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.
  1. Common Myths

    In most cases the public right-of-way width is greater than the paved or gravel surface of the roadway. 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, etc.

  2. Methods of Determining Width

    Right-of-way varies in width from highway to highway and may vary in width along different segments of the same highway or road. There are several ways to determine the location of a right-of-way line.

  3. Regulation

    The County has been granted authority by Minnesota law to regulate its right-of-way and has a duty to use its right-of-way responsibly and in the interest of the general public to maintain the transportation related infrastructure for County highways, roads, drainage facilities, appurtenances and its utilities within its right-of-way.

  4. Right-of-Way Acquisition

    The rights of government to acquire privately held property for public purposes by an involuntary sale (taking) is reserved in the U.S. Constitution under the rights of eminent domain.

  5. Uses of Public Right-of-Way

    The County uses its public right-of-way to construct, operate, maintain and change its highways and other transportation related infrastructure and appurtenances.

  6. Voluntary Sales

    Acquiring the property on a voluntary basis as a willing seller(s) and a willing buyer(s) may benefit both parties.