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Georgia State Highway Right-of-Way (3-GA-c)

In Georgia, a developer may need a Utility Encroachment Permit (Permit) from the Georgia Department of Transportation (GADOT) for any project that encroaches on, uses or occupies any part of state highway right-of-way. All utilities require approval from the GADOT for any project that encroaches on, uses, or occupies any part of a state highway right-of-way. A “utility,” in part, is any privately, publicly or cooperatively owned line, facility, or system for producing, transmitting or distributing…electricity, light, heat….which directly or indirectly serve the public. Georgia Department of Transportation Utility Accommodation Policy and Standards, at 1-17.

Specifically, a Permit is required for:

  • Any new utility facility or any changes to existing facilities that encroach on, use or occupy any part of a right-of-way;
  • Installing facilities adjacent to the right-of-way, requiring trimming on the right-of-way;
  • Installing or maintaining facilities adjacent to the right-of-way, requiring operating or constructing a clearance within the right-of-way;
  • Excavating and boring within the roadbed structure; and
  • Cutting of any paved surface.

Georgia Department of Transportation Utility Accommodation Policy and Standards, at 3-1 – 3-2.

GADOT regulates state highway right-of-ways pursuant to Ga. Code Ann. §§ 32-6-1; and Georgia Department of Transportation Utility Accommodation Policy and Standards, at 3-1.


State Highway Right-of-Way Process

3-GA-c.1 — Utility Encroachment Permit Application

A developer must submit a Utility Encroachment Permit Application (Application) to the Georgia Department of Transportation (GADOT) and obtain approval to encroach on, use or occupy any part of a right-of-way. Georgia Department of Transportation Utility Accommodation Policy and Standards, at 3-1 – 3-2. The developer should submit the Application to GADOT’s District Utility Engineer through the Georgia Utilities Permitting System (GUPS). The Application, at minimum, should include:

  • General information about location of project, traffic control insurance, description of proposed work;
  • Information about existing field conditions such as right-of-way width, road conditions, posted speed limit, if roads are unpaved, and local street names;
  • Information on project such as length, size, and type of proposed structures, method of installation, length and width of clearing, interstate crossings, whether company force or sub-contractors will be used;
  • Information about distance from edge of travel lane/face of curb of proposed facility, overhead clearance, location of temporary poles or guy poles (if applicable); and
  • Details regarding bridge attachments (if applicable).

GADOT, Georgia Utility Permit Process 6. In addition to the Application, the developer must submit plan sheets which show the location of the proposed project as well as the size, material, capacity, etc., of the project. The plan sheets must also demonstrate the projects relationship to existing highway features such as right-of-way lines, structures, roadway drainage, horizontal and vertical clearance to critical elements of roadway, and any other information needed to evaluate impact to the right of way and the safety of the people who use it. Georgia Department of Transportation Utility Accommodation Policy and Standards, at 3-17.

3-GA-c.2 to 3-GA-c.3 — Review Application Materials for Completeness

After the developer submits the Application through GUPS, GADOT reviews the Application for administrative and technical completeness. GADOT, Georgia Utility Permit Process 1.

3-GA-c.4 to 3-GA-c.8 — Will the Project Involve Excavation Within 10 Feet of Structures, Walls or Attachments to Bridges?

If the project requires any excavation work within 10 feet of structures, walls, or attachments to bridges, then the District Utilities Engineer must forward the Application to the appropriate District Utilities Office for review and recommendation. If the District Utilities Office recommends the Application for approval, it is then forwarded to the State Bridges Office for approval. The State Bridges Office then reviews the Application for approval. If the State Bridges Office approves the Application, the Application is then sent back to the District Utility Engineer for final approval. Georgia Department of Transportation Utility Accommodation Policy and Standards, at 3-4 – 3-5.

3-GA-c.9 to 3-GA-c.11 — Review for Final Approval

The District Utility Engineer must review the Application for final approval. The District Utility Engineer must make a decision to approve or deny the Application. If the District Utility Engineer approves the Application, then the District Utility Engineers sends the approved Utility Encroachment Permit to the developer for review.

3-GA-c.12 to 3-GA-c.15 — Developer Reviews Final Permit

The developer may review the final Permit and any required documents or special provisions that GADOT uploaded to accompany the Application during the approval process. GADOT, Georgia Utility Permit Process 3-5. The developer then has the option to:

  • Accept the new Permit and any requirements or provisions that accompany it; or
  • Enter into negotiations with GADOT regarding the new documents or provisions; or
  • Decline the Permit, ending the process.

GADOT, Georgia Utility Permit Process 3-5.

3-GA-c.16 — Perform Inspection as Requested (If Applicable)

The developer must perform additional inspections or testing if GADOT requests it. The developer may have to use an engineering firm licensed in Georgia from GADOTs preselected list. This inspection and testing is done at the developer’s expense. Georgia Department of Transportation Utility Accommodation Policy and Standards, at 3-8.

3-GA-c.17 — Pay Associated Costs

The developer must pay associated permitting costs, if the GADOT approves the Permit. Once the Permit has been approved, the developer is responsible for paying any of the associated costs. If the GADOT incurs any additional or unusual expense during the permitting process, then the developer must reimburse the GADOT the amount spent. Such expenses include extraordinary inspection requirements or inadequate control procedures by the developer causing damage to the highway. Georgia Department of Transport Utility Accommodation Policy and Standards at 3-8.

3-GA-c.18 — Utility Encroachment Permit

The developer must comply with any conditions, terms, stipulations and provisions of the Utility Encroachment Permit.

3-GA-c.19 — Restore Right-of-Way

The developer must restore all right-of-ways used in construction to a condition either equal to or better than the existing condition. Georgia Department of Transport Utility Accommodation Policy and Standards at 3-10.

3-GA-c.20 — Appeal the Decision to Reject Utility Encroachment Permit

If the District Utility Engineer rejects the Application or if the District Utilities Engineer rejects the developer’s negotiated terms, then the developer can appeal for judicial review. Ga. Code Ann. §§ 50-13-19


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