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News Release

April 1 , 2005

Mn/DOT Warns Planting Crops on Highway
Rights of Way Can Create Safety Problems


MANKATO, Minn. The Minnesota Department of Transportation urges farmers and other landowners not to encroach on highway rights of way when planting crops this spring.

Plowing, tilling and planting within highway rights of way violate state law. The violation is a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum $700 fine and/or 90 days in jail.

Highway rights of way include driving lanes, inside and outside shoulders, ditches, the clear zone, and sight corners at intersections (see graphic).

Sight corners at an intersection of two roads are especially susceptible to visual obstructions created by unlawfully planted crops, especially tall plants such as corn.

As crops grow higher and fuller throughout the growing season, they can create a serious safety hazard for motorists. As drivers approach the junction of two roads, their ability to see other vehicles approaching the intersection may be obstructed due crop growth.

There are other conditions created by crop encroachment on state property as well. Erosion can become a problem, especially in ditches. It can affect proper drainage, clog culverts and jeopardize the stability of the shoulders and the roadbed itself.

Utility companies are permitted to use highway rights of way to install gas lines, power lines, telephone lines and fiber optic cable. Plowing and tilling can damage these lines under the ground, create a potentially dangerous situation for workers and area residents, and cause possible service interruptions.

Mn/DOT inspectors monitor rights of way and can issue a written violation notice for crop encroachment.

The notice may request the responsible person to remove the planted crop and re-establish the affected area with permanent, non crop vegetation at their own expense. If the request is not met, the Minnesota State Patrol will issue a misdemeanor ticket. State officials will then make any corrections necessary and assess costs to the responsible person.

To determine the boundaries of highway rights of way, landowners should look for metal posts about three to four feet high with either green and white or black and white diamond-shaped plates at the top. These markers, however, are not always present. Older roadways may have concrete marker monuments about two feet high. It is also a misdemeanor to remove or damage these markers and monuments.

Click Here for Illustration (pdf format)

For further information regarding roadway regulations, or assistance in identifying right of way boundaries on a state highway, contact: Steve Schoeb at the Mankato office at 507-389-6859 or 1-800-657-3747 or Jim Fox at the Windom office at 507-831-1202 or 1-800-804-3295.

Traveler information, including incident reports, is available by calling 511 or logging on to Know the Road. Dialup or log on.

Work Zones. Pay Attention or Pay the Price.


Rebecca L. Arndt
Public Affairs Coordinator
Mn/DOT District 7


District 7
Mankato/Windom Office
501 S. Victory Dr.
Mankato, MN 56001

Tel: 800-657-3747
Fax: 507-389-6281