Anchor: #i1005168

Section 3: Right of Way Appraisals and Acquisition

Anchor: #i1005173

Overview

Appraisals and right of way (ROW) acquisitions must be done according to state and federal guidelines. The district right of way administrator assigns a pre-approved appraiser. Appraisal reviews should be conducted after appraisals are completed and before beginning parcel acquisition. The ROW acquisition process involves making offers based on appraisal price, negotiating, and using eminent domain when required. Relocation assistance involves helping with the relocation of residents and business owners being displaced due to ROW acquisition. This activity may take significant time and should be incorporated into the project completion schedule. Improvements on ROW should be removed, sold, or demolished before construction. ROW clearance and encroachment certifications must be prepared and submitted before a project can be advertised for construction bids. These certifications must be furnished to the Design Division with the PS&E submitted for letting.

This section includes information on the following tasks listed in approximate chronological order:

4400. Obtain contractual agreements with local public agencies

4410. Perform advance acquisition for qualified parcels

4415. Obtain authority for right of way project release

1400. Review scope, cost, and staff requirements of project development

4420. Identify impediments to parcel acquisition

4425. Prepare and execute joint-use/multiple-use agreements

4430. Appraise parcels

4470. Implement right of way acquisition process

4480. Implement relocation assistance program

4490. Dispose of improvements

4500. Prepare right of way and encroachment certifications

Anchor: #i1005193

4400: Obtain contractual agreements with local public agencies

Description. Local public agencies are often required to participate in transportation project development by performing or contracting directly for the acquisition of rights of way (ROW) and required adjustments of utility facilities. When this occurs, TxDOT and the local public agency should have already entered into a Right of Way Agreement to contribute funds which identifies each party’s responsibilities. Appraisals and ROW negotiations and acquisitions must be done according to federal and state guidelines.

Pertinent Project Types. Projects involving ROW acquisition.

Responsible Party. Project manager

Sub-tasks.

  • Review local participation requirements in 43 TAC § 15.55.
  • Review previously executed advance funding agreements.
  • District right of way administrator and director of transportation planning and development decide how, and by whom, ROW is to be acquired.
  • Give local entity approved ROW maps, plats, parcel descriptions, and notify them to begin acquisition, if applicable.

Helpful Suggestions. Standard agreement forms are available in the TxDOT Right of Way Manual for ROW acquisition by cities or counties.

Critical Sequencing. Environmental clearance and ROW documents (e.g., maps, plats, and legal descriptions) must be completed before authorizing a local public agency to begin ROW appraisal and acquisition.

Resource Material.

Anchor: #i1005267

4410: Perform advance acquisition for qualified parcels

Description. Under qualifying circumstances, a very limited number of right of way (ROW) parcels may be acquired early, prior to the proper time for acquisition of all parcels. These parcels may be acquired before obtaining the authority for right of way project release (see 4415: Obtain authority for ROW project release) and before environmental clearance. However, it must be stated that transportation options are still being studied and that results of the study may show the acquired property might not be needed for the ultimate facility. Requirements of early acquisition are described in the TxDOT Right of Way Manual. Parcels that may qualify for early acquisitions involve one of the following:

  • land donations
  • hardship cases - where the landowner has a unique hardship circumstance that is not common to all property owners
  • protective acquisition - where changes in land use are planned which would substantially increase the cost or effort to construct a transportation facility within the subject ROW.

Pertinent Project Types. Projects requiring additional ROW and involving parcel donations, hardship cases, or protective acquisition.

Responsible Party. District Right of Way Administrator

Sub-tasks.

  • Determine, through communication with property owners and local officials, which parcels may be considered for early acquisition due to land donations or protective acquisition. The project manager may do this work.
  • Determine the need for early acquisition after receiving a request for hardship acquisition.
  • Obtain approval from ROW Division for early acquisition.
  • Obtain title reports and prepare parcel plat and property description.

Authority Requirements.

  • Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970 ( 42 USC §§ 4601-4665)

Resource Material.

Anchor: #i1005364

4415: Obtain authority for right of way project release

Description. The Right of Way Division authorizes a right of way (ROW) project once all of the following conditions are complete:

  • environmental clearance of construction project
  • receipt of district approved ROW map, and
  • execution of agreement with local public agency to contribute funds (see 4400: Obtain contractual agreements with local public agencies).

ROW project authorization is communicated to the districts by letter notifying them of ROW project release.

Pertinent Project Types. All projects requiring ROW acquisition or utility adjustments.

Responsible Party. District Right of Way Administrator

Critical Sequencing. With the exception of early acquisition, no ROW costs (including utility adjustments) may be incurred before ROW project release.

Resource Material. TxDOT Right of Way Collection.

Anchor: #i1005417

4420: Identify impediments to parcel acquisition

Description. Impediments to parcel acquisition are things that could adversely affect the ability to acquire right of way. These impacts could include parcels without clear record title, parcels with hazardous materials, residents needing relocation, or known contentious property owners.

The project manager, project engineers, and acquisition specialists should meet to discuss issues that might significantly affect the project schedule. They should prepare a prioritized schedule for acquiring parcels and a list of issues pertinent to each parcel.

Pertinent Project Types. Projects requiring additional right of way whether fee title or easement.

Responsible Party. Project manager

Critical Sequencing. This task should be done immediately before starting parcel acquisition. It will aid the acquisition team in prioritizing the parcel acquisition sequence.

Anchor: #i1005447

4425: Prepare and execute joint-use/multiple-use agreements

Description. Joint-use agreements are executed to permit TxDOT to use right of way (ROW) owned by public entities (e.g., cities and counties) and quasi-public entities (e.g., utility and railroad companies) under certain conditions. In most cases these entities will not sell ROW outright but will agree to share the ROW (e.g., shared ditch agreements). Sometimes ROW should not be purchased outright because this may involve assuming ownership and maintenance of utilities or other improvements within that ROW. Agreements can be used instead of buying ROW, such as railroad right of way, which is extremely difficult to buy. The agreement allows TxDOT to use the property subject to compatibility with use by the fee owner.

Multiple-Use Agreements are executed to allow use of TxDOT ROW for other than highway purposes. These agreements are executed with political subdivisions, state or federal agencies for public use of the ROW. These agreements are essentially a license to allow others to use TxDOT ROW. Typical uses include: parking lots, hike and bike trails, boat ramps, landscape areas, or other similar facilities that may be operated without detriment to, or interference with, the utility of the highway.

Typically, joint-use agreements are between TxDOT and quasi-public entities; and multiple-use agreements are between TxDOT and public entities. Some of these agreements may have been prepared and executed during preliminary design preparation (see 2120: Prepare and execute additional agreements). The Right of Way Division can assist with preparing joint-use agreements. The Maintenance Division can assist districts in preparing multiple-use agreements.

Pertinent Project Types. Projects requiring interests in property owned by public and quasi-public entities

Responsible Party. District Right of Way Administrator or Director of Maintenance

Sub-tasks.

  • Identify the need for an agreement versus outright ownership of property. Coordinate with project manager.
  • Prepare property description for ROW map.
  • District submits joint-use agreements to the Right of Way Division for review and execution.
  • District submits multiple-use agreements to the Maintenance Division for review and execution.

Critical Sequencing. All property interests, including agreements, must be obtained before TxDOT activity may begin on a property.

Anchor: #i1005510

4430: Appraise parcels

Description. After obtaining authority for right of way project release (see 4415: Obtain authority for ROW project release) from the Right of Way Division, the district selects an approved appraiser from the TxDOT statewide list to determine the market value of property to be acquired.

The appraiser conducts a site analysis, prepares an appraisal report stating the market value of the property, and determines the total compensation that should be paid to the property owner for the property interests (e.g., land, easements, improvements).

District review and approval of all parcel appraisals is required. The district may request that the Right of Way Division assist in the review and approval of appraisals. The Right of Way Division has review and approval authority for values of acquisition by condemnation.

Pertinent Project Types. Projects requiring additional ROW whether fee title or easement.

Responsible Party. District Right of Way Administrator

Sub-tasks.

  • Obtain authority for ROW project release from the Right of Way Division.
  • Arrange for a Registered Professional Land Surveyor (RPLS) to survey and monument the corners of properties to be appraised.
  • Conduct pre-appraisal contact with the property owner.
  • Select appraisers from the list of approved appraisers.
  • Issue appraisal work order for each parcel.
  • Provide property description and parcel plat to appraiser.
  • Appraiser prepares appraisals of required property interests.
  • Review appraisals. Request assistance from the Right of Way Division, if needed.
  • If acquisition is by condemnation, forward appraisals to the Right of Way Division.

Critical Sequencing. The appraisals should be started immediately after obtaining the authority for ROW project release from the Right of Way Division.

Authority Requirements.

  • Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice as promulgated by the Appraisal Standards Board of the Appraisal Foundation.

Resource Material.

Anchor: #i1005635

4470: Implement right of way acquisition process

Description. The right of way (ROW) acquisition process involves negotiating the conditions of acquisitions, making offers based upon appraised value and using eminent domain when required. The acquisition process must be accomplished according to the TxDOT Right of Way Manual. Sometimes, property interests other than fee title may be required (e.g., easements, temporary easements, joint-use/multiple-use agreements). (See 4425: Prepare and execute joint-use/multiple-use agreements).

Pertinent Project Types. Projects involving ROW acquisition.

Responsible Party. District Right of Way Administrator

Helpful Suggestions. Prioritize the sequence of parcel acquisition before beginning the acquisition process. For example, utility adjustments can not be made until certain parcels are obtained. A single holdout parcel located in a string of adjacent parcels can prevent utilities from being adjusted within a whole segment of roadway. Parcels involving such utilities need to be prioritized.

Critical Sequencing. Right of way acquisition is accomplished after ROW appraisals are performed and before TxDOT work activity can begin on the property.

Authority Requirements.

Resource Material.

Anchor: #i1005699

4480: Implement relocation assistance program

Description. Residents and business owners who will be displaced as a direct result of the acquisition of the real property, in whole or in part, for a construction project are eligible for relocation assistance. Engineering and environmental staff members identify these individuals during preliminary design. Later, district staff provide relocation assistance information to these individuals as part of the project’s public involvement efforts.

Pertinent Project Types. Projects requiring right of way acquisition

Responsible Party. District Right of Way Administrator

Sub-tasks.

  • Identify and follow through with any commitments made in the project’s environmental documents with respect to relocation assistance.
  • Identify eligible owners and tenants.
  • Send a notice to vacate to all displacees still occupying the project ROW at least 90 days before the intended date to vacate. An additional 30-day notice may be required after the State takes possession of the property.
  • Provide assistance, as required and allowed by law, in the relocation of displaced individuals.

Helpful Suggestions.

  • Only trained relocation experts should discuss this issue with property owners.
  • Implementing the relocation assistance program and delivering notices to vacate must be done within the overall project schedule. Relocating individuals can take much time to complete.

Authority Requirements.

Resource Material. TxDOT Right of Way Collection.

Anchor: #i1005780

4490: Dispose of improvements

Description. Improvements on right of way (ROW) acquired by the State are considered either salable or nonsalable. The General Services Commission is responsible for selling salable improvements. Nonsalable improvements are items that have little or no value, as determined in the appraisal process. Disposal can be included in the construction contract or performed by maintenance forces.

Pertinent Project Types. Projects requiring ROW acquisition.

Responsible Party. District Right of Way Administrator

Sub-tasks.

  • Identify improvements to be removed from the ROW.
  • If field surveying of improvements to be removed is needed before ROW acquisition, obtain permission for right of entry (see 2150: Obtain right of entry). Permission for right of entry or other written evidence of permission must always be obtained before entering private property.
  • Develop a plan for removing improvements, if needed. For example, a house containing asbestos would need a containment plan.
  • Verify that the State has title to the right of way parcel and is in possession of the improvements to be removed.
  • For salable improvements, submit request for approval to TxDOT General Services Division, Property Management Section.
  • Identify the most economical way to dispose of nonsalable improvements.

Critical Sequencing.

  • Disposal of improvements can not begin until the State owns the improvements.
  • This task should be completed before construction begins unless disposal is in the construction contract.

Helpful Suggestions. Dispose of improvements, particularly buildings, as soon as possible to prevent reoccupation and additional relocation expense.

Authority Requirements.

  • TxDOT memo; 06/11/98; “Disposal of Right of Way Improvements”; from Gary Bernethy; to District Right of Way Administrators

Resource Material. TxDOT Right of Way Collection

Anchor: #i1005873

4500: Prepare right of way and encroachment certifications

Description. In general, encroachment certifications are statements signed by the district engineer and included in the PS&E transmittal letter. A right of way (ROW) certification certifies that required ROW acquisition is complete, or will be complete, by a certain date. An encroachment certification generally certifies that the ROW is free of encroachments, or if they remain temporarily, they will not pose a safety or constructability conflict during construction. ROW encroachments, when identified, must be removed from the ROW by the owner of the encroaching property.

Federal policy requires bid proposals to identify the status of required ROW acquisition. If ROW acquisition is incomplete before bid advertisement, the district must give anticipated acquisition completion dates to the Design Division that must include the status of acquisition and the effect on construction. A map showing uncleared parcels may be required. These dates must be as accurate as possible since delays in ROW acquisition may result in contractor delays and claims.

Pertinent Project Types. All projects.

Responsible Party. Project manager

Sub-tasks.

  • Research status of ROW acquisition and removal of identified encroachments.
  • Prepare ROW encroachment certifications. See the Plans, Specifications & Estimate Preparation Manual, Chapter 5, Section 3.
  • The District Engineer is responsible for the accuracy and execution of all ROW and encroachment certifications.
  • Submit certifications with the PS&E transmittal letter to the Design Division along with PS&E documents.

Critical Sequencing. ROW and encroachment certifications are required before a project can be advertised for construction bids.

Authority Requirements.

  • TxDOT memo; 08/17/98; “Unacquired ROW and Unadjusted Utilities”; from Robert L. Wilson, et al; to all District Engineers
  • FHWA letter; 11/01/95; “Report for the Joint TxDOT/FHWA Process Review on ROW and Utilities”; from Kenneth Seiler
  • For federally funded projects, Federal Aid Policy Guide, Section 1.23.

Resource Material. TxDOT Plans, Specifications & Estimate Preparation Manual, Chapter 5, Section 3

Previous page  Next page   Title page