WYDOT warns against pushing snow into the rights-of-way
This winter, like nearly every winter, landowners pushing snow into the rights-of-way, impacts state-owned property in Sweetwater, Uinta, Lincoln, Teton and Sublette counties and are criminally and civilly liable for damages to state property, including right-of-way fencing and other state property, inside the state rights-of-way.
“From WYDOT’s perspective, the safety of motorists, workers and volunteers in the rights-of-way is a high priority in making decisions what activities are allowed along the state highway system,” said WYDOT District 3 Public Relations Specialist Theresa Herbin. “This snow build up creates a dangerous situation for motorists due to the potential for limited visibility caused by the snow blowing back over the highway, not to mention icy spots,” she said.
The accumulating snow build up also can cause damages to signs, signposts, guardrails, and permitted utilities, as well as the fencing along the highway. “Damages to any of these items can also increase the potential for hazards to motorists,” Herbin said. Damages to the fence posts or fence can allow breaches to the fencing, allowing animals that otherwise would be fenced out to gain access to the highway and increase the likelihood of being hit by a vehicle.
Some of the state highway rights-of-way are held by WYDOT through permanent easements. Although the title to the land belongs to the grantor of the easement, a highway easement brings with it all of the laws, rules, policies and authority that go along with the control of highways.
Chapter 19-3 of the WYDOT Rules and Regulations states in part “any use of the right-of-way which interferes with construction or maintenance of the highway, or safe use of the traveling public, shall be considered an unlawful encroachment.” Wyoming law makes these unlawful encroachments misdemeanor offenses on state-owned or controlled lands.