Responsibilities & Objectives
The general objectives of the Right of Way Design Engineering Section are to provide plans, plats, and descriptions for the use of all of those employed by the Department of Transportation in the acquisition of right of way for highway purposes.
The Title Research Agent completes the Certificate of Title, Five-Year Record of Ownership report for all ownership of land immediately adjacent to, or to be affected by a planned highway improvement. The information is obtained through a search of the records in the offices of the Register of Deeds, the County Judge, and the Clerk of the District Court.
The purpose of the search is to obtain the names of the present owners of lands affected, how the title is held, the name of the grantor, the date and type of the instrument, the consideration, and the legal description of the property affected by the project.
Similar information is required for all owners in the five years prior to the search. If an estate is involved, it is necessary to record the names of heirs, shares of each, names of spouses, names of minors or incompetents, names of guardian, executor, or administrator, and the attorney for the estate.
The Title Research Agent also obtains data on mortgages, liens, and conditions affecting title such as easements, leases, judgments, and other district or county court proceedings.
Ownership data, land line, and property line ties are assembled and added to construction plans. Right of way requirements are studied and the limits of tracts to be acquired are established. Access control designations are checked to assure intended service.
The end product provides:
A layout description of the property to be appraised.
An exhibit for the appraisers and negotiators to show the owner.
The ties and dimensions needed to compute areas and required by the survey party to stake the right of way limits.
The basis for plats used in condemnations.
The basis for writing descriptions of the individual tracts which are to be acquired by either condemnations or negotiation.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you identify who owns or has an interest in the land you acquire?
The main sources of land ownership information (title information) are the public records contained in the county courthouses of each county. The Department will research the records and identify the documents affecting each piece of property being acquired. From these documents the ownership of each property can be determined.
What do you do with the title information after obtaining it from the public records?
Ownership data, land line and property line ties are assembled and added to construction plans. In liaison with the Roadway Design Division and the field district engineers, right of way requirements are studied and the limits of tracts to be acquired are established. Access control designations are checked to assure intended service.
How do you determine how much right of way will be necessary?
Construction plans carry the limits of construction for grading operations and also for special items such as culvert extensions, channel cleanouts, driveways, sidewalks, retaining walls, back slopes and fill slopes, removal of improvements, and so on.
Careful consideration is given to the requirements in each situation as to whether title to the land is required or an easement or some other right is sufficient to provide for the work to be performed. In the establishment of the limits of right of way to be taken in fee, consideration shall be given not only to limits of construction but also to:
- minimum widths adopted by the Department,
- uniformity in widths but avoiding excessive requirements,
- the type of land being acquired, the owner's operation being affected,
- proximity of improvements, and
- the values of the improvement and property served by the improvement.
Temporary construction easements are usually sufficient to permit the removal and replacement of items such as private sidewalks, steps, and driveways. Temporary easements are also adequate for gradual back-slopes in residential areas. To insure proper support for a fill section, a permanent easement is usually advisable. In general, if future State maintenance may be required, the easement needs to be permanent. However, if some degree of control is not necessary following construction, the easement may be for the construction operation only.