Right of Way: Meeting UDOT's Real Estate Needs
Property Management - What We Do:
Article I, Section 22 of the Utah Constitution provides that "Private property shall not be taken or damaged for public use without just compensation." The Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution provides "...nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."
The Property Management Team is responsible for ensuring that once property rights have been acquired, that UDOT holds those rights responsibly. It serves this goal by ensuring that property owners whose property rights have been affected by UDOT projects continue to have the benefits granted to them by Utah laws relating to how property can be sold by UDOT and to whom it can be sold. The Property Management Team also serves this goal by holding property that has been acquired for UDOT projects in a fiscally responsible manner so that the taxpayers see the full benefit of early acquisition through proper stewardship. Below we discuss our work in 4 categories: (1) Surplus Property; (2) Permitting; (3) Leases; and (4) Upcoming Innovations.
How We Measure Our Work:
We are often asked: Why does UDOT have surplus property? The answer, like all things related to property, is complicated, but there are some recurring scenarios that are not too difficult to visualize.
The Transportation Land Use Cycle illustrated on the left shows the continuous process within which most highway systems develop and redevelop over time. One way that surplus property arises is as follows: when the need to move traffic increases (on a new or existing road), safety often dictates that access restrictions be put in place. If UDOT acquires access rights from a property owner, it is required to pay the fair value of that access right (see Utah Code 72-6-117) and if the remaining portion of the landowner's property is an uneconomic remnant (e.g., when there is no other means of access available to that particular property), UDOT is required to make an offer to purchase the entire parcel (see Utah Code 57-12-13). Thus, UDOT often acquires more property than it needs to build a project (referred to as excess property). As time passes and conditions change, that excess property may gain interest in the marketplace. A neighbor might provide access to the otherwise inaccessible parcel to expand their backyard or parking lot. Or maybe time has passed and another road that provides access has been built. Or maybe a developer has an idea for how to combine several problematic parcels into a larger project.
Excess-Surplus Property Conversions & Sustainability-Related Contributions: When UDOT is certain it does not need a particular property for a future project, it will declare that excess property as "surplus" to the Transportation needs of the State. From there, the Surplus Property Section helps to explore the market in the hopes of identifying an interested buyer. When a successful sale is achieved, the proceeds are returned to the Transportation Fund, which ultimately helps to improve sustainable project development outcomes across the State.
Market Variability, Production Scale, & Strategic Goals: The market and a variety of other conditions lead to broad changes from year to year in the amount of surplus property that can be sold. Nevertheless, the Surplus Property Section works hard to pursue as many transactions as possible. By doing so, the team directly contributes to UDOT's Strategic Goals (i.e., Zero Fatalities, Optimize Mobility, and Preserve Infrastructure) by funding projects.
The data below represents quantitative metrics associated with the Surplus Property Section of Property Management.
Total Number of Surplus Property Transactions (Prior Fiscal Year)*
Resulting Revenue Deposited into the Transportation Fund (Prior Fiscal Year)**
* Represents data compiled from last full fiscal year.
** Sales revenue is based on the recording of the FINET receipt of funds
3-Year Average Return to the Transportation Fund
Performance Metric: Rights of First Refusal
As the surplus property program proceeds, one area we measure very carefully is statutory rights of first refusal. Utah's Legislature has determined that, under certain circumstances, when UDOT sells surplus property, it must allow the owner from whom UDOT acquired the property the right to re-purchase that property (see, e.g., Utah Code 72-5-111, 78B-6-520.3, 78B-6-521).
One of the statutory rights granted by the Utah Legislature requires the Property Services Management Team to give the prior owner of the property at least 90 days to consider whether to exercise that owner's right of first refusal. This can slow that transaction process, but failing to respect property rights granted by statute cannot be tolerated. Thus, on every transaction, we measure if we have identified whether a right of first refusal exists (the statutory rights do not always exist), and if so, whether it has been respected. We insist that every right of first refusal is respected, and thus, our performance measure in this area requires that every transaction clear rights of first refusal, i.e. 100% of rights of refusal must be met. The chart below shows the analysis required to determine whether a right of first refusal exists, and if so, helps us identify what is required to ensure we respect that right.
Statewide Permitting Operations
Operational Overview: State and federal law requires the Utah Department of Transportation to regulate state highway access through responsible and controlled permitting programs. Effectively regulating access to state highways is a critical function because all permitting programs are irreversibly tied to the Department's Strategic Goals (i.e., Zero Crashes, Injuries, Fatalities, Optimizing Mobility, and Preserving Infrastructure). To this end, UDOT has established five (5) statewide permitting program areas including:
Decentralized Teams: Access Management, Encroachment Permits, and Special Event Permits are administrated directly through UDOT's four (4) Region Permitting Offices with coordinating oversight from UDOT's Statewide Permitting Operations Office in Salt Lake City. These three (3) decentralized permitting programs have an established performance dashboard located here.
Centralized Teams: Outdoor Advertising Control and Small Wireless Facilities (5G) are centralized permitting programs operated directly out of UDOT's Statewide Permitting Operations Office located in Salt Lake City. The performance dashboard for the centralized teams follows below.
Typical Annual Permitting Volume: Together, these centralized and decentralized permitting teams are currently issuing roughly 6,000 permits across the State each year. This permitting volume tends to grow in proportion to the massive growth in the State's population. It also grows as the State's highway footprint grows each year. In addition, high-volume permitting operations are also indicative of a strong State economy.
Quick Summary: The Statewide Permitting Operations Section directly aids UDOT in reducing legal liabilities and future highway maintenance costs, while also providing a basis for partnering with the business community to help ensure the State of Utah maintains a healthy and robust economy. These programs help to eliminate adverse environmental impacts associated with unnecessary commuter delays. They also serve as an oversight tool to help ensure any roadway maintenance or construction activities are conducted within an environment where professional traffic safety measures are in place.
Statewide Permitting Operations - Outdoor Advertising (Centralized)
Below are charts that show historic data, as well as the number of permits issued by our centralized permitting team for outdoor advertising (i.e., billboards).
Number of Billboard Permits Issued Per Year by Type
Total Number of Permitted Off-Premises Billboards
Property Management - Leases
Utah Code allows UDOT to acquire property and improvements in advance of actual construction when it will save on acquisition costs or avoid paying a property owner (who could soon develop their property) excessive damages. In such a situation, the Utah Legislature has also permitted UDOT to lease such property and return any excess funds to the Transportation Fund (see Utah Code 72-5-114).
Thus, a second performance measure the Property Management Team watches carefully is whether the revenue generated by leasing property exceeds the expense of managing those leases, with our goal being to keep revenue above expenses. That way we ensure UDOT receives the full benefit of early acquisitions.
Innovation within the Right of Way Division:
Property Management - Online Auctions
As UDOT has attempted to find creative ways to sell surplus property, it has attempted a handful on on-site auctions, only to learn that potential buyers have a hard time learning about the auctions, and thus, an intensive effort to sell property often falls short. To address this challenge, UDOT is in the process of acquiring an online sales system to facilitate and streamline the surplus property transaction process. Look for future reports on the success of this program.
Thank you for visiting the Right of Way Division's Dashboard for the Property Management Services Team. Please be sure to visit Acquisition Services Team Dashboard to see how the other part of our Division meets UDOT's real estate needs.
Important Data Disclaimer: The Department is continuously applying best efforts to improve program transparency and data quality. The data represented within this dashboard is derived directly from the Department’s various data management tools, which may contain errors or unintentional omissions (i.e., blank fields, outdated data, etc.). The Department retains the right to monitor, evaluate, adjust, modify, and correct any identified errors as they are encountered or discovered. At no time should this data be solely relied upon for decisions or actions of consequence without further direct consultation and verification of accuracy from a Department representative assigned administrative responsibility for such data.