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Wisconsin State Highway Right-of-Way (3-WI-c)

Information current as of 2020
In Wisconsin, a developer must obtain a Utility Permit to construct, operate and maintain utility facilities within a State trunk highway right-of-way from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (“WisDOT”). Wis. Stat. § 66.0831. WisDOT regulates “…the use, occupation and accommodation of the State trunk highway system by utilities…” pursuant to Wis. Stat. § 66.0831; Wis. Stat. § 84.01(31), 84.08; Wis. Stat. §§ 86.001 et seq.; Wis. Stat. §§ 182.001 et seq.; and Wis. Admin. Code §§ 231.01 et seq..



State Highway Right-of-Way Process


3-WI-c.1 to 3-WI-c.2 – Does the Proposed Project Encroach on a Wisconsin State Trunk Highway Right-of-Way?

A developer must obtain a Utility Permit to construct, operate and maintain utility facilities within a State trunk highway right-of-way from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (“WisDOT”). Wis. Stat. § 66.0831.

A State trunk highway is defined as “…any highway designated pursuant to Wis. Stat. §§ 84.02, 84.29 as part of the state trunk highway system, exclusive of connecting highways.” Wis. Stat. § 340.01 (60). In Wisconsin, “utility” includes “any corporation, company, individual or association…town, village, or city that owns, operates, manages or controls any plant or fixed equipment within Wisconsin for the production, transmission, delivery or furnishing of…electric power, light, heat, fuel…water, steam…which directly or indirectly serves the public.” WisDOT – Highway Maintenance Manual, p. 2. A utility facility includes transmission and distribution lines. WisDOT – Highway Maintenance Manual, p. 2.

3-WI-c.3 – Contact Regional WisDOT Office

The developer should contact the regional WisDOT office responsible for the county where the utility project will be located, for specific permit requirements. Wisconsin Department of Transportation – Utility Permit Website. The developer may utilize the Wisconsin Department of Transportation Utility Permit Staff Directory for further contact information.

3-WI-c.4 – Submit Utility Permit Application

The developer must submit a complete Wisconsin Department of Transportation – Utility Permit Application (Form DT 1553) (“Application”) to the applicable WisDOT office. The Application should include, at minimum, the following:

  • The applicant’s (developer) name, address, and contact information;
  • Work start and finish date, including permanent restoration of disturbed soil and/or pavement (if needed);
  • Description of the:
    • Project location;
    • Type of facility;
    • Proposed work methods;
    • Work zone;
  • Engineer drawings;
  • A formal erosion plan, if required; and
  • Documentation of any environmental permits, certificates, or approvals required from other state regulatory agencies;

WisDOT – Utility Permit Application, p. 2-4.

The developer must submit one (1) original Application, plus up to four (4) copies of the Application form to the appropriate regional office. The developer may also submit the Application via regular mail, courier service, or in person. WisDOT – Highway Maintenance Manual, p. 4.

3-WI-c.5 – Review Utility Permit Application

WisDOT will review the Utility Permit Application materials for administrative and technical completeness. WisDOT may require the developer submit supplemental information. WisDOT – Highway Maintenance Manual, p. 1.


3-WI-c.6 to 3-WI-c.7 – Does WisDOT Approve the Application?

WisDOT permits utility facilities on state trunk highways when:

  • Use and occupancy does not adversely affect the primary functions of the highways or materially impair the safety, operational, or visual qualities;
  • There is no conflict with the provisions of federal, state, or local laws or regulations or the accommodation provisions; and
  • The occupancies do not significantly increase the difficulty or future cost of highway construction or maintenance.”

WisDOT – Highway Maintenance Manual, p. 1.

By issuance of a Highway Utility Permit, WisDOT formally indicates that, subject to all applicable permit conditions, a specified use and/or occupancy of State trunk highway right-of-way is not averse to highway interests at the time of permit approval. WisDOT – Highway Maintenance Manual, p. 1.


3-WI-c.8 – Appeal Decision (If Applicable)

Any person aggrieved by a state agency decision may within 20 days after service of such order or decision file with the Division of Hearings and Appeals (“Division”) a written petition for rehearing pursuant to Wis. Stat. § 227.49. An agency or the Division may only grant rehearing for those reasons set out in Wis. Stat. § 227.49(3). In addition, any person aggrieved by a state agency decision that adversely affects the substantial interest of said person is entitled to judicial review by filing a petition in accordance with Wis. Stat. § 227.52-53. The interested person must submit the petition for review within 30 days of service of order that disposes of rehearing the Application. Wis. Stat. § 227.52-53.


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Contact Information









Edit Wisconsin Department of Transportation
Bureau of Highway Maintenance (608) 266-3438


Edit Wisconsin Department of Transportation
Bureau of Technical Services DOTDTSDCOUtilityCoordination@dotabbazabbawiabbazabbagov