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Use of Rights of Way on Low Volume Roads for Agriculture


The Saskatchewan Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure (SMHI), working in partnership with several smaller
urban and rural municipalities, recently reconstructed a low volume (< 1000 AADT) 40 kilometer long Provincial Highway corridor in Central Saskatchewan. As part of this partnership, the local communities offered to secure the required right of way to reconstruct the corridor to an upgraded standard. An impediment to procuring the right of way was the desire of a majority of the property owners along the corridor to not reduce the number of productive acres in their agricultural land base. SMHI prepared a proposal for the communities use in negotiating with the landowners that provided a method whereby the majority of lands required outside of the roadway embankment footprint could remain in agricultural production. This entailed first modifying the cross section geometric elements that were contained in the typical design standards to provide for reasonable and safe traversing of the lands with all types of agricultural equipment. Contingent to providing these elements was the ability to secure consent of individual landowners for the use of, and to modify lands outside the right of way proper during construction. Participating landowners were required to obtain and retain a valid permit authorizing their use of the right of way for agricultural purposes. The permit contained the terms by which they were bound in return for the Province allowing the ongoing use of the right of way for agricultural production. These terms included: 1) items necessary to ensure the safety and ongoing operation of the corridor; 2) terms and conditions for the use of the right of way that would not inhibit SMHI’s control of the right of way for maintenance of the roadway surface, embankment, and associated appurtenances; 3) items to ensure the rights of way’s continued use as a corridor for the installation, operation and maintenance of utilities; and 4) items to ensure the positive conveyance of water to maintain natural drainage patterns and protect the embankment. The proposal was established on a pilot project basis and is now in its 3rd year of operation. There are multiple benefits of this approach including the environmental sustainability and continuing economic benefit due to the continued productive use of the lands for agricultural production, reduced expenditures for the procurement cost of the right of way, control of noxious weeds, and annual savings to SMHI in reductions in the effort required for right of way maintenance. Based on the success of this pilot project, a second pilot project on a 44 kilometer corridor reconstruction project is currently underway.

Conference Paper Details

Session title:
Low Volume Road Construction
Danielson, T.
Leibel, T.
Churko, A.J.
Construction, Maintenance and operations