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Office of Planning, Environment, & Realty (HEP)

Right-of-Way Program Administration

2005 Right of Way Report

Accomplishments and Activities

Office of Real Estate Services
2005 Right-of-Way Report

September 2005

Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users, SAFETEA-LU

On August 10, 2005, President Bush signed the reauthorization bill SAFETEA-LU into law. The bill authorizes $286.4 billion in transportation funding through FY 2009. FHWA will post summaries and fact sheets on the web site

Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act, as amended (Uniform Act)

Potential Uniform Act Statutory Update

FHWA has completed several activities to determine the need for and the feasibility of updating the Uniform Act. Activities included nationwide listening sessions involving our State partners and others on needed changes and the national business relocation study. In addition, we have the benefit of 195 pages of comments received through the notice of proposed rulemaking for the Uniform Act regulation. FHWA convened a Federal interagency working group to review, analyze and consolidate requested changes, and develop a suggested Uniform Act statutory update. The working group met several times in 2005. We are preparing a legislative proposal package of suggested updates to send to the Office of Management and Budget.

Revised Uniform Act Regulation

The revised regulation, 49 CFR Part 24, was published on January 4 and became effective February 3, 2005. The regulation was finalized with the involvement of other Federal agencies after an extensive outreach effort that included our State partners. We initiated several training activities including a national webcast and training sessions around the country. A self-paced tutorial based on the regulation is available on our website. A magazine article entitled Implementing the Uniform Act Regulation was published in the May/June 2005 edition of IRWA's Right of Way magazine. A self-paced real estate acquisition tutorial CD, for use by local public agencies for acquisitions under the Uniform Act, has been distributed. Updated frequently asked questions (FAQs) are posted on the HEPR website. Two new FHWA acquisition and relocation brochures are available on the website at A CD containing the published text is available for those who wish to print brochures. Please contact Linda Burris at 202-366-0142.

These are the top ten major regulatory changes -

  1. Expands business advisory services.
  2. Expands business relocation expenses.
  3. Revises the 30% income rule. It uses the U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) low income limits found on the HUD website.
  4. Applies Subpart B, real property acquisition requirements, to direct Federal acquisitions.
  5. Clarifies that decent, safe, and sanitary standards are based on local housing and occupancy codes, or, in the absence of local codes, agency policy.
  6. Eliminates the term "style of living."
  7. Increases the appraisal waiver limit/waiver valuation.
  8. Increases the conflict of interest limit to $10,000.
  9. Revises replacement housing payments.
  10. Clarifies that agencies may not solicit a waiver of relocation benefits.

Relocation Cost Schedule

The new fixed payment for residential moving expenses was published on May 16, 2005. It became effective for most agencies on June 15. The schedule provides an alternative for those displaced persons who do not choose to be paid moving and related expenses based on the actual costs incurred.

Public-Private Partnerships

HEPR has reviewed several public-private partnership (PPP) proposals for Uniform Act and Title 23 right-of-way components. Right of way acquisition requirements can be perceived as onerous by private parties. Our goal is to establish a process that includes right-of-way accountability, integrity, and transparency, where the roles, responsibilities, risks, and rewards of the project are clearly defined and understood by all, with appropriate due diligence to ensure compliance with contract conditions and requirements.

Many PPP proposals have been primarily financial in nature. Future proposals may be more complex and include a right-of-way component. FHWA is working on a series of initiatives to promote and facilitate the use of PPPs on transportation projects:

Program Delivery Assessment Tool (PDAT)

In an effort to improve delivery of the Federal-aid program, FHWA is developing a tool to assess both our and our partner's (joint) delivery process. The tool, called the Program Delivery Assessment Tool (PDAT), is envisioned to cover all major project areas, including right-of-way. The right-of-way section of the tool currently contains five core categories and twenty-three core elements. We envision both the Division and State will complete the assessment tool jointly. The primary value will be in the joint review and discussion. Any ratings would not be used to compare States but would be used to measure process improvement over time.

Excellence in Right-of-Way Awards

2006 Awards

The 2006 Excellence in Right-of-Way Awards winners are available at The award categories are similar to the 2004 categories: leadership, innovation, stewardship, technical specialties including outdoor advertising control, streamlining and integration. Nominations can be submitted in more than one category, e.g., both innovation and property management.

Applications can be submitted now. The deadline for nominations is October 28. Award winners will be announced at the 2006 FHWA/AASHTO annual right-of-way and utilities meeting in Baltimore, Maryland.

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. It is a biennial award program that provides a way to honor those that excel in streamlining or improving the real property acquisition process while ensuring that the rights of property owners and tenants are protected.

2004 Award Winners

Innovation - Alabama
Leadership - David Kastendick and Laura Rakers, Illinois
LPA Stewardship - Washington State
Streamlining and Integration - New Jersey
Technical Specialties - Ohio, for Property Management
Honorable Mention Honorees - Massachusetts, New Mexico, Wyoming, Texas, Maryland, New Mexico and Iowa.

2003 Award Winners

Integration - New Mexico
Leadership - Kenneth Towcimak, Florida
LPA Stewardship - Ohio
Streamlining and Innovation - Oregon
Technical Specialties - Illinois
Honorable Mention Honorees - Louisiana, Wyoming, Texas, South Carolina, South Dakota, Missouri, Florida, and the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Right-of-Way Management Team

We commend these good examples. A complete write-up for each winner can be found on our website.

Cost Estimating

HEPR has partnered with the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) to co-sponsor a study called Right-of-way Methods and Tools to Control Project Cost Escalation. This is considered a first phase study that will look at current best practices specifically focusing on the right-of-way aspects of cost estimating. The larger NCRHP research project is directed toward a guidebook on highway cost estimation management and project cost estimation procedures that aims for greater consistency and accuracy between long-range transportation planning, priority programming, and preconstruction cost estimates. This guidebook, expected in 2006, will provide strategies, methods, and tools to develop, track, and document realistic cost estimates.

The Office of Infrastructure (HIF) developed a 1-day course for FHWA managers responsible for major projects. Cost estimating guidance for major projects is posted on the HIF website The Office of Real Estate Services included right-of-way issues and concerns. HIF has developed a cost estimating course for FHWA personnel.

HEPR Domestic Scans

A successful Outdoor Advertising Control (OAC) scan was hosted in Arizona during July. An OAC scan report CD is being prepared. A power point presentation to showcase the results of the scan will be posted on our website.

A scan to review best practices for Stewardship of Local Agency Right-of-Way Programs was held in Michigan in September.

The Advanced Acquisition scan was held in Virginia in September.

In 2004, Texas DOT hosted a scan to review appraisal requirements and kick off the pooled fund study called Electronic Appraisal Development. Thirteen States participated in the scan. The research team has collected all appraisal forms and developed a conceptual framework for an electronic appraisal system (EAS). The researcher has developed a list of potential user needs and is working on a list of data needs.

Florida hosted a scan in 2004 to find out the current use of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) in Right-of-Way Programs. Recent software development and improved accuracy of GIS makes this technology more usable for right-of-way offices. New Mexico is using GIS for property management inventories and tracking water rights. Florida is using GIS to pin point the location of outdoor advertising signs. The Florida Turnpike Enterprise routinely uses GIS for right-of-way mapping, plats and plans. A CD is available that contains the results of the scan.

Airspace Lease, Bridge and Tunnel Security

HEPR held two national teleconferences discussing the effect of airspace leases on bridge and tunnel security in 2004, with participation from over 40 Divisions and States. The Office of Bridge Technology presented information to familiarize real estate sections with potential security issues and what to look for when evaluating lease proposals. HEPR sent two copies of Recommendations for Bridge and Tunnel Security to each Division Office to share with States.

Accelerated Construction Technology Transfer (ACTT) Workshops

The Office of Real Estate Services participates in ACTT workshops facilitated by the Office of Infrastructure. Right-of-way and utility experts participate in workshops prepared by the host state. Wisconsin, Illinois, New York and North Carolina have ACTT workshops scheduled this fall. Iowa, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Minnesota and Oklahoma had workshops this past year. North Carolina, Florida, Nevada, Wisconsin, and Texas officials have participated and shared their right-of-way and utility expertise. ACTT workshops are designed to evaluate all facets of a highway project to optimize cost-effectiveness, timeliness, and safety, while minimizing adverse impacts. Results can be found at


Information regarding FHWA right-of-way research efforts can be found at Current research includes:

Future Needs of Public Sector Real Estate

This research will increase HEPR's ability to meet program goals by focusing on real estate needs in a rapidly changing global environment. The results should assist HEPR to:

Acquisition of Easements over Native American Lands for Transportation Projects

This research will identify challenges associated with the timely acquisition of rights-of-way from Native American entities, and identify practices used by several State DOTs to effectively address these challenges. The results will aide HEPR to develop guidance for State DOTs and FHWA Divisions. The expected outcome is more effective and timely clearance of rights-of-way over Native American lands.

Integrating Geo-Spatial Technologies into the Right-of-Way Data Management Process

The Washington State DOT requested this NCHRP synthesis to determine current levels of GIS integration with large right-of-way databases. The contractor is surveying several State DOTs as part of the study.

NCHRP Synthesis Study of the Acquisition of Access Rights

A growing number of State DOTs recognize the benefits of acquiring property rights to control access on important arterial highways for the purpose of preserving safety and mobility. The property right of access to the abutting highway can be acquired through methods such as negotiation, purchase, the power of eminent domain, or statutory designation. The draft synthesis report has been reviewed. The final NCHRP report is expected later this year.

Effectiveness and Impacts of Appraisal Waivers

This study is scheduled to begin soon and will evaluate if appraisal waivers are accomplishing the intended goals of minimizing administrative costs and expediting the acquisition of real property. The study will determine what the associated consequences of the use of the appraisal waiver may be.

Electronic Appraisal Pooled Fund Study

The multi-state pooled fund study is researching the electronic transmission and storage related documents. A report will be developed and made available at a later date. For information contact John Campbell, Director of Right-of-Way for TxDOT.

Right-of-Way Education Barriers

This study is designed to identify and evaluate barriers to the effective use of existing right-of-way training courses by Federal and State right-of-way personnel. The analysis will be based on the results of contacts with State right-of-way managers, Division realty officers, and selected training providers, such as NHI, IRWA, and the Appraisal Institute. The purpose of this research is to provide data to assess the effectiveness of the current training paradigm for right-of-way and HEPR's role within that paradigm. The final report will identify the methods to improve training and right-of-way expertise.

Synthesis and Analysis of Interagency Real Estate Agreements

The purpose of this study is to compile information on how to foster interagency cooperation and collaboration in the transportation decision-making process regarding real estate. Workshops were held for Federal agencies to discuss interagency agreements and best practices related to Federal land transfers. This study strives to establish a system of checks and balances in providing land necessary for transportation purposes. The results of the study, due December 30, 2005, will include:

Uniform Act Training, Certification Needs, and Implementation Program

This study is identifying real estate training and certificate needs. The objective is to determine if there is a need for a certificate program that recognizes the specialized capabilities required to implement the Uniform Act. This effort has an impact upon FHWA and other government agencies that provide services under the Uniform Act and the regulation, 49 CFR Part 24. If the study shows that a new Uniform Act-based real estate certificate program is needed, a second phase of this study will design a program. The survey is complete. A focus group meeting was held at the FHWA/AASHTO annual meeting for Right-of-Way and Utilities, on May 18, 2005. The draft report for Phase 1 is under review.

Web-Based Annual Acquisition and Relocation Statistics

This effort to put the annual right-of-way acquisition and relocation statistics database in an on-line report format is complete, but not accessible yet. The annual statistics web page replaces the current paper delivery and manual compilation of State right-of-way real property expenditures. The database houses all historical statistics, accepts data inputs, and provides summary data tables. Information to access this site will be distributed by Silvio Cutuli,, in the near future.

Integration of Right-of-Way into Project Development

This research identified successful steps States have taken to integrate the planning, environment, real estate, and engineering disciplines. A summary report is posted on our website. A CD with case studies is available from Linda Burris,

Right-of-Way Access Permit Software

This SBIR project using photogrammetric stereo images to assist access control managers with driveway and land use permits is complete. The researchers tested their software in Florida DOT District Three. The software is commercially available from the contractor. The final report is available from Linda Burris,


Updated pilot information can be found at



Undergraduate Real Estate Curriculum

A course of study in real estate acquisition for public projects has been developed by the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC). Through a partnering agreement they have developed courses for real estate professionals and interested undergraduates. These traditional, classroom courses, each 15 hours and certified for appraisal continuing education credit, will be taught this fall at the CCBC Hunt Valley campus in Maryland:

  1. Land titles
  2. Project management for federally funded projects
  3. Appraising under the Uniform Act (levels I and II)
  4. Overview of the Uniform Act
  5. Reading right-of way plats and plans
  6. Communication/negotiation for real estate professionals (NEW)
  7. Easements (NEW)

The CCBC is willing to supply courses and instructors at your location at a group discount rate. For information contact Lynette Higgins at 410-780-6716 at CCBC. The college is planning distance learning and a certificate program for land acquisition.

Professional Development Program (PDP)

Our right-of-way training PDP participants are Tammy Keeley, Washington Division; Justin Luther, Illinois Division; Ed Woolford, New Hampshire Division; Oscar Bedolla, Maryland Division; Norm Snead, Massachusetts Division; Victor Otero, Arizona Division; and Christian Christoffers, Alabama Division. PDP participants complete a two-year training program, rotating through Headquarters, State, and Division Offices to acquire needed skills. Recruitment is open periodically for new positions. Resumes may be sent to Mamie Smith-Fisher


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

FHWA Headquarters Office

Planning, Environment, and Realty, HEP-1

Cindy Burbank, Associate Administrator

Office of Real Estate Services, HEPR-1

Susan Lauffer, Director, 202-366-4853
Janet Myers, Program Manager, 202-366-2019

Program Assistant

Linda Burris, 202-366-0142

Field Services Team

Joe Edwards, Team Leader, 202-366-2042
Nina Kelley, 213-202-3958
Kathy Facer, 785-267-7299 x 305
Kathleen Kendrick, 202-366-2035
Mamie Smith-Fisher, 202-366-2529
David Walterscheid, 720-963-3073

HQ Services and High Priority Projects Team

Nina Kelley, Team Leader, 202-366-9901
Janis Gramatins, Team Leader, 202-366-2030

Outdoor Advertising Control (OAC) Program Administration Team

Janis Gramatins, Team Leader, 202-366-2030
Marshall Wainright, 202-366-4842

Right-of-Way Policy Team

Arnold Feldman, Team Leader, 202-366-2028
John Turpin, 202-366-5853

Training and Technology Transfer Team

Wayne Coil, Team Leader, 202-366-2038
Rebecca Bennett, 202-366-2039

Updated: 1/31/2017
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