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Colorado State Utility-Special Use Permit (3-CO-e)

Information current as of 2020
In Colorado, utility owners (developers) must obtain a State Utility-Special Use Permit (Permit) from the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) “prior to performing any utility accommodation work, including the initial installation, relocation, maintenance activities not covered under existing Permit, or facilities removal.” 2 Colo. Code Regs. § 601-18-2.2.1.1. According to the 2 Colo. Code Regs. § 601-18, "utility" means "any privately, publicly or cooperatively owned line, facility, or system for producing, transmitting, or distributing...power, electricity, light, heat,...steam,...which directly or indirectly serves the public." 2 Colo. Code Regs. § 601-18-1.4.2.112. The CDOT has the responsibility and authority under Colo. Revs. Stat. § 43-1-110 et seq. and Colo. Revs. Stat. § 43-2-102 for the design, construction, improvement, maintenance and management of the State highway system and State highway rights-of-way. CDOT has designated permitting authority to the Traffic and Safety Branch of the CDOT. The Traffic and Safety Branch of the CDOT regulates state utility accommodations in State highway rights-of-way pursuant 2 Colo. Code Regs. § 601-18, Colo. Revs. Stat. § 43-1-110 et seq., Colo. Revs. Stat. § 43-2-102, and Colo. Revs. Stat. § 43-2-106(8)(k).



State Utility-Special Use Permit Process


3-CO-e.1 – Contact Local CDOT Regional Permit Coordinator for Application Information

The developer should contact the local Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) for Utility/Special Use Permit information. The CDOT region offices are located in Aurora, Denver, Durango, Grand Junction, Greeley, and Pueblo. 2 Colo. Code Regs. § 601-18-2.2.1.1.

3-CO-e.2 — Utility-Special Use Permit Application

An applicant (developer) must submit a complete Utility/Special Use Permit Application (Application) for a Utility/Special Use Permit (Permit) to the appropriate Region Utility Permit Office. 2 Colo. Code Regs. § 601-18-2.2.2.1. The Application must “include a complete description of the purpose, nature and specific location of planned work, and the anticipated start and completion dates for that work.” 2 Colo. Code Regs. § 601-18-2.2.2.2. The Application must also include:

  • scope of the proposed activities to be covered by the Permit, including the type and size of the utility facility;
  • proposed utility plans;
  • traffic control plans; and
  • methods used to perform the work.

2 Colo. Code Regs. § 601-18-2.2.2.2.

In addition, the applicant (developer) must submit additional information, if requested by the CDOT in conjunction with a Permit Application, including but not limited to:

  • highway and utility plan and profile information
  • utility facility design;
  • existing and/or proposed locations of other facilities within the affected area;
  • evidence of adequate; and
  • current liability insurance coverage of the proposed work, and any available Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinates for all proposed work.

2 Colo. Code Regs. § 601-18-2.2.2.4.

3-CO-e.3 and 3-CO-e.4 — Review Application Materials for Completeness

The CDOT reviews the Application materials for administrative and technical completeness. The CDOT “may refuse to accept or consider any incomplete Application that lacks necessary information or detail.” 2 Colo. Code Regs. § 601-18-2.2.2.4. For any applications involving extraordinary circumstances, the CDOT will negotiate additional reasonable time, as necessary, to completely review and act on an Application. 2 Colo. Code Regs. § 601-18-2.2.3.2.

3-CO-e.5 — Evaluate and Act on Application

When a completed Application is received, CDOT will promptly evaluate and act on the Application in accordance with the Code.

3-CO-e.6 - Is the Application Approved?

The CDOT may deny a permit if the requested utility accommodation “does not comply with the State Utility Code or applicable law, or otherwise endangers the public health, safety and/or welfare.” 2.2.6.1. If the CDOT denies the permit requested by the Application, the CDOT must provide a copy of the permit Application marked “Denied,” together with a written explanation of the grounds for the denial. Retracted Applications, however, are not permit denials. 2 Colo. Code Regs. § 601-18-2.2.3.3.

If CDOT preliminarily approves the permit requested by the Application, it will “prepare and transmit to the applicant (developer) for signature a written permit containing standard provisions and applicable special provisions and other terms and conditions.” 2 Colo. Code Regs. § 601-18-2.2.3.4. The developer must sign and return the permit to the CDOT in a timely manner. 2 Colo. Code Regs. § 601-18-2.2.3.4. The date the CDOT signs the permit is the effective date of the permit. 2.2.3.6.

Note: The CDOT may issue a “conditional” permit that is subject to further resolution of such matters as “work schedule, construction methods or other permit requirements, before the affected work may proceed.” 2 Colo. Code Regs. § 601-18-2.2.3.5.

3-CO-e.8 — Return Permit to CDOT for Signature

If the permittee (developer) does not sign the permit, or does not agree to all the terms and conditions of the permit, or does not return the signed permit within 60 days, then the CDOT will have no obligation to sign the permit or to take further action on the permit. 2 Colo. Code Regs. § 601-18-2.2.3.7.

3-CO-e.9 — Does the Developer Appeal the Decision?

Utility owners (developers) may formally appeal a denied permit Application. 2 Colo. Code Regs. § 601-18-2.2.7.2. Note, the “utility owner may also request the CDOT reconsider, on an informal basis, any objections to or requested revisions to a permit decision. If requested, the CDOT may informally reconsider its action and may revise the permit accordingly, issue a new permit or require an applicant (developer) to submit a new Application for consideration.” 2 Colo. Code Regs. § 601-18-2.2.7.1.

3-CO-e.10 — Request for Administrative Hearing

The developer must submit a Request for Administrative Hearing to the Chief Engineer of the CDOT in order to begin the appeals process. The developer must submit the Request for Administrative Hearing within 60 days of transmittal of notice of denial or transmittal of the permit for signature. The request must include the reasons for the appeal and may include changes, revisions, or conditions that would be acceptable to the utility owner. 2 Colo. Code Regs. § 601-18-2.2.7.2.1.

3-CO-e.11 — Conduct Hearing on Decision

The CDOT must conduct a hearing within 90 days of the receipt of the appeal. The CDOT appoints a Board consisting of three or more persons to preside over the hearing, at least one of which will have experience with utility issues within the state highway right-of-way. 2 Colo. Code Regs. § 601-18-2.2.7.2.2, State Utility Code. The CDOT must conduct the hearing in accordance with Colo. Revs. Stat. § 24-4-105 et seq. and 2 Colo. Code Regs. § 601-18.

3-CO-e.12 — Provide Recommendation for Application

The Board must make a recommendation to the Chief Engineer of the CDOT within ten (10) days of the hearing. The recommendation must be in writing and contain a Statement of Findings and Conclusions upon all the material issues of fact, law or discretion presented by the record and must enter an appropriate order sanctioning or denying relief. The recommendation is not binding on CDOT. 2 Colo. Code Regs. § 601-18-2.2.7.2.7.

3-CO-e.13 — Review Recommendation and Application Documents

The CDOT must review the recommendation of the Board to determine whether to approve the Application on appeal. 2 Colo. Code Regs. § 601-18-2.2.7.2.7.

3-CO-e.14 — Does CDOT Approve the Application on Appeal?

Following review of the recommendation and other available evidence, the CDOT will approve or deny the Application on appeal. 2 Colo. Code Regs. § 601-18-2.2.7.2.7. If the CDOT approves the Application on appeal, see 3-CO-e.6 and 3-CO-e.7 for more information.

3-CO-e.15 to 3-CO-e.16 – State Utility or Special Use Permit

For further information on the State Utility -Special Use Permit see 3-CO-e.7.


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Edit Colorado Department of Transportation
Regional Contacts for State Utility and Special Use Program 303-757-9273 Visit Website