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Caltrans Now Offers Temporary Permits For Businesses to Operate on State Highway Right of Way


Restaurants, retailers and other businesses are eligible to temporarily operate on the state highway right of way (ROW) under permits available from the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans). These permits follow Governor Gavin Newsom’s October 28 Executive Order N-83-20 directing Caltrans to develop a process for issuing temporary permits to cities and counties so businesses located along state highways can expand dining and retail options onto sidewalks and parking areas where safe.

“These encroachment permits will allow many establishments to expand or reopen their operations while adhering to physical distancing and other safety guidelines,” said Caltrans Director Toks Omishakin.

This order is part of the state’s continuing response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It temporarily suspends for 120 days the state law that, except for limited activities authorized for special events, prohibits commercial services and activities such as vending within the state highway ROW.

Caltrans will grant the encroachment permits to cities and counties allowing businesses to operate outdoors on state highway ROWs that are wide enough to accommodate seating and other vending activities. This expands on guidance Caltrans issued this summer for public seating in the state highway right of way ROW. Federal Highway Administration approval is required for any installation within the ROW, and Caltrans will submit completed permit applications for approval on a case-by-case basis.

Cities and counties may apply for a permit and access additional information such as guidelines by visiting the Commercial Activities on Caltrans Highway ROW page. Once a city or county has obtained a permit, business owners must work with their city or county to operate in the approved area.

Caltrans continues to provide the general public and commercial motorists with a safe and reliable transportation system. The department is maintaining all critical functions during the pandemic, including roadway access to medical facilities and convenient transport of essential goods and services throughout the state.

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