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Project Management and Right of Way Process

A rural road in the sun with crossroads signs
Project Management and Right of Way Process Project Classification
Capital Improvement Projects Safety Projects Asset Management Projects Maintenance Projects
1.0 Introduction x x x x
2.0 Right of Way Plans x x x x
3.0 Right of Way Funding Authorization, Official Order, Notice to Proceed, Notice of Acquisition x x x x
4.0 Survey Requests for Staking Proposed Right of Way and Easements x x x
5.0 Right of Way Revisions x x x x
6.0 Communicating All Promises (CAP) Report x x x
7.0 Project Managers Role During Condemnation Process x x x x


The full definitions for terms included in this article (listed below) can be found in the HKP Glossary.

  • Communicating All Promises (CAP) 
  • Consent and Release 
  • Easement 
  • National Highway System (NHS) 
  • Right of Way (ROW) 

1. Introduction 

During project development of capital improvement projects, the right-of-way (ROW)Property owned by KYTC in fee simple or as an easement interest, within which a highway exists or is planned to be constructed. Examples of what this property can contain include, but are not limited to, the roadway, shoulders and curbing, sidewalks and shared use paths, drainage facilities, traffic control devices, rest areas and weight stations, fencing, and utilities. Right of Way can also include abandoned roadway and/or their supporting structures. process is a critical milestone. Most Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP), asset management, and maintenance projects as well as improvements or repairs are done within existing ROW. On these projects, if any work is needed outside of the existing ROW, a Consent and Release FormAn agreement between KYTC and property owner(s) that allows KYTC or contractors to enter onto property that is not owned or controlled by the KYTC in order to perform necessary work. All property owners (including tenants, if applicable) must sign the release form with others serving as witnesses to their signature to verify the signor understood what they were signing and voluntarily signed it. The Chief District Engineer approves these forms. A detailed description of the work is included along with the location. is typically used to get permission from the property owner to work on private property.

The Division of Right of Way and Utilities acquires property for transportation projects. District ROW offices are responsible for carrying out the processes necessary to clear the ROW on a project. PMs are responsible for the following:

  • Support the ROW Section by answering questions or concerns staff have
  • Provide guidance when property owners ask for changes to ROW plans
  • Meet with property owners when requested by the ROW Section
  • Make agreed-upon revisions to plans and document these changes or revisions

Not all projects require ROW plans. When ROW plans are prepared, they must define the extent of areas necessary to construct and maintain the roadway. Without the appropriate ROW and easements, a project cannot be completed.

Sometimes the ROW process takes significant time to complete. Therefore, working toward ROW plan submittal should be a priority to initiate the process.

2. Right-of-Way Plans 

Highway Design, under the direction of the PM, prepares ROW plans in accordance with current design criteria. ROW plans should be approximately 80 percent complete before the final joint inspection and include all ROW and utility information (including relocations). Proposed ROW and temporary or permanent easementsAn easement is an interest in land which permits the owner of the easement to use the land owned by another for a specific purpose or prohibits the owner of the land from doing something that would otherwise be lawful to do, (e.g. plant trees, build structures, etc.). Easements can be public or private. For these purposes an easement refers to a public easement. An easement can be either temporary or permanent. A temporary easement grants the right to use the property for a particular purpose, typically construction, and is extinguished once use of the property for construction (or other purpose) is completed. A permanent easement grants a perpetual legal right to use land owned by others for a specific use (e.g., drainage, utilities). must be adequate to support features like side slopes, drainage structures, signs, utilities, waste sites, and staging areas as well as maintenance of traffic.

Final ROW plans are typically compiled after the final joint inspection meeting(s). The PM submits ROW plans to the Director of the Division of Right of Way and Utilities via the District Right of Way Supervisor. The KYTC Highway Design Guidance Manual (HD-1300) provides detailed instructions on developing ROW plans and related processes.

When ROW plans are developed, some items require special consideration and are analyzed using specific procedures, including:

  • Existing ROW
  • Cemeteries
  • Residential septic systems
  • Encroachments on existing ROW
  • Oil, water, and gas wells
  • Mineral plans
  • Federal lands
  • Utility relocations
  • Demolition of existing structures
  • Existence of hazardous substances
  • Waste area sites
  • Railroad involvement
  • Parks and recreational lands
  • Historic sites
  • Wildlife Management Areas

For more information on these items and procedures for addressing them, refer to KYTC Highway Design Manual (HD-1303) and Right of Way Guidance Manual. The layout sheet, which is the title or coversheet for the ROW plan set, must include the project location, description, and identification features. Location maps must clearly indicate the project location. The layout sheet is signed by the PM and State Highway Engineer. For projects on the National Highway System (NHS), the layout sheet must note proposed access control. See the Highway Design Guidance Manual (HD-1100) for information on different types of access control.

The following items are included with the ROW plan submittal:

  • Proposed deed descriptions
  • Recorded source deed(s) and plats — if available — for each parcel being acquired
  • ROW plans
    • Must include plan and profile sheets, pipe sheets, and maintenance of traffic (MOT) diversions (if applicable)
  • Project item number
  • Description
  • Program number
  • County
  • Route
  • If possible, submit cross sections with the ROW plans. This information can be used by ROW personnel to better assess impacts to parcels.

See KYTC Highway Design Manual (HD-1305) for detailed instructions on submitting ROW plans.

When KYTC retains a ROW consultant to acquire ROW for a project, the District ROW office includes a full set of ROW plans in advertisements for consultant services. Once a ROW consultant is selected, the district ROW office supplies them with a set of plans for parcels included in the contract.

Sometimes after consulting with the District ROW Supervisor, the PM may decide to hold a ROW inspection prior to the final inspection. This can expedite the ROW process and allow for advanced acquisition of certain properties if deemed necessary. Plans should be developed enough to provide information on drainage features, such as ditches, and the proposed ROW and easements necessary. A final inspection is still required on these projects. While this process should not be used on most projects, it is a tool PMs can take advantage of when appropriate. See KYTC Right of Way Guidance Manual (ROW-308) for more information on advanced authorization of ROW.

Red Flag

Sometimes KYTC may acquire excess property (i.e., property not needed for the project). This can occur when a project requires a portion of a property and leaves a small area that the owner can no longer access or use. Excess property is not identified when ROW plans are submitted. ROW plans are revised to reflect excess parcels only after the District ROW Supervisor in coordination with the project appraiser, determines that an excess parcel has been identified and will be acquired. Deed descriptions of excess property are provided by the PM or design consultant upon request. Procedures for handling excess property are detailed in the Right of Way Guidance Manual (ROW 805-4).

3. ROW Funding Authorization, Official Order, Notice to Proceed and Notice of Acquisition

The Director of the Division of Right of Way and Utilities submits ROW funding authorization requests to the Division of Program Management. KYTC’s Secretary approves ROW funding by signing Form TC 10-1 form (Project Authorization). On projects utilizing federal funds to purchase ROW, the Division of ROW and Utilities must obtain FHWA approval (PR-1).

Once the Director of the Division of Right of Way and Utilities receives (1) the project authorization, (2) FHWA approval (if necessary), and (3) approved ROW Plans from the PM, they request that an Official Order be prepared thru the Office of the Secretary. An Official Order authorizes ROW acquisition using eminent domain procedures permissible under Kentucky law. Once the official order is signed by the Office of Legal Services, the State Highway Engineer, and the Secretary of the KYTC, the Division of Accounts numbers and returns it to the Division of ROW and Utilities.

Once the Division of ROW and Utilities receives project funding, the Acquisition Branch creates a project file that contains individual files for each parcel. Parcel files include hard copies or electronic copies of all relevant documents, including official orders.

If KYTC will retain a consultant for ROW acquisition, District ROW staff prepare a request for consultant services and forward it to the Central Office Acquisition Branch.

Once a prequalified consultant is approved, the consultant coordinates with the Division of ROW and Utilities to develop a project report and set up a scoping meeting. The PM should attend this scoping meeting to answer questions and to familiarize themselves with the ROW consultants that will acquire the ROW. For a more detailed list of scoping meeting requirements, consult the Scoping Meeting Guidelines.

For more information on the Division of Right of Way and Utilities, see the HKP Articles Division of Right of Way & Utilities and Right of Way Acquisition.

Red Flag

ROW funding will not be approved until the final environmental document has been approved. However, to expedite the process, some ROW activities may be performed during the design phase using design funds, such as: 

  • Title searches
  • Comp sales book (by district row staff) 

The PM and the District ROW Supervisor shall discuss whether this would be a viable option for the project before proceeding with the use of design funds.

4. Surveying Requests for Staking Proposed Right of Way and Easements

Often, ROW agents or property owners (through ROW agents) ask for the Cabinet to temporarily stake out proposed ROW onsite to so they can better visualize areas that will be acquired. This usually involves the use of wooden stakes with flagging located along the proposed ROW breaks. The PM should coordinate this effort with the District survey crew or consultant (if applicable) and schedule a time for staking out the ROW.

5. Right of Way Revisions

During the ROW process, ROW plans will be modified or revised. ROW plan modifications could result from refinement of the design as the final plans are further developed or from agreed-upon changes requested by a property owner during negotiations. The ROW Agent submits requested plan changes to the PM, who then reviews and approves/disapproves them.

Once approved, the PM must ensure that:

  • All ROW plan revisions are distributed to the District ROW Office,
  • Updated ROW plans and deed descriptions are in the appropriate folder,
  • Central Office Division of ROW and Utilities is notified of the revisions via revision memo prepared by the PM to the Director of ROW and Utilities.

The PM must coordinate ROW plan revisions with all subject-matter experts working on the project. For information on the ROW revision process, refer to the Highway Design Guidance Manual (HD-1306).

Red Flag

Design changes made after the ROW process begins, depending upon the scope of the change, may require KYTC to restart the acquisition process for a parcel, including updated appraisals and review of appraisals. If changes are made outside the approved environmental footprint, a reevaluation of the environmental document may be necessary. Changes must be closely coordinated with district ROW Staff and, if necessary, the District Environmental Coordinator.

6. Communicating All Promises (CAP) Report

During ROW negotiations with property owners, KYTC may need to document commitments it makes during the process to ensure they are kept. Commitments can be recorded in a CAPPromises and commitments made by KYTC during the right of way negotiation process outside of compensation for the value of the property being obtained. The Project Manager documents CAPs and includes a report of these in the project letting proposal. In the hierarchy of construction contract documents, the CAP report is the second highest in this order, ranking behind questions and answers from the Division of Construction Website and before Special Notes. Report. Once commitments have been discussed and approved by the PM, the PM enters them into the CAPS Report located in the project folder. Refer to the KYTC Highway Design Manual (HD-203.4) for detailed instructions on CAPs.

7. Project Manager’s Role During Condemnation Process

After reasonable attempts have been made to negotiate for a property without reaching an agreement, the District ROW Supervisor submits the parcel for condemnation.

During the condemnation process, the PM may be asked to discuss the project and its impacts on the parcel in question with the KYTC-assigned attorney. If appropriate, this attorney may ask the PM to attend a meeting with the property owner to further explain the project impacts and better understand their concerns. 

As during normal ROW negotiations, the PM may also be asked to review requested changes to ROW plans proposed by the property owner and their representative during the condemnation process. For further information, refer to the Right of Way Manual (ROW-1001 and ROW-1004).

Red Flag

Projects cannot be advertised for construction until right of entry has been secured for all ROW parcels on the project. Right of Way Clearance should be obtained 60 days before the proposed letting date. Once the ROW is clear, a Right of Way Certification can be submitted for signature. This certification is due at the time of final plan submittal, which is 45 days before the scheduled letting. PMs and ROW Supervisors should set a milestone date for ROW clearance 60-75 days prior to the proposed letting date.

8. Associated Articles

Highway Knowledge Portal Articles

Right-of-Way Acquisition                

9. Reference Documentation

KYTC Design Manual

KYTC Right of Way Guidance Manual

 KYTC Manuals and Information:

Design Manual (HD-203, HD-203.3.10, HD-203.5, HD-203.6, HD-304, HD-600, HD-603, HD-700, HD-1300, HD-1401)

Right of Way Guidance Manual: ROW 403-3, ROW 403-4, ROW 805-6, ROW 807, ROW 1004, ROW 1201 – 1203

Project Management Guidebook Knowledge Book:

Access the complete Knowledge Book here:  Project Management Guidebook

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