State right of way (ROW) permits

A permit is required to work in the right of way of an Interstate, U.S. or state highway. All of these numbered highways make up the state highway system.

The permitted work may consist of, but is not limited to:

  • Excavating
  • Placing fill materials
  • Grading
  • Paving
  • Surveying
  • Boring under a highway
  • Installing an overhead line
  • Blocking and detouring traffic

A permit must be obtained from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) prior to the start of any work, and a copy of the permit (either paper or electronic) must be at the work-site at all times.

Under Wis. Stat. s. 86.07(2)(a), the maintaining authority of a highway is also the permitting authority. WisDOT issues permits on most numbered highways. However, many cities and villages maintain segments of state and U.S. highways located within their municipal boundaries. These segments are called connecting highways. Check with WisDOT or the municipality to verify which agency has the permitting authority. Permits for utility work on WisDOT railroad property and state highway detours are not controlled by this statute.


Select a link below for information related to the specific permit topic.

Permit contacts

​Select a link below for a statewide map of permit contacts in each region office.

Work zone requirements

Effective January ​2020, WisDOT implemented the following work zone requirements for utility and other ROW permits on all state highways as a way ​of increasing worker safety and striving for consistent application of signs, devices, flagging, etc.:

Work zone questions may be directed to the region work zone engineers listed at the bottom of this webpage​.

Work zone training courses

WisDOT has a number of online training courses available through its ​LearnCenter for use by anyone interested in learning about work zone operations.

Work zone training questions may be directed to Emily Silverson, Traffic Operations Engineer.

​​​Associated Wisconsin law

Visit the links below for Wisconsin law associated with utilities and permitting on state right of way.