Right-of-way is a general term denoting ownership or interests in land or property, which is usually a linear corridor or a strip of land associated with transportation related uses and purposes. Right-of-way may refer to linear corridors such as highways, roadways, pipelines, electrical lines, utility lines, waterways, railroads, etc.

Right-of-way may be held by fee title or by easement. An easement is an interest or right on a property for specific purpose(s) which is an encumbrance on a property. Several types of easements may be associated with right-of-way. Right-of-way may be transferred through conveyance, grant, prescriptive use by statute, dedication, donation, or by condemnation under the rights of eminent domain.

Public right-of-way is for the accommodation and movement of traffic, transit, pedestrians, utilities, drainage and other public and quasi-public uses for transportation related public uses and purposes for the public welfare and safety. Public right-of-way provides benefits to the public such as transportation and mobility of people, products, commerce, water supply, wastewater treatment systems, utility services, energy, and communication systems.

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  1. Jody Hassel

    Right-of-Way Agent

In most cases, the public right-of-way width is greater than the paved or gravel surface of the roadway. Generally, the width of the public right-of-way may be defined in various documents and plats filed of record in the Office of County Recorder/Registrar of Titles. 

In urban areas, public right-of-way may be shown on sub-division plats or right-of-way plats. In both urban and undeveloped areas, the right-of-way may be conveyed or granted by documents filed of record in the public land records in the Office of County Recorder/Registrar of Titles.

The public right-of-way may include:

  • Roadway
  • Shoulders
  • In-slopes
  • Back-slopes
  • Ditches
  • Boulevards
  • Drainage facilities
  • Traffic signals
  • Traffic signs
  • Transit facilities
  • Pedestrian facilities
  • Sidewalks
  • Trails
  • Public and quasi-public utilities
  • Clear zones

In situations where no documentation exists, the County may claim prescriptive use by statute. The transportation related occupation and uses establish prescriptive use.  Prescriptive use may be undefined width and areas of right-of-way, which is determined by actual width of use by the roadway, shoulders, boulevards, in-slopes, back-slopes, ditches, structures, drainage facilities, traffic signs, traffic signals, transit facilities, pedestrian facilities, utilities, clear zones, recovery areas, etc.  Generally, the width of the area maintained or used by the County, including public or quasi-public utilities by permit from the Highway Department, may be considered in the right-of-way.