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 utility facility
  • 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 topic.

Permit contacts

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

Work zone reminder: Use of green lamps (lights)

Wis. Stat. s. 347.26(7) allows WisDOT, county highway departments, and municipal highway departments to use flashing green lights while working on any highway for safety purposes. The concept is to better distinguish those vehicles from contractor and other vehicles/equipment. You may have seen flashing green lights on county snowplows and other vehicles while performing maintenance work on state highways.

Contractor vehicles and equipment cannot use flashing green lights. The use of flashing (and strobe) white or amber lights is still permissible under Wisconsin law and encouraged to warn motorists of work zone activity.

A special permit provision will be placed on all WisDOT-issued utility permits of this requirement. A general provision will be added to the DT1504 (Connection) permit application form effective with its next revision, which is currently scheduled for this year. The DT1812 (Work on Highway ROW) form was recently updated and already has this provision.

Update: On March 21, 2024, Wis. Stat. 347.26(9) was created under 2023 Wisconsin Act 155. This allows utility vehicles parked in the roadway or on the shoulder to use flashing green lamps only while engaged in restoring utility service that is outside the normal parameters of general maintenance or construction when damage or interruption of service has been caused to utility facilities by adverse weather or other events.

Work zone requirements

WisDOT implemented the following work zone requirements in January 2020 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.