Changes to Right-of-Way program produce dramatic results

When Idaho Transportation Department Director Brian Ness challenged the agency to improve its customer service and reduce costs, the department’s Right-of-Way program took that challenge and produced dramatic results.

The Right of Way program, which manages, buys and sells property needed for various ITD projects and activities, revised its entire customer service approach by personalizing customer interaction and making transactions into a cooperative effort.

“We talk to the land owners early and often, establish a personal relationship with them, and the negotiations typically go much easier,” explained Dave Szplett, program manager.  “It is a team effort for us; every staff member is usually involved in every project.”

ITD has had an historic condemnation rate of approximately six percent, meaning that ITD has sometimes had to take legal action to acquire property when negotiations failed.  The average legal and staff condemnation costs average approximately $400,000 per parcel.  ITD purchases approximately 50 parcels a year; and would have expected at least three condemnations and an annual cost of $1.2 million.

The improved and more personalized approach of the Right-of-Way team has resulted on zero condemnations over the last 18 months, saving taxpayers an estimated $1.8 million. 

“These savings stay with the district and can be used on other safety, maintenance and expansion projects,” Szplett said. “ITD leadership encouraged us to look at the way we do business and the results appear to be well worth the effort.”

Published 02-12-16