Encroachments and Utilities

An encroachment is a temporary use of State right-of-way for purposes other than transportation. The authority for Caltrans to control encroachments within the State right-of-way is covered under the California Streets and Highways Code. 

A utility is any privately, publicly or cooperatively owned line, facility or system for producing, transmitting or distributing electricity, gas, water, communications, waste or other similar commodity which serves the public.


  • Caltrans has adopted AASHTO’s October 2005 publications, "Policy on the Accommodation of Utilities Within Freeway Rights-of-Way" and "A Guide for Accommodating Utilities Within Highway Rights-of-Way."
  • Caltrans’ general policy is to allow utility facilities within conventional highway right-of-way subject to reasonable conditions to provide for the safety of the traveling public and to permit the improvement of the highway.
  • Caltrans’ policy with regard to freeways and expressways is to exclude utility facilities from within access controlled rights of way, to the extent practicable. It recognizes that freeway rights of way are a valuable commodity, and that such value to the traveling public could be seriously eroded by allowing uncontrolled access by utility facilities. The policy is intended to provide a safe environment for traffic operations, minimize the disruption to the traveling public, and assure the safety of utility employees during maintenance of their facilities.

Manuals and Related Information

California Government Code

  • Division 5: Public Work and Public Purchases

California Streets and Highway Code

Encroachments Permit Manual

  • Chapter 300 - Exceptions to Policy (PDF)
  • Chapter 600 - Utilities Permits (PDF)

Project Development Procedures Manual (PDPM)

  • PDPM Chapter 17 - Encroachments and Utilities (PDF)
  • PDPM Appendix LL - Utility Policy Certification and Utility Matrix (PDF)

Wired Broadband Resource Material