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Section 2: Authority for Installation on Highway Right of Way

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Rights Under Existing Laws

Transportation Code, Title 43, Rule §21.36, "Rights of Utilities," provides public utilities have a right to operate, construct and maintain their lines over, under, across, on or along highway rights of way. This includes entities which are authorized by law to transport and/or distribute natural gas, water, electric power, telephone and cable television, or salt water, and those which are authorized to construct and operate common carrier petroleum and petroleum product lines.

A private utility may place a utility facility over, under, or across a highway, but should not be permitted longitudinally on the highway right of way.

If an entity's legal authority to install, adjust, or relocate its facility longitudinally within a highway right of way is not readily evident, the department may require that the entity provide:

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  • written certification that the entity is authorized by state law to operate, construct, and maintain its utility facilities over, under, across, on, or along state highways
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  • documentation that the entity filed its status with the applicable state regulatory commission or agency and its facilities are subject to public safety regulation.

The district determines the legal status of proposed installations and should call upon the applicant to provide evidence of their eligibility. Contact the Maintenance (MNT) or Right of Way (ROW) Divisions for advice or any questions.

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Additional Guidelines

The following additional guidelines have been established for determining the legality of placing gas, petroleum and/or petroleum product lines within the highway right of way.

Use and occupancy agreement forms and notice forms are made available for utility facilities installed, adjusted, relocated or retained within highway rights of way. These forms provide for a definite understanding about the location and manner in which utilities will be installed and/or maintained and, where applicable, provide the necessary rights needed by the state to occupy the property interests held by the utility company.

Contact MNT or ROW concerning questions about the placement of utility lines. Contact the Secretary of State to determine if the owner or operator has been incorporated within the State of Texas and what kind of business the owner or operator manages. This assures that an entity legally exists within this state and verifies that the purpose of the subject line(s) agrees with the Articles of Incorporation. It has been found at times that the latter does not always agree.

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Additional Guidelines For Oil and Gas Lines

Contact the Railroad Commission to determine if the subject entity has filed an "Application to Operate Pipeline," Form T-4 and whether the form has been approved by the Commission. Request a copy of the approved Form T-4 and the "Permit to Operate Pipeline," Form T-4A. The Railroad Commission has established a site to verify the T-4 information. By law, the Railroad Commission has the responsibility to monitor the placement of all oil and gas lines within this state and their website can provide further information on oil and gas lines.

This contact is made to ensure that the entity has filed the necessary Railroad Commission form for approval and provides the department opportunity to review Form T-4, for the purpose and intent of the subject line. The entity may be incorporated to do business within this state and the Application to Operate Pipeline, Form T-4 filed and approved indicating it is a common carrier or a gas utility. This assures that an entity legally exists. However, the data is further reviewed to ensure that the specific line in question is to be or is being used for public purposes rather than for private purposes.

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