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AASHTO AU

2005 Edition, October 1, 2005

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A Policy On the Accommodation of Utilities Within Freeway Right-Of-Way



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INTRODUCTION: Freeways are highways with full control of access. They are intended to provide for high levels of safety and efficiency in the movement of large volumes of traffic at high speeds. With full control of access, preference is given to through traffic by providing access only at selected locations.

Control of access can be materially affected by the extent and manner in which utilities cross or otherwise occupy the highway right-of-way. The state transportation agencies have various degrees of authority to develop and maintain control of access and to regulate utilities, generally through their authority to designate and to control the use of right-of-way acquired for public highways, including those of all freeways. Their authority depends upon Federal and state laws or regulations. These laws and regulations differ between states and may also be different within a state for highways using existing right-of-way and for highways on new location. A state may also have separate laws and regulations applicable only to highways on right-of-way subject to jurisdiction of a local government such as that of a large city.

A uniform policy is needed to establish the conditions under which public and private utilities may be accommodated on the freeway right-of-way, It is the intent of this policy to establish procedures whereby the individual state transportation agencies may uniformly administer the accommodation of utilities on freeways. While the policy has as its primary purpose improving and maintaining highway safety and operation, and insuring uniformity of utility treatment among the states, it recognizes the public interest in avoiding unnecessary and costly operation and relocation of public utilities. It is not the intent of this policy to impose restrictions on the future installation of utility crossings that would obstruct the development of expanding areas adjacent to the freeways.

This policy applies to all highways with full control of access, regardless of system. Also, it has value as a guide for all highways with partial control of access, especially if a highway corridor is a mixture of segments with both full and partial control of access. For highways without control of access refer to AASHTO's A Guide for Accommodating Utilities within Highway Right-of- Way (1).

The policy can be applied in most states by existing authority. Those states in which laws will not permit the application of this policy in its entirety should strive for uniformity through the enactment of appropriate legislation. This policy makes no reference to reimbursement to utilities for the cost of adjusting or installing facilities on freeway right-of-way. Reimbursement is subject to state laws and policy.