Utility accommodation permits and franchises

Find guidance, required forms and the tools for utilities to apply for an authorization for installation, operation, and maintenance of their infrastructure on the highway right of way.

We accommodate utilities on the highway right of way and regulate use of the highway through utility policy and standards.

Washington State law, RCW 47.44 and WAC 468-34, grants us the authority to issue Utility Permits and Franchises for the occupancy of a highway right of way.

All utilities must follow our requirements before working on the highway right of way.

Please note there may be additional requirements utilities are responsible for based on state and federal laws.

More information is available under the Utility requirements heading on this page.

To find the contact in your region, please see Utilities contacts.

Utility accommodation application requirements

Before getting started, please review the WSDOT Utilities Manual.

Types of authorization

The authorization granted depends on the work the utility proposes to do on the highway right of way.

  • Utility Accommodations
    • Utility Permits - for installations of crossings or longitudinal runs no greater than 300 feet.
    • Utility Franchises - for installations greater than 300 feet or to address when several crossings are on the same highway.

Step one: Confirm jurisdiction

Please confirm the work is within the highway right of way and under WSDOT jurisdiction before submitting an application.

  • SRWeb - View digital images of the Washington State Highway System.
  • Geoportal - View WSDOT spatial data (State routes, mile posts, city limits, etc.)
  • Limited and Managed Access – Confirm if state routes are within city jurisdiction and where limited access sections of state highways are located.

Step two: Gather required forms and documents

Any Utility proposing to install infrastructure on a highway right of way, must submit an application and include the forms or documentation listed below. All applications must be completed and signed.

Some Utility proposals will need further documentation if they are proposing an installation that requires a variance to policy, such as an open cut, or attachment to a WSDOT structure.

More information under Variances and Attachments to WSDOT structures headings.

Regional specific forms

Some regions within WSDOT have specific forms required or documentation for review to assist your application process.

South Central Region
Northwest Region
Southwest Region

Step three: Submit your application

Once your application has all the required documentation you can submit your completed application via email.

  • Submit all required forms and documents as e-mail attachments (14MB or less)
  • Subject line must include: County, State Route, Milepost and Utility Company

Each region has a dedicated email inbox to receive submittals. The no-reply email address is for submittals only.

  • Eastern Region (Adams, Ferry, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Spokane, Stevens, and Whitman counties)
  • North Central Region (Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan counties)
  • Northwest Region (Island, King, San Juan, Skagit, Snohomish, and Whatcom counties)
  • Olympic Region (Clallam, Grays Harbor, Jefferson, Kitsap, Mason, Pierce, and Thurston counties)
  • South Central Region (Asotin, Benton, Columbia, Franklin, Garfield, Kittitas, Walla Walla, and Yakima counties)
  • Southwest Region (Clark, Cowlitz, Klickitat, Lewis, Pacific, Skamania, and Wahkiakum counties)

Variances

A variance may occur when a Utility proposes an installation that does not comply with WSDOT’s policy. The Utility must provide variance justification (PDF 1.6MB) as to why the facility cannot be installed according to WSDOT requirements. The justification must be reasonable, valid, verifiable, and justified.

Be advised the variance review process may extend the time to process an accommodation application and may be rejected.

Variance application forms:

Attachments to WSDOT structures

Utility installations on or near any highway structure require review and written approval by the HQ Bridge and Structures Office. Prior to completing your application, see the relevant Utilities Manual section (PDF 1.6MB)

Traffic control resources

The Utility must have a WSDOT-approved Traffic Control Plan and it must be site-specific for the work being conducted.

Utility requirements

All utilities require insurance and bonds before occupying the highway right of way. A transfer of ownership is required if a utility acquires utility assets from another utility.

Bond requirements

All Utilities occupying right of way in more than one region require a blanket bond. The bond is valid Statewide and provides coverage of multiple Permits or Franchises under a single owner. Blanket bonds are typically $10,000.

If required, an individual bond must be in place before construction begins. Find bond requirements WAC Chapter 468-34-020.

Individual bonds are one-time sureties attached to a single utility installation project. The bond is released upon satisfactory completion of the utility installation, and the amount will be determined based on the risk to the highway right of way.

Third Party insurance

Insurance requirements depend on if a utility is public or privately owned. Private utilities may need to provide proof of insurance coverage prior to doing any work within highway right of way.  A public utility can verify coverage through a risk pool or provide proof of being self-insured.

For more information about specific requirements, see Special Provision 11 and 12 - 224-030 (PDF 857KB)

Insurance policies or related insurance certificates must name the Washington State Department of Transportation as an additional insured on all general liability, automobile liability, employers’ liability, and excess policies.

Transfer of ownership

A utility that merges or accepts assets from another company must complete an Acceptance of Assignment (Transfer of Ownership) - 224-051 (PDF 30KB) form which ensures WSDOT has accurate records of utility infrastructure within the highway right of way.

Other responsibilities

The utility is responsible for ensuring the proposed installation does not violate any other laws or regulations. The most common issues are working in the proximity of:

  • Wetlands
  • Sensitive cultural areas
  • Potential disturbances of existing survey monuments

The permits required from other agencies may include:

  • Department of Ecology
  • Department of Fish and Wildlife
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • United States Forest Services
  • Tribal agencies
  • Railroads
  • Other Federal, State, or Local regulatory agencies

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manufactured with at least 1/8 of an inch tread. Traction tires are usually marked with a mountain/snowflake symbol, the letters M+S or “All Season.”

Carry chains, practice before leaving

Requiring chains keeps traffic moving during storms rather than closing a pass or roadway.

Prep your car. Fill up your gas tank,

pack jumper cables, ice scraper, warm clothing, snacks and water.