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Office of International Programs

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Executive Summary


An effective transportation system is an essential requirement for developing and maintaining the economic strength of organized society. Planning, designing, and executing successful transportation projects require applying sound strategies to ensure the optimum use and management of scarce resources while, at the same time, addressing a variety of constraints and challenges, many of which are external to the agencies responsible for developing the projects.

Many transportation projects require the acquisition of land and other property interests as well as proper consideration of the accommodation and potential relocation of existing utility facilities in the right-of-way. A critical requirement for the successful completion of those projects is the judicious application of sound engineering and management principles during the right-of-way and utility processes. These requirements are particularly evident in urbanized areas, where land use is more intensive and project costs related to right-of-way acquisition and utility relocation tend to be greater.

Managing acquired right-of-way assets and the accommodation of utilities within those assets is a continuous activity at transportation agencies. Nationwide, transportation agencies are responsible for managing millions of acres of land that provide right-of-way to transportation corridors. Managing this extensive and valuable right-of-way asset involves considerable resources and integration of numerous business processes, including determining right-of-way boundaries; inventorying roadside features; preparing right-of-way maps; buying, selling, and leasing assets; regulating the accommodation of utilities in the right-of-way; and preparing reports documenting right-of-way assets. In general, ready access to right-of-way asset data is a key requirement not just to streamline project delivery, but also to effectively manage the right-of-way asset throughout the lifetime of a transportation facility.

In September 2008, the scan team visited Australia and Canada to learn about innovative practices for right-of-way and utility processes that might be applicable for implementation in the United States. The study team visited four state transportation agencies in Australia: the Road and Traffic Authority (RTA) in Sydney, New South Wales (NSW); the Department of Main Roads in Brisbane, Queensland; the Department for Transport, Energy, and Infrastructure (DTEI) in Adelaide, South Australia; and the Roads Corporation (VicRoads) in Melbourne, Victoria. In Canada, the study team visited Alberta Transportation in Edmonton (Alberta) and the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO) in St. Catharines. The 2008 scanning study of Australia and Canada complemented a 2000 scanning study of European countries, which covered Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, and the United Kingdom.

Objectives for the 2008 scanning study included the following:

To assist in the discussion with host country officials, the study team prepared a series of amplifying questions before the scan tour to provide additional insight about the motivation and objectives of the scan.

Summary of Findings


Lessons learned from the meetings with RTA, Main Roads, DTEI, and VicRoads include the following:


Lessons learned from the meetings with Alberta Transportation and MTO include the following:

Recommendations and Planned Implementation Actions

The study team identified some 20 potential implementation ideas that merit consideration in the United States. Of those ideas, the study team considers the following the top priorities for implementation:

With the 2000 and 2008 scans, the United States now has a sizable database of effective right-of-way and utility practices and strategies covering at least six industrialized nations on three continents. The fact that some of those strategies and practices are used in all or most of those nations is an additional indication of the strength and benefit derived from them, further highlighting the value of their potential implementation in the United States. Taking into consideration that the United States is already implementing several recommendations from the 2000 scan, a valid recommendation would be to evaluate (if not now, possibly within the next 5 to 8 years) which recommendations from the 2000 and 2008 scans have become accepted practice in the United States (and to what degree). For example, the Federal Highway Administration recently facilitated a peer exchange to evaluate the concept of voluntary incentives for right-of-way acquisition and relocation, one of the recommendations from the 2000 scan. The peer exchange noted 13 pilot voluntary incentive applications from eight States.

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Page last modified on November 7, 2014
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000