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Alternative Uses of Highway Right-of-Way

Appendix E. Example Leases, Request for Proposals, and Other Resources

Program Checklist for Alternative Uses of the ROW

The following checklist includes questions that DOTs might consider should they decide to assess whether a program to accommodate renewable energy or alternative fuel facilities in their state is viable. The checklist is not meant to communicate particular roles and responsibilities or imply that these are the only considerations necessary. Instead, it should help DOTs identify important components it already has in place versus those that might also be necessary to accommodate alternative uses of their ROW.

  Yes? No?
  1. Does the DOT have leadership support to explore the accommodation of renewable energy technologies and/or alternative fuel facilities in the highway ROW?
In the case studies reviewed, a committed project champion within DOT leadership was vital in overcoming barriers and keeping projects on the paths forward.  
  1. Are there state requirements or incentives for state agencies to acquire a certain percentage of their electricity from renewable sources? Are there state requirements or incentives for state agencies to reduce their GHG emissions?
The presence of such requirements or incentives can help DOTs "make the case" for pursuing alternative uses of highway ROW. If the answer to this question is no, accommodating alternative uses of the ROW could still be practicable; the justification would likely need to focus on economic or other environmental stewardship-related purposes.  
  1. Does the DOT's UAP distinguish or include provision for renewable energy technologies?
DOTs interested in utilizing the ROW for renewable energy technologies or alternative fuel facilities should be proactive in their approaches to implementing these projects. DOTs are encouraged to review their respective UAP to ensure they are consistent with current needs.  
  1. Does the DOT have an encroachment policy or other policy that might discourage some alternative uses of the ROW?
If so, the DOT should assess whether the policy pertains to all potential alternative uses and/or whether the policy still aligns with current priorities. A DOT might consider forming an interdisciplinary team to identify and address the unique issues—including those related to design and construction—that alternative uses of the ROW present in that state.  
  1. Are the DOTs ROW property maps available electronically and/or geospatially-enabled format(s)?
Having electronically available ROW property maps would likely facilitate analyses of potential sites for accommodating alternative uses of the ROW.  
  1. Does the DOT have staff qualified and available (likely GIS staff) to review data on natural resource location(s)? Does the state have natural resource data that the DOT can use/leverage?
If no, is the DOT in a position to hire a consultant to perform analyses of natural resource location data in relation to DOT property maps? For potential renewable energy projects, not all suitable locations from a transportation perspective will necessarily be in locations with suitable natural resource (e.g., solar, wind, or soil resources) availability.  
  1. For renewable energy projects, has a utility company or private developer(s) that is willing to partner with the DOT been identified?
DOTs will need to find a location(s) of a sufficient size(s) to ensure the economic feasibility of the alternative use of the ROW being considered. Developing criteria for what constitutes adequate acreage (based on the proposed project type) would be a useful activity for DOTs to consider. For solar projects, for example, Oregon and Ohio DOT—in coordination with utility companies in their areas—have determined that at least 1 MW needs to be able to be produced to make a solar highway project economically feasible. Ohio DOT has concluded that requires approximately five acres of land. This metric will continue to evolve as new technologies that allow more energy to be generated on a smaller footprint become available.  
  1. Does DOT legal staff have experience working with agreements related to renewable energy projects?
Renewable energy projects can involve complex legal documents that DOTs may not be able to develop given current areas of in-house expertise. Therefore, the DOT may need to utilize outside legal counsel or consultants to help guide the development process of these agreements.  
Updated: 9/1/2016
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