Section 5: Programming and Authorization

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Program the cost of adjusting reimbursable utility facilities as a cost of right of way acquisition. District personnel must delay requesting a utility to prepare plans and estimates or incur any utility adjustment costs, including preliminary engineering, until the ROW Program Office has issued the appropriate release. Costs incurred by a utility before issuance of such release will be ineligible for State reimbursement. The appropriate release will involve one or more of the following types of releases.

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Right of Way Releases for Utility Work

For related information, see Chapter 2 of the ROW Acquisition Manual.

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  • Released - Limited for Preliminary Utility Activities. This release establishes a point in time by which eligible costs for preliminary utility activities may occur. However, no physical adjustment of an eligible utility’s facilities can be authorized or accomplished under the terms of this type of release. This release will allow proper coordination of utility activities, i.e., investigation of utility location, with the appropriate District personnel, utility design, and procurement of materials that may require fabrication and/or advanced purchase. This could be initiated as early as Advance Project Development (Advance Planning). The requirements for this type of release are:
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    • Commission Minute Order - Project Authorization
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    • Federal Project Authorization and Agreement (FPAA), if Federal funding is to be requested.
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    • Letter from District requesting authorization to begin preliminary engineering for utility work in accordance with the ROW Utilities Manual.
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    • Approval by the Director of the ROW Division
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  • Released - Limited for Utility Work Only. This release is typical of projects where no right of way acquisition has been planned, but reimbursable utilities are encountered. Generally, no other right of way work is performed under the ROW CSJ assigned to the project. Costs may be charged against the ROW CSJ when this type of release is used. The requirements for this type of release are:
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  • Partial Release. Specific U-parcels may be released for utility work when the right of way map sheets on which they are identified have been entered into the Right of Way Information System, (ROWIS), although the entire map may be incomplete. The requirements for this type of release are:
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  • Full Right of Way Release. All costs may be charged to the ROW CSJ. When issued by the ROW Program Office, the Full Right of Way Release includes utility work and all other right of way activities. This would include processing of the Utility Agreement Assembly, acquiring replacement utility right of way, physical adjustment of utility facilities, and reimbursement of eligible cost incurred. Issuance of a full right of way release is contingent upon completion of the following:
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Federal Project Authorization and Agreement (FPAA)

FHWA, by issuance of a Federal Project Authorization and Agreement (FPAA), documents the approval of Federal cost participation in a right of way project. The FPAA is required for the ROW Program Office to issue a full right of way Release. Do not request approval for a full Right of Way Release before an environmental approval for the project is obtained. If Federal reimbursement will be requested for any of the cost incurred under the Limited Right of Way Release for Utility Work Only above, these costs must be associated with preliminary engineering and the actual relocation costs for the project, which includes costs associated with obtaining environmental clearance.

Eligible costs for preliminary engineering and replacement right of way incurred by a utility after issuance of the ROW Division’s release will be reimbursed. Costs of performing adjustments will be eligible upon utility agreement approval or authorization by the LPA, whichever is applicable. For more information on eligible costs, see Chapter 11, Section 3, Final Billings.

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Utility Reimbursement Policies (Interstate Highways)

TxDOT Policy TxDOT participation in the costs of necessary utility adjustments is set forth in the Transportation Code, Section 203.092. Participation on highways within the Interstate Highway System is limited to those adjustments eligible for Federal cost participation per 23CFR Part 645. Note that 23CFR Part 645 requires prior approval by TxDOT and the FHWA for any phase of utility work.

Neither Federal rule nor State statutes provide for cost participation where utility removal occurs without subsequent replacement or relocation. Accordingly, State participation in such removal is dependent upon the utility possessing a compensable interest in the land occupied by the removed facilities. Participation is limited to the value of the real property interest, less the salvage value of the removed or abandoned facilities.

Cost participation in an adjustment where the utility possesses no real property interest is limited to the cost of relocation. New real property interests acquired by the utility after the relocation are not eligible for cost participation.

Federal Utility Reimbursement Regulations 23CFR 645.111 prescribes reimbursement controls and general requirements as well as requiring prior TxDOT approval for certain phases of utility work. FHWA approval is required for facilities such as reservoirs, substations, and tank farms, etc. Unless this requirement is met, many items otherwise eligible for State and Federal participation may be declared ineligible.

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Utility Reimbursement Policies (US, State (TX), FM, and RM Highways)

TxDOT will participate with the LPA in necessary utility adjustments required by improvements of the State Highway System when the utility possesses a compensable interest.

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