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Minnesota State Highway Right-of-Way (3-MN-c)

In Minnesota, a developer must obtain a Utility Accommodation Permit (“Permit”) from the Minnesota Department of Transportation (“MNDOT”) to construct a utility project within a trunk highway right-of-way. A trunk highway is any road established under Article XIV of the Constitution of the State of Minnesota, and includes highways and interstate systems that are constructed, improved and maintained as public highways under the jurisdiction of MNDOT. MNDOT regulates utility developments in state highway right-of-ways pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 161 and Minn Admin. Code § 8810.



State Highway Right-of-Way Process

3-MN-c.1 – Utility Permit Application

A developer must submit a Utility Accommodation Permit Application (“Application”) to MNDOT to construct a transmission line in a state highway right-of-way. A separate Application must be submitted for each highway involved. Each Application must be completed and signed at the bottom. The developer submits the original copies of the Applications to MNDOT’s Utility Permits Unit.

The Application must include two sketches of the location of the proposed project with reference to pertinent features such as:

  • The right-of-way lines;
  • Curb lines;
  • Highway center line;
  • Other utilities within the construction area;
  • Any tree trimming or clearing requirements; and
  • If the project is going to be aerial (above ground), blow out zone information.

Minn Admin. Code § 8810.3300(1).

3-MN-c.2 to 3-MN-c.3 – Review Application Materials for Completeness

MNDOT reviews the Application for administrative and technical completeness, and if the Application is incomplete, MNDOT returns the Application to the developer.

3-MN-c.4 – Review and Assess Application

MNDOT reviews the Application and assesses the proposal in order to make a determination in granting or denying the Permit. Minn. Stat. § 161.45(1). MNDOT estimates this process to take between 4 and 6 weeks depending on factors such as MNDOT's current workload and the nature of the Application.

3-MN-c.5 – Does MNDOT Approve the Proposal?

After MNDOT reviews the Application, MNDOT makes a determination whether the proposal should be granted. MNDOT has complete discretion in deciding whether the proposal should be approved or not. Minn. Stat. § 161.45(1).

3-MN-c.6 to 3-MN-c.8 – Does MNDOT Require a Security Deposit or Bond?

If MNDOT approves of the proposal, MNDOT may require the developer to pay a deposit, surety bond or corporate undertaking in favor of the state of Minnesota. This payment covers any expenses incurred by the state in repairing damage to the highway right-of-way caused by the developer, including any out of the ordinary engineering supervision and inspection expenses. The amount of payment is specified in the Permit, and any excess payment not used by the state, is returned to the developer at the end of construction. Minn Admin. Code § 8810.3300(5).

If MNDOT requires a security deposit, bond or corporate undertaking that the developer agrees with, the developer must pay that expense before a Permit will be issued. If the expense is in the form of a deposit, the developer must deliver it in the form of a certified check to MNDOT. Minn Admin. Code § 8810.3300(5).

3-MN-c.9 – Utility Permit

Upon MNDOT approval of the proposal and developer payment (if necessary), MNDOT issues a Permit to the developer that allows the developer to construct utility lines within the designated highway right-of-way. Minn Admin. Code § 8810.3300.

If the transmission line is located along an interstate highway, it must be located outside of the control-of-access lines, except under certain circumstances. If the control-of-access lines and right-of-way lines coincide, the transmission line is usually located on private property. If the control-of-access lines and right-of-way lines do not coincide, the transmission line is usually located in the area between them. Minn Admin. Code § 8810.3300(4).

If the transmission line is located along an interstate highway, the developer must access the transmission lines through traffic roadbeds, without using the highway ramps or loops. The developer may use other roads to access the transmission lines, provided those roads aren’t another interstate highway. Minn Admin. Code § 8810.3300(4).

If the developer is constructing aerial lines, they must be single pole lines unless MNDOT authorizes otherwise in the Permit. Minn Admin. Code § 8810.3500. If the aerial lines are located along an interstate highway, they must be at least thirty (30) feet beyond the shoulder of the road, and cannot be placed in the median unless that median is at least eighty (80) feet in width. Minn Admin. Code § 8810.3300(4).

If the developer is installing underground transmission lines, those lines must be constructed in a way that maintenance of said lines will not disturb the roadbed. It must also be constructed with the materials and to the specifications provided in Minn Admin. Code § 8810.3600.

During construction, the developer must keep all waterways and lines of drainage open. Minn Admin. Code § 8810.3400(2). The developer must also put up appropriate warning signs during all phases of the construction. Minn Admin. Code § 8810.3400(5). The developer must get prior approval before trimming or removing any trees along the right-of-way. Minn Admin. Code § 8810.3400(1). Lastly, at the end of construction, the developer must restore the right-of-way to its original condition, and MNDOT will inspect the restoration to ensure it is acceptable. Minn Admin. Code § 8810.3400(6).

MNDOT retains the authority to order the developer to make any improvements to the transmission line, as MNDOT deems necessary. If MNDOT makes such a determination, MNDOT notifies the developer in writing, and the developer has fifteen (15) days after receiving the notice to begin working on the improvement. All costs of the improvement are borne by the developer. Minn Admin. Code § 8810.3300(3).

3-MN-c.10 – Appeal Decision

If the developer or a member of the public is aggrieved by MNDOT’s decision, that person or developer may appeal the agency’s decision. In order to obtain a judicial review of the decision, the aggrieved party must file a petition for a writ of certiorari with the state Court of Appeals and serve notice to all parties no more than thirty (30) days after the final decision and order of MNDOT. Minn. Stat. § 14.63.


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Edit Minnesota Department of Transportation
Permits Supervisor (651) 366-4620