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Utility Cuts

The Bureau of Highways is charged with the regulation of the public rights-of-way in the interest of its citizens. It is our responsibility to exercise control and coordination over various utility companies and private contractors when working within the right-of-way. The Bureau of Highways handles the permit process for utility companies and their contractors to undertake certain repairs or construction within the County right-of-way.


A Utility Cut Permit is required anytime you occupy, use or engage in any activity in a public right-of-way including:

  • Excavation in paved or unpaved areas
  • Installation of above or below ground facilities
  • Antenna attachment on utility poles
  • Activity that obstructs or impedes traffic

A permit is not required if maintenance activity:

  • Makes no material change to the footprint of an existing facility or structure
  • Makes no material change to the surface or subsurface of a right-of-way
  • Does not disrupt or impede traffic

Note: Private utilities require the grant of a license agreement prior to occupancy in County rights-of-way. Installation of fiber optic cable over 500 feet requires a franchise agreement in addition to the utility cut permit. Please refer to Baltimore County Franchise Process.

Permit Process

Step 1:

  • Complete the application
  • Fill in location information—identify every street you will impact
  • Fill in applicant information
  • Fill in scope of work—briefly describe all activity in paved and unpaved areas of the public right-of-way
  • Check the type of permit box that applies
  • Sign application—permit must have authorized signature to be approved

Step 2:

  • Attach a set of engineering drawings
  • Clearly illustrate and highlight the proposed work
  • Clearly identify all existing utilities—all work under this permit must maintain one foot minimum vertical clearance and five feet horizontal clearance from all water, sewer or storm drain utilities and structures
  • Identify all streets, driveways, entrances and sidewalks
  • Provide detailed measurements of proposed work area

Step 3:

Review and Approval Process

Upon receiving the application, the plans will be circulated for internal review by County agencies that may have information or interest in the area of the proposed work. The review process takes one to three weeks depending upon the scope of the job. 

After the Review

When the review is complete, the Bureau of Highways will:

  • Contact the applicant
  • Advise the applicant of the appropriate permit fee
  • Share any revisions that may be required

Upon receipt of final revised drawings with a Professional Engineer (PE) stamp and fee, a permit will be issued.

Twenty-four hours prior to beginning construction, the Permittee must notify the Bureau of Highways of the intent to begin the proposed work via fax at 410-887-5656 or by calling 410-887-4306.

All contractors and subcontractors working on behalf of Permittee shall be prequalified by Baltimore County, following the requirements for Construction Contracts Contractor Prequalification.  

Revised December 7, 2018         


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