What is a right-of-way?
A right-of-way (ROW) is a right to make a way over a piece of land, usually to and from another piece of land. A right of way is a type of easement granted or reserved over the land for transportation purposes, this can be for a highway, public footpath, rail transport, canal, as well as electrical transmission lines, and oil and gas pipelines. A right-of-way can be used to build a bike trail. A right-of-way is reserved for the purposes of maintenance or expansion of existing services with the right-of-way. In the case of an easement, it may revert to its original owners if the facility is abandoned.
How do I determine the State Highway right-of-way?
A Licensed surveyor to perform a survey is the most accurate method.
Below is a link to request documentation from VTrans as an indicator.
Here is the link to provide to someone outside of City or State Government to request right of way information. ROW Request Form
Do I need a State Highway Access (driveway) and Work Permit?
A State Highway Access and Work Permit must be obtained from the Vermont Agency of Transportation (Agency) before doing any work within the State Highway right-of-way or doing work on adjacent property that will affect drainage reaching the State Highway right-of-way. A State Highway Access and Work Permit is also required for access to any new subdivision of land or development which has direct access to a State Highway, even though an existing driveway will be used (Vermont Statutes Annotated, Title 19, Section 1111).
ACCESS. It is Agency policy that absent unusual circumstances, only one access point will be authorized for a single property. Property owners subdividing for any purpose should anticipate this requirement by providing for a collector facility leading to a single access/exit point. Additionally, direct access to the State Highway system may be denied when the property in question has other reasonable access or reasonable opportunity to access the general street or town highway system. To avoid delays and added engineering expenses, it is recommended that all applicants seeking a State Highway Access and Work Permit contact the Agency as early as possible before creating a design, or making other investments, based on assumptions of where access will be. Any application requesting more than one access (or direct access when other reasonable access exists) should explain in writing a clear reason based on the unusual circumstances, beyond the applicant’s control, that would furnish support for a decision by the Agency to allow more than one access (or the direct access). Absent unusual circumstances, it is highly likely that the permit in question would be denied by the Agency. Failure to identify and explain unusual circumstances that would justify a request for more than one access may result in the Agency treating the application as incomplete and denying the application or sending it back to you on the basis of incompleteness. For subdivision of lands abutting a State Highway, Vermont Statutes Annotated, Title 19, Section 1111(k) provides that “No deed purporting to subdivide land abutting a state highway or a class 1 town highway can be recorded unless all abutting lots so created are in accord with the standards of this section, including but not limited to the requirement to provide a frontage road or roads”. For additional information, please consult the Agency’s “Access Management Program Guidelines.”
Why do I need a State Highway Access and Work Permit?
Does the permit application process require a fee?
If you are requesting work for an annual utility permit, any new utility installation or a commercial access than a fee applies.
See above link to the application and fee schedule above for additional guidance.
Please note that depending on the work requested the permit may be issued through the local District Office.
Where do I send my complete application?
Please send application to the address on the application:
Vermont Agency of Transportation
Development Review and Permitting Services Section
219 N. Main Street
Barre, VT 05641
How much time will the State Highway Access and Work Permit process take?
This question has so many variables based on the complexity of the proposal. Please speak to the permit coordinator for your area to understand the process of your specific request.
Can I scan and e-mail my application?
Yes, you can scan and send the signed application and plan to firstname.lastname@example.org and the permit coordinator for your area as long as the request does not require a fee.
Where do I find the book and page for the property (access permits only)?
This is information that must be sought from the corresponding Town Office.
How do I know if a Zoning Permit is required?
Ask the corresponding Town Zoning Administrator.
How do I know if a 30 VSA Section 248 permit is required?
Public Utility’s certificate of public good.
How do I know if an ACT 250 permit is required?
Are there any other items that the permit specialist may ask me to provide?
Depending on the nature and the size of the project, the amount of documentation necessary will vary. Below are some examples of additional items that may be required but not limited to.
- Overall site plan for your project
- Traffic Control plan
- Grading and Drainage plan
- Erosion Control plan
- Traffic Impact Study
- Performance Bond
- Any further plan details needed as required and project specific.
Will I be required to make improvements to the public roadway serving my property?
Yes, for larger developments. If the transportation impacts of your request are determined to be insignificant, then little or no improvements to the adjacent public roadway will be required. If the Transportation impacts of your request are determined to be significant, then you can expect to be required to mitigate those impacts to the highway system for safety.
Is there additional guidance for underground utility proposals under the State Highway?
VTrans Standard Drawing D-20 is attached to all undergrounding permits.
Underground Plan Requirements of application:
- Location of proposed buried utility facility with offset distances from highway centerline
- Highway right-of-way and pavement widths
- Location of major features such as highway intersections, town lines, bridges, village limits, guardrail, etc., identified by mile marker
- Location of nearby existing utility facilities such as manholes, water valves, fire hydrants, utility cabinets, utility poles, etc., with distance offsets from highway centerline and name of utility owner
- Location of pertinent natural terrain features such as ledge outcroppings, steep slopes, streams, wet lands, etc.
- Type of construction method being used to install proposed buried utility facility, i.e., bore, plow, trench, etc.
- If appropriate, details of typical trench cross-section showing depth, width, backfill materials, size of water/sewer/gas pipes, duct banks, sleeves, etc. Also concrete encasement and pavement restoration details
- Plan should be drawn to a scale equal to or great than 1”=100’
- Boring pit excavation limits to be shown.
If I work for a utility company can I avoid the permitting process?
All utility work done within the right-of-way requires that a permit be in- hand (individual or annual work permit)—this is noted in the "Restrictions and Conditions" section (back side) of the State Highway Access and Work Permit: "The Permit Holder is to have a supervisory representative present any time work is being done in or on the State Highway right-of-way. A copy of this permit and Special Conditions must be in the possession of the individual performing this work for the Permit Holder."
The only exception to having a permit in-hand would be working under direct verbal authorization issued by the maintenance district.
Utility contractors can work under an individual or annual work permit without direct supervision by the utility company--i.e., the "supervisory representative” referred to under item a above does not have to be a utility company employee. However, please be advised that during work the agency may want to confirm with the utility company the status of the supervisory representative.
Annual work permits can, but are not required to, be issued to utility contractors for work meeting the definition of "routine maintenance and emergency repair;"
What is an annual permit?
These are for routine maintenance and emergency repair of aerial utility infrastructure (only).
Are there any prohibited uses of the State Highway right-of-way?
The following are examples of construction and activities which are not permitted within the State Highway right-of-way but not limited to:
- Construction or installation of aboveground structures, including buildings, fences, and pipelines. Utility poles and repeaters are permissible.
- Construction or installation of non-official signs as prohibited by the Vermont Sign Law – especially Vermont Statutes Annotated, Title 10, Section495(d).
- Construction or installation of underground structures, including storage tanks and pumping stations. Utility manholes, vaults, pull boxes, pits and appurtenances are permissible if they are protected from errant vehicles, flush with the finish grade and/or can support vehicular loads.
- Storage or parking of unregistered motor vehicles.
- Filling, grading, or placing of materials in such a way as to obstruct a stream or direct the flow of water onto the highway right-of-way.
- Erection of signs or other traffic control devices that are not in conformance with the MUTCD (Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices) and the approved traffic control plan (if required).
- Installation of longitudinal utility facilities for private use without Transportation Board Certification.
- Any utility facility within an area needed for probable highway expansion.
- Any utility facility as may be prohibited by AASHTO (American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials) as adopted by the Agency.
- Typically, on encroachments for non-transportation purposes, a determination is made by the Agency that such encroachments do, or do not, interfere with highway safety (sight distance, clear zone, etc.). Applicants are encouraged to contact the Agency prior to submission of a permit application to discuss specific construction and/or activities contemplated within the highway right- of-way.
Is there an appeal process?
Yes, Applicants aggrieved by the final written permit application decision of the Permitting Services Section or the District may appeal those decisions to the Secretary of Transportation. Appeals requesting an Administrative Hearing should be filed, in writing, with 30-days to the Secretary of Transportation. The Agency’s Hearings Unit can be reached at (802) 622-1313. A person aggrieved by a permit application decision of the Agency’s Hearings Unit can appeal the decision to the Transportation Board (T-Board) in accordance with Vermont Statutes Annotated, Title 19, Section 5(7).