Right of Way Solutions

See also our Definitions Page.

Universal delivers a broad range of professional services to help build the infrastructure needed for a modern nation. Considering all the pipelines, electric transmission lines, new highways, water facilities, airports, and other improvements needed for our society, Universal's professional services are vital to solving your problems.

Our complete services include –

Land and Right of Way Acquisition

Universal excels at the processes of acquiring property interests for infrastructure projects. It is our entire focus, and all surrounding services are devoted to deliver results more effectively and efficiently. Acquiring real property interests involves land title, valuation, descriptions, conditions, and much more detail. But, most importantly, it involves People. Our approach is to quickly build rapport and understanding with our clients, with subconsultants, and with those affected by a project.

The interests we acquire might include permanent easements for project structures or needs, access easements, temporary work easements, fee title (ownership of all rights), permits, and other rights.

Project Management

Project management consists of the range of duties to oversee in a most effective manner the execution of a project's tasks. Project management not only includes the specific project manager but also the supervisors below that position and the corporate management team above the position. The Project Manager has a key role in determining the success of the project through skillful communications, scheduling, budget management, quality control, and data management.

Environmental Services

Some level of environmental permitting is required on every pipeline and electric transmission line as well as for many government projects. Environmental permit requirements can be as minor as a seasonal stream crossing or as major as an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) with required federal government approvals.

Effective project development requires Right of Way and Environmental staff to be involved in the early planning of a project. These services help plan the routes and ensure that the right of way can not only be acquired, but that the project can be built there. Universal’s Environmental Services Division and our right of way staff will efficiently coordinate those key services from project conception through construction.

Surveying & Mapping

Through our subsidiary Universal Surveying & Mapping (USM) (www.usmsurveying.com), Universal offers customized surveying and mapping solutions for projects of any scale. USM is an experienced provider of surveying and mapping services. Our clients benefit from our decades of experience and the latest technology tools, such as GPS, Robotic Total Station, GIS, terrestrial laser scanning, utility coordination, and airborne LiDAR. The integrated way USM and Universal Field Services can work together on a project accelerates performance and minimizes costs. We are devoted to customer service by staying on schedule, in touch, and within the budget.

GIS/Mapping Services

Universal’s GIS/Mapping Division offers extensive experience serving clients with a broad range of geospatial services including Cartography, Map Production, Web Map Services, and Spatial Analysis. From project conception to completion, our GIS specialists leverage ESRI’s suite of products to provide comprehensive mapping services and deliver powerful business intelligence in a wide range of formats. Combining geospatial data from various sources with project data collected by our right of way staff, we collaborate with all project disciplines to provide visual representations of key metrics from feasibility to construction. This includes coordinating data transfer between our ROW field staff, environmental group, and surveying team. Our GIS services are designed to meet the specific needs of each project and deliver critical data with cost effective solutions.

Services include: due diligence research and recommendations, route and site selection, feasibility studies, environmental planning and permitting, natural and water resources, cultural resources, air quality, and construction liaison.

Database Management Systems

Universal has long recognized the importance of providing our clients with documentation to support the quality processes that have taken place in the acquisition of property and displacement of any residences and businesses. Our file systems relate to the scope of the projects we are serving and the requirements of our client. When only a few parcels are affected, we might utilize a simple MS Excel spreadsheet for tracking and reporting. For large projects, we have progressively developed and used database systems with increasing versatility and scalability for tracking all data and adapting to unique reporting or documentation needs.

In addition, our new database system has leading-edge features to store GIS, aerial, and other useful data as well as interact with it online. Users of the system can find specific data or document images, relate data files to other information, store the information in formats determined by the client, share the data with others, and generate reports. Universal also has highly skilled and experienced GIS and mapping resources in-house for maximum effectiveness of management and connectivity with that data.

Our substantial experience in federal-aid acquisition programs and the database management requirements of those programs has been a good guide to the importance of maintaining detailed and comprehensive files regarding acquisition-related activities.

Line List Preparation

At the earliest stages of executing projects for new pipelines and electric transmission lines, right of way staff often must develop a list of all potential property owners in the vicinities of the project locations. The lists are developed when agents with special training review tax rolls and conduct detailed research of property title. Research will be done to determine all parties of interest in the project. The findings are then placed in the project database and the documentation is saved in a well-organized file system. The Line List then allows the project team to contact property owners and other stakeholders to inform them of key information regarding the project.

Cost Estimates

Right of Way Cost Estimates are analyses of the potential costs of land and right of way needed for a project and are done to assist in the consideration of or design of a project to minimize impacts on society, overall costs, and schedule management.

Dedicated to providing best-value services, the Universal Team is focused on the effective management of plans, schedule and budgets. Universal listens to the client and stakeholders and recommends useful solutions to areas of concern. Universal is dedicated to the efficient and effective application of every effort in accomplishing our client's goals.

Title Search

A Title Report/Search provides a summary of the status of current ownership of and interests in a particular property following a review or search of the public record regarding that property. This usually is prepared in order to issue a title commitment of insurance by a properly licensed company.

The title search can look back at ownership over differing periods of time, such as just to the transfer of the current owner, to 20 or 30 years, or even back to patent when the U.S. government conveyed ownership to the first private party.

Appraisals

These are an independent and objective analysis of the value of property conducted by an appraiser with unique experience and skill in conducting such analysis. For real estate valuation appraisals, experts traditionally use three approaches to value and reconcile the findings most appropriate for the parcel/property being appraised. The approaches are Market Data, Cost, and Income. Usually, one method is the most relevant for a particular appraisal assignment.

Universal often contracts with the most experienced and skilled appraisers knowledgeable of a project location so the most reliable valuation information is obtained and presented properly.

Route Selection

The final decision for the location of a project's features (route) consists of many complex analyses. These might include environmental studies, government review, cost analysis, public outreach reviews, and other considerations. The typical analysis done by Universal for rights of way issues affecting route selection includes (as appropriate) land valuation, types of properties affected by the project, potential residential or business relocations, and public outreach.

Permitting

Right of Way Permitting is a form of acquisition typically done very early in a project by which all regulatory or governmental interests that are affected by a project are recognized, documented, and appropriate approvals obtained relative to the project's right of way needs.

Universal will acquire all use Permits issued by affected counties, federal and state highway Permits, county road crossing Permits, Railroad Crossing Licenses, permits from other utilities, and other federal or local permits required for the construction of the transmission line.

Records Management

An essential element of any project involves establishing and managing the records needed to document all activities and transactions as well as to show compliance with the program objectives and ensure eligibility for State/Federal participation, if applicable. Universal maintains a separate file for each parcel, permit, or other activity. Universal will deliver written status reports in an acceptable format according to the client's schedule covering all aspects of the project to the client. For projects that have an internet-accessible database, the system will be enabled to provide authorized users customized reports to serve their needs.

Relocation Assistance

Universal has conducted diligent and thoughtful relocation assistance services since the founding legislation (the Uniform Act) was implemented. Our staff is highly trained in the laws and regulations appropriate to the Uniform Act and all associated State and Local laws and requirements.

In full compliance with all laws and regulations, Universal provides financial and advisory facilitation to persons and businesses displaced by a project, assisting the displacees with their move to minimize any losses and inconvenience and not subjecting them to a replacement situation that is inferior to where they were previously.

Public Outreach

Public outreach activities are important to every project at levels of effort appropriate for the timing of tasks and the size of the project. This involves some basic purposes – to learn from the public vital information relating to route planning, to provide helpful services to those affected by or interested in a project, and to provide those people with valued information. Universal has experience in public outreach activities for all kinds of projects, beginning with environmental services. We also have various best-practices policy and procedure guidance for effective operation of Open House environments and public contact.

To those affected by a project, the uncertainty of what lies ahead is often the most frustrating part of the process. We have found that involving right of way staff in community workshops provides an excellent mechanism for disseminating accurate project information to a large number of stakeholders. They afford the public an opportunity to view the project maps and to ask questions about the land acquisition and relocation assistance processes.

Settlement of Construction

Damages Settlement of Construction Damages occurs at the time of construction of an infrastructure project. Unexpected situations arise that cause inconvenience, cost, or physical damage to the interests of property owners affected by the project. Settlement of those construction damages involves a right of way agent who meets with the property owners, tenants, and other affected parties, identifies the claims of the parties, and negotiates a settlement of such claims so that no lingering disputes remain between affected parties and the owner of the project after construction.

Complete Turnkey Services

Right of Way Turnkey Services provide maximum ease of service delivery and minimization of management complication, combining all right of way related services served by a single services provider. This is often the most efficient and effective contracting method. This "turnkey" approach enables a project developer to have a single point of contact for all right of way functions for services delivery and accountability.

Partnering with Engineers

Many public agencies, utilities, construction companies, and private entities hire engineering companies to design a project and conduct other tasks such as route selection, line list preparation, public outreach, utility relocation, survey permission acquisition, permitting, and land and right of way acquisition. The engineering firm then subcontracts to Universal these activities for the application of the most experienced and skilled negotiation and relocation agents. Universal serves large and small engineering clients all across America.