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Pennsylvania State Highway Right-of-Way (3-PA-c)

In Pennsylvania, a developer may need to obtain a State Highway Occupancy Permit (Permit) from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) before performing any work along or within a state highway right-of-way involving the placing of utilities facilities or other structures. 67 PA. Code. §459.3(a)(1980). A utility facility, in part, includes “any privately, publicly or cooperatively owned lines, facilities and systems producing, transmitting or distributing communications, power, electricity, light, heat, gas, oil, crude, coal, water, steam, waste, stormwater…which directly or indirectly serve the public…” 67 PA. Code. §459.1 (1980).


PennDOT regulates the location and construction of utility facilities and other structures within the state highway right-of-way pursuant to 36 PA. Const. Stat. §670-411 (1945) , 67 PA. Code. §459 (1980) and 67 PA. Code. §441 (1980) to ensure the structural integrity of the highway, economy of maintenance, preservation of proper drainage and safe and convenient passage of traffic.


State Highway Right-of-Way Process

3-PA-c.1 to 3-PA-c.2 — Does the Project Encroach on a State Highway Right-of-Way?

PennDOT regulates the location and construction of utility facilities and other structures within the state highway right-of-way. 36 PA. Const. Stat. §670-411 (1945), 67 PA. Code. §459 (1980), 67 PA. Code. §441 (1980). Pennsylvania defines a utility, in part, as “any privately, publicly or cooperatively owned lines, facilities and systems producing, transmitting or distributing communications, power, electricity, light, heat, gas, oil, crude, coal, water, steam, waste, stormwater…which directly or indirectly serve the public…” 67 PA. Code. §459.1 (1980). The developer may continue with the project if it does not encroach on a state highway.

3-PA-c.3 to 3-PA-c.4 — Does the Project Qualify Under a Permit Exception?

A developer does not need to submit a State Highway Occupancy Permit Application (Application) to PennDOT during the following circumstances:

  • Emergency repairs to utility facilities (with an emergency permit card);
  • Modification of existing permitted facilities;
  • Stringing overhead utilities on non-limited access highways; and
  • Accessing an existing utility facility through a manhole.

67 PA. Code. §459.3(a)(1-4)(1980).

3-PA-c.5 to 3-PA-c.6 — Will the Project Require a Driveway?

The property owner must be the named individual on the State Highway Occupancy Permit Application (Application) if the project requires a driveway. 67 PA. Code. §441.1(1980). A developer must provide additional driveway construction plans with the Application if the driveway is to be use by more than 25 vehicles per day. 67 PA. Code. §441.3(1980). These plans should include descriptions and diagrams of:

  • The existing highway pavement, ditches, relevant property lines, highway appurtenances, utilities and medians;
  • Existing and proposed buildings;
  • The internal traffic circulation, parking and traffic signs;
  • Existing and proposed driveway width, grade, surface materials, and angle relevant to the highway;
  • Distances from an existing or proposed driveway to the nearest intersections, driveways, property lines and buildings; and
  • The number of vehicles expected to use the driveway per day.

67 PA. Code. §441.3(i)(1980).

3-PA-c.7 to 3-PA-c.8 — Will the Project Require a Traffic Control Plan?

Additionally, the developer must submit a traffic control plan with the Application to PennDOT when work will be performed on limited access highways, near traffic lanes at night, or will require the complete closure of a highway. 67 PA. Code. §459.3(f)(1980).

3-PA-c.9 — State Highway Occupancy Permit Application

A developer should submit an Application to the district or county PennDOT office with jurisdiction over the proposed development site. 67 PA. Code. §459.3(c)(1980). The company or the person operating a utility facility must be the named individual on the submitted Application for utilities along a state highway. 67 PA. Code. §459.3(b)(1980). A utility facility is defined as a “privately, publically, or cooperatively owned lines, facilities or systems used for producing, transmitting, or distributing communications, power, electricity, light, or heat… which directly or indirectly serve the public.” 67 PA. Code. §459.1(1980). Additionally, the same Application should be used if the developer plans to construct a driveway. 67 PA. Code. §441.1(1980) . Applications are due 30 days before the start of development and should:

  • Be submitted in person or by mail using the PennDOT Highway Occupancy Form M-945A ;
  • Be signed by the applicant;
  • Include four (4) sets of plans, fit for microfilming, that detail the location and dimensions of the proposed right-of-way. Color coded and hand drawn plans are not acceptable; and
  • Include a check or money order for permit fees.

67 PA. Code. §459.3(d)(1980).

3-PA-c.10 to 3-PA-c.11 — Review Application Materials for Completeness

The PennDOT district office reviews the Application for administrative and technical completeness.

3-PA-c.12 to 3-PA-c.13 — Assess Application Materials for Approval

The PennDOT district office has the authority to examine all Applications, request additional information and reject Applications. 67 PA. Code. §459.3(j)(1980).

3-PA-c.14 — State Highway Occupancy Permit

The developer must comply with the conditions or restrictions on the State Highway Occupancy Permit (Permit). Permits are issued for a period of 6 months or multiples of 6 months as necessary. PennDOT Highway Occupancy Permit Guidelines .

3-PA-c.15 — Appeal Decision (Optional)

A developer may appeal a final decision from PennDOT by requesting a hearing before the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Transportation, Administrative Docket Clerk , within 30 days of receiving the decision. 67 PA. Code. §459.3(k)(1980).


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Edit Pennsylvania Department of Transportation
Highway Occupancy Permit Program Central Office Program Manager 717-783-6080 Visit Website