Right of Way

ACCOMMODATION

Utility accommodation


Freeway in Des Moines

Utility accommodation is the process that occurs when utilities are placed within the highway right-of-way. For an accommodation to be granted, the utility owner must apply and have a permit issued to them granting permission to place the utility within the highway right-of-way.

UTILITIES WITHIN THE HIGHWAY RIGHTS OF WAY

As per the Iowa Code section 306.46, utility facilities may be placed within public road right of way. For an accommodation to be granted, the utility owner must apply and have a permit issued to them granting permission to place the utility within the highway right of way. Approval of an accommodation is dependent upon sufficient room within the right of way for the additional utility facilities.

The placement, adjustment and maintenance of utility facilities in, on, above or below the primary highway right-of-way is detailed within the Utility Policy Guidebook. The Transportation Development Division administers this policy based on these considerations:

  • Safety of motorists, pedestrians, construction workers, and other highway users.
  • Integrity of the highway roadbed/right-of-way and the highway’s intended use and function.
  • Protection of the rights of the traveling public.
  • Topography and geometric limitations and constraints affecting typical engineering standards.
  • Environmental protections, limitations and constraints of surrounding ecosystem.
  • Cost to the taxpayers supporting the highway system and the rate payers supporting the utility system.
 

Contact our staff


Utility program administrator
Statewide
Deanne Popp
515-239-1014

Utility production and agreements coordinator
District 1 and 5 - central and southeast regions
Dana Blue
515-239-1732

Utility production and agreements coordinator
District 3 and 4 - west region
Greg Cagle
515-239-1373

Utility production and agreements coordinator
District 2 and 6 - northeast region
Vacant
515-239-1279

Transportation planner
Jon Rees
515-239-1081

Attention icon Central office staff area of responsibility map.

COORDINATION

Utility coordination

Bridge work on I235 Des Moines

The department strives to coordinate, cooperate and communicate with our utility stakeholders. We do so by providing leadership, technical assistance and guidance on accommodation, permits, adjustments, relocations, agreements, and billings. These activities fall into one of the following categories: utility accommodation or utility coordination.

The work the department’s overall utility program is referred to as utility coordination. Utility coordination includes the writing, modifying and application of the utility policy, and the accommodation and relocation of utility facilities within the highway rights-of-way, guided by Iowa Administrative Code 761 – Chapter 115.

The Right-of-Way Bureau Utilities Section is responsible for distributing project information to utility owners, preparing agreements if costs are reimbursable, assisting in scheduling of utility events and communicating with utility owners through for the design and construction phases.

The department’s highway construction projects have the potential to impact existing utilities. These utilities may be located within or adjacent to the highway right-of-way. Early coordination efforts may result in design changes that eliminate the need for utility relocation. However, if the highway plans cannot be altered, the process may necessitate the relocation of the existing utility and requires cooperation for the Iowa DOT and utility to share information and develop plans to minimize impacts to both parties.

Because the department arranges its construction projects by district, the district utility coordinators (DUCs) work with utility owners on the location/relocation of utility facilities in, on, above or below the highway right-of-way in response to construction projects. The DUCs also serve as a resource to highway designers to complete the highway design while minimizing utility impacts. They facilitate the relocation of utilities by providing information used in contract documents and arranging/hosting and facilitating utility coordination meetings with utility companies and Iowa DOT staff. The DUCs work with all utility companies to finalize plans for final location of impacted utilities. Once a location is determined, permit applications may be necessary and must be submitted and, if accepted, utility companies must adhere to all permit requirements.

PROJECT DEVELOPMENT MILESTONES

The department uses a series of “events,” which are essential tasks dependent on the project type and its complexity, to complete a project development schedule. Each event has a specific code that indicates the task name and responsible office for the overall management and tracking of the event. Event descriptions include the action that is to be completed, the purpose of the event, the input required to complete the event, the output resulting from the event, the affected parties, and the responsible office.

UTILITY COORDINATION MILESTONES

There are seven events specific to utility coordination, or “U events.” The U00 (Preliminary Utility Review) event is required for every highway construction project. The U events U00 through U07 and their dates are intended to prompt and record communications with utility companies in the different stages of project development.

UTILITY COORDINATION MEETINGS

At any time during the project development the department may hold a utility coordination meeting. Attendance and participation at these meetings are crucial to successful utility coordination. The purpose of the utility coordination meetings is to share information regarding the utility facility conflicts and coordinate resolutions and relocation schedules. Often companies can work together to be more efficient and to save construction costs and time. It also provides an opportunity for the department to share timing and construction details of the proposed highway improvement project.

BUY AMERICA

Certain utility relocations are subject to Buy America requirements (23 CFR 635.410). Buy America mandates that if the project does not include permanently incorporated steel or iron materials, or if steel or iron materials are to be used, all manufacturing processes, including applicating of a coating, for these materials must occur in the United States.

District utility coordinators

District 1 District 2

Sean Passick

2300 SE 17th St.
Grimes, IA 50111
Phone: 515-986-5476

Daryl Erickson

1420 Fourth St. SE
Mason City, IA 50401
Phone: 641-422-9445
District 3 District 4

Kelly Mulvihill

2800 Gordon Drive
P.O. Box 987
Sioux City, IA 51102-0987
Phone: 712-274-5828

Nate Epperson

300 W. Broadway
Council Bluffs, IA 51503
Phone: 712-323-6125
District 5 District 6

Bonnie Clancy

307 W. Briggs
P.O. Box 587
Fairfield, IA 52556-0587
Phone: 641-469-4013

Steven Flockhart

5455 Kirkwood Blvd SW
Cedar Rapids, IA 52404
Phone: 319-364-0235

 

Attention icon DOT District Utility Coordinators Map.

POINT25 PROCESS

POINT25 PROCESS

Utility coordination milestone dates follow the Iowa Administrative Code (IAC) requirements in Chapter 115.25, coined “POINT25” for short. They are arranged so that necessary utility relocation can be planned and completed in an efficient and timely manner and at a minimal impact to utility facilities and project schedules.

POINT25

Iowa Administrative Code 761 – Chapter 115.25 (POINT25) describes the adjustment and coordination of state highway improvement projects. Sections 115.25 to 115.30 establish administrative procedures for utility facility adjustments made necessary by state highway improvement projects. The purpose of these procedures is to adjust utility facilities with minimal delays or added expense. These rules apply to all state highway improvement projects with the following exceptions:

  • Projects the department develops on an accelerated schedule.
  • Projects with no anticipated utility adjustments.

The objective of POINT25 is to maximize coordination efforts and prevent delays to the highway contractor caused by utility relocation activities. It imposes specific timeframes and prescribes the method by which the department or its agent will notify utility companies of proposed highway improvements as well as the method by which utility companies will advise the department of facilities located in the area of the improvement project. After the department furnishes its improvement plans to the utility companies, the utility companies develop work plans for altering or relocating their facilities and send their work plan to the department. The department reviews and approves the work plan for utility facility relocation or alteration. Thus, a defined process and schedule is established to deal with utility conflicts and arrange for their resolution.

U00 – UTILITY INVESTIGATION

Research is performed when the department develops a project to determine what utility facilities may be located within the vicinity of the project and who owns the facilities. Various information sources are used to gather information including field reviews, surveys, permit information and One Call locates. The department may also request subsurface utility engineering (SUE) be utilized within the project area to aid in determining existing utility facilities, minimizing impacts and resolving facility conflicts.

U01 – GENERAL INFORMATION SUBMITTAL

Early in the design process utility facility locations are investigated. Utility companies may be contacted to verify the location of their facilities in the project area.

U02 – PROJECT NOTIFICATION

The project notification is sent to utility companies following completion of the department’s design field exam plans (30% design completion). The utility companies are requested to verify the location of their facilities depicted on the department’s plan. The utility company also indicates whether or not their facilities are located within the public right-of-way or on private easement in the vicinity of the project. If the company’s facilities are on private easement they should indicate whether they would like the department to purchase replacement easement should relocation be necessitated by the department’s project.

U03 – FIRST PLAN SUBMITTAL

The first plan submittal is sent to utility companies after the new right-of-way has been designed and incorporated into the department’s project plans (60% design completion). The first plan will contain information the utility needs to design and lay out the adjustment of its utility facilities, including the placement of adjusted or additional facilities, within the project limits. The utility has 90 days to review the department’s plans and develop a preliminary work plan. An additional 30 days will be added if coordination is required with other utility facility owners.

The department then reviews the preliminary work plan and either accepts or rejects the plan. If the preliminary work plan is rejected, the utility has 30 days to redo the plan and resubmit it.

U04 -SECOND PLAN SUBMITTAL

After the final public information meeting is held, the department then sends the second plan submittal to the utilities (90% design completion). The second plan will show any additional plan information or design changes the utility needs to complete its design and layout for the adjustment. The utility has 60 days to review the second plan and provide a final work plan including a completed permit application. Additional time may be given to the utility if the changes on the second plan require extensive modifications to the utility’s preliminary work plan. The department will identify to the utility owner the differences between the first and second plans.

The department then reviews the final work plan and either accepts or rejects the plan. If the final work plan is rejected, the utility has 30 days to redo the plan and resubmit it.

U05 – REIMBURSEMENT AGREEMENT

If the utility company’s facilities are located on private easement and must be relocated to accommodate the departments construction the utility company may request reimbursement for their relocation (see the RELOCATION page for further information).

U06 – NOTICE TO PROCEED

After the final work plan is approved and permits are issued or the reimbursement agreement is executed, which ever may apply, the department will provide the utility owner with a Notice to Proceed and then the utility company may proceed with its plan by obtaining other necessary permits and approvals, ordering materials, purchasing easements and scheduling work crews. It is important to note that approving a work plan does not remove the requirement to obtain a utility permit from the department.

U07 – UTILITY BID ATTACHMENT

Prior to the department’s bid letting for the construction of the project, the District Utility Coordinator (DUC) will prepare and submit a Utility Bid Attachment (UBA) to be included in the contract bidding documents. The UBA provides the contractors bidding on the work for the department’s project information related to the status and schedules for utility relocations for the project.

NON-COMPLIANCE

If a utility company fails to provide a work plan, fails to comply with the accepted work plan, or fails to complete the adjustment of its facilities, the utility owner may be violation of IAC 761--115(306A) per IAC 761-115.30(6).

RELOCATION

Relocation

As mentioned on our Coordination page, the department’s highway construction projects have the potential to impact existing utilities. These utilities may be located within or adjacent to the highway right-of-way. Early coordination efforts may result in design changes that eliminate the need for utility relocation. However, if the highway plans cannot be altered, the process may necessitate the relocation of the existing utility and requires cooperation for the Iowa DOT and utility to share information and develop plans to minimize impacts to both parties.

REIMBURSEMENT ELIGIBILITY

The Utilities Section is responsible for reviewing reimbursement requests and confirming the eligibility for reimbursement for utility agreements. Eligibility for reimbursement is dependent upon the location of the utility facility:

  • On public right-of-way (ROW) shall be done at company expense in accordance with the issued permit.
  • On private easement may be reimbursable through execution of a Utility Reimbursement Agreement.

 

To be considered for reimbursement a utility company must submit a request that includes:

 

  • Detailed cost estimate with a breakdown as outlined in federal regulations [23 CFR § 645.117].
  • Relocation Work Plan showing existing locations and the proposed relocation/adjustment of the utility facilities on department plans.
  • Proof of existing easements showing the area where the utility facility is currently located - including the corresponding parcel number(s) from department plans for cross reference.
  • Completed Project Inquiry Data Sheet.

 

A reimbursement agreement must be in place between the department and the utility owner for relocation work to be reimbursable. It is important to remember that the agreement should be fully executed prior to relocation of the facilities.

 

Certain utility relocations are subject to Buy America requirements (23 CFR 635.410). Buy America mandates that if the project does not include permanently incorporated steel or iron materials, or if steel or iron materials are to be used, all manufacturing processes, including applicating of a coating, for these materials must occur in the United States.

POLICY

Policy

Because the citizens of Iowa have come to expect the road system to act as not only a transportation corridor for passengers and freight, but also services, utilities are allowed on the highway right-of-way. As mentioned on our accommodate page, utility companies may place their facilities within public road right-of-way, but they must request to do so through our permitting process.

By placing utilities in the highway right-of-way the utility providers can avoid the purchase of costly utility easements. This savings translates into lower rates to their customers who are also the taxpayers who pay for the highway right of way to begin with. It is simply the most prudent use of the taxpayer’s investment.

UTILITY POLICY GUIDEBOOK

The Utility Policy Guidebook contains the current administrative rules governing utility accommodation in the Primary Highway System right-of-way, some illustrative examples of those rules, and additional information/requirements including clear zones, depths, heights, and allowed locations.


Iowa administrative rules, chapter 761-115 (306A)

The current Utility Accommodation and Adjustment Policy of the Department is dated 2003 and is a copy of the rule as noted above. In addition, the policy booklet contains several graphic exhibits to explain various sections of the rule.

Printed copies of the Policy booklet are available by contacting one of the Department's District Offices or by requesting a copy from the Utility Policy Administrator at the following address:

Deanne Popp, utility program administrator
Transportation Development Division
800 Lincoln Way
Ames, IA 50010
Phone: 515-239-1014 or deanne.popp@iowadot.us

PERMIT PROCESS

Permit process

In Iowa, the permitting process is administered by the district offices. Iowa is divided into six districts as shown below.  Each district has designated staff, commonly known as engineering operations technicians or EOTs, to assist applicants and review the requests for permits.  Use the map below to find your district contact.  The permit application must be approved before work may begin.  The approval process may include internal Iowa DOT review by different offices. Additionally, there may be more requests for more information from the applicant.

Permit forms

The following forms are commonly used to apply for utility permits.

  • Form 810025 – Application and Agreement for Use of Highway Right-of-Way for Utilities Accommodation
  • Form 810051 – Agreement for Revision of Access
  • Form 810028 – Application to Perform Work Within State Highway Right-of-Way

Request these forms from the EOT that administers your region. Forms downloadable from the Web include: 810025, 810028. Submit all completed applications to the appropriate EOT.

AS-BUILT PLANS

A web portal MyDOTDocs has been established to allow for self-service fulfillment. This site is available for use, hosting plans for download and use with DOT projects.

 

ELECTRONIC PERMITTING

The department is developing an electronic process for requesting and issuing utility permits. This system will bring efficiency and streamline the permitting process. A web-based training module has been created for users to learn about the new system and how to submit a request.

BUY AMERICA

Buy America

On Ramp in Des Moines

Buy America requirements originated in 1983 in the Code of Federal Regulations 23 CFR 635.410. Part 1 states: “The project either: (i) Includes no permanently incorporated steel or iron materials, or (ii) if steel or iron materials are to be used, all manufacturing processes, including application of a coating, for these materials must occur in the United States. Coating includes all processes, which protect or enhance the value of the material to which the coating is applied.” This applied to all projects where Federal aid is involved.

Beginning January 1, 2014 per section 1518 of MAP-21, if the project is defined by National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), has at least one authorized Federal-Aid Highway Program (FAHP) construction contract, all utility relocations that are eligible for federal reimbursement must meet Buy America regardless of funding source.

APPLICABILITY

  • Buy America requirements only affect products containing or composed of steel or iron (greater than 90% by weight).
  • Buy America only applies to relocations of utility facilities that must move due to highway projects under certain specific conditions as stated in the links below.
  • Buy America applies if the utility relocation is eligible for reimbursement with federal funds, however in the case of Buy America few of the eligible relocations will be reimbursed. See the links below for eligibility criteria and reimbursement guidance.
  • Buy America applies in the case where the utility relocation is included in the federal-aid contract. This can be through an agreement with the DOT or Local Agency.

Cities and counties may want to refer to Local Systems Office Instructional Memorandum 3.650 or contact the bureau at 515-239-1291. For more information on Buy America, contact the Utility Program Administrator at 515-239-1014.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Permitting Basics


When are permits required?

  • Any time you plan to locate facilities within the highway right-of-way
  • New installations
  • Upgrades (example – overhead changed to underground)
  • Maintenance
  • Covered under original permit and requires 48-hour notification, unless it’s an emergency repair
  • Must be the same size, location and install methods
  • Pole replacement as long as
    • Facility is not being upgraded
    • Pole is placed within 1 foot of original location

When to submit

  • Not less than 30 days prior to expected installation or work
  • DOT has 30 days to return the permit, provided that
    • Correct and accurate format
    • Pole is placed within 1 foot of original location
    • With all attachments
    • With all required prior approvals
  • FHWA approvals are acquired after submission to DOT
    • Are allowed to exceed the 30-day timeframe

*Allow more lead time for large installs and complicated installs


Avoid delays! Most common causes of delays are

  • Sent to the wrong DOT office
  • Incorrect format
  • Inaccurate or missing information
  • Insufficient number of copies of site plans/ attachment

Why are utilities allowed on highway right-of-way?
The citizens of Iowa have come to expect the road system to act as not only a transportation corridor for passengers and freight but also services, including utilities. By placing utilities in the highway right-of-way the utility providers are able to avoid the purchase of costly utility easements. This savings translates into lower rates to their customers who are also the taxpayers who pay for the highway right-of-way to begin with. It is simply the most prudent use of the taxpayer's investment.

What are the goals of utility accommodation?
To provide for the reasonable accommodation of utility facilities on highway rights-of-way. The Iowa Department of Transportation has taken the position that safety is the most important issue when utility accommodation is considered. The utility facility must provide for the safety of not only the traveling public but for the utility workers and highway maintenance crews as well. Additionally, the Iowa DOT works to preserve the state's investment in the highway system by insuring the utility facility does not damage the roadway structure directly or adversely affect the future development of the highway as a transportation corridor.

Am I required to obtain a permit before I place utilities in the right-of-way?
Yes, permits are required for the safety and welfare of all involved. Permit applications are required by the Iowa Code section 318.8 before making any physical change within the highway rights-of-way. This includes activities like cutting trees, cutting the backslope, constructing entrances, harvesting grasses, etc.

How can I obtain more information for accommodation?
We would suggest that you contact one of the District Offices and request assistance.