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Office of Planning, Environment, & Realty (HEP)

AASHTO 2006 Clearinghouse Report

Right-Of-Way Mappers

The Maine DOT has requested a survey of other states regarding the following. Maine is interested in knowing who in your State is responsible for the identification and drawing of existing ROW boundaries, who determines what types of rights (fee, easement, etc.) needed for a project, and who plots the new ROW boundaries that are acquired for a project.

Traditionally at Maine DOT, "ROW Mappers" perform these functions in conjunction with the project designers. The Mappers perform the research for the existing property and use CADD to plot the existing ROW lines and approximate abutting property boundaries, then (after the design is complete) the Mapper plots new ROW lines and determines what properties, and type of rights, are needed along the project, then the Mapper prepares a ROW plan that is used for the acquisition process and is later recorded in a county registry.


Alaska Statute requires the Alaska Department of Transportation (AKDOT) to prepare and record in the District Recorders Office, right-of-way maps sealed by a licensed professional land surveyor. The Right-of-Way Engineer in each of AK DOT's three regional offices is a licensed land surveyor and is responsible for directing staff in the preparation of these maps, or contracting for those professional services. All functions listed in the questionnaire are performed primarily by the Right of Way Engineering section directly or by contractors. The process is outlined in AK DOT's Right of Way Manual (see "Business & Operations" drop-down box - Right of Way; then click on "resources").

Staff or contractors perform title research to determine the existing right-of-way title interest, and to establish adjoining property lines. Surveyors then locate existing boundary monuments along the route. Land title information is reconciled and adjusted to the monuments under the direction of the Licensed Land Surveyor. Right-of-Way engineering staff review the proposed design and make the initial determination regarding the limits of, and property interest required for proposed construction. A right-of-way plan review is held which includes designers, appraisers, legal staff, and other relevant disciplines to identify issues which affect the area and property interest taken. Modifications to the proposed acquisition limits and/or design changes often result from the review. If a fee simple interest is to be acquired the local government must grant subdivision platting approval prior to acquisition. Right-of-Way engineering staff draft the new legal descriptions and prepare individual acquisition plats to be recorded with the conveyance document.


Who is responsible for determining and plotting existing ROW.

  1. The surveying necessary for this activity is done as a part of the design process. It is sometimes performed by Central Office Design Bureau personnel, sometimes by Division Office personnel and sometimes by consultants who have the contract for design. The engineering section of the Central Office Right-of-Way Bureau produces some maps, Division Office design staffs produce some and some are produced by the consultants who do the design work. Who does this work is determined by current workload of the Right-of-Way Bureau and Division design staffs.

  2. Same as above.

  3. Who determines the type of ROW to be acquired, e.g. permanent vs. temporary, fee vs. easement, etc?

    The Design Bureau determines whether it's permanent or temporary. The Right-of-Way Bureau determines whether it's fee or easement.

  4. Who prepares the final ROW plan that is considered the new legal plan?

    See number 1 above.

  5. Who writes the new legal property description?

    See number 1 above. The group that does the maps usually does the legal property descriptions.

  6. Do you have any process or guideline documents that describe how you perform these functions.

We have a process but the documentation is fragmented, i.e., there is not a document that is all inclusive.


  1. Our ADOT Titles Section compiles R/W maps and deeds to define the Existing R/W. Ultimately, the Titles Section prepares an Existing R/W Report that lists all applicable State Transportation Board resolutions of establishment and abandonment, applicable deeds and statutes. The R/W On-Call consultant firm, lead by a RLS, uses the plans, deeds and the report, plus field survey work, to calculate and plot the Existing R/W.

  2. New R/W lines are first 'proposed' by Designers to capture proposed construction features/work. Those requirements are subject to review by ADOT R/W.

  3. The Designers typically know what type of R/W is needed for most situations. However, those requirements are sometimes changed to due to input from ADOT R/W and from property owners.

  4. The R/W On-Call firm prepares the set of R/W plans, sealed and signed by the firm's RLS. The plans are supported by results of survey that is prepared at the start of the project and a set of R/W monumentation plans is prepared after construction is completed.

  5. The legal descriptions are typically written by the Delineation Unit of the ADOT R/W Plans Section, using the R/W plans prepared by the R/W On-Call consultant firm.

  6. We have a boiler plate Scope of Work that we modify for each project to contract the work done by the R/W On-Call consultant.


  1. The existing ROW is determined by the needs of the final design plan. The establishment of the final highway line limits are determined by the designer sometimes in conjunction with the Office of Surveys.

  2. The ROW lines are determined by the acquisition of partial/total takes, easements and DROW which are based on the final design plan. When the construction project is completed, all of the acquisition information along with the as built construction plans are used to establish and plot the new ROW lines. This process is the responsibility of the Office of Surveys.

  3. This is determined by the designer in collaboration with the Office of Rights of Way.

  4. The Office of Surveys.

  5. The new ROW plan is filed/recorded in the appropriate Town Hall. The legal property description for each individual acquisition is prepared and recorded by the Titles Division of the Office of Rights of Way.

  6. We have developed several manuals within the department that provide a general overview of this process from each disciplines point of view. They are the design manual, survey manual and the ROW manual.


  1. This is done under the direction of a Registered Surveyor & Mapper.

  2. Right-of-way lines are determined by the Designer and plotted on the Right-of-Way Map by the Surveyor & Mapper.

  3. Primarily determined by the Surveyor & Mapper based on the design. There are specific criteria that make this mostly a ministerial task. At times, Right-of-Way staff will input to the decisions where there is a possible impact to value.

  4. The Registered Surveyor & Mapper.

  5. The Registered Surveyor & Mapper.

  6. We do have Procedures covering this. However, they are more directed at minimum standards than at the process of performing the activities.


  1. Surveyor

  2. Designer w/Land Acquisition guidance (Surveyor)

  3. Designer and Land Acquisition (Surveyor)

  4. CADD operator draws the plat under Surveyor's direction. Surveyor qa/qc signs & seals.

  5. Surveyor

  6. Our Land Acquisition Manual:


  1. Existing R/W lines are set by the project designer, but verification of the existing R/W is done by a Land Surveyor in the Division of Land Acquisition before descriptions are prepared for new acquisitions.

  2. The new R/W lines required are set by the designer and approved by a land surveyor.

  3. Since most of the R/W acquired by the State of Indiana is fee simple. Color of title is set by the designer, temporary R/W is also set by the designer and approved by a Land Surveyor, perpetual easements are used mostly for drainage issues.

  4. Final R/W plans are prepared by a Land Surveyor in the Division of Land Acquisition. Final R/W Plans are sent to the designer who then revises the design R/W plans as needed.

  5. Legal description are prepared by the Land Acquisition Division and certified by an Indiana Land Surveyor.

  6. Yes, we have an R/W Engineering Manual (1998) and IAC Title 865, both of which need revision and are being worked one. We have found that some of the practices we thought would work did not and have revised the process accordingly.


  1. The existing right-of-way limits are determined by the District land surveyor. This is required about 1 month before the plans are ready for Right-of-Way to start the layout process.

  2. The Right-of-Way Design section establishes the proposed right-of-way limits.

  3. The Right-of-Way Design section makes the determination of what type of title is to be acquired.

  4. The Right-of-Way Design section prepares "H" sheets that go into the letting plans that show the property limits and the proposed right-of-way limits. These plans are easier to show to property owners since they display only the information that is essential to them.

  5. Our District land surveyor prepares the plat and description that is attached to the contract and filed in the court house.

  6. We have our Right-of-Way Design manual available on our IDOT web site. ( You will have to follow drop down's to get to the correct location.


Our Location and Survey Section or a consultant they contract, handles all of these functions.


  1. Our Real Estate office researches the existing ROW and then forwards the results to the Design project engineer. He/She then plots the existing ROW.

  2. Our design project engineer plots the new ROW lines over the existing ROW lines.

  3. This is determined by the design project engineer.

  4. This plan is prepared by the design project engineer

  5. Deeds are prepared by our Office of Counsel.

  6. NO









  1. Existing ROW is plotted on new base maps by District technicians under the supervision of a licensed surveyor. Most Districts then hand off the base map to the ROW technician who checks the existing ROW on the map, spots the ownerships and lays out the proposed new ROW.

  2. The new ROW lines are plotted by ROW technicians based on construction limits received from Detail Design. These limits are approved in the District by a ROW Engineer and a licensed surveyor since most of our ROW is currently defined by an acquisition plat.

  3. The ROW engineer normally determines the property rights to be acquired but this may be altered in the Office of Land Management if title or valuation issues arise making it more difficult to acquire. In most cases, new permanent ROW is acquired in fee including the underlying fee to existing highway easements.

  4. Minnesota does not have a ROW plan but we do have a process that authorizes the new ROW for acquisition. The District authorizes the ROW and submits it to the Office of Land Management. OLM reviews the map and gives the final OK before writing a Commissioner Order over the corridor. This order defines the corridor for acquisition purposes.

  5. Most parcels are acquired by plat reference with the District Offices preparing the acquisition plats and writing the descriptions. Both the plats and the descriptions are reviewed and approved in the Office of Land Management by a licensed land surveyor but we are moving toward an audit function for OLM rather than final approval. On narrative centerline descriptions, the descriptions are prepared in OLM.

  6. Our ROW Manual and our Surveys and Mapping Manual are on our web site at

Platting and Description Guidelines are written but are not on the web at this time.


  1. ROW Designers and Technicians research all the deeds and plans and put the information onto the plans. But first we request a cadastral survey and a certificate of survey retracing the existing ROW and ties to property controlling corners. This information is used by the Designer in our CADD strip map.

  2. ROW Designer based on Guidelines.

  3. Internal policy. We acquire ROW by Bargain and Sale Deeds. At times we change the ROW to easement based on a landowners request.

  4. ROW Designer. (Checked by another Designer or Supervisor)

  5. ROW Designer

  6. CADD ROW Design Manual. It is being revised at this time. Will be available electronically this fall.


In Nebraska the ROW plans are the responsibility of the ROW Design Section of the ROW Division, which Section reports directly to the ROW Manager.

Some rather sketchy information concerning the ROW design process may be found here:

While none of the questions mentions survey, that word is in the subject line of the original memo. We don't have field surveyors that work for ROW Division so we depend on others to furnish the required surveys.

Please feel free to contact Mr. Dan Foreman, P.E., Right-of-Way Design Engineer, for further information. His contact information is easily obtained from our Website:


New Jersey DOT's answer to all of your questions is the Designer (be it outside firm or in-house design), in conjunction with their survey crew & generally a ROW plan sub-consultant in the case of outside firms.

The attached link will get you into our 2005 Right-of-Way Engineering Manual.


  1. Existing ROW, (aka Highway Boundary) is researched and determined by ROW Mappers under the direction of a Licensed Land Surveyor.

  2. Proposed ROW lines are initially drawn by Designers who set them just beyond the limit of their field construction needs. Exact locations for the Proposed ROW are calculated and mapped by our ROW Mappers.

  3. Initially, the Designer makes a determination based on his/her needs for construction activities. We then conduct a "Taking Line Review" meeting at which each proposed acquisition is reviewed by the Designer, Land Surveyor, ROW Mapper and a Real Estate person who is responsible for land owner negotiations.

  4. NYS DOT no longer prepares a separate ROW Plan. We now consider our contract plans to contain all of the necessary information needed to document proposed ROW Appropriations.

  5. In NYS, we document and file the appropriation of most (but not all) land rights by the ROW Map itself. We used to include a parcel description on our maps, but as of about 3-4 years ago we discontinued writing descriptions, except in special situations. We felt the automation of our map making has all but eliminated most drafting errors, and the map conveys all of the same information that is included in a description. We still do a general description which reiterates the political location and the purpose of the appropriation.

  6. NYSDOT has a ROW Mapping Manual available online at:


Within the Oregon Department of Transportation, ROW maps and legal property descriptions are prepared by the Survey Units in each of the 5 Region Technical Centers. ROW Engineering functions are performed by ROW Engineering Designers, who have gone through specialized training in producing ROW Engineering products. The ROW Engineering Designers work under the supervision of a Licensed Professional Land Surveyor (PLS) registered in the State of Oregon, and in many cases the Designers themselves are registered PLS's.

ODOT also consults ROW Engineering projects to the private sector. While we cannot dictate to these companies who will be doing each function, we do require that the work be done under the supervision of a Licensed Professional Land Surveyor (PLS) registered in the State of Oregon. We offer the same training course in ROW Engineering to the consultants performing work for ODOT.

  1. The existing ROW along our highways is resolved by the Survey Units in the Region Technical Centers. Prior to the start of any ROW Engineering work, the existing center line and ROW will be resolved and a survey filed with the County Surveyor's office. The resolution will be done by a PLS or will be done under the direct supervision of a PLS.

  2. The ROW Engineering Designers are responsible for designing and drafting the proposed acquisition lines on the right of way drawings. With input from the Construction Project Designer, and the Region ROW Agent in charge of acquiring the property, the ROW Engineering Designer will layout the right of way in accordance to our guidelines for ROW Design for Urban and Rural projects, i.e. distance back of the sidewalk, minimum width from the slope catch, etc.

  3. Again, the ROW Engineering Designers are ultimately responsible for this task. The Lead Construction Project Designer typically will provide their ideas of the ROW needs, fee and easement and what the intended purpose is for any easements. Utilizing our standard guidelines for ROW layout, the ROW Engineering Designer will analyze and advise the Lead Designer whether the suggested takings are appropriate for the type of project (rural or urban design) and if the requested easements are on the ODOT approved easement list.

  4. ODOT does not file our ROW drawings with the County surveyors. The ROWdrawing is an internal document used for the following purposes:

    • Show the proposed right of way takings for ODOT projects, which is then used to prepare the legal descriptions and used by the ROW Agents to assist in acquiring the property.
    • It serves as an index of our ROW files and property rights.
    • It is used to identify excess ODOT property for surplus, prepare legal descriptions for the sales, and shows the property no longer in ODOT ownership.
    • The drawing serves as a resource for research of our highway system, highway ROW, access rights and access reservations.

    However, after the acquisition files have closed and ODOT acquires the property, the Region Survey Units will file a monumentation survey with the County. This survey will show the newly acquired ROW, any monuments set on the ROW breaks and network control.

  5. The Region ROW Engineering Designers will prepare the legal descriptions after the proposed ROW takings have been designed and approved. The descriptions are forwarded to ROW Headquarters in Salem and attached as an Exhibit A to the acquisition deed prepared by a Document Specialist.

  6. The Salem Headquarters ROW Engineering Group has developed a manual on ROW Engineering policies and procedures. The manual details how to produce the ROW map drawings, and write the legal descriptions which will be attached to the acquisition deeds. The manual is in PDF format and is currently available on the ODOT web site:


  1. All plans are prepared by our Road Design Section and they research and plot the existing ROW. All existing road plans are maintain by the Road Design Section and used in plotting the new design plans.

  2. The new ROW limits are established by the Program Manager for the project and are plotted by the Road Design Section.

  3. The interest secured in the property is determined by the ROW Section.

  4. Road Design is responsible for the final ROW and construction plans.

  5. Property descriptions are the responsibility of the ROW Section.

  6. Road Design has a Plan Preparation guide used in development process.


  1. This responsibility varies from region to region in Washington State. In some regions a Professional Licensed Surveyor has that responsibility, in others it is the designer, and in some the project engineer.

  2. ROW lines are determined by the designer.

  3. We are required by statute to acquire fee title for all limited access highways and as a matter of policy acquire fee title for all other highways with certain exceptions. Exceptions from this policy are discussed with Real Estate Services before the decision is made.

  4. Our ROW Plans Section (part of our Design Office) prepares the final ROW way plan.

  5. Legal descriptions for all of our acquisitions are prepared by our ROW Agents. We do not prepare a new description for the remainder of the property from which we acquire.

  6. I'm sure the processes are mentioned in our design manual, but I am not certain where. You can find all of our technical manuals on line through our web site.


Currently WV utilizes two methods of design; WVDOH (In-House forces) and Consultants. All of your questions are design functions. Both In-House and contracted Consultants follow Design Directive 301 for plans and Design Directive 312 for descriptions. The Consultant plans and descriptions are reviewed by our Design Division personnel.


  1. On projects with acquisition this is determined by a survey, usually a consultant hired by the field engineers. The information provided is checked by the ROW Engineering Section Supervisor.

  2. The Designer places the lines on the plans. ROW checks these plans for accuracy.

  3. ROW

  4. Surveyor

  5. ROW

  6. The ROW manual gives an over view.

Updated: 10/20/2015
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