HD10 - Development of an Expedited Land Use Permit Process for Broadband Installation (Chapter 505, 2018 Acts of Assembly)

Executive Summary:

Chapter 505 of the 2018 Acts of Assembly directed the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) to develop and submit for approval to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) an expedited land use permit process for use by utility companies that offer high speed internet services.

To accomplish this task, VDOT conducted a survey of field staff involved in permit issuance and a survey of industry, reviewed fiber-related permits issued in calendar year 2017, and, working closely with stakeholders, developed a pilot countywide permit and related process, based upon the districtwide permit approach, for co-location of fiber on existing utility poles. This approach can be expected to save broadband utilities over three weeks in permit review and processing time out of the average 30 days such permits take currently.

This pilot permit has been offered to two electric co-operatives that install fiber to test the process and ensure it accomplishes the desired goal of expediting broadband provision to underserved areas while preserving the safety of the traveling public. A third electric co-operative has requested to participate in this pilot as well and is expected to submit a permit application soon. A copy of the permit and process has been sent to FHWA for review. As of the date of this report, no response has been received from FHWA. Should FHWA approve the process, VDOT will examine whether Land Use Permit Regulations (24 VAC 30-151) will need to be amended in order to implement the new expedited process and permit.