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Office of Planning, Environment, & Realty (HEP)

Right-of-Way Program Administration

2003 Right of Way Report

Challenges and Opportunities

Office of Real Estate Services
2003 Right-of-Way Report

May 2003

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. We hope to publish a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking this summer.

2003 Excellence in Right-of-Way Awards. These awards are designed to recognize outstanding innovations that enhance the right-of-way professional’s ability to meet the challenges associated with acquiring real property for a federal-aid project. This biennial awards program honors those that excel in streamlining or improving the real property acquisition process while ensuring that property owners’ and tenant’s right are protected
We are pleased to note that we received more than 40 entries from 20 State Departments of Transportation. There were 5 award winners and 8 honorable mentions.

We will have a 2004 Excellence in Right-of-Way Award Program and plan to have a call for entrees late this summer. Beginning in 2006 we will offer the program on a bi-annual basis. For details on the 2003 winners and the 2004 call for entries please visit our website.

FHWA’s Vital Few Focus Areas for 2003

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 2003. Along with the Uniform Act items described above, these right-of-way items contribute to the Agency focus:

Right-of-Way Innovative Practices Domestic Scans. We have held two domestic scans with our State DOT partners to share innovative practices in key right-of-way programs. To date we have had representatives from 27 State Departments of Transportation participate in the scans. The topics investigated during the scan include

We have issued a CD ROM containing a final report, reading materials and resources for the first scan and will distribute a similar CD ROM for the second scan.

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 with 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 support the AASHTO sponsored Center for Environmental Excellence found at

Accelerating Construction Technology Team Workshops. A national effort called Accelerated Construction Technology Transfer (ACTT) that includes right-of-way and utility considerations is underway. Through field offices FHWA is offering ACTT workshops to states. These workshops are designed to evaluate all facets of highway projects with the goal to optimize cost-effectiveness, timeliness, and safety, while minimizing adverse impacts. Right of way, utility and railroad considerations are integrated into solutions recommended to the sponsoring state. ACTT workshops have been held in Indiana and Pennsylvania. Two are planned in 2003; three to five are planned for 2004. Contact Kathy Facer, Office of Real Estate Services, at 785-267-7299 x 305 for ACTT information.

Design Build. The new Federal Design Build Regulation was effective on January 9, 2003. The regulation confirms that real property needed for design/build projects must be acquired in accordance with the Uniform Act and state right-of-way procedures. If right-of-way services are included in the contract, the design-builder must submit written procedures to the state for approval. The regulation requires that adequate access and utilities must be provided to all occupied properties. The Office of Real Estate Services is preparing additional Design Build information to be distributed to the states.

Research and Pilots

Integration of Right of way into Project Development. Our initial research effort to identify the successful steps State DOTs have taken to integrate the planning, environment, real estate, and engineering disciplines is coming to a close. Our research has identified strong support from all four disciplines in State DOTs for greater integration in the project development process. Even more important as State’s move forward in improving their project development process, the research has identified barriers or obstacles that States need to address in order for greater integration to take place successfully. An electronic report will be posted on our website this summer.

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 our business relocation pilot in Rhode Island are incorporated. Findings and recommendations are included. We have posted this report posted on our website.

Right-of-Way Access Analysis. Our Small Business Innovative Research project is examining use of photogrammetric stereo images to assist access control managers with driveway and land use change permits. This project has now moved to an implementation phase. Our contractors are implementing and testing their software package in a Florida district office

2000 European Right-of-Way and Utility Best Practices Scan Report is available at, the FHWA International Programs website. AASHTO sent reports and brochures to State CEOs and Right-of-Way and Utility Directors. An article on the Scan and implementation efforts will be in the May/June issue of the IRWA magazine. Results of several pilot projects undertaken after the Scan are becoming available. For information contact your Division Realty Officer.

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. Florida and Michigan, Washington State and Wisconsin are conducting pilots.

Right-of-Way Electronic Appraisals Pooled Fund Research

State Department of Transportation pooled fund research project on the electronic transmission and storage of appraisals and appraisal related documents. The goal of the research is to develop a “How To” manual of instruction for the electronic transmittal, storage, and retrieval of appraisal documents. Potential follow on research and implementation activities and the current state of electronic appraisal transmission and appraisal software creation and implementation.

There are currently 9 states participating in this research:

Florida Louisiana
New YorkNorth Carolina

To Join this effort or for more information contact John Campbell, Director of Right-of-Way – Texas Department of Transportation.

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

Pilot Projects. States are asking about the nature of pilot projects and how to submit one for approval. We recommend that an interested State work with its Division Office and, where the Division review concludes that a pilot has merit, that a formal request with Division recommendations be submitted to the Office of Real Estate Services for approval. We will coordinate with our Legal Office. It is important that we monitor pilots, evaluate results, and that the results feed into policy development.

Acquisition Incentive Payment Pilot. 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.


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.

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

Proceeds from the Sale or Lease of Real Property

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.

GAO conducted a study and released their report on January 13, 2003. The report reaffirms their position that FHWA has misinterpreted section 156. GAO recommends that FHWA report on how the DOT plans to comply with the GAO legal opinion and provide additional guidance to the states to ensure they properly implement section 156.

FHWA believes the current regulations and guidance correctly implement the law. No changes have been made and states are advised to continue current practices. The DOT Office of General Counsel is currently reviewing the regulations and GAO opinion and will advise FHWA in the near future. The Office of Real Estate Services will provide guidance to the states when a final determination has been made.

Final Rule on Federal Participation for Benefits above the Uniform Act. 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.

FHWA Community of Practice. We have completely revised and expanded our community of practice. The Real Estate Exchange is a new internet based community open to all professionals and the general public alike. You will find the website at: We welcome your participation.

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. In addition, right-of-way 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. It is available on our website
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. It is available on our website.

Professional Development Program. Two Professional Development Program Right of way/Environmental Specialists have been successfully hired for FY’2003 and a recruitment is open for a third PDP position.

Nebraska - Abraham Geevarghese was highly recommended by the Oklahoma Division where he previously worked as a Co-op student. Abraham’s coach is Realty Officer Ed Kosola.

Missouri- Chris Woods worked for the Missouri DOT and his background is in right-of-way and planning. He is presently completing his M.P.A. Chris’s coach is Realty Officer Ron Hill.

Maryland – A third FY ’03 PDP is being recruited for the Maryland Division Office. The coach will be Realty Officer Murray Piper.


Uniform Act Videos, CDs and Brochures. We have begun the process to replenish our stock of videos, CDs, and brochures. We hope to make them available early this summer.

Acquisition Guide for Local Public Agencies (LPA Acquisition Guide). We have now posted the LPA guide on the Internet and have distributed an interactive CDROM version. To date we have distributed more than 8,000 printed copies of the guide.

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

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

Updated: 1/31/2017
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