The City of Dallas Bolsters Its Regulations on Construction in the Public Right-of-Way

June 11, 2019 | Insights

By Steven W. Dimitt

On May 22, 2019, the Dallas City Council passed an ordinance that places new requirements on contractors working in the public right-of-way. The ordinance seeks to address concerns of pedestrians and vehicular traffic when construction encroaches into the right-of-way. Specifically, the changes to the Dallas City Code (i) require contractors to maintain an accessible pedestrian walkway or detour during construction, (ii) impose additional requirements for plates covering a pavement cut, (iii) impose more stringent restoration requirements for streets with a high paving condition index rating, and (iv) enhance the public notification requirements for construction in the public right-of-way.

Below is a summary of the key new provisions:

Traffic Control Plans Must Now Provide Pedestrian Detours and Walkways: The prior regulations required a traffic control plan to be submitted with a permit application for construction to be performed in the right-of-way. However, the City now requires traffic control plans to “show necessary pedestrian sidewalk detours, crosswalk closures, temporary covered walkways, or scaffolding for the safety of pedestrians that comply with the requirements of the latest edition of the Texas Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices. . . .”

Reduction in Noise: The new regulations also attempt to address the noise problems, which can occur when vehicles drive over metal plates in the road during construction. A contractor is now required to use materials such as asphalt, flexible plastic gaskets, wedges, or other non-asphaltic devices to prevent the metal plates from causing any loud and disturbing noises or vibrations.

Street Closures: Contractors were previously only restricted from interfering with traffic flow on a thoroughfare. Now a contractor cannot interfere with traffic flow on a thoroughfare, arterial, or community collector street from 6:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. or from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on weekdays.

Quicker Start to Construction: A construction project in the right-of-way must start within 60 days from issuance of the permit. This is a reduction from the previous 120-day deadline. If a contractor fails to start the project by the deadline then the permit becomes null and void and a new permit is required.

Paving Conditions: The Code now requires heightened repair conditions for streets with a paving condition index of 70 or higher. Before the changes, the heightened repair conditions were only required on streets with surfaces that were less than 60 months old.

Increased Notice Requirements: Before commencing construction in the right-of-way, contractors are required to provide notice to property owners within 500 feet of the construction area. The notification requirement is satisfied by placing a door hanger or providing other similar notice to each property owner. However, if the construction area is next to a multi-family property, a contractor can satisfy the notification requirement by notifying the property management company. Below is a breakdown of the notification requirements for the type of work being performed:

No excavation or lane closures and construction will last less than 24 hours No notice required
No excavation or lane closures and construction will last more than 24 hours Notice at least 24 hours before construction starts
Excavation or lane closure and construction will last less than 24 hours Notice at least 24 hours before construction starts
Excavation or lane closure and construction will last more than 24 hours First notice at least 10 days before construction starts. Second notice must be provided 72 hours before construction starts.
Construction will involve complete street closures or extended traffic delays Two portable changeable message signs must be installed facing each direction of traffic at least 1 week before construction starts.

Meet Steven

As a partner in Jackson Walker’s Dallas office, Steven W. Dimitt has built a practice representing clients—including large corporations, small businesses, and individuals—in a broad range of matters involving disputes in state and federal court, drafting and negotiating transactions, and serving as an outside general counsel. Steven takes the time to gain a thorough understanding of his clients’ needs and provides value-added solutions to help his clients through any legal issues they are facing in their businesses. Since 2016, Steven has been named among D Magazine‘s “Best Lawyers in Dallas” list.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the firm, its clients, or any of its or their respective affiliates. This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.