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Ohio State Highway Right-of-Way (3-OH-c)

In Ohio, a developer must obtain a Commercial Access Permit and/or a Utility Permit from the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) to “use or occupy” a portion of a state road or highway right-of-way. O.R.C. § 5515.01. The use or occupation of the highway may not inconvenience the traveling public. O.R.C. § 5515.01.


Commercial Access Permit

A Commercial Access Permit is required for direct access to a state highway. The ODOT developed the Ohio State Highway Access Management Manual (“Access Manual”) to manage access to state highways in order to protect the public health, safety, and welfare; to preserve the operational and functional integrity of the state highway system; and to promote the safe and efficient movement of people and goods. Requirements and standards depend on the type of highway facility involved. See Access Manual § 4.4 for a description of each category.

Utility Permit

A Utility Permit is required for the installation, removal, or maintenance of temporary or permanent underground or overhead installations. This includes installations that either cross or run longitudinally within the highway right-of-way on both limited access and non-limited access highways. Utility Manual § 8102.06.


State Highway Right-of-Way Process

3-OH-c.1 – Contact Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) (Optional)

The developer may wish to contact the ODOT prior to submitting a permit application to determine which documents and information are required, as well as the number of copies of the application the developer should submit. Permit Application; Access Manual § 2.3.4.


3-OH-c.2 – Hold Preliminary Meeting (If Applicable/Optional)

The ODOT strongly recommends that developers seeking Commercial Access Permits for large, high volume developments request a preliminary meeting with the appropriate ODOT personnel and/or local authorities. This meeting provides ODOT and local authorities to examine the feasibility of the proposed access with the developer and to consider whether it is permissible under the ODOT’s access standards. This early discussion can expedite later review and evaluation of the Permit Application. However, comments, suggestions, and recommendations made during the preliminary meeting are not binding upon the ODOT or local authorities in subsequent evaluation of the formal Permit Application or decisions about the issuance of a Permit. Access Manual § 2.3.6.

At the meeting, the developer should provide sufficient materials, such as preliminary maps, plans, and documents, to illustrate the site, the size and type of proposed land use, estimated traffic volumes and vehicle types generated by the site, adjacent public roads and highways, and any existing or available access points. Access Manual § 2.3.6.


3-OH-c.3 – Department of Transportation Permit Application

The Commercial Access Permit and Utility Permit all require the developer to submit the same Ohio Department of Transportation Permit Application (“Permit Application” or “Application”), however the developer must apply for each permit individually.. The developer, not a contractor, must complete the Application. There is no fee for the Permit, and no condition prescribed by the Permit may impose a fee for the privilege granted. O.R.C. § 5515.01(F).

The ODOT only issues highway right-of-way permits for use on state and federal highways outside municipal corporations, excluding interstate highways. Municipalities issue highway right-of way permits for projects located on federal and state highway rights of ways within the municipality. However, the municipality must adopt policies, standards, and requirements that meet or exceed ODOT standards. Access Manual § 1.5.4; Utility Manual § 8102.02.


General Permit Application Requirements

The following information is required in the Permit Application:

  • The distance, in feet, that the proposed work will be from the nearest intersection, including the distance north, south, east, and west.
  • The side of the road that will be occupied by the proposed work will occupy.
  • Staking must be included for all residential property, showing the exact location of the proposed access, as well as the property lines.
  • Total width of through pavements, and if a divided highway, the width of the median and the location of any existing median crossovers.
  • Width of the pavement and width from the edge of the pavement to the edge of the right-of-way line, keeping in mind that the edge of the right-of-way is usually the utility line. If there is no utility line present, the rule of thumb for the edge of the right-of-way is usually thirty-one (31) feet from the centerline of the road.
  • The proposed width of the new access, including the width and radii of any existing access, and the distances between the proposed access and any other access points in either direction. Note: If there is not 495 feet of space between any existing drives and the proposed drive, the developer must submit a variance request. To submit a variance request, the developer may attach a letter to the Permit Application giving a justification for why the ODOT should permit the variance.
  • Dimensions and type of construction of any proposed islands between approaches.
  • Location and dimensions of proposed buildings and parking areas.
  • Location and description of any existing and all proposed drainage structures within the highway right-of-way.
  • Location and type of all landscape items.

Permit Application.

The permit may only be granted upon the following conditions:

  • The use of the highway must be consistent with applicable federal laws and regulations.
  • The ODOT must change the location of the right-of-way if such a change is necessary for the convenience of the traveling public, or in connection with or contemplation of the construction, reconstruction, improvement, relocating, maintenance, or repair of the highway.
  • Objects placed on the highway must be at-grade and in accordance with plans or specifications approved by the ODOT.
  • Upon completion of the work, the highway must be fully restored to its former condition of usefulness, at the expense of the developer.
  • The developer must maintain all objects placed in the right-of-way in a proper manner and promptly repair all damages resulting from those objects. The developer must pay expenses incurred by the ODOT as a result of any failure to repair damage to the highway.
  • Any other condition deemed reasonable by the ODOT.

O.R.C. § 5515.01.


Commercial Access Permit Application

The developer must submit at least two (2) complete copies of the Commercial Access Permit Application and any attachments to the ODOT. Access Manual § 2.3.3. The information and level of detail required depends on the type and usage of the access requested. Access Manual § 2.3.4.


Utility Permit Application

The developer must submit one (1) copy of the completed Utility Access Permit Application. The Application must include the following:

Utility Manual § 8103.02.

Additional information and conditions may be required for projects associated with bridges and culverts. For more information see Utility Manual §§ 8108, 8109.


3-OH-c.4 to 3-OH-c.6 – Does the Developer Request a Variance?

Developers seeking a variance from the standards and requirements set out in the Ohio State Highway Access Management Manual must submit the request as an attachment to the Permit Application. Access Manual § 2.8.2. The request must specify, in writing, why the variance is appropriate and necessary, and must document the unique conditions or special circumstances that make it impractical and unfeasible for the developer to meet the applicable standards and requirements. The request must also demonstrate that the developer has considered all practical and reasonable alternatives to the variance. Access Manual § 2.8.3.

Variances are reviewed as detailed in the Access Manual § 2.8.2.

In deciding whether the grant a variance request, the ODOT must determine if:

  • The variance meets minimum acceptable ODOT engineering standards, including geometric design, operation, and safety elements, and if the variance is shown to be beneficial to the traveling public; and
  • The variance is not detrimental to the public health, safety, and welfare; and
  • The variance is beneficial to the planned or intended operation of the state highway; and
  • The variance is in conformance with an access management plan that has been accepted by the ODOT District Office and the ODOT Central Office, if applicable.

Access Manual § 2.8.4.

If granted, the ODOT must document its reasons for approving the variance in its files and records pertaining to the permit. The terms and conditions of the approved permit must state that the developer may be required to improve, modify, or correct the condition responsible for the variance when it is evident that the justification for the variance is no longer valid. Access Manual § 2.8.7.


3-OH-c.7 – Appeal Decision (If Applicable)

If the developer disagrees with the denial of the variance request, the developer may appeal the decision, in writing, with the ODOT Office of the Director within thirty (30) days of the notice of denial. The appeal must include reasons for the appeal and may include any changes, revisions, or conditions that would be acceptable to the developer. Access Manual § 2.9.1.

The ODOT Director must determine whether the ODOT acted arbitrarily or capriciously or abused its discretion in its denial of the variance within thirty (30) days of the developer filing the appeal. The Director’s decision is the ODOT’s final agency action on the permit request and the developer will be notified of this final decision. Access Manual § 2.9.2.

If the variance request is denied, but the developer does not appeal the decision, the developer may resubmit the Permit Application without the variance request. Access Manual § 2.9.3.


3-OH-c.8 to 3-OH-c.10 – Review Application Materials for Completeness

The relevant ODOT District Office reviews the Application for completeness and compliance with the respective manual and other applicable local, state, and federal regulations. Access Manual § 2.4.2; see Utility Manual § 8102.03.

If the Application is incomplete, the ODOT District Permit Technician contacts the developer to request the additional information required. Access Manual § 2.3.8.

If the Application is complete, the Permit Technician marks the original Application and any copies of the Application with the date of acceptance. That date will be used in calculating the required time frame for review of the Permit Application by the ODOT. Access Manual § 2.3.10.


3-OH-c.11 – Review Application Materials for Approval Determination

Once complete, the ODOT reviews the Permit Application for final approval. Certain types of projects require secondary review by the ODOT Central Office.


Commercial Access Permit

Commercial Access Permit Applications for projects on Category I or Category II highways require approval by the ODOT’s Central Office. Commercial Access Permit Applications for other highways do not require Central Office Review and are reviewed by the relevant ODOT District Office. However, the district offices have discretion to request concurrent Central Office review. Access Manual §§ 2.4.4 – 2.4.5. The review of the application must take into consideration the proposed method and duration of construction and the effect on highway traffic. Access Manual § 2.4.7.

If, upon review, the ODOT determines that the project will generate considerable traffic, the ODOT must require the completion of a Traffic Impact Study (“TIS”). Access Manual § 2.4.6. More information about the TIS may be found in the Access Manual § 5.


Utility Permit

The level of Utility Permit Application review depends on whether the highway is a Limited Access or Non-Limited Access highway. For example, for Limited Access Highways, the ODOT District Office reviews permits requesting longitudinal installations of five hundred (500) feet or less, while the ODOT Central Office reviews permits for longitudinal installations greater than five hundred (500) feet. Utility Manual § 8102.09. The ODOT District Office reviews all other applications, unless it determines that Central Office review is necessary.


3-OH-c.12 – Does the ODOT Approve the Permit Application?

If the ODOT Central Office reviewed the Permit Application, the Central Office submits its comments and recommendations on the Application, and its approval or rejection to the ODOT District Office. Access Manual § 2.5.1; Utility Manual § 8102.09. For Utility Permits, when required, the Central Office also submits requests to the Federal Highway Administration for review and approval. Utility Manual § 8102.09. The ODOT District Deputy Director approves the request as proposed, requires design modification as appropriate and necessary, or denies the access request. Access Manual § 2.5.1; Utility Manual § 8102.04.


3-OH-c.13 – Department of Transportation Permit

The ODOT issues a Permit, signed by the ODOT District Deputy Director, once the Permit Application is approved. No changes, modifications, or revisions may be made to the location or design or to the conditions and terms of the approved Permit without the written approval of the District Deputy Director. Access Manual §§ 2.5.2 – 2.5.3; see Utility Manual § 8102.04.

Permits may be revoked at any time if the developer does not comply with the conditions imposed under the Permit. O.R.C. § 5515.01(G).

The developer must contact the relevant County Manager twenty-four (24) hours before starting any work and must maintain a copy of the permit and approved plan(s) on the site at all times while work is being performed. Permit Application.

The relevant ODOT District Office is responsible for inspecting construction to ensure compliance to any conditions of the permit and maintaining records of all applications and permits. Access Manual § 2.3.1; Utility Manual § 8102.03.

3-OH-c.14 – Appeal Decision (If Applicable)

Commercial Access Permit

The developer may appeal ODOT’s denial of a Commercial Access Permit in writing within thirty (30) days of receiving the notice of denial. The request is typically reviewed by ODOT’s Assistance Director of Transportation Policy/Chief Engineer, Assistant Director of Operations, and Deputy Director of the Division of Engineering.

Utility Permit

Appeals regarding Utility Permits denials are handled on a case-by-cases basis, with the ODOT Chief Engineer, or his designee, making the final decision.


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Edit Ohio Department of Transportation
Utility & Railroad Program Manager (614) 466-2279