Utility Work in the Right of Way

What permit(s) do I need for utility work in the right of way?

Utility work in the right of way falls into three categories. The category into which your project falls determines which permits you will need to obtain prior to starting work. The three categories are:

  • Minor Utility (formerly known as simple utility or utility OTC permits and includes annual vehicle permits)
  • Utility Major

The following descriptions will help you determine the category into which your work falls.

Minor Utility Permits

An annual vehicle permit is required for all vehicles associated with work in the right of way in Seattle, unless a single-use permit (such as a simple-utility or utility-major permit) has been issued for the work. If your planned utility work does not involve any disturbance to infrastructure within the right of way or any possible damage to right- of-way improvements such as sidewalks, you may only need to obtain an annual vehicle permit in order to complete your work. Annual vehicle permits are intended to be used by entities performing frequent, short-term work in multiple locations within the right of way. For more information on annual vehicle permits, or for help determining whether an annual vehicle or single-use permit is right for you, please consult client-assistance memo (CAM) 2108.

Minor utility permits are required when work involves utility installation, repair, or extensive maintenance, when there are impacts to public infrastructure, and when the project does not trigger the need for a utility-major permit. There are several types of minor utility permits:

  1. Annual vehicle permit - Please see CAM 2108 for more information.
  2. Emergency permits - Please see CAM 2109 for more information.
  3. Side sewer permits - Please see CAM 2109 for more information.
  4. Pole work in the curb radius permits - Please see CAM 2109 for more information.
  5. Geographically based permits - Please see CAM 2109 for more information.
  6. Complex minor utility permits - Any utility work that does not trigger a Utility Major permit or fall into any of the types listed above requires a minor utility permit.

For more information on minor utility permits (utility OTC permits), please see client-assistance memo (CAM) 2109.

Utility Major Permits

A utility major permit is required when your proposed work involves one or more of the following:

  • Installation of a utility mainline
  • Installation longer than 100 linear feet on an arterial street, or 300 linear feet on a residential street
  • SEPA determination is required
  • Removal of an underground storage tank
  • High potential for removal of contaminated soils
  • Environmental remediation work; Directional drilling
  • Triggering of ADA ramp installation (per the ROWORR)
  • Required changes to existing surface elevations
  • Adjacency to a City structure, such as a bridge or retaining wall

Apply for a utility or annual vehicle permit

Minor utility permits and annual vehicle permits

For annual vehicle permits, submit an Annual Vehicle Permit Application

The following documents are always required for minor utility permits:

A utility permit application 

A work zone site plan. Please see CAM 2116 for more information. Please visit our Permit Templates and Checklists page for site plan templates.

A copy of your permittee checklist for pedestrian mobility in and around work zones, found on our Permit Templates and Checklists page. Please note: this checklist is not required for emergency permits.

Additional requirements for minor utility permits may include:

Right of Way Management Permit Submittal Transmittal form, if applying at the permit counter

Traffic Control Plan, if work is on an arterial or closing the sidewalk and/or travel lane on any street in a construction hub. Please see CAM 2111 for more information.You may use the Traffic Control Base Map tool if the channelization matches current conditions.

Letter of Authorization if applying for a permit on behalf of the property/asset owner

Liability insurance. Please see CAM 2102: Certificate of Liability Insurance.

Utility owner approval, if the utility work is being performed by someone other than the utility owner or if a utility connection is being made to a structure owned by another utility

Pavement moratorium waiver, if restoration work will take place in pavement less than 5 years old. 

Holiday Moratorium Exception Request. Please see CAM 2107 for more information.

Utility major permits

The following documents are always required for utility major permits:

Utility permit application

Utility Major Permit Submittal Transmittal form

Utility and Pavement Restoration Plan Checklist

Utility Major and Restoration Plan Checklist, as found in CAM 2600

Work zone site plan. Please see CAM 2116 – Work Zone Site Plan Requirements to learn more. Please visit our Permit Templates and Checklists page for site plan templates.

Utility Major Phase Schedule Manager, found in CAM 2600

Permittee Checklist for Pedestrian Mobility In and Around Workzones, found on our Permit Templates and Checklists page.

If the UMP is associated with a Street Improvement Plan (SIP), the work zone site plan, phase schedule manager, and pedestrian mobility checklist may be submitted when the contractor contract is awarded. These documents will require review and approval prior to the UMP issuance.

Additional requirements for utility major permits may include:

Profile, if working with City-owned infrastructure or the method of installation is directional drilling

Traffic Control Plan, if work is on an arterial or closing the sidewalk and/or travel lane on any street in a construction hub. Please see CAM 2111 for more information. You may use the Traffic Control Base Map tool if the channelization matches current conditions.

Letter of Authorization if applying for a permit on behalf of the property/asset owner

Liability insurance. Please see CAM 2102: Certificate of Liability Insurance.

Utility owner approval, if the utility work is being performed by someone other than the utility owner or if a utility connection is being made to a structure owned by another utility

Pavement moratorium waiver, if restoration work will take place in pavement less than 5 years old

Holiday Moratorium Exception Request. Please see CAM 2107 for more information.

Minor utility permits may be submitted via email to SDOTUtilPermits@seattle.gov, through our online webform, or in person at the Street Use permit counter. Utility major permit applications may only be submitted in person at the Street Use permit counter.

The Street Use permit counter is located on the 23rd floor of the Seattle Municipal Tower at 700 5th Ave. Our permit counter is open on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 8 AM – 5 PM, and on Tuesday and Thursday from 10:30 AM – 5 PM. Please note: payments may not be accepted after 4:30 PM.

The online webform requires prior approval before you may log in. Please email SDOTPermits@seattle.gov to obtain your login information.

If you are interested in modifying your current utility permit, visit our Permit Renewal, Extension, and Decision Review page.

Project planning and coordination requirements

By City ordinance, utility agencies are required to provide data regarding planned capital improvement projects in the right of way for the following five (5) years.  This information is compiled with data on public transportation and infrastructure projects in our dotMaps application, which is then presented in the SDOT Project and Construction Coordination Map. This map is an interactive tool that displays current and future construction projects in the right of way, as well as other events that may impact traffic. Please note: all agencies performing work in the right of way that is planned at least 6 months ahead (SMC 15.32.050) must enter their project information into dotMaps. For more information on how to enter project data, please visit our Project and Construction Coordination Map page.

SDOT's Project & Construction Coordination Office (PCCO) is charged with coordinating projects planned for the right of way to save money, protect public assets, and reduce construction-related impacts - these efforts include management of the.dotMaps application and SDOT Project and Construction Coordination Map. Information on our Street and Utility Improvement Plan may be found on our Project and Construction Coordination Office page.

Learn more about the Project & Construction Coordination Office. You may also contact the PCCO program manager, Heather Marx, at heather.marx@seattle.gov or 206-615-0801. If you have a specific question about data-reporting requirements, please contact the PCCO data manager, Craig Moore, at craig.moore@seattle.gov or 206-684-5099.

Pavement moratorium rules

In order to preserve city assets and reduce disruption to the traveling public, resurfaced or reconstructed roadways are not be cut into for a period of at least five years (SMC 15.32.50 (E)). If your project requires the disturbing of a moratorium street and you wish to seek an exception to this requirement, you will need to submit a Pavement Moratorium Waiver Request Form to SDOT for review.

More details about right of way pavement and restoration requirements can be found in the Right-of-Way Opening and Restoration Rule.

Find a side-sewer contractor

Utility customers requiring a new service connection or extensive maintenance must contact their utility provider directly to initiate the process. In addition to any permits required to complete the utility work, a pavement-restoration permit will also be required if pavement is disturbed in the right of way. Some utilities will coordinate this permitting process for their customers, but it may be up to the customer to coordinate pavement restoration permitting with a private contractor.

For more information on utility customer requirements concerning utility service connections and pavement restoration, please see client assistance memo (CAM) 2601.

Permits for side sewer excavation in City of Seattle right of way can only be issued to a registered side-sewer contractor. To find a registered side sewer contractor please visit the Seattle Department of Construction & Inspections registered side-sewer contractors database. (Please note that the database at this link does not represent a recommendation or an endorsement of any contractor by the City of Seattle.)

Register as a pavement-restoration contractor

Contractors interested in becoming a registered to conduct pavement restoration in the city of Seattle can learn more about the process by downloading client assistance memo (CAM) 2602.

Register to be a pavement restoration contractor.

Emergency utility work in the right of way

When cutting into the street is necessary for health or safety reasons that could not be anticipated, a permit is still required. An application for a permit must be submitted either on the same day, or the next business day after the roadway cutting has begun.

When emergency work occurs in the public right of way:

  1. Respond to the emergency
  2. Notify SDOT
    During work hours:
    Street Use Division at (206) 684-5283 OR

    During non-work hours:
    Charles Street Shop at (206) 386-1218
  3. Submit a permit application to Street Use on the same day or by the end of the next business day after the work has begun

Once the initial emergency work has been completed, contact the appropriate Street Use inspector to determine what, if any, follow-up actions need to take place:

  • If the work is entirely complete and the site has been restored within 5 days, no other action or information is required.
  • If the work is still underway, and the work is expected to take more than five (5) days to complete, a traffic-control plan (TCP) and any other documents requested by the inspector must be submitted to Street Use. Work may continue if the traffic-control setup is safe and the work can be completed in a safe and timely manner.