Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

Project development

Engineering process | Scoping

Right of Way


MnDOT must acquire all of the right of way necessary to construct a project. The purpose of right of way policies and procedures is to ensure a uniform process that meets federal and state laws/requirements for the fair and equitable treatment of persons whom the state acquires land from and/or displaces.

When to use this subject

Consider right of way anytime a project requires property that the state does not already own. A "Right of Way Project" involves the temporary and/or permanent acquisition of land or other property rights on at least one parcel of land as required for a transportation improvement project. The process to acquire the right of way is complex especially when relocation is involved. 

For specific process information, see the other guidance page, Right of Way Process Flow Chart (This content is available only from computers on MnDOT's internal network), Right of Way Manual and/or contact one of the individuals on the contacts page.

How this subject fits into the overall project development process

You need to begin considering right of way needs as soon as possible, which is typically in the scoping phase. 

The right of way process typically takes 18-24 months from the time District Right of Way staff receive final construction limits to having possession of the property needed by the project letting date. This timeline includes the eminent domain process if properties need to be condemned to obtain title and possession.

While some right of way activities may begin earlier, those related to acquisition cannot start until after: 

  • The state has environmental clearance with location approval (The Record of Decision (ROD), Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) and the Categorical Exclusion (CATEX) determination or equivalent documents for state-funded projects typically document this clearance)
  • There is approval of a geometric layout (if one is required)
  • Construction limits defining actual right of way needs are in place
  • The preacquisition phase, which includes ordering titles, district field and office work
  • Office of Land Management operations and appraisals are complete
  • Municipal consent had been obtained (if applicable)

There are several right of way work packages in P6. Work with District Right of Way/Land Management staff to determine the correct work package to include in your project schedule and necessary modifications to activity durations.

Organizations involved

  • MnDOT:
  • Municipalities and counties
  • Property Owners