PIERRE, S.D. – The South Dakota Department of Transportation says it is against the law to plant crops within the right of way of a public road and it also can be a safety hazard for motorists.
According to director of operations Greg Fuller, the purpose of the highway right of way is to create an obstruction free area for the safety of the traveling public. Farmers who unlawfully plant crops in the right of way can create a visual obstruction and possibly limit sight distances for motorists, especially near intersections.
Tall crops also can cover important signage and create cover for deer and other wildlife. That gives motorists less of a chance to see wildlife in time to avoid a serious accident. Highway right of way also is used by utility companies to install gas lines, power lines, telephone lines and fiber optic cable. Plowing and tilling can damage these lines and create a potentially dangerous situation for farmers, utility workers and area residents. It also can cause possible service interruptions.
Along with safety concerns, farming activity in the right of way can create erosion and landscape changes that can affect proper drainage, clog culverts and jeopardize the stability of the shoulders and the roadbed itself. Right of way widths can vary depending on location. Landowners should verify where the right of way line is prior to farming. If there are any questions on where the right of way line is, they should contact their local region or area DOT office.
Contact information can be found on the SDDOT website: HYPERLINK “http://www.sddot.com/contact/”http://www.sddot.com/contact/.