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Regulatory and Permitting Information Desktop Toolkit

Michigan State Highway Encroachment Permits (3-MI-c)

In Michigan, the developer of a utility may need to obtain a right-of-way construction permit from the Michigan Department of Transportation Development Services Division (MDOT) in order to construct facilities or undertake operations, other than normal vehicular or pedestrian travel, on a state highway right-of-way. As defined in 23 CFR 645.105(m), a “utility” is a privately, publicly, or cooperatively owned line, facility or system for producing, transmitting, or distributing electricity, etc.

MDOT has statutory authority to regulate utility accommodations and to issue state highway rights-of-way in accordance with 23 CFR 645 and state law. MDOT regulates the use of the State Right-of-Way by acting as the primary liaison between MDOT and other state governmental agencies, the Federal Highway Administration, utility companies, and permit applicants. MCL § 247.183; MDOT Right-of-Way Construction Permits.

The developer’s use of a State highway right-of-way must be in accordance with Public Act 368 of 1925 and the Michigan Department of Transportation Utility Accommodation Policy.

State Highway Encroachment Permits Process

3-MI-c.1 – Contact MDOT

Early on in the planning process, the developer should contact the local Transportation Service Center (TSC) to inquire about the requirements for obtaining a right-of-way construction permit. Michigan Department of Transportation – Frequently Asked Questions. Contact information for MDOT’s Region Offices and Transportation Centers is available at MDOT’s Statewide Contacts Webpage.

3-MI-c.2 – Is the Project Eligible for an Encroachment Permit?

A project’s eligibility for a right-of-way construction permit depends upon MDOT’s classification of the project. MDOT classifies utilities into three categories, including: 1) municipal utilities; 2) public utilities; and 3) private utilities.

  1. Municipal Utility – a utility owned and operated by a governmental agency having corporate status and usually powers of self-government. For a municipal utility, MDOT may issue a right-of-way construction permit for a longitudinal and/or transverse use of a state highway right-of-way.
  2. Public Utility – a utility recognized by the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) as an investor owned or cooperative electric provider or as an electric transmission company meeting certification requirements of Public Act 30 of 1995. For a public utility, MDOT may issue a right-of-way construction permit for a longitudinal and/or transverse use of a state highway right-of-way.
  3. Private Utility – a utility not meeting the criteria as a municipal or public utility. For a private utility, MDOT may issue a right-of-way construction permit for a direct transverse crossing of a state highway right-of-way. However, in order for MDOT to issue an encroachment permit for a longitudinal occupancy, a private utility developer must provide the following:
    • A public interest statement, acceptable to MDOT and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), providing how the proposed utility will benefit the “common well-being” or “general welfare” of the public when placed within the state highway right-of-way;
    • Proof of unusual hardship. The following are not considered unusual hardships:
      • Increased construction costs;
      • Increased construction time and/or delays;
      • Increased complexity of the facility placement.

Utility Classification for Use of State Highway Right-of Way.

3-MI-c.3 – Right-of-Way Permit Application

To obtain a right-of-way construction permit the developer must submit an application for an encroachment permit using MDOT’s Construction Permit System (CPS). The application must include the following:

  • Applicant information;
  • Site information, including:
    • State route prefix;
    • State route number;
    • County;
    • Town Range Section information;
    • Information about the nearest intersection
    • Proposed start date;
    • Purpose of the activity;
    • Possibility of land closures;
    • Bond information (if applicable); and
    • Insurance information.
  • Mitigation methods;
  • Transportation operation plans; and
  • A non-refundable permit fee.

Michigan Department of Transportation Permit Applicant Guide – Construction Permit System.

The developer should contact their local TSC for any additional requirements. MDOT’s Statewide Contacts Webpage.

3-MI-c.4 to 3-MI-c.6 – Review Application Materials for Completeness

The local Transportation Service Center office for the region in which the project is located reviews the application for completeness. The time it takes to process an application varies by project and location. If the TSC approves the application, it will notify the developer via e-mail. The developer may then log onto CPS to view and print the permit and any applicable attachments. If the TSC determines that the permit application is insufficient, it will place the developer’s application on hold. At that time, the developer may upload additional attachments, if necessary. Any additional information must be entered as remarks on the Resubmit screen on CPS, after which TSC Construction Permit staff will update the application itself with the information provided.

3-MI-c.7 – Does MDOT Approve the Application?

In determining whether or not to approve the developer’s application, MDOT considers the following:

  • The structural integrity of the highway;
  • Reasonably safe operation, maintenance, and future use of the highway;
  • Highway aesthetic quality and reasonable protection of roadside vegetation;
  • Environmental impacts of the project; and
  • The cost and/or difficulty of highway construction and maintenance.

Michigan Department of Transportation Utility Accommodation Policy

3-MI-c.8 – Right-of-Way Construction Permit

If MDOT approves the developer’s request for a construction permit, MDOT will issue the construction permit with the following conditions:

  • Specifications for and methods of installation;
  • Requirements for preservation and restoration of highway facilities, appurtenances, natural features, and vegetation on the state highway right-of way;
  • Limitations on the activities within the state highway right-of-way.

Michigan Department of Transportation Utility Accommodation Policy

Developers must submit an Advance Notice to MDOT to notify the agency that work under the permit will begin. This notice must be received by MDOT not less than 5 working days and no more than 21 calendar days prior to starting operations, unless the permit is for tree trimming, which requires the Advance Notice be received not less than 15 working days and no more than 21 calendar days prior to starting operations. This is done using MDOT’s CPS. Michigan Department of Transportation Permit Applicant Guide – Construction Permit System.

3-MI-c.9 – Appeal MDOT’s Decision (If Applicable)

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