Sec.1 - General Provisions

1.1 Activities that Require Permitting


It is the responsibility of the individual or organization who desires to perform work in the public road right-of-way to secure a permit that authorizes the activity. The types of activities that may require a permit include:

  1. Construct, reconstruct, relocate, surface, or resurface a driveway or road approach to a road under the jurisdiction of the WCRC;
  2. Engage in a use of the land served by the driveway or road approach which is changed or expanded from that previously existing.
  3. Operate, use or maintain a new driveway or road connecting to a public road or right-of-way under the jurisdiction of the WCRC;
  4. Install, maintain, or connect any surface-level, underground, or overhead public or private utility, pipeline, wire, conduit, sewer, or associated appurtenance;
  5. Conduct surveying or geophysical operations;
  6. Erect or suspend a banner, decoration, or similar object;
  7. Close a road or section thereof to normal traffic for the purpose of staging a parade, celebration, festival, demonstration, or similar activity;
  8. Install, repair or maintain a non-motorized pathway;
  9. Conduct grading, landscaping, tree trimming or tree removal;
  10. Movement of vehicles or loads which exceed the size and weight limitations specified by law;
  11. Any other activity which requires excavation in the right-of-way, working from the right-of-way to reach abutting property, or disruption of normal traffic operations or patterns.

1.2 Authority


The WCRC is the jurisdictional authority over all public roads lying outside the incorporated cities and villages within Washtenaw County, exclusive of any state trunkline highways. This was first established by Act 283, PA of 1909, as amended, being MCL §220.1 et seq, commonly known as the County Road Law.


MCL §691.1402 further provides: "Each governmental agency having jurisdiction over any highway shall maintain the highway in reasonable repair so it is reasonably safe and convenient for public travel. Any person sustaining bodily injury or damage to his property by reason of failure of any governmental agency to keep any highway under its jurisdiction in reasonable repair and in condition reasonably safe and fit for travel may recover the damages suffered by him from such governmental agency." This section provides a specific and narrowly limited exception to governmental immunity.


Operations within the county road right-of-way other than normal vehicular or pedestrian travel require a permit when conducted by anyone other than WCRC personnel, agents, or contractors. The statutory authority of the WCRC to require compliance with permit requirements is predicated upon its jurisdictional authority and is set forth in various statutes. These include, without limitation and in no particular order, the following:

  1. MCL §247.321 et seq, known as the Driveways, Banners, Events, and Parades Act, sets forth parameters regarding the regulation of driveways, banners, events, and parades upon and over highways. The term "driveways" is broadly defined to include all points of access to public roads. The statute places responsibility for the regulation of such activities upon the highway authority. With respect to county roads, the highway authority is the Board of County Road Commissioners.
  2. MCL §224.19b, states that "a person, partnership, association, corporation or governmental entity shall not construct, operate, maintain or remove a facility or perform any other work within the right-of-way of a county road except sidewalk installation and repair without first obtaining a permit from the county road commission having jurisdiction over the road..."
  3. MCL §560.101 et seq, known as the Land Division Act, regulates the subdivision of land. It requires certain approvals by the WCRC, including the development of any public roads. The details of the WCRC role with respect to the Land Division Act are covered in the WCRC publication Procedures and Regulations For Developing Public Roads.
  4. MCL §247.171 et seq, prohibits obstructions and encroachments on public highways and provides for the removal thereof, and further prescribes the conditions under which public utility companies, cable television companies, and municipalities may enter upon public roads, bridges, and streets for the construction of their utility facilities.
  5. MCL §257.1 et seq, known as the Michigan Vehicle Code, governs the operation of vehicles on county roads.

1.3 Standards, Guidelines and Specifications for Design and Construction


The non-exhaustive list of engineering authorities in Section 1.3.2 will provide guidance to applicants and WCRC engineers and staff. These authorities do not supersede the need for sound engineering judgment in conformity with accepted engineering principles.


The WCRC hereby adopts by reference and incorporates in these procedures and regulations as if fully stated herein the most current editions of the following list of publications:

  • AASHTO A Guide For Accommodating Utilities Within Highway Right-Of-Way
  • AASHTO A Policy On Geometric Design of Highways and Streets
  • AASHTO Roadside Design Guide
  • APWA Position Statement, Public Rights-Of-Way Management, September 22, 1999
  • ATSSA Quality Standards For Work Zone Traffic Control Devices
  • FHWA Roundabouts: An Informational Guide, Publication No. FHWA-RD-00-067
  • ITE Trip Generation Handbook
  • ITE Trip Generation Manual
  • McKenna Associates and the WDBC Group, Evaluating Traffic Impact Studies, prepared for Tri-County Regional Planning, SEMCOG and MDOT, 1994
  • MDOT Design Survey Manual
  • MDOT Drainage Manual
  • MDOT Geometric Design Guide
  • MDOT Maintaining Traffic Typicals, Traffic and Safety Division
  • MDOT Road and Bridge Standard Plans
  • MDOT Standard Specifications For Construction
  • MDOT, Reducing Traffic Congestion and Improving Traffic Safety in Michigan Communities: The Access Management Guidebook, October 2001
  • Michigan Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices
  • TRB, Highway Capacity Manual

1.4 Definitions


Above Normal Maintenance: Within the context of a haul route, all work required that is a direct result of the additional loading placed on the road by the applicant's hauling operations. It includes, but is not limited to, such items as additional grading, gravel/limestone application, pavement repair, seal coating, resurfacing, shoulder restoration, and dust control. Unless otherwise specified on the permit, the Road Commission will perform all maintenance work.


Access A way or means of approach providing entrance to or exit from a public road to or from property adjoining the road.


Access Connection: Any driveway, lane, road or any other way of providing for the movement of vehicles to or from the public road system to or from abutting property.


Access Management: The process of developing, providing and managing reasonable access while preserving the flow of traffic and maintaining safety, capacity, and proper speed on the roadway system.


Acceleration Lane A lane, including a taper, constructed for the purpose of enabling a vehicle entering the roadway to increase its speed to a rate at which it can safely merge with through traffic.


ADT: The average two-way daily traffic volume. It represents the total average daily traffic. Where daily data is not available, data from a shorter period may sometimes be used.


Alternative Acess: The ability of any vehicle to enter a roadway through a roadway of lower functional classification.


AASHTO: American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.


APWA: American Public Works Association.


ATSSA: American Traffic Safety Services Association.


APPLICANT (Driveway Permit): A property owner or the property owner's authorized legal agent desiring to construct, reconstruct, relocate, resurface, use and maintain a driveway that connects to a county road.


Applicant (Right-of-Way Work): A public or private entity or a person making application for a permit to construct, operate, use and/or maintain a facility within the road right-of-way for the purpose outlined within the application.


Applicant's Engineer: The Professional Engineer registered in the State of Michigan employed by the Applicant to prepare plans and supervise construction.


Approach: A set of lanes accommodating all left-turn, through, and right-turn movements arriving at an intersection from a given direction.


Arterial: A major roadway intended primarily to serve through traffic, where access is carefully controlled; generally roadways of regional importance, intended to serve moderate to high volumes of traffic traveling relatively long distances and at higher speeds.



The procedure of making a hole below the ground surface by the use of an earth auger.


Auxiliary Lane:

Any lane striped for use, but not for through traffic including without limitation right-turn lanes, bypass lanes (passing flares), and left-turn lanes.


Average Day: A Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday for most uses. The average day may be a Saturday or Sunday for those uses which generate higher peak hour traffic volumes on Saturday or Sunday than during midweek.


Backfill: Replacement of acceptable soil or granular material in an excavation.


Banner Any arrangement of words, lettering, symbols, or decoration including a holiday decoration, suspended over any portion of a road or adjacent to a travel lane.


Board: The Board of County Road Commissioners of the County of Washtenaw.


Boring: The procedure of making a hole below the ground surface by the use of a boring bar.


Buffer Area: An area of the public right-of-way adjacent to a roadway which serves as a physical barrier between road traffic and activity or obstruction on the adjacent private property.


Carrier Pipe: Pipe directly enclosing a transmitted liquid, gas or solid.


Casing Pipe: A larger pipe enclosing a carrier pipe.


Channelization: The separation of conflicting traffic movements into defined paths of travel by use of traffic islands or pavement markings.


Circle Driveway: A private driveway which enters and leaves private property at two separate points within the same frontage.


Clear Vision Area: Land acquired and used by the WCRC for the purpose of maintaining unobstructed vision.


Clear Zone: The total roadside border area, starting at the edge of the traveled way, available for safe use by errant vehicles. This area may consist of a shoulder, a recoverable slope, a non-recoverable slope, and/or a clear run-out area. The desired width is dependent upon traffic volumes, speeds and roadside geometry.


Collector Road: A road intended to move traffic between local roads and arterial roads.


Commercial Driveway: A driveway serving a commercial establishment, industry, governmental or educational institution, hospital, church, apartment building, manufactured housing community, or any other facility not included within the definitions of residential, field or utility structure driveways.


Conflift Point: An area where intersecting traffic either merges, diverges or crosses.


Corner Clearance: The distance from an intersection of a public or private road to the nearest access connection, measured from the closest edge of the pavement of the intersecting road to the closest edge of the pavement of the access connection along the traveled way.


County Highway Engineer: Per MCL §224.10, a Professional Engineer employed by the Board of County Road Commissioners who shall make surveys ordered by the board, prepare plans and specifications for roads, bridges, and culverts, and exercise general supervision over construction to insure that the plans and specifications are strictly followed.


Cover: Depth between grade of roadway, ditch or other surface and buried utility pipe, culvert, communication cable, or electrical conductor.


Cross Access: An easement or service drive providing vehicular access between two or more contiguous sites so that the driver does not need to reenter the public road system to pass from one site to the other.


Deceleration Lane: A lane, including a taper, constructed for the purpose of enabling a vehicle to leave the through traffic lane at a speed equal to or slightly less than the speed of traffic in the through lane and then decelerate to a stop or execute a slow-speed turn.


Didication: A conveyance of property by a private owner to the public.


Direct Burial: Installing a utility facility underground without encasement, by plowing or trenching.


Directional Median Opening: An opening in a median that provides for specific movements and physically restricts other movements.


Design Speed A selected speed used to determine the various geometric design features of a roadway, based on the topography, anticipated operating speed, adjacent land use, and the functional classification of the roadway.


Designated Routes: Paved roads designed and constructed to AASHTO and MDOT all-season road standards and/or roads that are so designated as such by the Board.


Directional Drilling: Pushing a rod completely through the soil and then pulling a reamer and casing or carrier pipe back through the bore.


Directional Driveway: A driveway system designed so that traffic leaving the road is separated from and does not conflict with traffic entering the road (with critical turning movements to and from the property restricted) at certain access points. (Also known as "oneway" drive.)


Divided Driveway: A driveway with a raised median between ingress and egress lanes.


Divided Roadway: A roadway on which traffic traveling in opposite directions is physically separated by a median.


Driveway: Any lane, road, or other way providing vehicular access to or from a public road from or to the property adjoining the road.


Driveway Flare: A triangular pavement surface at the intersection of a driveway with a public road that facilitates turning movements and is used to replicate the turning radius areas with curb and gutter construction.


Driveway Offset: The distance between the centerlines of two driveways on opposite sides of an undivided roadway.


Driveway Return Radius: A circular pavement transition at the intersection of a driveway with a road that facilitates turning movements to and from the driveway.


Driveway Spacing: The distance between the centerlines of driveways on the same side of the road.


Driveway Width: The narrowest width of a driveway, measured perpendicular to the centerline of the driveway.


Dual Service Driveways: Two adjacent commercial driveways designed to facilitate traffic movement between a roadway and a single private property by use of one driveway to enter and the other driveway to exit the property.


Easement: A right-of-way granted, but not dedicated, for specific and limited use of private land.


Egress: The exit of vehicular traffic from abutting property to a road.


Exception: Permission to depart from established standards due to unusual circumstances.


Field Driveway: Any driveway serving a farm yard, cultivated or uncultivated field, timberland or undeveloped land not used for industrial, commercial or residential purposes.


Frontage: The private property that abuts the road right-of-way.


Frontage Road: An access road that generally parallels a major public roadway and runs between the right-of-way of the major roadway and the front building setback line and provides access to private property while separating it from the major roadway.


Gap: The median time headway (in seconds) between vehicles in a major traffic stream which will permit vehicles to cross through or merge with the major traffic stream under prevailing traffic and roadway conditions.


Government Agency: Classification as a Governmental Agency requires the party to be a political subdivision of the State, (county, township, city, or village) or a subagency or combination thereof. Examples include, without limitation, a drainage district, a combined water distribution or sanitary sewer district, in certain circumstances a school board, etc. An association of individuals or private entities is not recognized as a governmental agency.


Grade (Gradient): The rate or percentage change in slope, measured along the centerline of a roadway or access point, either ascending or descending from or along the roadway.


HMA: Hot Mix Asphalt.


Ingress: The entrance of vehicular traffic to abutting property from a roadway.


Inspection: The close observation and examination of various construction operations and the product thereof as a means of determining compliance with standards for activities conducted in the right-of-way.


ITE: Institute of Transportation Engineers.


Interparcel Circulation: The ability of vehicular traffic to move between adjacent properties without reentering a public roadway.


Intersection: The general area where two or more roadways join or cross, including the roadway and roadside facilities for traffic movements within the area.


Intersection Sight Distance: The distance available at an intersection which will allow drivers of stopped vehicles a sufficient view of the intersecting roadway to decide when to enter or cross the intersecting roadway.


Jacked-in-place: A construction method that includes pushing a pipe through the soil. This method may also include pushing a pipe through the soil while a boring auger rotates within the pipe to remove the soil.


Joint Use (Utility): The use of pole lines, trenches or other facilities by two or more utilities.


Level of Service: A qualitative measure describing operational conditions within a traffic stream; generally described in terms of such factors as speed and travel delay, freedom to maneuver, traffic interruptions, comfort and convenience, and safety.


Limited Access: Road right-of-way to which no person, including owners or occupants of abutting lands, shall have legal right of access except at limited access points established by the public authority having jurisdiction over the road, street, or highway.


Local Road: A roadway with the primary function of providing access to and from adjacent properties and to and from roadways of a higher functional classification.


Local Traffic: Traffic, which uses a particular road or route to access residences, businesses, or other abutting properties and has no alternative route to said residence, business, or other abutting property.


Long Term Haul Route: A haul route established when the need for such routes is expected to exceed two years. These may include routes serving extraction operations, landfill sites, agricultural commodities, and hauling raw materials to and finished products from manufacturing and warehousing installations.


Median: The portion of a divided roadway or divided entrance separating the traveled ways from opposing traffic.


Median Crossing: A gap in the median provided for crossing or turning traffic.


Michigan Coordinate System: The system of identification of land defined in MCL §§ 54.231 to 54.239.


MDEQ: The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.


MDOT: The Michigan Department of Transportation.


MMUTCD: The current edition of the Michigan Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices.


National Functional Classification System: A system used to group public roadways into classes according to their purpose in moving vehicles and providing access.


Normal Routes: Gravel roads and those paved road that are subject to normal load and dimension maximums as defined by statute.


Peak Hour: The one-hour period within a day which a particular portion of the road system experiences its highest hourly volume of traffic flow. Peak hours may be identified during the morning (a.m. peak hour), the afternoon or evening (p.m. peak hour), or the hour of highest volume of traffic entering or exiting a site (peak hour generator).


Permit Section: The Permit Section of the Engineering Department of the Washtenaw County Road Commission.


Plowing: The placing of cable, conductors or flexible pipe underground by a plow designed so as to permit the cable, conductor, or pipe to be fed through the plow blade to a minimum specified depth with minimum displacement of soil.


PCC: Portland Cement Concrete.


Private Road: A road which is not under the jurisdiction of the WCRC and which serves four or more businesses, homes or lots.


Property Owner: A person, firm, association, partnership, corporation, or combination of any of these or any other party having an ownership interest in land.


Permit Holder: Once a permit is issued, the Applicant or a person, partnership, corporation or entity under sufficient authority and control of the Applicant to perform the work requested by the Applicant in accordance with the requirements set forth in these rules and the terms and conditions of a permit issued by the WCRC.


Professional Engineer: A civil engineer who is a professional engineer licensed under Article 20 of the Michigan Occupational Code, and MCL §§339.2001 to 339.2014.


Professional Surveyor: A surveyor licensed under Article 20 of the Michigan Occupational Code and MCL §§339.2001 to 339.2014.


Rear Service Drive: A local road or private road typically located behind principal buildings and parallel to an arterial roadway for service to abutting properties for the purpose of controlling access to the arterial road.


Regional Traffic Analysis: A traffic impact study for very high traffic-generating uses typically covering a large geographic area and may include traffic condition projections for up to a twenty year period.


Residential Driveway: A driveway serving one single-family dwelling.


Residential Shared Driveway: A driveway serving not more than three (3) single family dwellings.


Reverse Frontage: Frontage on an access road constructed at the rear of a lot or lots fronting on a major roadway.


Right-of-Way: The land over which the Board has jurisdiction and which is subject to use for highway purposes. Right-of-way may be obtained by deed, statutory or plat dedication, condemnation, or a ten-year period of use pursuant to statute. It may be held either in fee or as an easement.


Right-of-Way Line: A boundary along the road frontage which denotes the limit of width of the right-of-way.


Road: A way for vehicular traffic, whether designated as a “street”, “highway”, “thoroughfare”, “freeway”, “expressway”, “parkway”, “through-way”, “avenue”, “boulevard”, “lane”, “cul-de-sac”, “drive”, “court”, or other title including the entire area within the rightof-way.


Roadway: That portion of a road improved, designed or ordinarily used for vehicular travel exclusive of the berm or shoulder. In the event a road includes two or more separate roadways, “roadway” refers to any such roadway separately, but not to all such roadways collectively.


Service Road: A public or private road auxiliary to an arterial roadway that provides access to parcels surrounding an arterial roadway and that typically serves nonresidential development.


Shared Access: A single connection serving two or more adjoining lots or parcels.


Short Term Haul Route: A haul route established for a specific project that will not exceed a period of two years.


Sight Distance: The length of the roadway ahead that is visible to the driver. The available distance on a roadway should be sufficiently long to enable a vehicle traveling at or near the design speed to stop before reaching a stationary object in its path.


Sight Triangle: An area of unobstructed sight distance along both approaches of an access connection.


Stop Work Order: A written notice issued by the WCRC directing immediate cessation of illegal and/or unpermitted work within the WCRC right-of-way.


Stopping Sight Destance: The sum of two distances: (1) the distance traversed by the vehicle from the instant the driver sights an object necessitating a stop to the instant the brakes are applied; and (2) the distance needed to stop the vehicle from the instant brake application begins.


Storage Length: Lane footage added to a deceleration lane to store the maximum number of vehicles likely to accumulate during a peak period, so as not to interfere with the through-travel lanes.


Study Area: The geographic area containing site access points and critical intersections (and connecting road segments) that are expected to be affected by traffic generated by a development.


Subdivision Section: The Subdivision Section of the Engineering Department of the Washtenaw County Road Commission.


Taper: Widening of pavement to allow the redirection and transition of vehicles around or into an auxiliary lane. There are two types: (a) redirect tapers necessary for the redirection of vehicles along the traveled way, and (b) transition tapers for auxiliary lanes that allow the turning vehicle to transition from or to the traveled way, to or from an auxiliary lane.


Temporary Access Connection (Conditional): An access connection permitted to be used for a particular purpose for a specified, short period of time not to exceed one year. After said period of time, either a permanent access connection permit must be obtained and the permanent connection built or the temporary access connection must be removed and the right-of-way restored to its original condition.


Throat Length: The distance running parallel to the centerline of a driveway from the access point to the first onsite location at which a driver can make a right or left turn; measured on roadways with curb and gutter from the face of the curb and on roadways without a curb and gutter from the edge of shoulder.


Throat Width: The narrowest width of a driveway, measured perpendicular to the centerline of the driveway.


Through Movement: The predominant direction of traffic flow through an intersection.


Traffic Control Plan: A plan identifying all required traffic control devices, including but not limited to signs, barriers, barricades, plastic drums, lights and pavement markings, in accordance with the current MMUTCD.


Traffic Count: A tabulation of the number of vehicles or pedestrians passing a certain point during a specified period of time.


Traffic Impact Study: Analysis of the potential traffic impacts generated by a proposed project on intersection level-of-service and the safety and operation of the public road system. The type of study and level of analysis will vary depending upon the type and size of development. Typically, there are three types of traffic impact studies including (1) Traffic Impact Assessment, (2) Traffic Impact Statement, and (3) Regional Traffic Analysis.


Traffic Impact Assessment: A traffic impact study for relatively low traffic generating uses which focuses on the impacts at proposed site access points.


Traffic Impact Statement: A traffic impact study which evaluates the impacts on roadways adjacent to the study site and specified nearby intersections. This is the most common type of impact study.


TRB: Transportation Research Board.


Traveled Way: That portion of a road improved, designed or ordinarily used for vehicular travel exclusive of the berm or shoulder. In the event a road includes two or more separate roadways, “roadway” refers to any such roadway separately, but not to all such roadways collectively.


Trip (Directional Trip): A single or one direction vehicle movement with either the origin or the destination inside a study area. A vehicle leaving the roadway and entering a property is one trip, and the vehicle leaving the property is a second trip.


Trip Distribution: The measure of the number of vehicles or passenger movements that are or will be made between geographic areas.


Two-way Left-turn Lane, Continous (TWLTL) A continuous lane located between opposing traffic streams that provides a refuge for vehicles to complete left turns from both directions.


Undivided Roadway: A roadway that has no directional separation, natural or structural, to separate traffic moving in opposite directions.


Urban Area: The urban area in Washtenaw County based on the current Federal-Aid Urban Boundary as determined by MDOT and FHWA.


Utility Service Connections: Facilities supplying utility service to individual consumers from a main line.


Utility Structure Driveway: Any driveway serving a structure or utility installation such as a pump house or substation which operates automatically and requires only occasional access.


Waiver: Permission to depart from a regulatory standard where required conditions are satisfied.


Warrant: The criteria by which the need for a safety treatment or roadway improvement can be determined.


WCRC: Washtenaw County Road Commission


Work Authorization: Instrument used by the WCRC to correct conditions that, in the judgment of the WCRC, are unsafe, causing unacceptable delay and inconvenience to the public, damage to the roadway, drainage systems, or appurtenances, damage to public or private property. Work Authorization shall be issued after reasonable efforts to notify the Applicant, Permit Holder, or property owner. The work authorizations shall provide for labor and equipment to install signs, barricades or barriers, and other equipment and materials required to restore the right-of-way.

1.5 Preservation of Survey Monuments


To ensure compliance with the provisions of MCL §54.201 et seq, regarding the preservation of survey monuments and witnesses, the following procedures shall apply to all permit applicants, their engineers and surveyors, and Permit Holders performing work within WCRC right-of-way:

  1. Public land survey corners and property controlling corners located within a construction area shall be witnessed prior to the commencement of construction and their locations shall be noted on plans submitted as part of a permit application. All corners shall be reestablished in accordance with MCL §54.201 et seq. The Permit Holder and contractor shall coordinate the work with a Professional Surveyor licensed in the State of Michigan during construction activities for the purpose of placing survey monuments and monument boxes in new pavement, etc.
  2. If a survey corner or property controlling monument is located in a public roadway that is hard surfaced, the monument shall be flush with the finished pavement elevation on all sides.
  3. If a survey corner or a property controlling monument is located in a public roadway that is not hard-surfaced, the monument shall be at least 8 inches below the surface of the finished road.
  4. All monuments shall comply with and the current WCRC special provision.
  5. Upon completion of the requirements of MCL §54.201 et seq, the Professional Surveyor shall submit two copies of the recorded Land Corner Record Certificate (with Liber and Page); one shall be sent to the project engineer and one shall be sent to the WCRC Permit Section.

1.6 Amendment


From time to time and as circumstances may require the Board may amend all or any part of these Procedures and Regulations as provided by law.