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Evaluate Right of Way Early in Your Project

November 18, 2013

Evaluate Right of Way Early in Your Project

By Tim Johnson, ProSource Technologies, LLC

Finding out your important project is being delayed because of unexpected obstacles is frustrating and disappointing -- it’s also something we’ve all undoubtedly experienced.  A permit falls through, an unhappy landowner refuses to cooperate, or some other pitfall throws a wrench in plans to complete your project on time and on budget. 

Thankfully, some of these “wrenches” can be avoided.

One simple step towards effectively meeting your project’s anticipated time and budget goals is to consider right of way aspects during the planning stages of your project. 

Right of way projects are best completed when those with right of way knowledge, whether independent consultants or in-house employees, are utilized early enough to be a part of the progress reporting and weekly discussions that occur before a final route is established. 

Looking at your project from a right of way mindset from the onset of planning a route is a decision that can save your project precious time and money in an economy where every dollar counts.

Route Analysis
Route selection is about more than drawing a straight line from Point A to Point B.  After planning alongside engineers/right of way experts, a defined right of way plan is created that identifies the most advantageous routes from a construction and permitting standpoint. 

Hurdles to success need to be identified well in advance, so route analysis is imperative in identifying the opportune course of action.

The following are just a few of the route analysis factors that should be taken into consideration during the early route planning stages:

  • Potential landowner opposition
  • Number of landowners and parcels affected
  • Environmental permitting concerns
  • Zoning concerns
  • Road and other utility permitting challenges
  • Constructability factors
  • Routing to provide flexible options
  • Landowner impacts (current and future)
  • Property values

When keeping in mind these considerations during the planning process, often parcels or crossings can be identified that may not be needed for the project to succeed.  Doing so avoids negotiating for unnecessary or potentially “troublesome” parcels or a difficult or more expensive route, thereby saving in acquisition costs.

A thorough market analysis involving property valuations is essential not only in lowering future project costs, but also in generating an accurate budget that will see your project to completion.

Time Management
By identifying and avoiding obstacles early, schedules and budgets are able to be generated more accurately.  An awareness of the relocation needs of a project is vital in order to take into consideration the proper requirements per the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970, as amended (Uniform Act). The knowledge and timing of this initiative ensures regulations are met and schedules are adhered to.

If right of way challenges are not identified early, this can cause numerous headaches along the way, and can lead to bad publicity, tense negotiations, and provide a greater risk to sunsets such as funding. 

In addition, the right of way process is most effective when acquisition is run concurrently with final design, thereby maintaining an aggressive but accurate schedule.

Communication / Establishing Relationships
Early, consistent and coordinated communication of project messages to landowners assists in facilitating early “buy-in” to the project and eases the transition to the negotiation and relocation phases. 

Strong communication bridges built with landowners will enable a level of trust to form between the agents and landowners. This trust opens a communication path for proactive identification of barriers, early settling of issues, and the building of relationships to ease negotiations and future project efforts. 

Ultimately, strong relationships and early information gathered can have a significant impact on the ability to increase the number of acquisition settlements, avoid costly condemnation, construction, and other schedule impacts.

Early right of way evaluation of your project will enable you to identify optimal opportunities, recognize potential barriers and proactively guide the right of way process in order to facilitate the successful completion of the entire project.

For additional information, contact Tim Johnson, Project Manager, ProSource Technologies, LLC, at (763) 786-1445 or tjohnson@prosourcetech.com.  For general information, call 1-888-422-4449 or visit www.prosourcetech.com.

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