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Office of Planning, Environment, & Realty (HEP)

Right-of-Way Program Administration

2002 Right of Way Report

Challenges and Opportunities

Office of Real Estate Services

April 2002

Earth Day - April 22

FHWA Activities. FHWA right of way staff supports Earth Day through enhancement projects, acquisition of scenic easements, outdoor advertising control, junkyard screening, and a respect for visual quality when developing projects. We strive to be a good neighbor in the communities we affect.

Uniform Act

Update to the Uniform Act and 49 CFR, Part 24. FHWA, in cooperation with other Federal Agencies, has initiated Project: UPDATE. A series of meetings to gather information and plan the Update have been held. This project is continuing, with input from Federal agencies, State transportation agencies, LPAs and the public. Our goal is to form a consensus on what changes are needed to the Uniform Act or regulations and develop a plan for addressing those needs.

Guidance on Appraisal Waiver. We issued new guidance on the appraisal waiver provision in January 2002. This allows consideration of a waiver amount higher than $10,000 under certain conditions. One condition is the requirement for yearly review by the Division and State to monitor implementation.

Appraisal Review Modification and Electronic Appraisal Techniques Pilots. We are evaluating a modification to traditional appraisal review requirements in 49 CFR 24.104 based on risk management. Several States are conducting pilots. We support the use of electronic appraisal methods by States. This initiative is evaluating methods and techniques. It may include the use of artificial intelligence to perform quality checks on valuation documentation.

Uniform Act Videos, CDs and Brochures. We have new "Uniform Act Overview" videos and CDs available in English and Spanish. They are designed for use at public meetings and informational events to provide an understanding of how property is acquired. The Uniform Act videos and CDs explain property owner and tenant benefits, the appraisal, acquisition, relocation and appeal processes. The English version of the video is closed-captioned. Other videos, "Comparable Concepts for Replacement Housing" and "Business Relocation" are available on both video and CD. "A Change for the Better" is now available on CD.

The English version of the Uniform Act overview brochure is at the printer; the Spanish version is ready to go to the printer. Spanish language versions of the acquisition and relocation brochures will be available in hardcopy and online on the ORES website.

Acquisition Guide for Local Public Agencies (LPA Acquisition Guide). We completed a comprehensive update to the LPA Acquisition Guide. This guide provides a road map of the Federal laws and regulations that could apply to a local project, explains how the law and regulations work, and provides the user with an understanding of the real estate acquisition process as an integral part of the project development process. The guide describes the resources needed to successfully carry out a project. The printed guide is available through our Division offices. We will offer the guide on our website and an interactive CD.

Relocation Seminars - A Proposal. FHWA and IRWA are discussing partnering to present 10 to 12 one-day seminars around the country. The current concept is for a team to cover relocation topics, with one general session followed by several concurrent breakout sessions covering relocation items in greater detail. As proposed, registration fees would cover instructor's travel costs. IRWA would market the Relocation Seminars and provide logistical support.

FHWA's Vital Few Focus Areas for 2002

Vital Few. The FHWA Administrator, Mary Peters, has named safety, environmental stewardship and streamlining, and congestion mitigation, as the Vital Few that FHWA will give added focus in 2002. Along with the Uniform Act items described above, these items contribute to the Agency focus:

Right of Way Innovative Practices Domestic Scan - August 2002. We are preparing a domestic scan to share innovative practices in key right of way programs. In August we propose to take representatives from 15 States to two sites in Maryland and Virginia. We will invite State participants for the first domestic scan based on number of current or future major projects, level of use of right of way contractors, and level of involvement in context sensitive design. If this experience is successful, we may be able to offer additional scans and accommodate all States over time. The proposed 2002 topics are:

Environmental Streamlining. In July 1999, DOT entered into a national MOU with Federal environmental review and permitting agencies. One of the 5 strategies is to seek flexible mitigation. We believe flexible economic mitigation can be considered when developing projects. This would be one advantage to come from right of way professionals interacting with designers early in project development. (An example would be replacing lost parking spaces, possibly resulting in reduced damages during the right of way acquisition phase.)

The DOT is committed to developing streamlining measures for non-major projects. A virtual library of innovations is available at our environmental website We have pledged support for the AASHTO sponsored Center for Environmental Excellence found at

Integrated Solutions. We are conducting a study of current project development activities that integrate right of way, environment, planning, and design within State DOTs. The first phase of the study involves a web-based survey to determine the current level of interaction. Currently the survey is under development and may become available to State personnel for response in April. The second phase of the research project will result in case studies of the best processes.

Accelerating Construction Technology Team Workshops. We participated in workshops in Indiana and Pennsylvania in which national experts in nine skill areas developed innovative techniques to accelerate project development and construction. Right of way, utilities and design professionals discussed individual perspectives, mutual needs, and concerns. Other workshops may be held around the country. TRB will market the suggestions that are implemented.

Access Management. FHWA contributes to the Vital Few through our efforts to improve State and local agency access management programs. Our focus is on developing a sound management policy regarding access breaks and the supporting local road system so that planned development can take place safely. This effort contributes to safety, environment and congestion mitigation. The 5th National Access Management Conference is scheduled for June 23-26, 2002, in Austin, TX.Access management national conference details, agendas and proceedings can be found at

Design Build. This continues to be an area of interest for States. We have a study underway that will provide information to improve our guidance on design build projects that involve right of way acquisition. The current effort is focused on the public perception of safety issues related to right of way delivery when using design build. The study is being conducted by South Carolina State University with the cooperation of the Virginia DOT. A paper is posted on our website that offers guidance for those considering design build projects that include right of way. The design build NPRM was published October 19, 2001; comments were received from 42 entities. The final rule will be published in mid to late 2002. FHWA will send a report to Congress on the effectiveness of the design build contracting procedure in June 2003.

Research and Pilots

National Business Relocation Research. We recently completed a multi-year national research project. The study compiles information on the adequacy of the amounts and types of business relocation payments provided by the Uniform Act. Results from the business relocation pilot in Rhode Island are incorporated. Findings and recommendations are included.

Relocation Incentive Payment Pilot in Virginia. This pilot tested the effectiveness of providing incentive payments to residential tenants being relocated from a complex project that had a short time schedule. Well-defined incentive payments have the potential to expedite right of way clearance. The accelerated occupancy dates were met for this project so that 99% of the eligible occupants received incentive payments for early vacation of the buildings.

Acquisition Incentive Payment Pilot in Florida. FHWA approved a pilot in Florida to determine the effectiveness of providing incentive payments to property owners who settle with FDOT within prescribed time frames. This pilot is exploring the use of incentive payments to expedite the clearance of the required right of way.

Right of Way Access Analysis in Florida. A Small Business Innovative Research project is examining use of photogrammetric stereo images to assist access control managers with driveway and land use change permits. A preliminary test is underway in one district in Florida.

Highway Impact on Property Values in Baltimore, Maryland. A limited study is underway to determine the effect of highways on property values. This study is being done by Morgan State University. The plan is to develop a software model for this analysis.


Mitigation of Highway Impacts on Agricultural Uses, Land Consolidation. Major transportation corridors often bisect ownerships creating uneconomic land uses or disrupting viable agricultural enterprises. In an effort to mitigate adverse impacts to individual properties and the communities at large, a land consolidation policy was developed and distributed in December 2000 permitting States to purchase remainders and/or agricultural properties offered for sale in the corridor. Acquired properties can be exchanged for required right of way, used to adjust land holdings, and reduce the need for land service facilities. If a State is normally unable to acquire such property, the need for the acquisition can be documented in the environmental process as required for project mitigation.

National Broadcast - Integrating Right of Way, Planning, Environment and Design. The FHWA Office of Planning, Environment and Real Estate partnered with the North Carolina State Center for Transportation and Environment (CTE) to present a national videoconference entitled "Integrating Right of Way and the Environment for Better Results." The archived video can be downloaded from the CTE website at

Environmental Excellence Award Program. The North Carolina DOT was awarded an Environmental Excellence Award in 2001. The NCDOT formed a partnership with Habitat for Humanity to deconstruct selected homes and salvage material that Habitat sold to generate funds to build new Habitat dwellings. This successful method to manage demolition was followed by other partnerships between NCDOT and Habitat for Humanity. Other States have now donated dwellings for use by public housing authorities. These projects reduce the cost of demolition and advance housing and environment programs in the community.

Human Environment. FHWA's Office of Human Environment has a website at that provides an overview of transportation and environmental justice.

Right of Way Program Administration

Right of Way Operations Manuals. As of January 1, 2001, each State was to have an up-to-date right of way operations manual. As of April 1, 2002, 39 manuals have been updated. We are working to include State right of way manuals on the national website for State highway specifications. We currently have links for 11 State manuals that are available on the web on our website at

Title 23, Section 156. TEA-21 enabled States to use the proceeds from the sale of excess right of way on Title 23 eligible projects. These funds lose their federal identity and can be programmed as 100% state funded projects requiring no match. We thank everyone for the 100% response rate that enabled us to respond to a Congressional inquiry. Our survey found the majority of States have used the provisions of Section 156 to leverage transportation dollars. Since TEA-21, States have generated approximately $150 million for use on Title 23 eligible projects.

Final Rule on Federal Participation. In a final rule published March 20, 2002, FHWA clarified that Federal-aid participation is available to States that are required to provide benefits in excess of Uniform Act minimum requirements. Questions and answers that deal with right of way regulations and guidance can be found on our website. The Federal-aid Program Guide (FAPG) and Project Development Guide (PDG) are posted on the website. These are excellent resources for program and policy guidance.

Outdoor Advertising Control. Consideration of possible regulatory changes has been postponed while attention is focused on Reauthorization. We will continue to administer the Highway Beautification Act, along with the States, as effectively as possible.

Guidance on Tribal Coordination. FHWA is updating internal guidance used for coordinating with Tribes. The updated guidance will include a right of way discussion and contacts.

FHWA Community of Practice. We have developed an internal community of practice for FHWA realty specialists called the Realty Exchange. Contact Division staff for information and dialogue opportunities.

Right of Way Training

Training Courses Under Development.

National Highway Institute(NHI). FHWA has a variety of right of way training courses available through NHI. Workshops may be available through your local FHWA Division Office using material that is available on the FHWA internal Staffnet.

Professional Designation Education Credits. FHWA's real estate courses offered through NHI can be used as continuing education credits toward the educational and re-certification requirements for IRWA professional designations.

FHWA NHI/ORES Real Estate Training Analysis. This report represents market research study for stakeholders and partners on real estate training needs and training opportunities.

Right of Way in Federal-aid Course 101. Our new FHWA introductory course, Federal-aid 101, includes a discussion of the entire project development process, including right of way and the Uniform Act.

For Office of Real Estate Service program information, products,
and publications please visit our website at

Updated: 12/15/2015
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