Right of way generally refers to streets and other public property reserved for public use, including walkways, sidewalks, bikeways and horse trails. This includes the air rights, subsurface rights and easements related to them. The right of way often extends well into what appears to be private property.
The city requires a permit for any disturbance or other private use of the public right of way.
If needed, we offer general information about right of way boundaries. These are not based on site-specific surveys. For additional requirements, standard details and standard drawings please see our Transportation Design Manual.
ROW Uses that require a permit
- Disturbance activities including, but are not limited to: trenching, boring, potholing, landscaping, replacement or modification of driveways.
- Non-disturbance activities including, but not limited to: temporary placement of industrial trash bins, parking moving vans or other vehicles in restricted parking areas and block parties.
- Private uses of the public right of way including, but not limited to: sidewalk cafés, block parties and shuttle services.
All utility and construction companies are required to obtain permits for all disturbance and non-disturbance work within the right of way.
Assistance available: The Right of Way Use Division of the Transportation Department, in coordination with the city's Development Services Department, can assist in the early stages of planning to help determine if a right of way use permit is necessary. It can also advise about problems that may be encountered or revisions needed to meet city codes or other regulations.
Call before you dig: When digging more than a foot deep in the public right of way, even to plant a shrub, you may encounter data telecommunication lines, power lines or other utilities. In addition to the obvious life-safety concerns, there may be liability for damage to any utility encountered. CALL 1-800-424-5555 BEFORE YOU DIG. It's the law.
Use of the right of way for disturbance and non-disturbance activities associated with commercial or multifamily development, as well as plat infrastructure. Uses include construction, renovation, maintenance and subsurface monitoring or exploration. Even if work is not in the right of way, activities such as hauling, staging or parking may require a permit.
Use of the right of way for franchise utility work such as power, gas, telecommunications, small wireless facilities and others operating under an existing Right of Way Use Franchise Agreement.
Use of the right of way for city projects (including contractors working under a city project contract) or projects of another government agency.
Use of the right of way associated with existing single-family home construction or remodels, including driveway (re)construction or relocation, landscaping and city water/sewer/storm service connections.
Use of the right of way for activities other than construction and not associated with a larger construction project having its own right of way permit. This includes permits for trucking oversized loads, temporary parking and loading zones, shuttle services, shared micromobility devices, sidewalk cafes, filming, vending of food or goods, block parties and other street activities that may affect the movement of vehicles or pedestrians. This permit is not applicable for franchise utility or government work.
Holiday Right of Way Work Restrictions
During the holiday season, the city restricts the hours that city crews, contractors and franchise utility companies can work on busy roadways. A seasonal work restrictions map shows the affected corridors. Restrictions are in place starting the Wednesday before Thanksgiving until early January.
The reasons for the restrictions are to limit impacts on the transportation system, increase safety and promote economic vitality during the busy holiday shopping season. Impacts from the work can affect pick-up and delivery services, the transit system and emergency responses during adverse weather conditions. If you have questions or concerns, please contact Rightofwayuse@bellevuewa.gov.