The National Academies

NCHRP 20-84 [Completed]

Improved Right-of-Way Procedures and Business Practices

  Project Data
Funds: $500,000
Research Agency: Texas Transportation Institute
Principal Investigator: Cesar Quiroga, Ph.D., P.E.
Effective Date: 6/6/2010
Completion Date: 10/31/2013
Comments: Completed. Published as NCHRP Report 771 with CRP-CD 154

Several state departments of transportation (DOTs) are considering simplifying and streamlining their right-of-way procedures and business practices with the goal of improving project development and delivery and long-term right-of-way asset management. Current right-of-way practice and procedural manuals are the products of 40 years of statutes, case law, regulations, management styles, and best practices. The procedural manuals have chapters to cover elements such as (a) appraisal; (b) appraisal review; (c) relocation planning and assistance; (d) relocation eligibility and supplemental payments; (e) non-residential relocations; (f) acquisition and negotiations; (g) legal settlements; (h) eminent domain; (i) titles and closing; (j) property management; (k) leasing; (l) sale of excess property; (m) mapping and geographic information systems (GIS); (n) encroachments; (o) contracting for services; and (p) administrative activities, including training. State procedures vary widely because of differences in state laws. Local agencies are required to follow state DOT procedural manuals when they use state or federal funding. Questions arise as new staff try to understand the reason or underlying basis for requirements. Contractors and consultants face a wide array of requirements and forms among the various states. In addition, long-term assets that convey to transportation agencies as part of properties acquired for right-of-way require identification in a manner that will allow for an accurate inventory and valuation. Many states may own property that was conveyed to it that never was properly surveyed and evaluated. Sometimes properties are acquired well in advance of project construction, so it may be necessary to manage assets for several years. These assets require diligent management and maintenance to preserve the value and permit proper future use or disposal. Such assets could include residential property, business premises, and open land including all of the maintenance activities associated with property ownership. Typically, this management will not include the roadway right-of-way once construction is complete. Research is needed to develop streamlined, simplified procedures and business practices that are easier to maintain, cost effective, and result in quicker delivery of projects. In addition, research is needed to identify best practices for the long-term management of right-of-way assets.

The objectives of this research are to develop (1) improved right-of-way procedures and business practices for the project development and delivery process and (2) best practices for the long-term management of right-of-way assets.   This research should compare a typical right-of-way business model currently in compliance with the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970 (Uniform Act) and federal regulations with an improved model based on an objective analysis of key elements including, but not limited to: (a) project scoping; (b) cost and duration budgets; (c) contracting for services; (d) mapping and geographic information systems (GIS); (e) utility adjustment and accomodation; (f) relocation planning and eligibility determination; (g) appraisal; (h) appraisal review; (i) relocation assistance and payments; (j) acquisition and negotiations; (k) titles and closing; (l) eminent domain; (m) legal settlements; (n) property and asset management; (o) encroachment remediation; and (p) administrative costs (including training).
(1). Conduct a literature review, surveys, and/or interviews with stakeholders to identify existing state project development and delivery work-flow processes and create a typical development and delivery model with anticipated task schedules. In addition, collect information on long-term asset management practices by state DOTs relating to right-of-way properties. (2). Describe and analyze the typical, existing right-of-way development and delivery model as required by the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970 (Uniform Act), providing a narrative explanation of each of the tasks and time. The model should describe each existing right-of-way procedure and business practice to determine its function and need and analyze the benefits and operational logic for its continuation, modification, or elimination. The evaluation should not be constrained by existing regulations. (3). Prepare an interim report providing the results of Tasks 1 and 2 and updating the work plan for the remaining tasks. The research plan shall provide a 1-month period for review and approval of the interim report. An interim meeting of the project panel to discuss the report with the research agency will be required. The research agency shall not begin work on the remaining tasks without NCHRP approval. (4). Conduct an objective analysis of the key elements of state project development and delivery programs, as referenced in the Research Objectives, to identify the extent to which each element adds value to the overall process, and to determine what processes are essential to providing a consistent product and comply with statutory requirements, such as the Uniform Act.   Also, identify opportunities to eliminate redundencies and unnecessessary processes; convert sequential processes to concurrent items in order to determine minimum time requirement; and identify institutional, political, and economic barriers to the adoption of procedures that will be easier to maintain for the next 20 years. (5). Develop a proposed, revised state project development and delivery model. Provide a work flow diagram of the revised model including required time durations and other support as required. Identify processes that assure protection of property rights in accordance with constitutional guarantees, but are not constrained by existing statutes and regulations. Each element in the revised development and delivery model shall consider procedural alternatives proportionate to the situation and be accompanied by a complete explanation of its costs and benefits, or other performance metrics, as measured against the current model. Prepare a comparison of the proposed model to the typical model outlined in Task 1. (6). Based on information collected in Task 1 associated with long-term asset management of right-of-way properties, establish appropriate criteria for determining best practices, and, based on those criteria, determine and describe best practices. (7). Prepare a final report that includes an evaluation of existing right-of-way procedures and business practices, provides a proposed improved model, and identifies best
practices for long-term asset management. Prepare a PowerPoint presentation suitable for presentation to state DOTs.


The PDP and ROW Process diagrams are here.
The Final Report is here

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