(1) The director of transportation may acquire by gift, purchase, or appropriation, any interest, estate, or right in and to real property adjacent to highways of this state as necessary for the restoration, preservation, and enhancement of scenic beauty adjacent to those highways, or for the establishment of publicly owned and controlled rest and recreation areas and sanitary and other facilities within or adjacent to the right-of-way of those highways to accommodate the traveling public. Nothing in this section authorizes the director to appropriate fee simple title to real property further than three hundred feet from the nearest edge of the highway right-of-way.
(2) Division (A)(1) of this section does not apply to the purchase or appropriation of any interest in property under section 5501.31 of the Revised Code that is required for land to replace wetlands or to the purchase of property under that section to replace, preserve, or conserve any environmental resource.
(B) The director may convey or lease any such property adjacent to the highway right-of-way to any person or entity in the manner and subject to such reservations, conditions, covenants, or other contractual arrangements as the director determines will not substantially interfere with the scenic character or beauty of the area traversed by the highway.
(C) The director may employ consulting engineers and enter into contracts for consulting engineering services with any qualified person or firm to prepare plans and estimates and generally supervise the construction and landscaping for scenic enhancement and roadside beautification projects, and in the awarding of such contracts compliance with sections 5501.17 and 5525.01 of the Revised Code is not required.
(D) Any instrument by which real property is acquired pursuant to this section shall identify the agency of the state that has the use and benefit of the real property as specified in section 5301.012 of the Revised Code.
Effective Date: 06-29-2001 .