What are the County policies regarding Right-of-Way?

The right-of-way is defined by state statutes as "the land, interest therein, acquired for devoted to a highway." What this means is that the highway authority has the sole responsibility to determine what gets built within this designated area.

Right-of-way can consist of privately owned property that is designated for right-of-way purposes, which is often called a "right-of-way easement". In this situation, the landowner does legally own the property but basically transfers the authority over that property to the highway authority for as long as it remains a public road. The highway authority then determines what can or can't be done within this area. One exception to this is the installation of utilities. A utility company must get approval from both the highway authority and the landowner in order to install utilities within the right-of-way.

If the land within the right-of-way has been given to the highway authority by quick claim deed or similar fashion, then the public body is, in fact, the landowner for that property.

Regardless of the type of right-of-way that exists for a given road, the highway authority must approve of any work performed within the right-of-way. Nothing should be installed, placed or built within the right-of-way without the prior approval of the appropriate highway authority. For road district (township) roads the Highway Commissioner must give that approval. For County roads the County Engineer gives that approval and for State roads the State gives the approval. It is very important to contact the appropriate authority before a person installs anything within the right-of-way and it is, in fact, illegal to do so. Entrance culverts, mailboxes, signs, etc. can all impose obstacles that could make it difficult for the highway authority to perform services associated with the maintenance of roads.

If you don't know exactly where the right-of-way line is, contact the appropriate highway authority. The right-of-way on State and county roads are usually well documented but township roads often times are not. However, the County's highway commissioner,or the individual Township road commissioner's can usually tell you where it is.

Before doing anything within the right-of-way, please contact the appropriate highway authority!

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