Current practices also inadequately serve utility relocation associated with construction projects. Because property acquisition typically begins within twelve to eighteen months prior to construction, limited opportunity exists to secure permissions and to allow utilities to accomplish relocation prior to construction. Relocation becomes less efficient and can sometimes delay the construction process.
Finally, the Department's potential ability to more proactively manage property for corridor preservation and utility relocation is not well defined. How can property interest requirements be identified earlier in the planning or project development process? To what extent do state statutes and local ordinances support a more proactive approach? Under what conditions are early acquisition and protection of property rights appropriate? What is the link to local zoning and planning authority, and how receptive are local jurisdictions to closer coordination and formal corridor planning? To what extent would the public and economic development community support corridor preservation efforts, and what education would be necessary to cultivate that support? How much design detail is needed to prove necessity? How should the environmental process be addressed to make sure that all feasible alternatives are considered? Until these and related questions are answered, the Department will be unable to manage transportation corridors as effectively as needed.