatives. Previously, the Office of Real Estate Services through STEP has developed and delivered a number of diverse products and tools to right-of-way professionals. The Office of Real Estate Services' efforts include outreach and professional knowledge exchanges; sponsorship of international and domestic scans; and sponsorship and co-sponsorships of national meetings. The goals of STEP are to provide improved tools to the State DOTs and Local Public Agencies (LPAs) for the performance of their responsibilities in real estate acquisition and OAC and to develop and improve methods to support the institutional capacity of State DOTs' and LPAs' personnel in order to perform real estate acquisitions and provide relocation assistance on public projects subject to the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970, as amended. Potential activity in support of achieving these goals through STEP research could include assessing and developing improved tools, techniques, and procedures for real estate acquisition and OAC; funding research, field demonstrations, and technology transfer; developing innovative information sharing methods among practitioners; developing and enhancing communities of practice and Web sites for real estate and OAC professionals; and developing training and technical assistance.

STEP Research Initiatives Include:

We Need Your Input and Participation

Stakeholder input is required to identify the research topics. Therefore, we are seeking input from all of our partners on the FY 2011 STEP. We will continue to work with you and our partners to identify priority research projects for FY 2011. We encourage our State and local partners to review the proposed FY2011 STEP Implementation Strategy and submit research topics via the STEP Web site at: (link no longer active 5/12)

For further information regarding STEP, you may also contact:

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Outdoor Advertising Control

2010 International Scan Tour Pursues Best Practices in Outdoor Advertising Control

SCAN team members and Australian hosts
SCAN team members and Australian hosts

From March 11-28, 2010, an international scan team traveled abroad to compare and contrast how the United States and other countries have efficiently and effectively regulated outdoor advertising within and adjacent to roadway right-of-way. The program was co-sponsored by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the National Cooperative Highway Research Program. The 12-member scan team included representatives of AASHTO, FHWA, the academic sector, the Outdoor Advertising Association of America, Scenic America, and the American Planning Association.

SCAN participants at a host presentation to the team
SCAN participants at a host presentation to the team

The team visited Australia (Sydney, Brisbane, and Melbourne), Sweden (included interviews with representatives from Denmark and Finland), the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom (Glasgow and London) to identify new techniques for balancing competing interests and revenue generation as it relates to outdoor advertising. Topics of specific interest included safety, community and citizen involvement, program management, environmental impacts and economic benefits, as well as laws, regulations, policies, and enforcement to control outdoor advertising.

The scan team also focused on emerging outdoor advertising technologies that have been approved, advertising permitted within the right-of-way, examples of signs both in and out of compliance with regulations and permits, extent of control of vegetation, and advertising at facilities such as toll booths, overpasses, sculptures, landscapes, rest areas, and intelligent transportation system facilities.

There will be a presentation about the Scan at the NAHBA meeting in August in Madison, WI. For our readers who will not be attending NAHBA, a Webinar on the Scan findings is tentatively scheduled for August 31. An invitation with details is forthcoming.

A report of findings will be published in late 2010 after which an Implementation Team will begin their 2 year plan to promote innovative ideas or practices learned on the Scan. For further information, contact Mary Jane Daluge at

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National Alliance of Highway Beautification Agencies (NAHBA)

The National Alliance of Highway Beautification Agencies (NAHBA) is an unincorporated, non-profit association made up of individuals who direct or manage their State's outdoor advertising program, along with associate members from the Federal Highway Administration, local governments, beautification organizations, and the outdoor advertising (ODA) industry.

NAHBA's mission is to be an advocate for developing and promoting innovative ideas and consistent business practices for the control of outdoor advertising, junkyards, and scenic and beautification programs; streamline the Federal outdoor advertising control program through improved communication; facilitate the dissemination of information to members; and to encourage the integration of competing interests that serve the motoring public.

Membership is $50 per year for government officials and $150 per year for other affiliations. In addition to hosting an annual Conference, NAHBA hosts bi-annual teleconferences, as well as a web site with a wide range of resources relating to outdoor advertising control. The annual Conference is scheduled during the middle of August and the teleconferences are scheduled for the 2nd Tuesdays in April and October. Additional information relating to NAHBA can be found at or by contacting Catherine O'Hara, by e-mail: Catherine.O'

AASHTO Right-of-Way & Utilities Subcommittee Meeting

Yolanda Jordan, Dick Henry, Mike Dawson, and James Hall
Yolanda Jordan, Dick Henry, Mike Dawson,
and James Hall

On April 18 through April 23, 2010, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Right-of-Way & Utilities Subcommittee Meeting was held in San Diego, California. The theme of the meeting focused on the topic, "Leveraging Scare Resources-Leading the Drive to Economic Recovery." The conference began with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) kickoff meeting, which had 20 FHWA staff in attendance. The topics covered included the 2010 International Outdoor Advertising Scan, Driver Distraction, and Staffing Concerns amongst the State DOTs. The meeting provided a forum in which FHWA’s Office of Real Estate Services presented a Headquarters update as well as having the opportunity to share challenges and present solutions concerning State Department of Transportation’s (DOTs) and FHWA program activities.

The opening general session meeting provided an opportunity for conference attendees to meet and focus on the issues facing the future of right-of-way. Imari Oliver, Managing Partner of Oliver Kaizen Communications, presented "Activating the Next Generation of Right-of-Way Professionals." As many people in the realty profession advance towards retirement, it is essential to focus on succession planning. Imari provided examples of methods of attracting future right-of-way professionals through participation in endeavors such as peer- to-peer advocacy, career planning, boot camps, and campus recruitment. His action plan for the future includes establishing a right-of-way skill set, which will address currently existing gaps, developing recruitment strategies, and creating best practices which will allow the Agency to be socially connected. One suggestion he offered for enhancing the agency’s social connectivity was to create a YouTube video, entitled "A Day in the Life of a Right-of-Way Professional." This video would be used as a recruitment tool during presentations at Universities and as a resource for those seeking more information concerning the Office of Real Estate Services. The presentation regarding future generations was insightful.

Karen Hider, Yolonda Jordan, and Neosha Price
Karen Hider, Yolonda Jordan, and Neosha Price

We also heard from Dr. Tom Rogers during the general session, who addressed the topic, "Weathering the Economy/Leadership in Tough Economic Times." He discussed the commonalities that extraordinary leaders share: they provide behavioral models; inspire a shared vision; challenge the process; enable others to act; and encourage the heart. By strengthening these skills we will be better prepared to endure the difficult economic times.

This year’s conference had several interesting topics during the breakout sessions. FHWA flexibility for accelerating project delivery was a very popular session as States are required to do more with fewer resources. Processes discussed were delivery, hardship acquisitions, corridor preservation, authorization of preliminary acquisition activities, right-of-way certifications, incentive payments when not used as a substitute for project planning, use of right of entry agreements, and functional replacement. The Missouri DOT’s approach in handling these processes is by conducting town hall meetings in project locations with all right-of-way staff and design team members present to discuss and describe the project development and right-of-way acquisition processs. This is a unique approach that has been successful in accelerating projects for Missouri. The opportunity to learn about processes that other States have implemented was valuable to all involved.

FHWA AASHTO attendees
FHWA AASHTO attendees

The session entitled Right-of-Way & Utilities Resources Overview included a presentation by Jay Lindly, Ph.D., University of Alabama, on the topic of Transportation Research Centers. Currently, there are 67 research centers across the United States that emphasize education, research, and technology. This is a partnership which FHWA can continue to nurture as future research products are developed to improve our overall work environment. Bruce Bradley of FHWA also presented on the Surface Transportation Environment and Planning Cooperative Research Program (STEP). During this session, Bruce provided an overview of the STEP program and the research topic submittal process. He encouraged all States and partners to submit ideas and research needs to help support and improve the research process and products. The ability to further our mission through research will be very valuable for the agency.

The Relocation session covered the Turbo Relocation program, which is an AASHTOWare software product and can be purchased by State DOTs to help address workload constraints and the lack of experience due to the retirement of right-of-way professionals. It was beneficial to see the software live and the demonstration allowed the audience to visualize the potential workload improvements that could be made using this new system. The viewers were able to provide feedback, concerns, and suggestions during the question and answer portion.

The 2010 conference provided many learning opportunities and I look forward to the AASHTO Right-of-Way & Utilities Subcommittee Meeting 2011 to be held in St. Louis, Missouri. For further information, contact Neosha Price at

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Updated: 10/20/2015
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