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On February 6, 2006, the Office of Real Estate Services issued major project guidance for Division Realty Professionals. Major projects are defined as projects over $500 million. This substantially increased the number of projects on which the FHWA Realty Professionals are providing oversight, including assurance that the right-of-way portion of the cost estimate is realistic. On January 19, 2007, the FHWA Office of Infrastructure issued final major project guidance. We are in the process of updating our realty guidance to address the recent change.
In 2006 the Secretary of Transportation announced a department-wide initiative to reduce congestion. The Office of Real Estate Services has three initiatives underway that contribute to this initiative.
Right-of-way Incentive Payments (Voluntary) for Acquisitions and Relocations: The Office of Real Estate Services is working with Divisions to help States implement our 2006 incentive guidance located at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/real_estate/uniform_act/policy_and_guidance/acqincentguid.cfm. This provision provides flexibility for saving time on acquisitions and relocations for congestion-reducing projects. Use of incentive payments is voluntary on the part of the State. Any State that decides to undertake such a program must develop a procedure and have the procedure approved by the FHWA to assure Federal participation. The initiative to pilot incentives and develop incentive program guidance was a direct result of the 2000 European Right-of-Way and Utilities Best Practices Scan.
Right-of-Way Advance Acquisition: The Office of Real Estate Services is developing guidance to help States carry out advance acquisition of right-of-way that will assist States to deliver congestion-reducing projects.
Right-of-way Support for Access Management: The Office of Real Estate Services assists the Office of Operations to provide techniques for congestion relief by decreasing conflict points and increasing the ease of through traffic. The Office of Real Estate Services has prepared a CD to distribute the 2006 FHWA access management primer and video that explains access management to business owners to win their support for access management related congestion reduction projects. The primer and video can be downloaded free by going to http://www.accessmanagement.info/ and http://www.teachamerica.com/amv/. The CD is available by contacting Kathleen.Facer@fhwa.dot.gov or calling 785-271-2448 x 224.
On January 27, 2007, the Office of Real Estate Services issued policy and guidance on supercompensation payments incurred for acquisition of real property on projects eligible for Federal-aid highway funding. Supercompensation payments are those State mandated payments which are in excess of the fair market value of a condemned property. Supercompensation payments, where necessary to satisfy just compensation requirements under applicable State law, are a direct cost of acquisition that is eligible for reimbursement pursuant to 23 CFR 710.203. This payment is considered a component of the acquisition cost, and as such, must be included when calculating replacement housing payments. This treatment is similar to that of court awards and administrative settlements.
The Office of Real Estate Services is partnering with the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) to sponsor a study called Right-of-Way Methods and Tools to Control Project Cost Escalation. This study, reviewing best practices specifically focused on the right-of-way aspects of cost estimating, will not be available until 2008. The 2007 NCHRP Report 574 is a guidebook on highway cost estimation management and project cost estimation procedures that aim for consistency and accuracy between long-range transportation planning, priority programming, and preconstruction cost estimates. This guide provides strategies, methods, and tools to develop, track, and document realistic cost estimates.
Potential Uniform Act Statutory Update
The FHWA 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 our national business relocation study. The FHWA convened a Federal interagency working group to review, analyze and consolidate requested changes, and develop a suggested Uniform Act statutory update. We are preparing a legislative proposal of suggested updates to send to the Offices of the Secretary of Transportation and Management and Budget.
Uniform Act Regulatory Material and Tools
The revised 49 CFR Part 24 was published on January 4, 2005 and became effective
February 3, 2005. A self-paced Uniform Act tutorial based on the regulation is available on our website. A self-paced Uniform Act based real estate acquisition tutorial on CD, for use by local public agencies for acquisitions under the Uniform Act, is available; additional copies can be made as needed. The Uniform Act frequently asked questions (FAQs) can be found at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/real_estate/uniform_act/policy_and_guidance/uafaqs.cfm. A side by side comparison shows changes from the previous FAQs. The FHWA acquisition and relocation brochures can be downloaded from www.fhwa.dot.gov/real_estate/publications/. The FHWA guide for preparing an appraisal scope of work can be found at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/real_estate/uniform_act/property_valuation/sow4.cfm.
State Right-of-Way Procedural Manuals
Congratulations are in order for all the hard work and perseverance required to update the procedural manuals to reflect the 2005 revised Uniform Act regulation!
Relocation Cost Schedule
Plans are underway to update the fixed payment for residential moving expenses in 2008. Expect a request for updated moving cost data in the summer of 2007. The current schedule uses 2004 data. The schedule provides an alternative for displaced persons who do not choose to be paid moving and related expenses based on actual costs incurred. It is located at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/real_estate/uniform_act/policy_and_guidance/fixsch96.cfm.
The Office of Real Estate Services developed and issued guidance on February 24, 2006, pertaining to Section 726 of the 2006 transportation appropriation act, P.L. 109-115, div A. This provision prohibits use of FY 2006 Federal funds on projects that use eminent domain, unless the eminent domain is for a public use. The guidance states that transportation projects serve a public use and should, in most cases, be exempt from this provision. Ensuring compliance with the prohibitions of Section 726 is the responsibility of each Division office. The Division office shall ensure that programs and projects receiving FY 2006 Federal financial assistance are in compliance, using methods appropriate to ensure compliance, such as, reviewing the project concept in planning, reviewing the purpose and needs statement in National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), or reviewing the application for funding.
We reviewed and distributed the November 2006 GAO report entitled Eminent Domain: Information about Its Uses and Effect on Property Owners and Communities is Limited is available online at http://www.gao.gov/.
A right-of-way acquisition and utilities relocation scan to Austin, Texas; Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Orlando, Florida was completed the week of July 10, 2006. Scan participants discussed best practices and lessons learned, including excellent teamwork examples. Participants were able to view first hand right-of-way acquisition underway for an arterial widening, and several project related complications, such as encroachments and environmentally required drainage ponds. The scan included innovative approaches to partnering with developers and a discussion of the Texas future toll road partnership. On site visits included projects under construction. It offered participants a chance to see right-of-way problems solved and to experience cooperation with local Government agencies. In Minnesota, the focus was on utilities, electronic project tracking, and visualization techniques.
Scan participants found shared common traits that contributed to the success of the programs of three state agencies scanned. These included commitment to creating a supportive institutional environment; focus on process; investment in technical tools; and, willingness to make use of other incentives and techniques as appropriate. Scan participants included officials from States, the FHWA Division Offices and the Washington, DC Headquarters staff. Each participant is involved in outreach and follow-up implementation of best practices identified and sharing lessons learned. A scan presentation is available. The group recommends that right-of-way and utility staff be invited to future American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) scans, even on topics seemingly unrelated. The report is posted at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/real_estate/right-of-way/program_administration/scans/.
The Scan results are posted at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/real_estate/right-of-way/program_administration/scans/.
In the fall of 2006, the FHWA conducted a domestic access management scan. The document report is available at http://www.accessmanagement.info/2006SCAN/index.htm. The tour focused attention on access management successes involving local jurisdictions. It provides good examples demonstrating the role local jurisdictions play in coordinating their transportation planning, development review and permitting process, and comprehensive planning to achieve good access management outcomes. The scan found that a major key to success for access management is a multi-disciplinary and multi-jurisdictional approach that brings engineering, transportation planning, and land use decision-making together early.
The Office of Real Estate Services reviewed several PPP proposals for Uniform Act and Title 23 right-of-way components. Private parties often perceive Uniform Act requirements as onerous. Partners must establish a process that includes right-of-way accountability, integrity, and transparency, where roles, responsibilities, risks, and rewards are clearly defined and understood, with due diligence to ensure compliance with contract conditions and requirements.
The SEP-15 permits experimentation in the project development process, and is specifically aimed at attracting private investment. The lessons learned from SEP-15 will aid the FHWA in developing more effective approaches to project planning, development, design, finance, construction, maintenance, and operations.
The FHWA, with input from the AASHTO Officials, developed a tool to assess the FHWA/AASHTO delivery process. The Program Delivery Assessment Tool, envisioned to cover major project areas, including right-of-way and Outdoor Advertising Control (OAC), will be piloted in MD, MO, NC, NM, and UT.
Plans are underway for the 2008 Excellence in Right-of-Way Awards! The categories again will be leadership, innovation, stewardship, technical specialties including outdoor advertising control, streamlining and integration. Awards will be presented at the 2008 AASHTO/FHWA annual right-of-way and utilities meeting. The award program is 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.
See the 2006 winners at the Office of Real Estate Services' Website:
Excellence in Right-of-Way Stewardship Award
Minnesota Department of Transportation
Excellence in Right-of-Way Innovation Award
Utah Department of Transportation
Excellence in Right-of-Way Leadership Award
Robert Macpherson (California Department of Transportation)
Mickie McJunkin (Georgia Department of Transportation)
Excellence in Right-of-Way Streamlining and Integration Award
Florida Department of Transportation
Arizona Department of Transportation
Excellence in Right-of-Way Technical Specialties Award
Woodrow Wilson Bridge Project
South Carolina Department of Transportation
Look for information later in 2007 on this new award. The focus is on people, including efforts made by realty personnel, to develop projects that are more sensitive to the community.
An Outdoor Advertising Control Language Guide is now posted on the Office of Real Estate Services website at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/real_estate/oac/policy_and_guidance/oacguide.cfm. It is provided to increase understanding of the outdoor advertising control program.
On March 22 and 23, 2006, we held teleconferences to discuss right-of-way security issues with Division realty professionals. Items covered included: