Right of Way

Utility accommodation

Freeway in Des Moines

Utility accommodation is the process that occurs when utilities are placed within the highway right of way after a highway is constructed and open to traffic.  In order for an accommodation to be granted, the utility owner must apply and have a permit issued to them granting permission to place the utility within the highway right of way.  See the permitting process below.

Contact our staff

Utility program administrator
Deanne Popp

Utility projects & agreements coordinator
Matt Buttz

Utility production & field coordinator
Greg Cagle

Transportation planner
Aspen Pflanz

Utility coordination

Bridge work on I235 Des Moines

Utility coordination is the process that occurs when highway construction projects have the potential to impact existing utilities. These utilities may be located within or adjacent to the highway right of way. Early coordination efforts may result in design changes that eliminate the need for utility relocation. If the highway plans can not be altered, the process will often involve the relocation of the existing utility, and requires cooperation for the Iowa DOT and utility to share information and develop plans to minimize impacts to both facilities and accomplish relocation if it is required.

Traffic and Safety is responsible for distributing project information to utility owners, preparation of agreements if costs are reimbursable, assist in scheduling of utility events and communication through for the design and construction phases. Write, modify and clarify application of the policy.

Iowa DOT's district utility coordinators work with utility owners on the location/relocation of utility facilities in, on, above or below the highway right of way in response to construction projects. They also serve as a resource to highway designers to complete the highway design while minimizing utility impacts. They facilitate the relocation of utilities by providing information used in contract documents, and arranging/hosting and facilitating utility coordination meetings with utilities and Iowa DOT staff. See the list below for contact information for each district utility coordinator. Iowa DOT's district utility coordinators work with all utilities to finalize plans for final location of impacted utilities. Once a location is determined, permit applications must be submitted as described below in the permitting process.

District utility coordinators

District 1 District 2

Jerry Lavine

2300 SE 17th St.
Grimes, IA 50111
Phone: 515-986-5476

Tracy Meise

1420 Fourth St. SE
Mason City, IA 50401
Phone: 641-422-9445
District 3 District 4

Kelly Mulvihill

2800 Gordon Drive
P.O. Box 987
Sioux City, IA 51102-0987
Phone: 712-274-5828

Kurtis Shackelford

300 W. Broadway
Council Bluffs, IA 51503
Phone: 712-323-6125
District 5 District 6

Bonnie Clancy

307 W. Briggs
P.O. Box 587
Fairfield, IA 52556-0587
Phone: 641-469-4013

Steven Flockhart

5455 Kirkwood Blvd SW
Cedar Rapids, IA 52404
Phone: 319-364-0235


Utility Policy guidebook

The Utility Policy guidebook contains the current administrative rules governing utility accommodation in the Primary Highway System right of way, some illustrative examples of those rules, and additional information/requirements including clear zones, depths, heights, and allowed locations.

Permit process

In Iowa, the permitting process is administered by the district offices. Iowa is divided into six districts as shown below.  Each district has designated staff, commonly known as engineering operations technicians or EOTs, to assist applicants and review the requests for permits.  Use the map below to find your district contact.  The permit application must be approved before work may begin.  The approval process may include internal Iowa DOT review by different offices. Additionally, there may be more requests for more information from the applicant.

Permit forms

The following forms are commonly used to apply for utility permits.

  • Form 810025 – Application and Agreement for Use of Highway Right of Way for Utilities Accommodation
  • Form 810051 – Agreement for Revision of Access
  • Form 810028 – Application to Perform Work Within State Highway Right of Way

Request these forms from the EOT that administers your region. Forms downloadable from the Web include: 810025, 810028. Submit all completed applications to the appropriate EOT.


A web portal MyDOTDocs has been established to allow for self-service fulfillment. This site is available for use, hosting plans for download and use with DOT projects.

Buy America

On Ramp in Des Moines

Buy America requirements originated in 1983 in the Code of Federal Regulations 23 CFR 635.410. Part 1 states: “The project either: (i) Includes no permanently incorporated steel or iron materials, or (ii) if steel or iron materials are to be used, all manufacturing processes, including application of a coating, for these materials must occur in the United States. Coating includes all processes, which protect or enhance the value of the material to which the coating is applied.” This applied to all projects where Federal aid is involved.

Beginning January 1, 2014 per section 1518 of MAP-21, if the project is defined by National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), has at least one authorized Federal-Aid Highway Program (FAHP) construction contract, all utility relocations that are eligible for federal reimbursement must meet Buy America regardless of funding source.


  • Buy America requirements only affect products containing or composed of steel or iron (greater than 90% by weight).
  • Buy America only applies to relocations of utility facilities that must move due to highway projects under certain specific conditions as stated in the links below.
  • Buy America applies if the utility relocation is eligible for reimbursement with federal funds, however in the case of Buy America few of the eligible relocations will be reimbursed. See the links below for eligibility criteria and reimbursement guidance.
  • Buy America applies in the case where the utility relocation is included in the federal-aid contract. This can be through an agreement with the DOT or Local Agency.

Cities and counties may want to refer to Local Systems Office Instructional Memorandum 3.650 or contact the bureau at 515-239-1291. For more information on Buy America, contact the Utility Program Administrator at 515-239-1014.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are utilities allowed on highway right of way?
The citizens of Iowa have come to expect the road system to act as not only a transportation corridor for passengers and freight but also services, including utilities. By placing utilities in the highway right of way the utility providers are able to avoid the purchase of costly utility easements. This savings translates into lower rates to their customers who are also the taxpayers who pay for the highway right of way to begin with. It is simply the most prudent use of the taxpayer's investment.

What are the goals of utility accommodation?
To provide for the reasonable accommodation of utility facilities on highway rights of way. The Iowa Department of Transportation has taken the position that safety is the most important issue when utility accommodation is considered. The utility facility must provide for the safety of not only the traveling public but for the utility workers and highway maintenance crews as well. Additionally the Iowa DOT works to preserve the state's investment in the highway system by insuring the utility facility does not damage the roadway structure directly or adversely affect the future development of the highway as a transportation corridor.

Am I required to obtain a permit before I place utilities in the right of way?
Permits are required for the safety and welfare of all involved. In addition, permit applications are required by the Iowa Code for basically doing anything (cutting trees, cutting the backslope, constructing entrances, harvesting grasses, etc.) within the primary highway right of way. It is the Department's responsibility to follow the Code of Iowa requirements as outlined in Chapter 319.14 which states in part:

Iowa administrative rules, chapter 761-115 (306A)


The current Utility Accommodation and Adjustment Policy of the Department is dated 2003 and is a copy of the rule as noted above. In addition, the policy booklet contains several graphic exhibits to explain various sections of the rule.

Printed copies of the Policy booklet are available by contacting one of the Department's District Offices or by requesting a copy from the Utility Policy Administrator at the following address:

Deanne Popp, utility program administrator
Right of Way Bureau
800 Lincoln Way, North Annex
Ames, IA 50010
Phone: 515-239-1014 or deanne.popp@iowadot.us

How can I obtain more information for utilities accommodation?
We would suggest that you contact one of the District Offices and request assistance.


Permitting process

As per the Iowa Administrative Code, utility facilities may be placed within Primary Road System right of way. The Iowa DOT strives to coordinate, cooperate and communicate with our utility stakeholders. We do so by providing leadership, technical assistance and guidance on accommodation, permits, adjustments, relocations, agreements, and billings. These activities fall into one of the following categories: utility accommodation or utility coordination (see below).

The placement, adjustment and maintenance of utility facilities in, on, above or below the primary highway right of way is detailed within the Utility Policy (see below). The Traffic and Safety Bureau administers this policy based on these considerations:

  • Safety of motorists, pedestrians, construction workers, and other highway users.
  • Integrity of the highway roadbed/right of way and the highway’s intended use and function.
  • Protection of the rights of the traveling public.
  • Cost to the taxpayers supporting the highway system and the rate payers supporting the utility system.

Approval of an accommodation is dependent upon sufficient room within the right of way for additional utility facilities.