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Alabama State Highway Right-of-Way (3-AL-c)

In Alabama, a developer may need a Permit Agreement for Accommodation of Utility Facilities (Permit) from the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) to construct a utility facility within, over, or across a state highway right-of-way. ALDOT Utility Manual, 4.1. In addition, a developer may not dig-up or use a state highway for laying pole lines, without the written consent of the ALDOT. Ala. Code § 23-1-4. ALDOT regulates adding to or upgrading existing a facility, installing a new utility on an existing right-of-way, and changing voltage of an existing utility within, over, or across a state highway right-of-way pursuant to Alabama – Ala. Code §§ 23 et seq., Highways, Roads, Bridges and Ferries and the Alabama Department of Transportation Utility Manual.


State Highway Right-of-Way Process

3-AL-c.1 – Contact the Alabama Department of Transportation

A developer should contact ALDOT before adding to or upgrading an existing facility, installing a new utility on an existing right-of-way, or changing voltage of an existing utility within, over, or across a state to determine approval requirements. ALDOT Utility Manual, 4.1.2.

3-AL-c.2 – Permit Agreement for the Accommodation of Utility Facilities Application

A developer must obtain a Permit Agreement for Accommodation of Utility Facilities (Permit) from ALDOT prior to beginning certain activities within, over, or across a state highway right-of-way. Specifically, a Permit is required when a developer intends to add to or upgrade an existing facility, install a new utility on an existing right-of-way, or change voltage of an existing utility. ALDOT Utility Manual, 4.1.2. Common examples of projects that would require a Permit, include but are not limited to:

  • New installation of utilities;
  • Major modifications to existing utility facilities
  • A change in transmitting, or increase in operating pressure above that originally approved by ALDOT, or any change in type, function, or physical location of a facility; and
  • Aerial service connections, or accessory equipment, or wire substitution, or addition to existing poles, or to support structures crossing any traveled portion of a freeway or highway.

ALDOT Utility Manual, 2.18.1. Generally, a developer has the authority to construct electric transmission lines along county rights-of-way not under ALDOT’s jurisdiction pursuant to Ala. Code § 23-1-85. A developer is also not required to obtain a Permit when the proposed project only involves:

  • Sub-surface service connections not paralleling or crossing any traveled portion of the highway and aerial service connections not requiring additional supporting structures within a state highway right-of-of-way;
  • Normal maintenance operations; or
  • Passing through or in conduits already in place where the additional installation does not require the physical disturbance of the surface or sub-surface of the right-of-way, and does not change the type, nature, or operating conditions of the originally approved facility.

ALDOT Utility Manual, 2.18.2.

If a project requires a Permit, the developer must complete a Permit Agreement for Accommodation of Utility Facilities Form (Permit Application). The developer must submit four (4) copies of a complete Permit Application package to ALDOT containing at minimum, the following:

  • Complete Permit Form;
  • Information in compliance with the ALDOT Utility Manual;
  • General description of the size, nature, type, and extent of the utility installation to be located on the state right-of-way; and
  • Plan drawings and specifications of materials signed by the utility’s engineer of record showing the following:
    • Other existing utilities in the immediate vicinity of the proposed installation, indicated by symbols using the Department’s Standard Legend; and the proposed facilities shown using the developer’s own symbols with an attached legend;
    • The traveled way (edge of pavements or back of curbs);
    • The right-of-way lines;
    • The controlled-access lines;
    • The approved-access points;
    • The horizontal and vertical locations of the proposed facilities when appropriate;
    • A description of the types of materials to be used;
    • The extent of liabilities and responsibilities associated with future relocation of the utilities to accommodate highway improvements;
    • Any action to be taken by the developer in case of noncompliance with ALDOT requirements;
    • The names and phone numbers of the persons to contact in case of emergency, during construction, and after construction while the facility is in normal operation; and
    • Other provisions deemed necessary to comply with applicable laws and regulations.

ALDOT Utility Manual, 4.2.3. Underground Utility Installations If the project requires underground utility installations, the developer must adhere to the requirements outlined in ALDOT Utility Manual, 2.27 for underground electric transmission lines. Those requirements include, but are not limited to:

  • Underground electric power lines must have a minimum cover under ditches within the limits of the right-of-way of 1.2 meters;
  • Pedestals installed as part of buried cable plant must be located just inside the right-of-way lines, well outside the highway maintenance area, and outside of the clear-roadside area;
  • ALDOT reviews all proposed location and utility designs to ensure that the proposed construction will not cause avoidable interference with the existing or planned highway facilities, or with highway operation or maintenance;
  • The developer must implement reasonable controls for plowing to ensure that horizontal installation can be made within 300 mm of the approved location, and the stipulated minimum cover can be obtained and maintained;
  • The developer must notify the ALDOT Division Engineer when it abandons an underground line;
  • Perpendicular crossing must be located as near perpendicular to the highway alignment as practical; and
  • The developer must avoid conditions unsuitable for underground crossing, including:
    • In Deep cuts;
    • Near footings of bridges;
    • Culverts retaining walls;
    • Across at-grade intersections or ramp terminals;
    • At cross drains where flow of water, drift, or stream bedload may be obstructed;
    • Within basins of an underpass drained by a pump; and
    • In wet or rocky terrain where it will be difficult to maintain minimum bury.

ALDOT Utility Manual, 2.27. Aboveground Utility Installations If the project requires aboveground utility installations, the developer must adhere to the requirements outlined in ALDOT Utility Manual, 2.19. Those requirements include, but are not limited to:

  • Any longitudinal installations of the overhead lines on the highway right-of-way must be limited to the single-pole type of construction;
  • The developer should implement joint use of single-pole construction where more than one utility is involved, especially at locations of reduced right-of-way width;
  • The developer may construct a single longitudinal pole line on one side of the highway;
  • An aerial crossing may not have less than 5.5 meters vertical clearance over the highway;
  • Pole lines and related facilities must be located as near as practical to the right-of-way line on and along conventional highways in rural areas;
  • Facilities must be located as near as practical to the right-of-way line along conventional highways in urban areas;
  • Guy wires to ground anchors and stub poles must not be placed between a pole and the traveled way where they encroach upon the clear roadside are;
  • Guy wires within the right-of-way must be protected with a shield to prevent their being cut during roadside grass cutting operations;
  • Longitudinal installations of poles, guys, or other related facilities must not be located in a highway median; and
  • Aerial power lines must not cross over bridges where it is possible to avoid such installations.

ALDOT Utility Manual, 2.19.

All Utility Installations must comply with the location requirements outlined in ALDOT Utility Manual, 2.14. Those requirements include, but are not limited to:

  • Utility lines must be located to minimize need for later relocation to accommodate future highway improvements and to allow servicing of lines with minimum interference to highway traffic;
  • Longitudinal installations must be located on uniform alignment as near as practicable to the right-of-way line;
  • Utility line crossings of the highway must cross generally perpendicular to the highway alignment where it is feasible and practicable;
  • Horizontal and vertical locations of utility lines within the highway right-of-way limits must conform with the clear zone policies outlined in ALDOT Utility Manual, 2.7; and
  • New utility installations must not be located longitudinally within the control-of-access lines for any interstate or other controlled access highway.

ALDOT Utility Manual, 2.14.

3-AL-c.3 to 3-AL-c.5 – Review Application for Completeness

The ALDOT Maintenance Bureau reviews the Permit Application for technical and administrative completeness. If the ALDOT Maintenance Bureau determines that the Permit Application is complete, the ADLOT Maintenance Bureau forwards a copy of the Permit Application package to the District Office and Division Office. ALDOT Utility Manual, 4.2.4. The ALDOT Maintenance Bureau also retains a copy of the Application and returns two copies to the developer.

3-AL-c.6 to 3-AL-c.7 – Review and Comment on Application

The ALDOT District Engineer reviews and comments on the Permit Application. The ALDOT District Engineer forwards the comments to the appropriate ALDOT Division Office. ALDOT Utility Manual, 4.2.2.

3-AL-c.8 to 3-AL-c.10 – Review and Comment on Application for Division Approval

The ALDOT Division Engineer reviews the Permit Application with the ALDOT District Engineer’s comments, and comments on the Permit Application, either approving or denying the Permit Application. ALDOT Utility Manual, 4.2.2. If the ALDOT Division Engineer does not approve the Permit Application, the developer should resolve any deficiencies and resubmit Permit Application materials.

3-AL-c.11 to 3-AL-c.12 – Forward Comments to ALDOT Central Office

If the ALDOT Division Engineer approves the Permit Application, the ALDOT Division Engineer forwards the Permit Application to the Central Office State Maintenance Engineer for comments or approval. ALDOT Utility Manual, 4.2.2.

3-AL-c.13 to 3-AL-c.14 – Does the ADLOT State Maintenance Engineer Approve the Application?

If the State Maintenance Engineer approves the Permit Application, then the developer obtains the Permit. ALDOT Utility Manual, 4.2.2. Note: Certain projects may require additional approval from the ALDOT Director. For more information, see: ALDOT Utility Manual, 4.2.2.

3-AL-c.15 – Pay Required Bond (If Applicable)

Once a developer obtains a Permit, the developer must file a surety bond with the ALDOT prior to beginning construction. Ala. Code § 23-1-4; ALDOT Utility Manual, 2.6. The amount of the bond required varies and depends on the following:

  • The nature of the project;
  • Whether the installations are aboveground or underground; and
  • The project size and complexity.

ALDOT Utility Manual, 2.6. ALDOT may waive bond requirements at its discretion. ALDOT Utility Manual, 2.6.2. In determining whether to waive bond requirements ALDOT considers the following:

  • The developer’s record, considering past cooperation and the quality of work on previous installations;
  • The type and extent of work to be performed; and
  • Whether the developer can prove the ability to reimburse ALDOT for any and all damages resulting from the developer’s activities under the permit.

ALDOT Utility Manual, 2.6.3.

3-AL-c.16 – Appeal Decision (Optional)

Any person aggrieved by a final ALDOT permitting decision may appeal the decision by filing an Application for Rehearing with ALDOT within 15 days of ALDOT issuing its final decision on the Permit Application. Ala. Code § 41-22-17.


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