Wisconsin Department of Transportation

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Subdivisions along the state highway system

Trans 233 is part of the Wisconsin Administrative Code and defines requirements that must be met when subdividing lands abutting the state highway system. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) is responsible to enforce Trans 233 to preserve traffic flow, enhance public safety, and ensure proper highway setbacks and storm water drainage.

Who does the rule affect?

The rule (as revised by a Wisconsin legislative committee in 2004) applies to landowners who intend to divide land abutting a state highway into five or more lots that are each 1.5 acres or less in size within a five-year period. State highways are all numbered highways including interstate, state and federal highways (such as I-90, WIS 73 or US 51).

When do I contact WisDOT?

A landowner is encouraged to contact local WisDOT regional office staff as soon as the property owner has an idea on how they want to divide their property. Before landowners expend funds on engineering or incur other related costs, WisDOT staff can conduct an informal "conceptual review." This review will provide a landowner input on how and where the safest location is to access the state highway system. Once a "final map" is developed to create the new lots, WisDOT staff will review the final map for conformance with the rule. WisDOT staff can connect landowners to the state Department of Administration (DOA) which also reviews subdivision plats.

How long does WisDOT’s review process take?

WisDOT has 20 days to review a subdivision proposal. If the subdivision conforms to Trans 233, WisDOT issues a letter of certification. If the subdivision does not meet the requirements of the rule, an objection letter is issued explaining what parts of the rule are not being met.

What are the major components of the Trans 233 rule?

  • Review. WisDOT reviews all subdivision plats along state highways for conformance with the rule. Along with state highway system segments in rural areas, the rule also applies to segments that extend through a village or city. A "conceptual review" can provide landowners early feedback on a subdivision proposal. Once a final map is provided, WisDOT has 20 days to complete its review.
    Form for submitting a land division for review materials
  • Access. Direct access to the state highway system from newly created lots is generally not permitted. The owner should determine alternative ways to provide access to the property. The preferred option is for the property to take access off an alternative street. New public streets created by a subdivision are the next preferred alternative. Joint driveways may be allowed if a special exception from the rule is requested and approved. Some developments may require a special traffic study.
  • Drainage. Drainage is evaluated to help ensure that storm water flowing from a new development does not damage a highway or its shoulders. It is advisable to discuss drainage issues with WisDOT regional office staff before submitting a subdivision for review.
  • Setback. Setbacks are areas abutting a state highway in which structures and improvements cannot be constructed. (This provision does not apply to county highways or town roads. County or town officials should be contacted regarding their restrictions). In general, setbacks are 110 feet from the centerline of the highway or 50 feet from the right-of-way line, whichever is more restrictive.
  • Vision corners. Vision corners are triangular areas at intersections in which structures, improvements and landscaping are restricted because they can block the ability of motorists to see oncoming vehicles. Vision corners may be required at the time a permit is obtained and possibly sooner.

What happens if I don’t have WisDOT review my subdivision proposal?

If a subdivision is not reviewed by WisDOT and is subsequently recorded, a landowner will not receive a driveway or any other permit relating to the highway. The subdivision and property must comply with the rule before a permit is issued. Landowners may be exposed to liability for drainage damage to the highway or damage to the owner’s own property from unanticipated diversion or retention of surface water. There can be other adverse consequences relating to financing, the value of the property, the safety of entrance upon and departure from the highway, and the public interest and investment in the highway. Finally, WisDOT cannot issue a utility permit for an uncertified subdivision. Utility companies must obtain a WisDOT permit before doing any work on highway right of way. It may not be possible to provide utility service to a property if the service must come from lines on the highway right of way.

Current Trans 233 rule

For comments or questions about Trans 233 contact:
Michael Roach (608) 266-2372 (michael.roach@dot.wi.gov) or
Ernie Peterson (608) 516-2757 (ernest.peterson@dot.wi.gov)

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