Right of Way – Definition – Width – Roads – Highways

Saad Iqbal | 🗓️Modified: November 23, 2017 | ⏳Read Time: 5 min | 👁Post Views: 167

When you’re into dealing with different pieces of land or in highway engineering, you need to figure out what is right of way width for a road or for any civil engineering property. 

We drive on highways and use public amenities such as streets and sidewalks frequently but we don’t think about them very much and we take them for granted at least until something serious happens that make us think about the rights we have on them. 

Right of Way Width Definition

Civil Engineers work a lot with such highways and infrastructure projects including public footpath, rail transport, canals as well as electrical transmission lines, oil and gas pipelines. 
All these infrastructures are constructed on a piece of land that is acquired by Government agencies or Government Local Bodies. 
Right-of-way often written in short form as ROW is actually a type of easement granted or a reserved piece of land in an area for transportation purposes. 
In other words it’s an earmarked land to get or grant access (for vehicles or for utility lines etc.) from one piece of land to another piece of land. 
So, Right of way width is defined as 

So, right of way width is defined as the width of the total land that has been acquired by the public agency for the construction of roadway. The width is determined depending on the elements of the highway road cross-section. The width is 45 meters for a 4-lane road while for a typical residential street it can be around 60 feet.


What is Right of Way (ROW)? Types and Importance
What is Right of Way (ROW)? Types and Importance 

Importance of Right of Way

The Right of Way (ROW) is significantly important to understand for projects where a private property owned by person or organization meets public property owned by government sectors and departments. 
Every construction project starts with a preliminary and reconnaissance survey and annexation of Right of Way survey in there is a must as the Project Kickoff might get affected due to land acquisition issues due to lack of planning and management.
This term of Right Of Way is mostly dealt in transportation engineering, all types of roads including interstate highway, distributaries, express ways, motorways; all have a right-of-way which is actually a planned extended width acquired for future expansions of the project. Which means if the residential street is 30-36 feet wide the city may own a total of 46-50+ feet wide area? This total land acquired for the project is termed as Right of Way (ROW) of the Project.
Right of Way is also associated with land usage right and is often used by land surveyors and Civil Engineers in the preliminary survey. 

Examples of Right of Way

  • A driveway can be regarded as Right of Way that allows your neighbors living near your house, who have no access to a public walkway, to access the street across your land. 
  • A right of way that allows services such as gas, water, electricity, telephone and drainage to pass through neighboring land.

Why Right of Way? 

  1. As already explained above that acquiring of land more than the typical design width of the highway has a reason and purpose behind as listed below :
  2. A right-of-way can be used to build a bike trail. 
  3. A right-of-way is reserved for the purposes of maintenance or expansion of existing services with the right-of-way. 
  4. In the case of an easement, it may revert to its original owners if the facility is abandoned.
  5. Street lights, traffic signals and street parking are all in the Right of Way.

Type of Right of Way

Here are some of the typical types of ROW considered in construction and infrastructure projects :- 

  1. Private Right of Way
  2. Property Right of Way
  3. Public Right of Way
  4. Pipeline Right of Way

Like Us on Facebook!

Property Right of Way

Property Right of Way is an easement allowing a person to reach different locations through a property owned by other person. This type of ROW is common when access to a public area such as a swamp or lake or river is only possible through a property owned by an individual. 

Private Right of Way

A Private Right of Way is a type of ROW that allows an individual access to a property owned by another person to reach a public road. This type of ROW is common for properties that are landlocked and impossible to access by foot or by vehicle without going through another person\’s property.

Public Right of Way

Public Right of Way is a type of ROW that allows the public to travel over a private piece of land unhindered. This type of ROW is in reference to sidewalks and roads that are adjacent to private land.

Pipeline Right of Way

This Right of Way allows services such as gas and electricity to use a private piece of land to run pipelines that are vital to its operations. This type of ROW is permanently attached to the deed of the property and details the restriction on the use of the land where the ROW is located.

Leave a Comment