Athens Review, Athens, Texas

June 25, 2013

Hearing July 9 for Right of Way policy

Rich Flowers
The Athens Review

Athens — The Henderson County Commissoners Court is unveiling a proposed Rights of Way Policy at a public hearing next month.

Commissioners Court scheduled the hearing for 9:25 a.m., July 9 on the 19-page document. At the Commissioners meeting June 18, County Judge Richard Sanders commended Precinct 4 Commissioner Ken Geeslin for his work in preparing the 19-page document.

“The document that has been put together has been reviewed in two workshops by the court,”  Geeslin said. “It gives clear guidance on how entities such as pipeline companies, water companies and telephone utilities use the county right-of-way.”

Geeslin said Commissioners Court passed a resolution April 30 opposing Texas HB-2900 relating to County Road ROW, which failed to get out of committee. In researching for the resolution, Commissioners learned that Henderson County didn't have a formal ROW usage policy and thought it would be a good idea to put one in place.

Geeslin said the policy gives specific guidelines concerning the permitting process, as well as setting the costs associated with using the county ROW.

Among the provisions of the policy are:

• Utility lines shall be located to avoid or minimize the need for adjustment for future road improvements and to permit access to the utility lines for their maintenance with minimum interference to traffic.

• The location of utility lines shall not adversely affect the safety, design, construction, operation, maintenance or stability of the roadway.

• Appropriate signs, markings and barricades shall be placed by the utility company prior to the beginning of construction operations and shall be properly maintained. All traffic control devices shall conform to the Texas Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways.

•  If the utility company does not provide and maintain adequate traffic control devices to warn and protect motorists, the county may install traffic control devices it considers necessary. The expense of such devices will be borne by the utility company.

• Roadways adjacent to utility construction sites shall be kept free from debris, construction material and mud. At the end of every construction day, construction equipment and materials shall be removed as far from the roadway edges as feasible.

The types of utilities covered by the policy include Underground Utilities - General, High-Pressure Gas and Liquid Petroleum Lines, Low-Pressure Gas Lines, Water Lines, Sanitary Sewer Lines, Utility Structures,  Traffic Structures, Overhead Power and Communication Lines, Underground Power Lines and Underground Communication Lines.

The policy also sets a schedule of fees for violations in construction, including  cutting or trenching of a Henderson County road surface.