California Department of Transportation

Welcome to the California Department of Transportation, Division of Right of Way and Land Surveys

Office of Land Surveys

California Department of Transportation
Division of Right of Way and Land Surveys
Office of Land Surveys, MS-35
1727 30th Street
Sacramento, CA 95816-8041
Click here for the map to "The Office of Land Surveys"

Click here for the "The Office of Land Surveys" organizational chart

Contact Desk: (916) 227- 5919

On July 1, 2004 the "Division of Right Of Way" was renamed to the "Division of Right of Way and Land Surveys". The "Office of Geometronics" was renamed to the "Office of Land Surveys".

Caltrans Districts/Regions Contact list:

In partnership with the Districts/Regions and others, the responsibilities and roles of the Office of Land Surveys are:
  • Provide effective functional management and coordination of the California Department of Transportation's Surveys function.
  • Provide timely technical expertise, training, and assistance for the California Department of Transportation's surveying activities.
  • Develop, establish, and maintain surveying standards and procedures that foster quality, effective surveying efforts.
  • Evaluate, develop, and procure cost-effective, new-technology surveying equipment and systems for Departmental use.
  • Manage California Department of Transportation's major surveying equipment inventory, including the administration of service and repair contracts.
  • Participate with the Regions/Districts, other agencies, and California surveying professionals in efforts to resolve California surveying issues - datums, spatial reference systems, standards, etc.

Technical Publications

Right of Way (R/W) Engineering

R/W Engineering represents the boundary determination phase of the Surveys function. They are responsible for the preparation of maps, documents and legal descriptions for the acquisition and disposal of rights of way, and prepares, maintains and updates record maps of the right of way and other Caltrans properties.

  • Mapping: Plans Preparation Manual
  • Section 4 of the Plans Preparation Manual establishes uniform standards and procedures to use when preparing R/W Engineering mapping for all state transportation projects involving Caltrans.

    • Metric Guidelines
    • Between 1993 and 2006, Caltrans had policies in place to adopt and use the metric system (see Deputy Directive DD-12-R1. Projects using the metric system must have prior approval from the Division of Design. The samples referred to in the Metric Guidelines are limited only to the Appraisal and Record Maps. Contact the local District R/W Engineering office for copies.

  • Policies: R/W Manual
  • Chapter 6 of the R/W Manual establishes policies, procedures, and information for the R/W Engineering function. Districts may have a defined procedure to perform essential tasks associated with a Survey function. Any agency or contractor working with a District is responsible for following current local District procedures, as long as they do not conflict with those addressed in the R/W Manual or Surveys Manual.

Caltrans Surveys Manual

Policies, methodologies, and procedures for the California Department of Transportation Surveys function.

Staking Information - Chapter 12 of the Caltrans Surveys Manual

This document, Chapter 12, "Construction Surveys" of the Surveys Manual, provides information regarding typical construction staking performed by the California Department of Transportation (State) - the types of stakes furnished, their density, placement, and markings. You need 'Acrobat Reader' to view this document.

Caltrans Topo Code Book

This file lists the numerous topo codes used by the Departments' Survey Crews to properly code data shots. This file can be printed and folded to make a small hand pamphlet for daily use by a crew. A PDF of the file is here.

Encroachment Permits Manual

Private surveyors working within the right of way of a state highway must obtain an encroachment permit, unless under contract to Caltrans. The procedures for obtaining a permit are described in Chapters 100 and 200 of the Encroachment Permits Manual. The requirements for a permit for land surveying are in Section 516.4 of the Manual. Preservation of survey monuments is described in Section 508.10. Dedications of public or private property to Caltrans are in Section 501.10A.

Standard Plans and Specifications

The 2015 Standard Plans and Specifications are applicable to all Caltrans construction contracts. Changes to the Specifications are published as Revised Standard Specifications, which can be downloaded as the "RSS" file on the Construction Contract Standards website. References to Construction Surveys and monumentation can be found in Sections 5-1.26, 5-1.36E, and 78-2 of the Specifications. The Standard Plan A74 is for Survey Monuments. As with the Specifications, the 2015 Revised Standard Plans are also available on the Construction Contract Standards website.

Caltrans LS/LSIT Video Exam Preparation Course Workbook

This course is designed to make the preparation for the LSIT and Land Surveyors exams more effective. The course, designed in the early 1990s consists of 14 modules that cover common topics of Land Surveying. Although it is not intended to be a complete study guide, it does cover pertinent information that all examinees should know.

Training and Study Materials:

Included are training materials to facilitate cost effective project delivery and additional study materials that may be helpful for the LS and LSIT Exam. Caltrans makes no claims or gives any warranty that the attached files are in any way required or necessary for passing or studying for the Land Surveyor in Training, or Professional Land Surveyor Exams. The user of this material assumes all responsibility for its actual applicability for the exams

Office of Photogrammetry

"Guide to Photogrammetric Products and Services"

This User's Guide provides an easy-to-understand compilation of the processes, characteristics, and time requirements for photogrammetric products and services for Project Engineers and other Caltrans users.

Contact Molly Wollam in the Office of Land Surveys for any comments or questions about this page

This page was last updated January 2016