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Federal Highway Administration Utility Accommodation (3-FD-n)

Information current as of 2019
In the United States, a developer may need a Utility Accommodation (Right-of-Way) from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) for a utility facility on or over a federal-aid or direct federal highway. A utility facility is "privately, publicly or cooperatively owned line, facility, or system for producing, transmitting, or distributing communications, cable television, power, electricity, light, heat, gas, oil, crude products, water, steam, waste, storm water not connected with highway drainage, or any other similar commodity, including any fire or police signal system or street lighting system, which directly or indirectly serves the public." 23 C.F.R. § 645.207. Federal-aid highway projects are "those active or completed highway projects administered by or through a State transportation department which involve or have involved the use of Federal-aid highway funds for the development, acquisition of right-of-way, construction or improvement of the highway or related facilities, including highway beautification projects under 23 U.S.C. 319, Landscaping and Scenic Enhancement.” 23 C.F.R. § 645.207. Direct federal highway projects are “those active or completed highway projects such as projects under the Federal Lands Highways Program which are under the direct administration of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).” 23 C.F.R. § 645.207.

The FHWA grants Rights-of-Way on or over a federal-aid or direct federal highway pursuant to 23 C.F.R. §§ 630.102-630.1110 and 23 C.F.R. §§ 645.101-645.215.

Federal Highway Administration Utility Accommodation Process

3-FD-n.1 to 3-FD-n.2 – Will the Project Require Transmission Over a FHWA Right-of-Way?

If the project will require access on or over a FHWA right-of-way, then the utility is required to obtain permission. 23 C.F.R. § 645.203.

3-FD-n.3 to 3-FD-n.4 – Is the Right-of-Way Grant for Highway Purposes Only?

If the existing right-of-way grant is only for highway purposes, then the utility will be required to obtain a separate right-of-way authority from the federal agency with jurisdiction over the land in question. 23 C.F.R. § 645.205. Examples of highway purposes include highway lighting or to serve a weigh station, rest area or recreation area. 23 C.F.R. § 645.209. The new right-of-way grant must allow for utility installation.

3-FD-n.5 to 3-FD-n.6 – Will the Project Require Access to a Federal-Aid Highway Right-of-Way?

Each state department of transportation is required to submit an accommodation plan to the FHWA as to whether they will authorize utilities to use and occupy rights-of-way within Federal-aid highways. 23 C.F.R. § 645.209(c). The state transportation departments will outline whether such occupancy is allowed in their state utility accommodation policy. 23 C.F.R. § 645.209(c). If a Federal-aid highway is implicated in the project, then the utility should consult the state utility accommodation policy. 23 C.F.R. § 645.209(c). The state utility accommodation policy will comply with the FHWA regulations outlined in 23 C.F.R. § 645.201. 23 C.F.R. § 645.209(c).

If the project requires access through a right-of-way located within a direct federal highway, then approval must be obtained from the FHWA. 23 C.F.R. § 645.209(f). FHWA applies accommodation policies similar to those required on federal aid highway projects. 23 C.F.R. § 645.209(f).

3-FD-n.7 – Review Proposed Use of Right-of-Way for Safety

FHWA is required to determine whether the utility may use the right-of-way and maintain the necessary level of safety for the general public’s use of the highway. 23 C.F.R. § 645.209(a). The nature and volume of traffic on the highway and the effect of joint use of the right-of-way will be carefully considered by FHWA. 23 C.F.R. § 645.209(a).

3-FD-n.8 to 3-FD-n.9 – Will Installation Affect the Movement or Safety of Traffic?

If installation of the utility project will affect the movement of traffic or traffic safety, then the utility is required to implement a traffic control plan and utilize traffic control devices as necessary to ensure the safe and expeditious movement of traffic around the work site. 23 C.F.R. § 645.209(j). The traffic control plan must comply with the standards outlined in the current edition of the “Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices” and 23 C.F.R. § 630. 23 C.F.R. § 645.209(j).

3-FD-n.10 to 3-FD-n.11 – Does FHWA Approve Use of the Right-of-Way?

If use of the right-of-way will comply with safety requirements, then FHWA will approve the use. The utility must install transmission lines pursuant to FHWA requirements outlined in 23 C.F.R. § 645.209(b)-(c). If FHWA does not approve use of the right-of-way, then the utility will have to consider different project locations.

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