Right of Way Permits and Standards
Right of Way Permits and Standards
- Standard Specs for Paving and Construction
- Street and Alley Standards
- Utility Restoration Detail
- Sidewalk Ramp Details
- Plan Review Checklist
- RoW Easements, Encroachments, Vacations
Please read through the information below before submitting for your Right of Way permit.
What is the Right of Way?
Right of Way (RoW) is land controlled by public agencies that includes streets, alleys, public sidewalks, curbs, and the berm/green area, which is the area between the curb and sidewalk. Work within the city's Right of Way is managed by the City Engineering Division of the Department of Public Works (DPW).
When is a Right of Way Permit required?
In accordance with Detroit Code Section 43, Division 2 it is necessary to obtain a permit from the City Engineering Division, DPW prior to any construction activities within a street, alley, sidewalk or berm/green area. This includes
- Construction - Altering the Right of Way (e.g. Installing utilities like water mains, gas lines, telecommunications lines, etc., installing water or sewer taps, replacing sidewalks, driveway approach, etc.)
- Occupying - Temporary sidewalks/lane/street closure (e.g., crane/construction equipment on street/sidewalk, filming, special events, dumpsters, etc.)
- Oversized and/or Overweight Loads
Types of Right of Way Permits:
- Façade Repair
- Fiber Optic Cable
- Outdoor Café
- Oversized Loads
- Sidewalk Replacement (Contractor or Professional)
- Utility Installation - Conduit/Coaxial Cable
- Utility Installation - Main Installation or Repair
- Valet Staging - Temporary
- Valet Staging - Annual
- Water and/or Sewer Tap
- Occupying the Right-of-Way
- Curb Cut
- Drive Approach, Remove and Replace
- Helicopter Lift
- Monitoring Wells
- Sidewalk Replacement (Homeowner's)
- Snow Removal
- Soil Borings
- Vehicle Display
How do I obtain a Right of Way Permit?
A permit application must be completed by any person or company who plans construction activities to alter the right-of-way, this includes installing or removing a driveway approach. This consists of completing the permit application and submitting plans or drawings of the work within the right-of-way.
The City Engineering Division – DPW provides the “Standard Specifications for Paving and Related Construction” and the “Street and Alley Standard Plans” on the City’s web site at the Standards and Specifications Website. Construction work must comply with specifications in this manual.
Right-of-way Flat Work:
All concrete streets, alleys, sidewalks and drive approaches constructed by a contractor shall have the contractor’s name and the year in which the pavement was laid, carefully and clearly impressed in the concrete surface of each end slab, as directed by the Engineer. The stamp or plate used for marking shall have an approximate outside dimension of 4” x 6”. The stamp will be considered incidental to the cost of construction. NO concrete may be placed in the City of Detroit right-of-way without the stamp being shown to the Inspector on site.
The placement of obstruction by the owner of private property on, above or below public rights-of-way (including public alleys) may require the resolution/approval of City Council and separate “encroachment” permits. Questions regarding “encroachments” should be directed to the City Engineering Division – DPW, Maps and Records Bureau.
Central Business District:
All Contractors working in the Central Business District (the area surrounded by the Detroit River to the South, Lodge Freeway to the West, Fischer Freeway I-75 to the North and Chrysler Freeway I-375, to the East (E) must first submit a set of plans to Traffic Engineering (2633 Michigan Avenue, Prasad Nannapaneni) who will take the plans and present them to the Technical Review Committee (TRC). This committee will review the Right-of-Way permit request, traffic congestion, consider emergency vehicle access, downtown events, parking, etc. The Technical Review Committee (TRC) meet weekly on Tuesday. Contractors should allow time in the permit process for permit applications/plans to be approved by the TRC. A permit for work within the Central Business District WILL NOT be issued until TRC approve the plans.
All contractors working within fifty feet (50’) of the Detroit People Mover MUST obtain a permit/sign-off from the Detroit People Mover, 535 Griswold, Suite 400, Detroit, Michigan 48226, (313) 224-2160.
Note: All contractors must be bonded with a $2,500 Surety Bond with the city of Detroit. This bond must be completed before any work is done in the right of way.
In addition, in an effort to protect the City's investments in its infrastructure, a directive was issued updating the requirements for pavement restoration due to utility cuts in roads. Select this link to download the Utility Restoration Standard Detail.
What is the Plan Review Process?
Prior to issuing a permit, plans or drawings of the work are to be reviewed by the City Engineering Division to ensure compliance with City of Detroit Standards, Ordinances, Policies and Codes. The documents submitted for review shall include a scope of work letter describing the proposed work activities with estimated start and finish dates and drawings depicting (at a minimum) the following information:
- Location and dimensions of the proposed work
- Dimensions and depth of open-cut trenches and utilities to be placed
- The type of pavement or surface to be disturbed
- Proposed grades, elevations and slopes; and
- Methods to restore the work area.
- For a comprehensive list of site plan requirements, select the following link:
Note: All right-of-way drawings shall be signed and sealed by a licensed architect or engineer.
What about work in the Central Business District and Midtown Detroit?
All Contractors working in the Central Business District or Midtown Detroit, plans must also be reviewed by the Technical Review Committee (TRC). The committee will review the Right-of-Way Permit Application and Plans to consider the impact to traffic congestion, emergency vehicle access, conflicts with other construction activities, downtown events, parking, etc.
The TRC meets weekly on Tuesday mornings. Contractors should allow time in the permit process for permit applications/plans to be approved by the TRC.
Valet Location Staging Permit Process
A permit must be completed by any person or company who desires to place a valet staging service in the Right of Way or on private property which requires the use of the Right of Way for maneuvering vehicles.
In addition, the Valet Service must be licensed to perform valet services. The Building Safety Engineering and Environment Departments Business License Center is responsible for licensing such operations. They can be contacted at:
REQUESTS FOR STATUS CHANGES TO THE RIGHT-OF-WAY
Status changes in the public right-of-way (streets and alleys) require the resolution/approval of City Council and may require additional permits. The types of status changes include:
- Berm Use
- Conversion to Easement
- Outright Vacation
- Temporary Closing
City Engineering Division publishes a couple documents that establish the standards for work in the public right of way.. Right-of-way construction work must comply with these documents. The Standard Specifications for Paving and Related Construction are available for viewing and downloading on the City website at: