Vermont State Highway Right-of-Way (3-VT-c)
VTrans regulates state highway right-of-ways pursuant to 19 V.S.A § 1101 et seq. and 30 V.S.A. § 2501 et seq. VTrans has delegated permitting authority to the Highway Division’s Right of Way and Utilities Unit. 19 V.S.A. § 7(a)-(c). The Right of Way and Utilities Unit (Unit) regulates state highway right-of-ways pursuant to 19 V.S.A. § 1101 et seq., 30 V.S.A. § 2501 et seq. and VTrans Access Management Program Guidelines. When 30 V.S.A. § 248 applies to a project, the Unit will not issue a Highway Right-of-Way Permit until after the Vermont Public Utility Commission grants the project a Certificate of Public Good.
State Highway Right-of-Way Process
3-VT-c.1 — Contact VTrans or Local Area Agency Transportation Maintenance District
The developer should contact VTrans Utilities and Permits Unit or a local area Agency Transportation Maintenance District (Maintenance District) to confirm permit-issuing authority and request a 19 V.S.A. § 1111 State Highway Access and Work Permit. State Highway Access and Work Permit. The issuing authority will discuss with the developer what plans and other documents are required for submission with the Permit Application. During this discussion, the developer and representative should discuss whether the construction work is extensive and/or complicated enough to warrant a pre-construction meeting. VTrans Work Within Highway Rights-of-Way Guidance, at 2.
3-VT-c.2 — Hold Pre-Construction Meeting (If Applicable)
The developer may need to hold a pre-construction meeting if the proposed project construction is deemed extensive and/or complicated. VTrans Work Within Highway Rights-of-Way Guidance, at 2.
Pre-construction meeting participants should include: the developer, the Chief of Utilities and Permits, VTrans District Transportation Administrator (DTA), and the Agency Inspector assigned to the project. At the meeting the participants discuss anticipated and/or known problems, along with tentative solutions. The participants may, at minimum, discuss issues regarding: work scheduling, traffic, safety of the public, affected property owners, drainage, and other critical construction operation issues. VTrans Work Within Highway Rights-of-Way Guidance, at 2.
3-VT-c.3 — State Highway Access and Work Permit Application
A developer must submit a complete State Highway Access and Work Permit Application (“Permit Application”) to the Utilities and Permits Unit of VTrans. A complete Permit, at minimum, must include:
- The applicant’s (developer) name, address, and contact information;
- A description of the project location, including town(s) in which the proposed project is located, highway route, and a reference location, i.e. the distance to the nearest mile marker or intersection and which side the project is located on;
- A description of the work to be performed in the highway right-of-way, and the reason the work is necessary. For instance, “construct a 16 foot driveway with a 15 inch drive culvert to serve a new house;”
- Zoning, Act 250, or 30 V.S.A. § 248 Certificate of Public Good Permit Application number (s), if applicable and available at the time of filing the Permit Application;
- The date the developer plans to start working on the project;
- The applicant’s (developer) name and signature, company name and position or title (if applicable) and the date signed; and
- A sketch of the proposed work indicating the relationships between the highway centerline, property lines, buildings, driveways, pipelines, power lines, drainage structures and the reference point mentioned in the Permit Application. The developer should label the state highway with the next town or hamlet in each direction, including a north arrow.
- ‘’’Underground utility installation’’’ requests must also, at minimum, include the:
- location of proposed buried utility project with offset distances from highway centerline;
- highway right-of-way and pavement widths;
- location of major features such as highway intersections, town lines, bridges, village limits, guardrail, etc., identified by a mile marker;
- location of nearby existing utility facilities such as manholes, water valves, fire hydrants, utility, cabinets, utility poles, etc., with distance offsets from highway centerline and name of utility owner;
- location of pertinent natural terrain features such as ledge outcroppings, steep slopes, streams, wet lands, etc.;
- type of construction method being used to install proposed buried utility project, i.e., bore, plow, trench, etc.;
- details of typical trench cross-section showing depth, widths, backfill materials, size of water/sewer/gas pipes, duct banks, sleeves, concrete encasement and pavement restoration details, etc.; and
- plan drawn to scale equal to or greater than 1”=100’.
In addition, the developer may need to, at VTrans request, conduct traffic and field surveys and analyses of the surveys, prepare a proposed design for access, including traffic control facilities and submit a construction plan for review and approval by VTrans. VTrans Work Within Highway Rights-of-Way Guidance, at 7; 19 V.S.A. § 1111; 19 V.S.A. § 1(7).
Upon request, VTrans will supply the developer with design, construction, and operational standards required by VTrans which are appropriate to the proposed development described in the construction plans. VTrans will also supply the developer with traffic counts, surveys, right-of-way information and similar data, if available, which could help the developer prepare the Permit Application. VTrans Work Within Highway Rights-of-Way Guidance, at 7; 19 V.S.A. § 1111; 19 V.S.A. § 1(7).
3-VT-c.4 to 3-VT-c.5 — Review Application Materials for Completeness
Upon receipt of the Permit Application VTrans reviews the developer’s Permit Application and determines if the Permit Application is complete. VTrans will notify the developer if the Permit Application is complete or incomplete, and whether additional information is needed.
3-VT-c.6 to 3-VT-c.8 — Review Application for Approval
VTrans reviews the developer’s Permit Application to make sure the proposed project is in compliance with 19 V.S.A. § 1101 et seq. and the VTrans Access Management Program Guidelines. The VTrans Access Management Program Guidelines are used to ensure consistency in the permitting process. The VTrans Access Management Program Guidelines define access category standards and design standards and specifications to provide VTrans with the parameters necessary to apply consistent permitting conditions based on a uniform classification system of all state highways. See VTrans Access Management Program Guidelines.
The statute (19 V.S.A. § 1101 et seq.) prohibits the state from denying reasonable entrance and exit to or from property abutting the highways, except on limited access highways. 19 V.S.A. § 1111(b). The test for reasonableness is based on a review of safety, maintenance of reasonable levels of service on the existing highways, and protection of the public investment in the existing highway infrastructure. VTrans may also deny access “as necessary to be consistent with the planning goals of 24 V.S.A. § 4302 and to be compatible with any regional plan, state agency plan or approved municipal plan.” 19 V.S.A. § 1111(b).
At this time, VTrans will notify the developer regarding the Permit decision and provide a copy of the decision or information about where a copy of the decision can be found.
3-VT-c.9 to 3-VT-c.10 — State Highway Right-of-Way Permit Authorization
The developer may not begin work on the proposed project until the project plans and schedules are approved in writing by VTrans. VTrans Work Within Highway Rights-of-Way Guidance, at 3.
The developer must provide the VTrans District Transportation Administrator (DTA) with adequate written notice before beginning any work within the state highway right-of-way. The developer must also submit notice to the Chief of Utilities and Permits and the Inspector assigned to the proposed project, as applicable. VTrans Work Within Highway Rights-of-Way Guidance, at 3.
3-VT-c.11 — Record Permit in Local Land Records
The developer must record a copy of the Permit in the land records of the municipality in which the project is located. The Permit will not become effective until the applicant (developer) records the Permit authorization in the office of the appropriate municipal clerk. 19 V.S.A. § 1111(j).
3-VT-c.12 — Appeal Decision (If Applicable)
The developer may appeal the VTrans or Maintenance District decision. The developer must file an appeal in writing to either VTrans or the Maintenance District representative. The entity with which the appeal is filed will then forward the appeal, together with the administrative record to the Hearings Unit of VTrans. 19 V.S.A. §7a. In addition, any person aggrieved by a Permit Application decision of the VTrans Hearing Unit can appeal the decision to the Transportation Board in accordance with 19 V.S.A. § 5(d)(7), (h). All appeals must be submitted in writing to the Secretary of Transportation within thirty (30) days of the date of the authorization decision. 19 V.S.A. § 5(h).
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