Utility Classification for Use of State Highway Right of Way

Use of state highway right of way by utilities shall be in accordance with Public Act 368 of 1925 and the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) Utility Accommodation Policy. MDOT classifies utilities into three categories: municipal, public and private. The following guidelines provide criteria for determining whether a utility is considered municipal, public or private and its allowable use of state highway right of way.

Municipal Utility - A utility owned and operated by a government agency having corporate status and usually powers of self-government (city, township, village, etc.) is considered a municipal utility and may be allowed longitudinal and/or transverse use of state highway right of way.

Public Utility - A utility will be considered public provided they meet the following criteria as verified by the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC). Visit www.Michigan.gov/MPSC for more information. A public utility may be allowed longitudinal and/or transverse use of state highway right of way.

Broadband and Telecommunications - Required to be recognized by MPSC as either a competitive access provider (CAP), a competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC), an incumbent local exchange carrier (ILEC), an interexchange carrier (IXC), or, for broadband, provide retail service capable of transmitting data over an access line at a rate greater than 200 kilobits per second. These can be verified on the Intrastate Telecommunications Service Providers Registry list.

Electricity - Required to be recognized by MPSC as an investor-owned or cooperative electric provider, as shown on the utility addresses and contacts list, or as an electric transmission company meeting certification requirement of Public Act 30 of 1995.

Natural Gas - Required to be either recognized by MPSC as a natural gas distribution company, as shown on the addresses and contacts list, certified by MPSC as a Public Act 9 of 1929 status intrastate pipeline, or certified by the federal government as an interstate pipeline, as shown on the interstate pipelines list.

Petroleum - Required to be either certified by MPSC as a Public Act 16 of 1929 status intrastate pipeline or certified by the federal government as an interstate pipeline.

Video/Cable - Required to be recognized by MPSC as a video/cable provider, as shown on the video/cable providers operating list in Michigan.

Private Utility - A utility not meeting the criteria as a municipal or public utility is considered a private utility and shall satisfy the following requirements for use of state highway right of way.

Longitudinal Occupancy - Requests for longitudinal occupancy of state highway right of way require the following:

  • A public interest statement, acceptable to MDOT and the Federal Highway Administration, providing how the proposed utility will benefit the "common well-being" or "general welfare” of the public when placed within the state highway right of way.
  • Proof of unusual hardship. Not considered an unusual hardship are:
    • Increased construction costs.
    • Increased construction time and/or delays.
    • Increased complexity of the facility placement.

Transverse Crossing - Private utilities may be allowed a direct transverse crossing of state highway right of way.