FHWA/TX-13/0-6631-1

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1. Report No.
FHWA/TX-13/0-6631-1
2. Government Accession No.
4. Title and Subtitle
Utility Investigation Best Practices and Effects on TxDOT Highway
Improvement Projects
7. Author(s)
Technical Report Documentation Page
3. Recipient's Catalog No.
5. Report Date
Published: April 2013
6. Performing Organization Code
8. Performing Organization Report No.
Edgar Kraus, Yingfeng (Eric) Li, John Overman, and Cesar Quiroga
Report 0-6631-1
9. Performing Organization Name and Address
10. Work Unit No. (TRAIS)
Texas A&M Transportation Institute
College Station, Texas 77843-3135
11. Contract or Grant No.
Project 0-6631
12. Sponsoring Agency Name and Address
13. Type of Report and Period Covered
Texas Department of Transportation
Research and Technology Implementation Office
P.O. Box 5080
Austin, Texas 78763-5080
Technical Report:
September 2010–August 2012
14. Sponsoring Agency Code
15. Supplementary Notes
Project performed in cooperation with the Texas Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway
Administration.
Project Title: Best Practices for Utility Investigations in the TxDOT Project Development Process
URL: http://tti.tamu.edu/documents/0-6631-1.pdf
16. Abstract
The lack of adequate information about the location and characteristics of utility facilities can result in a
number of problems, including damages to utilities, disruptions to utility services and traffic, “lost” utility
facilities as construction alters the landscape and pre-existing benchmarks are removed, and delays to
highway projects. To address this issue, the research team reviewed the state of the practice in utility
investigations and developed best practices for timing and use of utility investigation services in the TxDOT
project development process. Major activities of the research included a review of current utility
investigation techniques and technologies, a review of best practices and use of utility investigation practices
in other states, and a review of TxDOT project data to examine effects of utility investigation services. The
research team surveyed TxDOT organizational units on current utility investigation practices, developed
draft best practices for utility investigations, and conducted workshops to allow feedback from practitioners.
Based on the feedback, the research team reviewed and revised the draft best practices for utility
investigations, developed draft content for inclusion in the ROW Utility Manual, and developed and tested
training materials.
17. Key Words
Utility Conflict, Utility Investigation, SUE,
Subsurface Utility Engineering, Underground Utility
Investigation, Project Development Process
19. Security Classif. (of this report)
Unclassified
18. Distribution Statement
No restrictions. This document is available to the
public through NTIS:
National Technical Information Service
Alexandria, Virginia
http://www.ntis.gov
20. Security Classif. (of this page)
Unclassified
Form DOT F 1700.7 (8-72) Reproduction of completed page authorized
21. No. of Pages
378
22. Price
UTILITY INVESTIGATION BEST PRACTICES AND EFFECTS ON
TXDOT HIGHWAY IMPROVEMENT PROJECTS
by
Edgar Kraus
Associate Research Engineer
Texas A&M Transportation Institute
Eric (Yingfeng) Li
Assistant Research Scientist
Texas A&M Transportation Institute
John Overman
Associate Research Scientist
Texas A&M Transportation Institute
and
Cesar Quiroga
Senior Research Engineer
Texas A&M Transportation Institute
Report 0-6631-1
Project 0-6631
Project Title: Best Practices for Utility Investigations in the TxDOT Project Development
Process
Performed in cooperation with the
Texas Department of Transportation
and the
Federal Highway Administration
Published: April 2013
TEXAS A & M TRANSPORTATION INSTITUTE
College Station, Texas 77843-3135
DISCLAIMER
This research was performed in cooperation with the Texas Department of Transportation
(TxDOT) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The contents of this report reflect
the views of the authors, who are responsible for the facts and the accuracy of the data presented
herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official view or policies of the FHWA or
TxDOT. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation.
This report is not intended for construction, bidding, or permit purposes. The engineer in charge
of the project was Edgar Kraus, P.E. # 96727.
The United States Government and the State of Texas do not endorse products or manufacturers.
Trade or manufacturers’ names appear herein solely because they are considered essential to the
object of this report.
v
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
This project was conducted in cooperation with TxDOT and FHWA. The authors thank the
project director Stephen Stakemiller, Houston District, and members of the project committee
Frank Espinosa, RTI, Jim Heacock, Houston District, Matt Mitchell, Tyler District, Jeff
Richardson, ENV, Duncan Stewart, RTI, and Tomas Trevino, Corpus Christi District.
The researchers would like to thank the following TxDOT officials for their guidance and
assistance with the development of the research products:
Mason Adam, Maintenance Division
Patrick Gonzales, Pharr District
Rick Hanks, San Antonio District
Alan Hufstutler, Abilene District
Tommy Jones, West Regional Support Center
Jim Kuhn, Technology Services Division
Mike Powers, Paris District
David Roberts, Houston District
Wayne Robinson, Right of Way Division
David Rodrigues, San Antonio District
Bill Stone, Houston District
Camille Thomason, Design Division
Juan Urrutia, Maintenance Division
David Wicks, Tyler District
Mike Williams, San Antonio District
Crystal Woodruff, Maintenance Division
Jerry Wooldridge, Amarillo District
The researchers appreciate the help provided by the following DOT officials in the assembly of
the utility investigation best practices:
Suzette Shelloe, Mark Turner, and Mark Rowan, California Department of
Transportation
Vince Camp, Florida Department of Transportation
Jeff Baker and Jun Birnkammer, Georgia Department of Transportation
Nelson Smith, Maryland State Highway Administration
Robert Memory, North Carolina Department of Transportation
Ray Lorello, Ohio Department of Transportation
vi
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Page
LIST OF FIGURES ...................................................................................................................... x
LIST OF TABLES ..................................................................................................................... xiv
CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION................................................................................................ 1
Subsurface Utility Engineering ................................................................................................... 1
CHAPTER 2: UTILITY INVESTIGATION TECHNIQUES AND PRACTICES................ 5
Underground Utility Investigation Technologies ....................................................................... 5
Pipe and Cable Locators ..........................................................................................................8
Ground Penetrating Radar......................................................................................................12
Terrain Conductivity ..............................................................................................................16
Other Geophysical Methods ..................................................................................................19
Joint Use of Other Traditional Methods ................................................................................24
Survey of Subsurface Utility Engineering Providers in Texas ................................................. 26
Underground Utility Investigation Practices .........................................................................26
Subsurface Utility Engineering in the TxDOT Project Development Process ......................29
CHAPTER 3: UTILITY INVESTIGATION PRACTICES AT TXDOT ............................. 31
Develop and Conduct Online Survey ....................................................................................... 31
Analysis of Survey Results ....................................................................................................... 31
Survey Participants ................................................................................................................31
General Utility Investigation Procedures ...............................................................................34
Differences in Utility Investigation Process for Different Project Types ..............................41
Differences in Utility Investigation Process for Added Capacity vs. Non Added
Capacity Projects ...................................................................................................................45
Factors Influencing Decision to Use or Request SUE ...........................................................46
Procurement Process for Requesting and Using SUE ...........................................................48
Assessment of SUE Deliverables...........................................................................................52
Perceived Benefits of SUE.....................................................................................................54
Issues Associated with Utility Data .......................................................................................56
Best Practices at the Districts and Regions ............................................................................58
Challenges with the Use of SUE at the Districts and Regions and Suggested
Improvements ........................................................................................................................60
Documentation Guidance for Utility Investigations during Project Development
Process ...................................................................................................................................62
Information Management Systems ........................................................................................63
Summary of Utility Investigation Practices At TxDOT ........................................................... 64
CHAPTER 4: UTILITY INVESTIGATION PRACTICES AT OTHER STATES............. 67
General Observations ................................................................................................................ 67
Utility Investigation Practices at Sample States ....................................................................... 69
California Department of Transportation...............................................................................69
Florida Department of Transportation ...................................................................................72
vii
Georgia Department of Transportation ..................................................................................75
Maryland Department of Transportation ...............................................................................82
North Carolina Department of Transportation .......................................................................84
Ohio Department of Transportation .......................................................................................85
Pennsylvania Department of Transportation .........................................................................91
Virginia Department of Transportation .................................................................................98
CHAPTER 5: EFFECTS OF UTILITY INVESTIGATION SERVICES .......................... 107
Literature Review of Utility Investigation Benefits................................................................ 107
Methodology ........................................................................................................................... 111
Identification of SUE Projects ................................................................................................ 118
Query of TxDOT Data Systems ...........................................................................................118
Contact District Staff ...........................................................................................................120
Contact TxDOT Design Division ........................................................................................120
Review of TxDOT Payment Voucher Documents ..............................................................121
Final List of SUE Projects ...................................................................................................125
Project Data Collection ........................................................................................................... 129
Revised Methodology ............................................................................................................. 135
Data Analysis Results ............................................................................................................. 138
SUE and Project Design Cost ..............................................................................................138
SUE and Project Design Effort ............................................................................................139
SUE on Construction Cost Increases ...................................................................................140
SUE and Construction Duration ..........................................................................................141
SUE and Additional Project Construction Days ..................................................................142
SUE and Utility-Related Change Orders .............................................................................143
SUE and Utility Agreement Amount ...................................................................................144
SUE and Utility Agreements ...............................................................................................145
SUE and Reimbursable EWA Utility Agreements ..............................................................147
Discussion and Conclusions ................................................................................................... 148
CHAPTER 6: BEST PRACTICES FOR UTILITY INVESTIGATIONS .......................... 153
Development of Best Practices ............................................................................................... 153
Categories of Best Practices for Utility Investigations ........................................................153
Policy Approaches ...............................................................................................................157
Education and Training ........................................................................................................161
Procurement and Contracting ..............................................................................................163
Project Development Processes ...........................................................................................167
Technology and Information Systems .................................................................................170
Conduct Stakeholder Workshops ............................................................................................ 173
Overview of Workshops ......................................................................................................173
Comments on Utility Investigation Technology and SUE Technology ..............................175
Comments Survey Results and General SUE/PDP Process ................................................176
Best Practice Ranking Based on Worksheet Responses ......................................................177
Comments on Best Practices ................................................................................................178
Conclusions and Recommendations ....................................................................................183
Refine Best Practices .............................................................................................................. 187
Education and Training ........................................................................................................187
Technology and Information Systems .................................................................................188
viii
Procurement and Contracting Best Practices .......................................................................189
Project Development Process Best Practices .......................................................................191
Policy Approaches ...............................................................................................................193
CHAPTER 7: DEVELOP AND TEST TRAINING MATERIALS ..................................... 195
Background ............................................................................................................................. 195
Basic SUE Training and Education .....................................................................................195
Utility Impact Analysis ........................................................................................................196
Workshop Development ......................................................................................................... 196
Workshop Format ................................................................................................................196
Training Materials ................................................................................................................202
Workshop Testing and Initial Delivery ................................................................................202
Summary of Workshop Feedback ........................................................................................... 203
Overview ..............................................................................................................................203
Comments for Lesson 1 .......................................................................................................203
Ratings of Lesson 1 ..............................................................................................................203
Comments for Lesson 2 .......................................................................................................204
Ratings of Lesson 2 ..............................................................................................................204
Comments for Lesson 3 .......................................................................................................205
Ratings of Lesson 3 ..............................................................................................................205
Comments for Lesson 4 .......................................................................................................206
Ratings of Lesson 4 ..............................................................................................................206
General Comments...............................................................................................................207
Overall Workshop Ratings ...................................................................................................207
CHAPTER 8: CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS ........................................... 209
Summary of Research Findings .............................................................................................. 209
Utility Investigation Techniques ..........................................................................................209
Utility Investigation Practices at TxDOT ............................................................................210
Utility Investigation Practices at Other States .....................................................................211
Effects of Utility Investigation Services on Transportation Projects...................................212
Best Practices for Utility Investigation ................................................................................215
Recommendations ................................................................................................................... 217
Implementation ....................................................................................................................... 219
Implementation Plan and Potential Impediments ................................................................219
Required Changes to TxDOT Manuals................................................................................222
REFERENCES .......................................................................................................................... 233
Appendix A. TxDOT Survey Questionnaire ......................................................................... 239
Appendix B. Responses to TxDOT Survey Essay Questions ............................................... 257
Appendix C. State DOT Interview Guideline and Questionnaire ....................................... 301
Overview ..............................................................................................................................301
General Interview Guidelines ..............................................................................................301
Email to Potential State DOT Survey Participants ..............................................................302
Questionnaire/Topics for Discussion with DOT Representatives .......................................303
Appendix D. Data Analysis Tables and Figures .................................................................... 307
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ix
LIST OF FIGURES
Page
Figure 1. Potential Utility Data Exchange Points. ......................................................................... 2
Figure 2. Sample 2D GPR Image for a Pavement Investigation. ................................................ 12
Figure 3. GPR Soil Suitability Map in Texas (modified from [10]). ........................................... 15
Figure 4. Sample Ground Conductivity Map Showing Underground Utility Facilities
(13). ....................................................................................................................................... 18
Figure 5. Sample 3D Image of Underground Utility Installations (18). ...................................... 20
Figure 6. Sample 2D Image Visualizing Resistivity Measurements (19). ................................... 20
Figure 7. Sample Magnetometer Data Showing Earth’s Total Magnetic Field Intensity
(20). ....................................................................................................................................... 22
Figure 8. Distribution of Survey Respondents (71 Answered, 58 Skipped). ............................... 32
Figure 9. Section or Field of Work of Survey Respondents (72 Answered, 57 Skipped). .......... 33
Figure 10. Utility Investigation Techniques Used at TxDOT Districts. ...................................... 34
Figure 11. Stated Use of Utility Data Collection at Different Project Development
Process Phases (n = Number of Respondents). ..................................................................... 35
Figure 12. Authority to Request Utility Data Collection at Quality Level (QL) at TxDOT
Districts. ................................................................................................................................ 36
Figure 13. Final Decision to Use Utility Investigation Technology at Quality Level (QL)
at TxDOT Districts. .............................................................................................................. 37
Figure 14. Utility Investigations: Project Factors that Make a Difference. ................................. 42
Figure 15. Factors Influencing Decision to Use or Request Quality Level A (QLA) SUE
Data Collection. .................................................................................................................... 48
Figure 16. Contracting of SUE Data Collection. ......................................................................... 49
Figure 17. Effectiveness of Procurement Practices for SUE Services......................................... 50
Figure 18. Rating of Deliverables from Subsurface Utility Engineering Data Collections......... 52
Figure 19. Formal Review Process for SUE Deliverables from Consultants. ............................. 53
Figure 20. Expected Return on Investment (Savings/Expenses) for SUE QLB or QLA. ........... 56
Figure 21. Utility Data Issues Encountered Frequently and Sometimes at TxDOT
Districts. ................................................................................................................................ 57
Figure 22. Concern about Management of Confidentiality of Utility Data. ................................ 58
Figure 23. Documents Used for Utility Investigations during Project Development
Process at TxDOT Districts. ................................................................................................. 63
Figure 24. Information Management Systems Used to Record, Identify, and/or Manage
Utility Investigation Data (Respondents Indicating Heavy or Moderate Use). .................... 64
Figure 25. Utility Conflict Resolution during Project Development. .......................................... 68
Figure 26. Utility Conflict Resolution in the GDOT Project Development Process. .................. 76
Figure 27. GDOT Utility Impact Avoidance Process. ................................................................. 77
Figure 28. GDOT SUE Submittal, Review, and Acceptance Process. ........................................ 79
Figure 29. Ohio DOT Concurrence Points during the Project Development Process
(Adapted from 37)................................................................................................................. 86
Figure 30. Red Flag Summary for Utility Issues in Ohio (37). ................................................... 89
x
Figure 31. PennDOT SUE Impact Form Summary Instructions (41) ......................................... 92
Figure 32. PennDOT SUE Impact Form Step 1 (41). .................................................................. 93
Figure 33. PennDOT SUE Impact Form Step 2 (41). .................................................................. 94
Figure 34. PennDOT SUE Impact Form Step 3, Detailed Analysis (41). ................................... 95
Figure 35. PennDOT SUE Impact Form Step 3, Summary Analysis (41). ................................. 96
Figure 36. Overview of Project Development Concurrent Engineering Process (45). .............. 101
Figure 37. VDOT Project Development Concurrent Engineering Process: Initial and
Preliminary Roadway Design (46). ..................................................................................... 102
Figure 38. VDOT Risk Management Form (49). ...................................................................... 104
Figure 39. Methodology for Assessing Effects of Utility Investigation Services. .................... 111
Figure 40. FIN Imaging Service Interface. ................................................................................ 122
Figure 41. Sample Invoice with Information about SUE Services. ........................................... 123
Figure 42. Mean Cost and Number of Projects Using SUE by District. ................................... 128
Figure 43. Mean Cost and Number of Projects Using SUE by Project Class. .......................... 129
Figure 44. Data Source and Items Used in Analysis. ................................................................ 130
Figure 45. List of Design-Related Function Codes in FIMS. .................................................... 134
Figure 46. Refined SUE Cost-Effectiveness Methodology. ...................................................... 136
Figure 47. Sample Workshop Agenda (Dallas Workshop). ...................................................... 174
Figure 48. Number of TxDOT Officials Participating in Workshops by District. .................... 175
Figure 49. Responses to Question 10: Yes: 47, No: 36, No Answer: 46. .................................. 270
Figure 50. Mean Total Design Cost (2011 Dollars) by Area Type. .......................................... 307
Figure 51. Mean Total Design Cost (2011 Dollars) by Project Class. ...................................... 307
Figure 52. Mean Total Design Cost (2011 Dollars) by Design Standard. ................................. 308
Figure 53. Mean Design Cost per Lane-Mile (2011 Dollars) by Area Type. ............................ 308
Figure 54. Mean Design Cost per Lane-Mile (2011 Dollars) by Project Class. ........................ 309
Figure 55. Mean Design Cost per Lane-Mile (2011 Dollars) by Design Standard. .................. 309
Figure 56. Mean Project Total Design Man-Hours by Area Type. ........................................... 312
Figure 57. Mean Project Total Design Man-Hours by Project Class. ....................................... 312
Figure 58. Mean Project Total Design Man-Hours by Design Standard. .................................. 313
Figure 59. Mean Design Man-Hours per Lane-Mile by Area Type. ......................................... 313
Figure 60. Mean Design Man-Hours per Lane-Mile Project Class. .......................................... 314
Figure 61. Mean Design Man-Hours per Lane-Mile by Design Standard. ................................ 314
Figure 62. Mean Percent of Construction Cost Increase by Area Type. ................................... 317
Figure 63. Mean Percent of Construction Cost Increase by Project Class. ............................... 317
Figure 64. Mean Percent of Construction Cost Increase by Design Standard. .......................... 318
Figure 65. Mean Construction Cost Increase per Lane-Mile by Area Type. ............................. 318
Figure 66. Mean Construction Cost Increase per Lane-Mile by Project Class.......................... 319
Figure 67. Mean Construction Cost Increase per Lane-Mile by Design Standard. ................... 319
Figure 68. Mean Project Construction Duration (Days) by Area Type. .................................... 322
Figure 69. Mean Project Construction Duration (Days) by Project Class. ................................ 322
Figure 70. Mean Project Construction Duration (Days) by Design Standard. .......................... 323
Figure 71. Mean Per-Lane-Mile Construction Duration (Days) by Area Type. ........................ 323
Figure 72. Mean Per-Lane-Mile Construction Duration (Days) by Project Class. .................... 324
Figure 73. Mean Per-Lane-Mile Construction Duration (Days) by Design Standard. .............. 324
Figure 74. Mean Additional Construction Days per Lane-Mile (Days) by Area Type. ............ 327
Figure 75. Mean Additional Construction Days per Lane-Mile (Days) by Project Class. ........ 327
xi
Figure 76. Mean Additional Construction Days per Lane-Mile (Days) by Design
Standard. ............................................................................................................................. 328
Figure 77. Mean Percent of Additional Construction Days (Days) by Area Type. ................... 328
Figure 78. Mean Percent of Additional Construction Days (Days) Project Class. .................... 329
Figure 79. Mean Percent of Additional Construction Days (Days) by Design Standard. ......... 329
Figure 80. Mean Utility-Related Change Order Cost per Project by Area Type. ...................... 332
Figure 81. Mean Utility-Related Change Order Cost per Project by Project Class. .................. 332
Figure 82. Mean Utility-Related Change Order Cost per Project by Design Standard. ............ 333
Figure 83. Mean Utility-Related Change Order Cost per Lane-Mile by Area Type. ................ 333
Figure 84. Mean Utility-Related Change Order Cost per Lane-Mile by Project Class. ............ 334
Figure 85. Mean Utility-Related Change Order Cost per Lane-Mile by Design Standard........ 334
Figure 86. Mean Percent of Change Order Amount in Construction Cost by Area Type. ........ 335
Figure 87. Mean Percent of Change Order Amount in Construction Cost by Project
Class. ................................................................................................................................... 335
Figure 88. Mean Percent of Change Order Amount in Construction Cost by Design
Standard. ............................................................................................................................. 336
Figure 89. Mean Total Agreement Amount per Project (2011 Dollars) by Area Type. ............ 340
Figure 90. Mean Total Agreement Amount per Project (2011 Dollars) by Project Class. ........ 340
Figure 91. Mean Total Agreement Amount per Project (2011 Dollars) by Design
Standard. ............................................................................................................................. 341
Figure 92. Mean Agreement Amount per Lane-Mile (2011 Dollars) by Area Type. ................ 341
Figure 93. Mean Agreement Amount per Lane-Mile (2011 Dollars) by Project Class. ............ 342
Figure 94. Mean Agreement Amount per Lane-Mile (2011 Dollars) by Design Standard. ...... 342
Figure 95. Mean Number of Reimbursable Utility Agreements per Project by Area Type. ..... 345
Figure 96. Mean Number of Reimbursable Utility Agreements per Project by Project
Class. ................................................................................................................................... 345
Figure 97. Mean Number of Reimbursable Utility Agreements per Project by Design
Standard. ............................................................................................................................. 346
Figure 98. Mean Number of Reimbursable Utility Agreements per Lane-Mile by Area
Type. ................................................................................................................................... 346
Figure 99. Mean Number of Reimbursable Utility Agreements per Lane-Mile by Project
Class. ................................................................................................................................... 347
Figure 100. Mean Number of Reimbursable Utility Agreements per Lane-Mile by
Design Standard. ................................................................................................................. 347
Figure 101. Mean Percent of Agreement Not Needed by Number by Area Type. .................... 348
Figure 102. Mean Percent of Agreement Not Needed by Number by Project Class................. 348
Figure 103. Mean Percent of Agreement Not Needed by Number by Design Standard. .......... 349
Figure 104. Mean Number of Reimbursable EWA Utility Agreements per Project by
Area Type............................................................................................................................ 353
Figure 105. Mean Number of Reimbursable EWA Utility Agreements per Project by
Project Class........................................................................................................................ 353
Figure 106. Mean Number of Reimbursable EWA Utility Agreements per Project by
Design Standard. ................................................................................................................. 354
Figure 107. Mean Number of Reimbursable EWA Utility Agreements per Lane-Mile by
Area Type. ........................................................................................................................... 354
xii
Figure 108. Mean Number of Reimbursable EWA Utility Agreements per Lane-Mile by
Project Class........................................................................................................................ 355
Figure 109. Mean Number of Reimbursable EWA Utility Agreements per Lane-Mile by
Design Standard. ................................................................................................................. 355
xiii
LIST OF TABLES
Page
Table 1. Summary of Commonly Used Underground Utility Detection Methods. ....................... 6
Table 2. Summary of Infrequently Used Underground Utility Detection Methods. ..................... 7
Table 3. Geographic Location of Survey Respondents (71 Answered, 58 Skipped). ................. 32
Table 4. Minimum Clearance Requirements for Utility Facilities on Caltrans
Construction Projects (23). ................................................................................................... 70
Table 5. GDOT Utility Impact Score (32). .................................................................................. 81
Table 6. PennDOT Utility Impact Score (41). ............................................................................. 97
Table 7. Descriptions of Cost Items Considered in the Ontario Study. ..................................... 110
Table 8. Potential Data Sources for Data Items. ........................................................................ 113
Table 9. Conceptual Design of the Proposed Comparison Analysis. ........................................ 117
Table 10. Conceptual Design of the Alternative Comparison Analysis. ................................... 117
Table 11. List of Identified SUE Projects. ................................................................................. 126
Table 12. SUE Projects by SUE Quality Level. ........................................................................ 127
Table 13. SUE Projects by Year SUE Conducted. .................................................................... 127
Table 14. SUE Projects by Year Project Let.............................................................................. 127
Table 15. Groups of Project Class Observations. ...................................................................... 131
Table 16. List of TxDOT Design Standards (56, 57). ............................................................... 132
Table 17. Utility-Related Change Order Categories and Reason Codes. .................................. 135
Table 18. Conceptual Design of the Proposed Comparison Analysis. ...................................... 137
Table 19. Mean Project Design Cost and Mean Project Design Cost per Lane-Mile (2011
Dollars). .............................................................................................................................. 139
Table 20. Mean Total Design Man-Hours and Mean Design Man-Hours per Lane-Mile. ....... 140
Table 21. Mean Percent Construction Cost Increase and Mean per-Lane-Mile
Construction Cost Increase. ................................................................................................ 141
Table 22. Mean Project Construction Duration and Mean per-Lane-Mile Construction
Duration. ............................................................................................................................. 142
Table 23. Mean Percent Additional Construction Days and Mean Per-Lane-Mile
Additional Construction Days............................................................................................. 143
Table 24. Mean of Utility Related Change Order Amount per Project, per-Lane-Mile,
and Percent of Utility-Related Change Orders. .................................................................. 144
Table 25. Mean Reimbursable Utility Agreement Amount per Project and per Project
Lane-Mile. ........................................................................................................................... 145
Table 26. Mean Number of Utility Agreements, Mean Number of Utility Agreements
Per-Lane-Mile, and Percent Utility Agreements Not Needed. ........................................... 146
Table 27. Mean Number of Reimbursable EWA Utility Agreements per Project and per
Project Lane-Mile. .............................................................................................................. 147
Table 28. Summary of Best Practice Recommendations by Implementation Category. ........... 155
Table 29. Recommended State DOT Best Practice Examples for Implementation
Categories. .......................................................................................................................... 156
Table 30. Implemented Best Practices by State DOT and Implementation Category. .............. 157
Table 31. Policy Implementation Recommendations. ............................................................... 158
Table 32. Summary of State Policy Approaches. ...................................................................... 159
xiv
Table 33.
Table 34.
Table 35.
Table 36.
Table 37.
Table 38.
Table 39.
Table 40.
Table 41.
Table 42.
Table 43.
Table 44.
Table 45.
Table 46.
Table 47.
Table 48.
Table 49.
Table 50.
Table 51.
Table 52.
Table 53.
Table 54.
Table 55.
Table 56.
Table 57.
Table 58.
Table 59.
Table 60.
Table 61.
Table 62.
Table 63.
Table 64.
Table 65.
Table 66.
Table 67.
Table 68.
Table 69.
Table 70.
Table 71.
Table 72.
Table 73.
Table 74.
Table 75.
Table 76.
Table 77.
Table 78.
Education and Training Recommendations. .............................................................. 162
Summary of State Education and Training Practices. ............................................... 162
Procurement and Contracting Recommendations...................................................... 164
Summary of State DOT Procurement and Contracting Practices. ............................. 164
Project Development Process Recommendations...................................................... 168
Summary of State DOT Project Development Process Practices. ............................. 168
Technology and Information System Recommendations. ......................................... 172
Summary of Technology and Information Practices. ................................................ 172
Ranking of Best Practices (All Workshops). ............................................................. 178
Implementation Strategies for Best Practices. ........................................................... 185
Education and Training Recommendations. .............................................................. 187
Technology and Information System Recommendations. ......................................... 189
Procurement and Contracting Recommendations...................................................... 191
Project Development Process Recommendations...................................................... 193
Policy Implementation Recommendations. ............................................................... 194
Overall Ranking and Implementation Strategies for Best Practices. ......................... 195
Workshop Lesson Plan. ............................................................................................. 197
Lesson 1: Introductions and Seminar Overview. ....................................................... 198
Lesson 2: Utility Investigations Concepts. ................................................................ 199
Lesson 3: Utility Impact Analysis. ............................................................................ 200
Lesson 4: Wrap-Up. ................................................................................................... 201
Workshops Locations and Attendance. ..................................................................... 203
Overall Ratings for Lesson 1 from Workshop Participants. ...................................... 204
Overall Lesson Ratings for Lesson 2 from Workshop Participants........................... 205
Overall Lesson Ratings for Lesson 3 from Workshop Participants........................... 206
Overall Lesson Ratings for Lesson 4 from Workshop Participants........................... 206
Overall Lesson Ratings from Workshop Participants................................................ 208
List of Best Practices, Implementation Cost, Benefit, Complexity, and Ranks. ....... 217
Responses to Question 6. ........................................................................................... 257
Responses to Question 7. ........................................................................................... 261
Responses to Question 8. ........................................................................................... 264
Responses to Question 9. ........................................................................................... 267
Responses to Question 10. ......................................................................................... 271
Responses to Question 11. ......................................................................................... 273
Responses to Question 12. ......................................................................................... 276
Responses to Question 13. ......................................................................................... 278
Responses to Question 15. ......................................................................................... 281
Responses to Question 17. ......................................................................................... 283
Responses to Question 22. ......................................................................................... 284
Responses to Question 27. ......................................................................................... 285
Responses to Question 28. ......................................................................................... 286
Responses to Question 31. ......................................................................................... 290
Responses to Question 33. ......................................................................................... 292
Responses to Question 35. ......................................................................................... 294
Responses to Question 37. ......................................................................................... 296
Responses to Question 39. ......................................................................................... 297
xv
Table 79. Responses to Question 41. ......................................................................................... 298
Table 80. T-Test Results for Mean Total Design Cost. ............................................................. 310
Table 81. T-Test Results for Mean Design Cost per Lane-Mile................................................ 311
Table 82. T-Test Results for Mean Total Design Man-Hours. .................................................. 315
Table 83. T-Test Results for Mean Design Man-Hours per Lane-Mile. ................................... 316
Table 84. T-Test Results for Mean Percent Construction Cost Increase. .................................. 320
Table 85. T-Test Results for Mean Construction Cost Increase per Lane-Mile. ....................... 321
Table 86. T-Test Results for Mean Project Construction Duration. .......................................... 325
Table 87. T-Test Results for Mean Project Construction Duration per Lane-Mile. .................. 326
Table 88. T-Test Results for Mean Additional Construction Days per Lane-Mile. .................. 330
Table 89. T-Test Results for Mean Percent Additional Construction Days. ............................. 331
Table 90. T-Test Results for Mean Utility-Related Change Order Amounts. ........................... 337
Table 91. T-Test Results for Mean Utility-Related Change Order Amounts per LaneMile. .................................................................................................................................... 338
Table 92. T-Test Results for Mean Utility-Related Change Order Amounts per
Construction Cost................................................................................................................ 339
Table 93. T-Test Results for Mean Agreement Amount per Project. ........................................ 343
Table 94. T-Test Results for Mean Agreement Amount per Project Lane-Mile. ...................... 344
Table 95. T-Test Results for Mean Number of Agreements per Project. .................................. 350
Table 96. T-Test Results for Mean Number of Agreements per Project Lane-Mile. ................ 351
Table 97. T-Test Results for Mean Percent of Agreements Not Needed. ................................. 352
Table 98. T-Test Results for Mean Number of Reimbursable EWA Utility Agreements
per Project. .......................................................................................................................... 356
Table 99. T-Test Results for Mean Number of Reimbursable EWA Utility Agreements
per Project Lane-Mile. ........................................................................................................ 357
xvi
LIST OF ACRONYMS, ABBREVIATIONS, AND TERMS
AASHTO
AC
ADT
ANSI
AFA
ASCE
CAD
Caltrans
CFR
CI
CIS
CSJ
DCIS
DOT
EM
EMI
ENV
ESRI
FDOT
FHWA
FUCC
GDOT
GIS
GPR
GSSI
IRWA
IT
ITS
kHz
LPA
MDOT
m-ohms/m
MOU
MPO
mS/m
NHS
NCDOT
ODOT
OSHA
PDF
PennDOT
PS&E
QLA
American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials
Alternating current
Average daily traffic
American National Standards Institute
Advance funding agreement
American Society of Civil Engineers
Computer-aided design
California Department of Transportation
Code of Federal Regulations
Construction Institute
Contract Information System
Control section job
Design and Construction Information System
Department of transportation
Electromagnetic
Electromagnetic induction
Environmental Division at TxDOT
Economic and Social Research Institute
Florida Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
Florida Utilities Coordinating Committee
Georgia Department of Transportation
Geographic information system
Ground penetrating radar
Geophysical Survey Systems
International Right of Way Association
Information technology
Intelligent transportation systems
kilo Hertz
Local public agency
Maryland Department of Transportation
Milli-ohms/meter
Memorandum of understanding
Metropolitan planning organization
Milli-Siemens/meter
National Highway System
North Carolina Department of Transportation
Ohio Department of Transportation
Occupational Safety and Health Administration
Portable document format
Pennsylvania Department of Transportation
Plans, specifications, and estimate
Quality level A
xvii
QLB
QLC
QLD
RFID
ROW
ROWIS
RTI
RTK
SHRP
SUE
TAC
TC
TTI
TPP
TxDOT
UAR
UCM
UIR
UIT
USC
VDOT
Quality level B
Quality level C
Quality level D
Radio frequency ID
Right of way
Right of Way Information System
Research and Technology Implementation Division at TxDOT
Real-time kinematics
Strategic Highway Research Program
Subsurface utility engineering
Texas Administrative Code
Terrain conductivity
Texas A&M Transportation Institute
Transportation Planning and Programming Division
Texas Department of Transportation
Utility accommodation rules
Utility conflict matrix
Utility Installation Review
Underground Imaging Technologies
U.S. Code
Virginia Department of Transportation
xviii
CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION
SUBSURFACE UTILITY ENGINEERING
The lack of adequate information about the location and characteristics of utility facilities can
result in a number of problems, including damages to utilities, disruptions to utility services and
traffic, “lost” utility facilities as construction alters the landscape and pre-existing benchmarks
are removed, and delays to highway projects. In addition, detecting utility conflicts as early as
possible during the project development process can help to substantially improve the timely
relocation of utilities and/or allow time to develop alternatives to avoid utility relocations (1, 2,
3).
Collecting accurate underground utility location information from utilities can be challenging.
This is one of the reasons Subsurface Utility Engineering (SUE) has become a critical tool to
help identify and locate utility installations within the right-of-way. The national Construction
Institute/American Society of Civil Engineers standard CI/ASCE 38-02 outlines typical SUE
activities in connection with the collection and depiction of utility data (4). A critical component
of SUE is a quality level (QL) attribute, which can be one of the following:
•
•
•
•
QLD, which involves collecting data from existing records or oral recollections.
QLC, which involves surveying and plotting of utility appurtenances that are visible at
ground level.
QLB, which involves the use of surface geophysical methods to determine the
approximate horizontal position of subsurface utilities.
QLA, which involves the precise horizontal and vertical location through exposure of
utilities at certain locations.
With the exception of QLA data, the SUE process normally produces horizontal positions (i.e.,
2-D data). However, technologies such as ground penetrating radar (GPR) and electromagnetic
inductive (EMI) arrays are increasingly making it possible to obtain 3-D imagery and depictions
of utility installations from which it is possible to infer not just horizontal but also vertical
positions of underground installations. When referring to elevation data obtained using GPR or
EMI, vendors and practitioners often use unofficial terms such as “QLB-Plus” or “QLA-Minus.”
Collecting information about utilities through existing records, oral recollections, and surveys of
visible utility appurtenances is a routine practice in the project development process. In fact, it is
common to collect QLD and QLC data as early as the preliminary design phase of a
transportation project. By comparison, collecting QLB and QLA data tends to take place during
the detailed design or Plans, Specifications, and Estimate (PS&E) phase (Figure 1). The decision
to collect these data is typically a responsibility of the project manager and depends on project
parameters such as project complexity and project type. Data collection at QLB and more so at
QLA is costly and must therefore be limited to the extent needed and to the extent that it is
justified. However, not all project managers have experience with the SUE process and
standards, or may lack an understanding of potential benefits. In some cases, project managers
1
QLC
data
Project
Development
Process
Conflict
resolution data
Utility Conflict Resolution
Preliminary Design
Utility
Data
Processing
QLA
data
QLB
data
after
QLD
after
QLC
30%
60%
Design
after QLB
90%
after QLA
Letting
Utility
Data Input
QLD
data
Project
Completion
know (or suspect) that most, if not all, utility facilities need to be adjusted anyway and decide
that investing resources in QLB or QLA investigations is unnecessary.
Construction
additional
data
processing
Post-Construction
Utility Permitting
Utility
as-builts
Figure 1. Potential Utility Data Exchange Points.
QLD and QLC data collection requires equipment that is typically available at TxDOT, so
project managers frequently perform these types of data collections using in-house staff. QLB
and QLA data collections require specialized equipment that may not be readily available at
TxDOT, so project managers typically hire a SUE contractor to collect this kind of data. This
fact may also contribute to a common confusion that SUE data collection only refers to activities
that produce QLB and QLA data.
Although TxDOT has successfully collected QLB and QLA data on several projects, most
TxDOT projects currently do not collect this type of data or use it to its full potential. The
primary objective of this project is to review the state of the practice in utility investigations and
develop best practices for timing and use of utility investigation services in the TxDOT project
development process. Major activities of the research included:
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Review current utility investigation techniques and technologies.
Review best practices and use of utility investigation practices in other states.
Review TxDOT project data to examine effects of utility investigation services.
Survey TxDOT organizational units on current utility investigation practices.
Develop draft best practices for utility investigations.
Plan and conduct workshops with practitioners.
Review and revise draft best practices for utility investigations.
Develop and test training materials.
Develop draft content for inclusion in the ROW Utility Manual.
2
This report describes the procedures and findings associated with the project. The remaining
sections of the report are organized as follows:
•
Chapter 2 provides an overview of the geophysical survey techniques or methods that
have been or could potentially be used for underground utility detection. The chapter
also summarizes underground utility investigation practices based on several interviews
to SUE providers who have presence in Texas.
•
Chapter 3 describes in detail the current utility investigation practices and perception of
SUE cost/benefits based on a survey conducted with a large number of TxDOT officials
in different districts, regional support centers, and divisions.
•
Chapter 4 reviews utility investigation practices in a sample of states across the nation
and introduces a number of best practices in those states that may potentially benefit
TxDOT if implemented in Texas.
•
Chapter 5 examines effects of SUE on project costs, project efficiencies, and project
delivery time based on an in-depth analysis of project performance data of a large number
of sample projects at TxDOT.
•
Chapter 6 describes a number of best practices developed for implementation at TxDOT.
The chapter also describes the effort the research team took to gather feedback from
stakeholders through workshops and incorporate it during the refining and revising of the
best practices.
•
Chapter 7 describes the training materials developed during this project and the process
of testing the materials through a round of workshops across Texas. The training
materials are included in research product 0-6631-P1 that is submitted separately from
this report.
•
Chapter 8 concludes with a summary of the research findings, recommendations based on
the research, and issues associated with the potential implementation of the research
findings.
3
CHAPTER 2: UTILITY INVESTIGATION TECHNIQUES AND
PRACTICES
UNDERGROUND UTILITY INVESTIGATION TECHNOLOGIES
There is a wide range of geophysical survey techniques that have been or could potentially be
used for underground utility detection. This section provides an overview of available utility
detection methods along with a detailed discussion of these methods. Depending on a survey
method’s underlying technology, methods can be categorized into one of the following groups:
•
Methods Based on Electromagnetic (EM) Waves. Electromagnetic radiation is a form
of energy exhibiting wave-like behavior. In the order of increasing frequency and
decreasing wavelength, the electromagnetic spectrum covers radio waves, microwaves,
infrared radiation, visible light, ultraviolet radiation, X-rays, and gamma rays. Examples
of utility detection methods using radio waves are Ground Penetrating Radar, pipe and
cable locators, electromagnetic induction, and electromagnetic terrain conductivity (TC).
Infrared thermography is a method that uses shorter electromagnetic waves in the infrared
spectrum.
•
Methods Based on Mechanical Waves. Examples of mechanical waves are acoustic
waves, water waves, and seismic waves. Methods based on mechanical waves require
the presence of a medium in which the wave can propagate. Acoustic location is an
example of a method utilizing mechanical waves.
•
Other Methods. These methods can be used for utility location and do not fall in the
above groups, including electricity resistivity methods, magnetic methods,
micro-gravitational methods, and chemical methods.
Table 1 provides a summary of underground utility detection methods that are commonly used,
and Table 2 provides a summary of underground utility detection methods that are less
frequently used. Following the tables, this chapter provides for each method a description of
basic underlying theories, design and implementation of products using the method, and a
description of typical applications for these products. Readers should take note that during a
complex utility investigation, it is a common practice to employ a combination of methods for
more accurate and reliable detection results.
5
6
• Utility detection and
tracing
• Utility detection
Terrain conductivity
• Utility detection and
tracing
Pipe and cable
locators
Ground penetrating
radar and/or
electromagnetic
induction arrays
• Utility detection and
tracing
Application
Ground penetrating
radar
Method
• Detection distance is relatively high.
• Suitable for search of isolated utilities.
• Can detect nonmetallic utilities.
• More reliable and accurate results than
traditional GPR and pipe and cable locators.
• Capable of 3D utility mapping.
• Especially suitable for tracing metallic
utilities or nonmetallic utilities with tracing
wires that are accessible.
• Can be used in both a passive mode and an
active mode (see following section).
• A large variety of instruments available.
• Ability to detect both metallic and
non-metallic utilities.
• Can be used for initial searches of larger
areas.
Major Advantages
• Prone to interferences by nearby
electromagnetic noises.
• Not suitable for tracing utilities.
• Incapable of depth estimation.
• Reliability largely affected by soil type.
• Less portable than traditional GPR
equipment and pipe and cable locators.
• Requires sophisticated software for data
processing.
• Results affected by factors such as utility
diameter, ground conductivity, existence of
other conductors.
• Extremely prone to environmental
interferences when used in passive mode.
• Accurate detection and tracing require
access to utilities.
• Depth estimation is not reliable.
• Relatively short detection range.
• Reliability largely depends on utility
dimensions, utility materials, buried depth,
and soil conditions.
• Cannot detect utility type.
• Data are difficult to interpret.
Major Limitations
Table 1. Summary of Commonly Used Underground Utility Detection Methods.
7
• Detection of very
large underground
objects
Micro-gravitational
techniques
• Utility detection
Infrared thermography
• Utility tracing
• Utility detection
Magnetic methods
Acoustic location
• Utility detection
Application
Resistivity
measurements and
capacitive resistivity
method
Method
• Prone to interference from background noises.
• Requires access to or prior knowledge about
utilities.
• Not capable of depth estimation.
• Requires very precise measurements and
experienced personnel.
n/a
• Shallow detection range.
• Requires very sensitive equipment.
• Not capable of depth estimation.
• Shallow detection range.
• Not capable of depth estimation.
• Prone to interference from nearby magnetic sources.
• Data collection and interpretation is difficult
compared to other methods, and requires
experienced personnel.
• Method is intrusive and not suitable for hard
surfaces.
Major Limitations
n/a
n/a
• Suitable for searching over a large
area.
• Suitable for utilities marked with
magnets.
• Suitable for general utility
searching.
Major Advantages
Table 2. Summary of Infrequently Used Underground Utility Detection Methods.
Pipe and Cable Locators
Basic Theories
Pipe and cable locators are by far the most commonly used utility detection method. These
locators utilize electromagnetic induction technology using antennas with coils to detect
magnetic fields generated by buried utility facilities. Pipe and cable locators can be used to
locate a large variety of underground conductors.
The fundamental principle of electromagnetic induction is that changes of magnetic flux through
a surface bounded by a closed circuit will induce a voltage in it. Pipe and cable locators utilize
electromagnetic induction in two ways (5):
•
Imposing a signal onto a buried utility facility by subjecting it to a magnetic field
generated by an alternating current (AC) source.
•
Detecting a magnetic signal generated by a buried conductor with a current flow using an
aerial receiver.
An insulated underground conductor (i.e., the metallic utility facility to be detected) needs to
have a current flow to generate a magnetic field that aerial antennas can detect. Although the
buried conductor is not necessarily part of a complete electric circuit, it works as a string of small
capacitors with the conductor itself and the ground surrounding it as two conductors separated by
the insulation protecting the conductor. Upon receiving an AC current, the conductor charges up
relative to ground, and current flows out both ways from the point where the AC current is
applied, creating a magnetic field around the conductor. There are several factors affecting this
electromagnetic process (5):
•
Utility Diameter. Capacitance (i.e., the ability of body to hold an electrical charge)
increases with conductor area, and therefore the size of a utility facility affects the
distance the current travels along the conductor. From a larger pipe, the same current
strength will leak away over a shorter distance than from a smaller pipe. On the other
hand, the capacitance of a small diameter cable may be so low that little or no current will
flow and result in a magnetic field too weak to be detectable.
•
Ground Conductivity. Ground conductivity varies locally (e.g., wet soil is a better
conductor than dry sand). Better ground conductivity makes it easier to induce a current
flow, yet causes the current to be lost along a shorter distance. Lower ground
conductivity requires more energy to induce current, but it will be detectable over a
greater distance.
•
AC Frequency. The higher the frequency, the greater AC voltage and capacitance
current flow can be induced in the conductor, yet the shorter the distance over which the
current will travel.
8
Product Design and Implementation
There are two basic means that pipe and cable locators identify buried conductors: passive
location and active location (5). Passive location methods take advantage of the fact that many
buried utilities naturally carry a detectable current, such as electric cables. In addition, buried
conductors may also have a current triggered by other existing sources such as an existing
current in the earth and/or long-wave radio transmissions.
Only a receiving instrument is required for passive location, which implies that the operation is
theoretically simple and does not require digging first for access to the buried facilities.
However, passive signals are not reliable and subject to change anytime. The fact that all buried
conductors tend to have this type of signal complicates the detection, especially in locations
where multiple utility facilities are buried. It is also difficult to identify a conductor located
through passive signals. Currently, there are pipe locator products that detect signals around 50
to 60 Hz, the frequency range that underground power lines typically generate. There are also
instruments capable of detecting buried conductors emitting very low frequency signals triggered
by remote long-wave radio transmissions.
The design voltage of the buried utility line is not directly related to the strength of detectable
signals. Obviously, high-voltage power cables do not emit strong detectable signals when they
are unloaded. Further, many power cables contain twisted cores or carry three-phase power,
which largely cancel out a detectable signal. Therefore, passive detectors may easily miss a
major high-voltage power cable while locating a street light cable in the near vicinity.
Active location methods require a user to deliberately induce a known AC from a transmitter
onto a utility line. This method enables users to locate and identify a line even from a congested
web of underground utilities. Because the user controls the signal source, it is possible to vary
frequencies and therefore select a suitable frequency to locate the facility more precisely.
However, the requirement of an AC source applied to the utility line entails having access to the
line and the use of a signal transmitter, whereas the passive method does not. There are several
methods to induce AC to a buried utility line:
•
Direct Connection. A grounded AC source is directly connected to the pipe or cable to
be detected through an access point such as a valve, meter, or an end of the line. This
method may also trigger signals on any lines in the vicinity that share a common ground
point.
•
Clamping. The output from a transmitter is coupled to a buried utility line by clamping
around it with a split toroidal (i.e., ring-shaped) magnetic core. Clamping has the
advantage of direct connection and ensures the clamped utility line to have the strongest
signal.
•
Induction. This method uses a rectangular coil that is part of an AC circuit. The coil
generates a magnetic field that then triggers AC on the buried utility lines underneath it.
Coils positioned vertically will generate a localized magnetic field and are therefore
suitable for detecting single lines. Coils positioned horizontally generate a more
9
expansive magnetic field that is useful for signal application on multiple parallel lines
simultaneously. In general, a frequency of 8 kHz or higher is suitable for induction, but a
higher frequency may cause other adjacent lines to be induced. Induction is not as
effective as direct connection or clamping, but depending on the situation, induction may
be the only way of applying an active signal.
Many detectors allow both passive and active detection modes, but require a separate transmitter
when work in active mode. The combination gives users more choices and flexibility and
therefore enables more convenient and efficient location of utility facilities.
Receiving antennas are a key component for pipe and cable locators. A receiving antenna
typically contains a coil that converts alternating magnetic flux passing through it into an AC
voltage. The voltage is electronically amplified to provide a response on a meter and/or in a
speaker. In practice, receiving antennas generally include ferrite rods in their coils to improve
the reception. Many modern detectors use antennas containing multiple coils (e.g., twin aerial
antennas) to improve detection accuracy and enable depth measurement, especially at situations
where multiple conductors exist both underground and overhead. During detection, antennas are
typically positioned so that coils are horizontal to the utility lines for better detection of their
location and direction. However, it is sometimes necessary to place antennas such that their coils
are vertical to the utility lines to cross-check detection results.
While the basic theory behind pipe and cable locators has not changed significantly during the
past decade, improvements in software and packaging have led to useful features such a
simultaneous monitoring of multiple active and passive frequencies. Likewise, current direction
and strength indicators are useful in isolating specific facilities in environments where multiple
targets are present. The development of more powerful transmitters enables modern pipe and
cable locators to increase the depth in which utilities can be detected.
Applications
Pipe and cable locators are generally used to locate metallic utility lines or non-metallic lines
with tracing materials installed along them. In addition, the method can be used to detect nonmetallic utility lines without tracing materials, if a metallic conductor or a transmitting sonde can
be inserted into the utility line. Currently, a large range of locators are available with various
frequencies between 50 to 480 kHz (4). Major issues concerning the application of pipe and
cable locators in the field include the following (5, 3, and 6):
•
Accuracy. The accuracy of a locator largely depends on site conditions, the locator’s
capability to measure accurately, and magnetic field distortions. Horizontal accuracy for
detected utilities is typically within inches, although it is not rare to have results with a
horizontal positional error of more than a foot. When utilities are buried at a depth
beyond 15 feet, horizontal positional information can be highly subjective. For
homogeneous soil, the positional errors are typically consistent along the same utility
lines. In the case of depth measurement, some well-calibrated instruments under ideal
conditions can be very accurate. However, depth estimations are in general problematic,
especially when site conditions are complicated such as urban intersections with
congested utility clusters underneath. In fact, some SUE providers indicated that they use
10
the depth display more as an indication if a detector is following the same utility lines.
Detection accuracy can be improved by selecting better designed locators, using multiple
aerials, and measuring multiple times with vertical and horizontal antennas.
•
Detection Depth and Distance. Detection range is affected by several factors including
detector sensitivity, utility electromagnetic properties, insulation status, utility
dimensional properties, soil conductivity, and existence of other utilities in the close
vicinity. Under ideal conditions, typical pipe and cable locators can effectively detect
utilities up to a depth of 20 ft. High-power sondes can sometimes increase the detection
depth to 50 ft or more. Other mechanisms to improve detection depth and distance
include the following:
o Reduce the rate of signal loss by choosing the most suitable frequencies and using
clamping instead of other active detection methods. Several trials are frequently
needed to identify an optimum frequency band for a particular line and situation.
o Increase the signal current by improving ground connections (e.g., wet the soil at
ground connections), choosing suitable voltages (due to different line impedance),
and/or increasing the transmitter power.
o Increase receiver sensitivity by improving amplification and noise filtering
functions.
•
Locator Selection. Currently, there are a wide range of locators available, varying in
frequency, antenna design, accessory features and functions, grounding method, and
remote pipe attachment devices. There are cases where instruments with identical
frequencies, similar antennas, and comparable signal outputs under same site conditions
do not detect utilities equally well. Therefore, it is important to select the suitable device,
which means multiple experiments need to be conducted before attempting to locate
utilities. In practice, many SUE providers use different types of locators from different
manufacturers to improve detection results.
TxDOT requires all non-metallic pipes to be installed concurrently with a durable metal wire or
other approved means of detection, allowing pipe and cable locators to detect them (7). Due to
this requirement and industry practices, gas lines typically contain tracing wires that make them
easier to be detected by pipe and cable locators. However, regardless of the requirement, many
water lines are not installed with tracing wires and therefore often cause difficulties during
detection. Most fiber optic cables contain a metallic wrap that can be utilized for detection.
Field experience shows that pipe and cable locators work best for small diameter copper wires
due to their high conductivity, and work less effectively for cast iron or ductile iron pipes.
Many SUE providers interviewed indicated that soil conditions are generally not a major factor
for pipe and cable locators. However, soil in some Texas regions can be extremely dry and
rocky, which can significantly reduce the detection range.
11
Ground Penetrating Radar
Basic Theories
GPR is one of the common geophysical techniques for detecting underground objects such as
cavities, rocks, buried utility facilities, and underground structures, and increasingly for probing
other media such as wood, concrete, and asphalt (8). It has been a focus of research and
development as it can theoretically detect buried objects of different materials non-intrusively. A
complete understanding of GPR theories requires an in-depth discussion of electromagnetic and
material permittivity/conductivity theories, which can be very technical and is not part of the
scope of this research project.
In general, a GPR unit must have a timing unit, a transmitter, and a receiver. Antennas are
connected to the transmitter and receiver to convert an electromagnetic field and electric signal.
In a simple GPR system, a timing unit initiates a signal to the transmitter electronics, which then
send out a short direct current (DC) pulse to the transmitting antenna. The antenna translates the
excitation voltage into a predictable, temporally, and spatially distributed electromagnetic signal.
Part of this signal transmits through boundaries under the ground and the rest is reflected back to
the receiver. The receiver detects the temporal variation of the returning electromagnetic field
and translates it into a recordable signal for analysis and display. Figure 2 shows an example of
a 2D GPR image generated for a pavement study.
Figure 2. Sample 2D GPR Image for a Pavement Investigation.
Product Design and Implementation
A typical GPR deploys the transmitting and the receiving antennas in a fixed geometry moving
over a ground surface. The transmitter sends short, high-frequency electromagnetic pulses into
the ground and the receiver receives reflections at the ground surface. GPR can also be used in a
transillumination mode where the transmitting antenna is inserted into the study media through a
borehole and the receiving antenna is inserted into an adjacent, parallel borehole to receive the
12
transmissions. The two antennas are moved relative to each other at various offsets to probe the
different sections between the two boreholes. In both methods, the positional and geometric
attributes of buried objects are obtained by analyzing the electromagnetic discontinuities they
cause due to their different permittivity or conductivity.
In practice, many factors affect the quality of signal feedback received by the receiving antenna.
Transforming raw GPR data into a format ready for application-specific interpretations takes
several steps, many of which are automatically performed in modern GPR systems. Listed
below are some key steps involved in GPR data processing (8):
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Dewow.
Time-zero correction.
Filtering.
Deconvolution.
Velocity analysis and depth conversion.
Elevation or topographic corrections.
Time gain.
Migration.
GPR technology is relatively new compared with other technologies. During the past decade,
there have been limited improvements in the technology itself (e.g., detection depth and result
accuracy). Most recent improvements in this area are aspects of data processing, data
presentation, and GPS tools.
Applications
GPR has applications in many areas such as earth sciences, engineering, environmental studies,
archaeology, and military. In transportation engineering, GPR has been used for purposes such
as infrastructure study and utility detection. In the case of utility detection, GPR technology is
best suited for buried utility facilities for which preliminary information is not available. GPR
systems used for identifying underground utility facilities are typically within the frequency
range of 50 MHz and 500 MHz (3).
When surveying a large area, a GPR instrument is usually pulled along a grid spaced small
enough to sufficiently cover the study area without data gaps. SUE providers sometimes
simultaneously deploy several GPR instruments that are connected to a central computer to
improve detection speed, especially for projects on undeveloped land when large areas need to
be probed. If needed, a GPS unit can be used together with GPR instruments to georeference the
data points for later mapping and interpretation of the collected GPR data. Before using GPR, an
experienced practitioner must evaluate the project site for GPR suitability. In addition, it is
frequently necessary to use multiple bandwidths and to use GPR in conjunction with other
techniques.
When used properly, GPR can theoretically detect utilities of a large range of materials, unlike
some other electromagnetic methods that can detect metallic facilities only. However, GPR
technology several drawbacks (9):
13
•
The effectiveness of GPR largely depends on the size and shape of the target, and the
degree of discontinuity at the reflecting boundary. In general, GPR is more effective for
detecting medium- to large-diameter utilities than small diameter pipes or buried cables.
Detection of a small utility facility requires higher frequencies that attenuate, i.e., lose
their intensity significantly faster than lower frequencies. As a result, it is extremely
difficult to locate small-diameter facilities that are buried deep. Very small pipes are
generally difficult to detect, regardless of how deep they are buried. In addition, clay
sewer pipes may be hard to detect since their dielectric constant (relative permittivity) is
not much different from the surrounding soil.
•
GPR has a relatively short detection range. The maximum depth of utility detection is
typically about 10 ft in favorable conditions, although instruments with well-designed
antennas may find large pipes buried deeper than 15 ft in soils that are dry, sandy, and
homogeneous. The pulse strength can attenuate quickly in conductive materials such as
clay and saturated soils, reducing the effective detection distance. Studies indicated that,
with modern GPR systems, a 12:1 depth-to-diameter ratio provides reliable utility
detection down to the first 6 ft in reasonable conditions. Beyond 6 ft, it becomes more
difficult to detect pipes of any size.
•
GPR reliability is highly sensitive to operation conditions. Modern GPR systems
generally produce reasonable results in ideal soil conditions (e.g., dry, sandy soil)
combined with favorable utility characteristics. Factors such as the presence of highly
conductive soil, very rough surface, tightly spaced pavement reinforcing steel, road
deicing salt, and ground moisture can dramatically decrease the detection range and
reliability. When used on pavement, GPR generally works well on asphalt pavement due
to the layered structures. GPR generally does not work well on reinforced concrete
pavements.
•
GPR cannot detect utility types. GPR is a technique used to detect subsurface boundaries
formed between different materials with significantly varying permittivity and
conductivity. It must be used in conjunction with supplemental data or other detection
techniques in order to determine the type of underground utility facilities.
•
GPR data are difficult to interpret. GPR output data can be extremely fussy and
confusing, depending on soil characteristics.
In the past decade, the major improvements in GPR technology have been primarily in the areas
of portability and usability of GPR instruments, and sophisticated data processing software. As a
result, modern GPR systems have become more user-friendly and require less data interpretation
effort. One person can operate most systems, with results displayed to the operator on a realtime basis. With the help of available external software tools, GPR results can be visualized into
various formats. In addition, GPR equipment has become much more affordable and is
considered standard surface geophysical equipment for SUE providers.
14
Compared with some other states, Texas has many regions that have soils with high levels of
clay, caliche, and/or limestone and therefore are less suitable for GPR (see Figure 3). Among the
major urban areas in Texas, SUE providers that the research team interviewed had indicated that
the soil conditions in El Paso are more suitable for GPR compared with the Texas Triangle.
Nevertheless, GPR is still used in these areas as one of the major tools to detect underground
utilities, especially water, sewer, and storm water lines that pipe and cable locators cannot detect.
In many cases, GPR is not used to directly detect utilities facilities themselves but rather to
detect indications of the existence of underground utilities, such as trenches, conduits, and utility
banks. As such, utilities that were installed through trenches are much easier to detect compared
with those that were bored in, as the latter do not interrupt soil above the boreholes and are
typically installed deeper than trench-installed utility facilities.
Figure 3. GPR Soil Suitability Map in Texas (modified from [10]).
15
SUE providers interviewed for this project reported that from field experience, GPR in Texas can
in general detect large utility facilities buried up to 3 feet. When conditions allow, large utility
lines buried up to 4.5 feet can be detected as well. Note that GPR systems may miss fairly large
utilities during detection. However, if detected, the indicated locations are reasonably accurate
in most cases. Field experience showed that the level of error for most GPR systems is typically
within the 10–15 percent range for depth estimations and about 2–3 inches for horizontal
locations. In urban areas with densely located utility facilities, GPR can detect only the facilities
located closest to the top.
Terrain Conductivity
Basic Theories
TC is a non-intrusive geophysical method for detecting underground objects by measuring the
conductivity of a cone-shaped volume of underground soil (3, 9). A typical TC system contains
two coils separated at a certain distance: a transmitter and a receiver. The transmitter generates
and emits a time-varying electromagnetic signal in the ground underneath the coil, which then
induces very small circular electrical currents (named eddy currents) in the earth below the coil.
These eddy currents in turn generate a secondary magnetic field, which the receiver coil detects
together with the primary field.
Theoretically, the secondary magnetic field is a complicated function of the inter-coil spacing,
the operating frequency, and the ground conductivity (11). Terrain conductivity systems are
designed to operate within the low-frequency range such that the skin depth of the
electromagnetic wave (defined as the depth below the surface of a conductor at which the current
density has fallen to 1/e of that at the surface) is many orders of magnitude higher than the
systems’ effective depth of penetration. Under this condition (technically known as operation in
low induction numbers), the ratio of the secondary to the primary magnetic field becomes
directly proportional to the ground conductivity, and the phase of the secondary magnetic field
leads the primary magnetic field by 90°. The following equation shows this relationship:
where:
   2
=

4
Hs = secondary magnetic field at the receiver coil.
Hp = Primary magnetic field at the receiver coil.
ω = 2πf.
f = frequency.
μ0 = permeability of free space.
σ = ground conductivity.
s = inter-coil spacing.
i = √−1.
16
Consequently, the ground conductivity can be estimated as:
=
4

�
�
0  2 
Terrain conductivity meters designed based on this theory can therefore detect ground
conductivity by simply measuring the ratio of the magnitudes of the primary and secondary
magnetic fields. Underground objects are detected by identifying variations in terrain
conductivity that these objects caused.
Product Design and Implementation
Typical terrain conductivity systems contain a transmitter coil and a receiver coil installed on a
frame with a fixed or sometimes adjustable separation, where the distance of separation is
directly related to the effective depth of penetration. An instrument console is also installed with
the system to house the control unit as well as the conductivity meter. Operators move the
systems along the ground surface and collect conductivity readings at a fixed temporal or spatial
interval.
A terrain conductivity meter can be used in two different ways:
•
•
Both transmitter and receiver coils are placed horizontally to ground surface.
Both transmitter and receiver coils are placed vertically to ground surface.
The horizontal configuration approach enables a larger effective exploration depth than the
vertical configuration, but it is insensitive to changes in near-surface conductivity. The two
configurations may be used in conjunction with each other to improve detection accuracy.
The most important factors that affect terrain conductivity measurements include porosity of the
subsurface material, degree of saturation, and concentration of dissolved electrolytes in the pore
fluids (12). Soil type is another factor affecting conductivity due to the effects of soil particle
size and shape on the geometry of the flow paths that electrical currents follow around the
insulating soil particles. Conductivity generally increases with decreasing particle size due to a
more direct current path. Therefore, silty soils tend to have a higher conductivity than clean sand
or gravel.
Most modern terrain conductivity systems can record conductivity readings automatically; others
require a separate data recorder to store the readings. The readings are commonly expressed in
the conductivity units of milli-ohms/meter (m-ohms/m) or milli-Siemens/meter (mS/m). In
addition to conductivity measurements, modern systems are frequently able to detect an “inphase” signal component response that can indicate the existence of metal objects. Some
systems can transfer the data automatically to external computers. Spatial data are typically
collected through a GPS receiver linked to the TC system. In most cases, external software is
required to further process and visualize the conductivity data and georeference the information
according to the corresponding GPS data. Figure 4 shows an example of an underground
conductivity map showing buried utility facilities.
17
Figure 4. Sample Ground Conductivity Map Showing Underground Utility Facilities (13).
Applications
The TC method has been used in various types of environmental and soil studies. The method is
useful for underground utility detection especially in non-utility congested areas or in areas of
high ambient conductivity (3, 6). In general, it can detect isolated metallic utilities, underground
storage tanks, wells, and vault covers fairly well. Under certain conditions, large non-metallic
water pipes in dry soils or large non-metallic empty and dry pipes in wet soils are also detectable
via this method.
Although current terrain conductivity systems tend to detect utilities successfully within the first
10 ft of cover, some systems may effectively penetrate a depth of 15–20 ft and some can even
reach as deep as 150 ft when conditions allow. Utilities’ resistivity can range from extremely
low (e.g., metallic) to very high (e.g., large empty clay pipe) and therefore significantly affect the
rate of detection success.
Magnetic fields produced along overhead power lines and aboveground metal objects interfere
with terrain conductivity measurements. In addition, higher levels of salt in soil can increase the
ground conductivity, which makes it more difficult to detect metallic utilities yet relatively easier
to detect non-metallic utilities. In soil saturated with water, the ground conductivity is too high
to detect any kind of utility, unless it is watertight, empty, large, and relatively shallow.
18
The TC method provides another non-intrusive means for underground utility detection. Many
instruments are portable and one person can carry any one of them. Therefore, it requires
relatively little effort to carry out a survey using TC equipment. However, tracing is more
difficult than detection and requires large amounts of data. To provide meaningful results, the
terrain conductivity method frequently requires sufficient data collected with different antenna
orientations or within a tightly spaced grid search pattern. In addition, terrain conductivity data
are generally much more complex to interpret than pipe and cable locator data. Currently, it is
not realistic to perform accurate depth estimation using terrain conductivity methods.
Other Geophysical Methods
The following are some other methods that have been or can be used for underground utility
location (3, 6, 9, 14, and 15).
GPR and/or EMI Arrays
In recent years, GPR and EMI arrays have generated considerable interest because of their
improved ability to locate underground installations not just horizontally but also vertically.
GPR and EMI arrays work through the simultaneous use of multiple sensors and/or data channels
assembled in a single mobile cart, typically 4–7 feet wide. Modern EMI arrays typically utilize
one of the two EMI technologies that have been commonly used for pipe and cable locators and
terrain conductivity methods. Carts that have both GPR and EMI sensors onboard are also
available. During a survey, a vehicle is typically required to tow the array over a study area.
To provide a geo-reference to the data, it is common for array units to have GPS receivers with
or without real-time kinematics (RTK) differential correction capabilities, or laser transmitters
that work in conjunction with stationary theodolites, which are useful in situations where limited
sky visibility is not adequate for good GPS reception. Special-purpose software is also used to
receive, process, and convert the signal data to 3D geo-referenced images. In general, vendors
use proprietary image processing software, e.g., RADAN® in the case of Geophysical Survey
Systems® (GSSI) and SPADE® in the case of Underground Imaging Technologies® (UIT)
(16, 17). Some vendors also use commercially available software such as Surfer® by Golden
Software® or DPlot® by Hydesoft Computing® to perform additional tasks, e.g., to provide
shading and other 3D visualization effects.
GPR/EMI arrays can cover large areas in a relatively short time period. Regardless of their
advantages, GPR/EMI arrays are expensive, so most SUE providers rarely use these. Figure 5
provides a sample map that UIT developed, showing underground gas lines (yellow), a manhole
(green), shallow targets (orange), and an unknown large target (magenta) (18).
19
Figure 5. Sample 3D Image of Underground Utility Installations (18).
Resistivity Measurements
Electric resistivity of a material is a fundamental physical property related to the ability of a
material to conduct electricity. It determines the resistance of a conductor of a given
cross-sectional area and length. The purpose of resistivity measurements is to determine the
subsurface resistivity distribution of the ground, which can then be related to physical conditions
of interest, such as buried objects, porosity, the degree of water saturation, and the existence of
voids.
Resistivity measurements are taken by injecting DC into the ground using two or more electrodes
and then measuring the resultant voltage difference at receiving electrodes. Resistivity is then
calculated based on the current and voltage values of the complete circuits enclosing the tested
ground. The measurements are then processed and mapped through external software either in a
two-dimensional format or in some cases, a three-dimensional format to identify underground
objects that resistivity changes have indicated. Figure 6 shows an example of resistivity
measurements mapped as a 2D image.
Figure 6. Sample 2D Image Visualizing Resistivity Measurements (19).
20
The detection depth of this technique depends on the penetration depth of the injected current,
which is in turn determined by ground resistivity, and the electrode spacing and configuration.
The major disadvantages of this method are the complexity of data collection and interpretation
and the requirement for galvanic electrodes to be driven into the ground. Thus, this method may
be useful as a search technique during utility detection but not as a trace technique.
An alternative method to measure ground resistivity is the so-called capacitive resistivity
method. This technique employs non-contact electrodes to couple AC into the ground. It is
therefore a non-intrusive method and can be used on hard surfaces with a drastic improvement in
the data acquisition speed. Just measuring the amplitude of the received current would yield
comparable results as those from DC resistivity measurements, but the phase information
associated with the AC further improves the resistivity measurement. Currently, neither of the
methods is commonly used for utility location.
Magnetic Methods
Magnetic methods in geophysical surveys identify underground objects by measuring the
variations in direction, gradient, or intensity of the earth’s magnetic field over the area surveyed.
The theory behind these methods is that ferrous objects exhibit an induced magnetic field when
they are in a strong field such as the earth’s, causing localized disturbances or anomalies in the
earth’s total magnetic field. There are two general types of magnetic surveys applicable to utility
detection: total field and gradient.
Total field survey measures earth’s total magnetic field at the ground surface. The field of
ferrous objects that magnetic induction caused is analyzed from the measured total magnetic
field to identify their existence. The gradient survey method uses an instrument to cancel the
effects of internal and external magnetic fields through the placement of two total-field sensors
within a known distance of each other. These two sensors are in balance unless a ferrous object
is close to the instrument, in which case it results in an imbalance that the instrument captures.
Typically, signal patterns for a vertically oriented target exhibit peaks over the top and a
horizontally oriented target exhibits peaks at their ends (e.g., pipe joints).
The total method can be useful for a utility search over large areas in the absence of power lines,
railroads, or other large ferrous objects that create magnetic interferences (Figure 7). The
gradient method is typically effective for detecting valve boxes, steel drums, iron markers, and
manhole lids. It can also be used to detect magnetized non-metallic fiber optic cables or cast iron
pipes. Large objects buried up to 25 ft from the surface may be detected in ideal conditions. In
general, pipes that are more than several feet below the surface can be difficult to detect, unless
they have a very high initial magnetic strength that is related to object shape, internal structure,
material purity, and the object’s manufacturing location.
A large variety of magnetometers are commercially available today, most of which are portable
by one person and can measure both the earth’s total magnetic field and the magnetic field
gradient. However, this method is not commonly used for utility location.
21
Figure 7. Sample Magnetometer Data Showing Earth’s Total Magnetic Field Intensity
(20).
Infrared Thermography
Infrared thermography is based on basic heat transfer principles including conduction and
radiation. The insulating effect of different types of underground materials changes the flow of
energy in the ground, which may be detected to indicate the existence of underground objects
such as voids, boulders, and utilities. Some utilities, such as steam lines, energized power
cables, sanitary sewer lines, and industrial process lines have operating temperatures
distinguishable from that of surrounding ground. The sun serves as the heat source by warming
the ground to be tested during daytime; in turn, the ground then becomes the heat source during
nighttime.
Sensitive infrared thermographic equipment can be used to detect the temperature variations
when they are significant enough and produce 2D thermal images. Other than the high cost of
sensitive infrared thermographic detectors, several other reasons currently limit the use of
infrared thermography for utility detection. Factors such as weather (e.g., temperature and
wind), soil properties, and utility conditions largely affect its applicability. In many cases, utility
facilities must be buried near the surface to become detectable. In addition, this technique
currently cannot provide depth estimation. Experiments that one of the interviewed SUE
providers had done showed that the method was able to successfully detect a cable and a water
line buried less than 5 ft deep, but missed a major petroleum line. Interestingly, the SUE
provider was able to detect the same water line under a pavement structure but not under a grass
surface.
22
Acoustic Location
Acoustic location methods detect acoustic emissions from underground utilities using special
sensors such as geophones or accelerometers that convert motion into electric signals.
Presumably, the highest vibration amplitude at the ground surface indicates the location of a
buried utility. Acoustic sources can be one of the following:
•
Active. Sound waves are induced onto or into a pipe from active sources such as a
transducer connected to the pipe or simply striking the pipe or manhole covers using hard
objects.
•
Passive. The sound is produced when a pipe vibrates because its product escapes at a
hydrant, a service valve, or a leak.
•
Resonant. Sound waves are created by interfacing the surface of the transporting fluid in
a pipe (e.g., at a hydrant). The oscillator’s frequency may be tuned to one of the resonant
frequencies of the pipe to maximize the sound waves for better detection.
In any of these cases, the sound travels along the length of the pipe and attenuates gradually
through the pipe wall into the surrounding soil. The detection range and accuracy largely depend
on factors such as rigidity of the pipe material, depth of cover, type of surface, soil type,
compaction, ground moisture, and presence of rocks and other pipes. Experiences indicate that
the method may detect up to 8 ft in depth in the case of gas pipes and 6.5 ft in the case of water
pipes. The horizontal range reaches up to 1,000 ft for plastic gas pipes and more than 500 ft for
water pipes in favorable conditions.
The acoustic location method is typically used for tracing rather than searching. Disadvantages
of this method include being prone to interference from background noises, requiring access to
utilities or prior knowledge about their locations, and inability to estimate the depth of buried
utilities. Because of these factors, SUE providers use this technique only for large water or
sewer pipes that cannot be detected using other major tools. The method is used only on
relatively new pipes since aged facilities can easily be damaged when these are struck to create
an acoustic wave. In some cases, prior approvals from utility owners need to be obtained in
order to use acoustic detection on their facilities. In many cases, this method has to be carried
out during nighttime when there is no ground traffic and other background noises are minimal.
In addition to acoustic location, researchers have also been looking into the potentials of using
seismic refraction and reflection for underground object location. Seismic methods are typically
used in geological surveys to determine site geology, stratigraphy, or rock quality. They
currently have very limited applications in underground utility investigation.
Metal Detectors
Strictly speaking, metal detectors are a type of instrument instead of a technology. Metal
detectors are based on EMI technology where a transmitter is used to send an AC signal into the
ground and a receiver is used to detect a corresponding magnetic field generated by buried metal
objects. From this perspective, some pipe and cable locators or smaller terrain conductivity
23
meters can function as metal detectors as well. Based on applications, metal detectors can be
classified into three groups:
•
Hobby and treasure finding equipment are suitable for detecting very shallow but small
metal objects.
•
Utility location and military instruments are used for detecting deeper and larger objects,
but usually without data recording and post-processing capabilities.
•
Specialized metal detectors with large coils are typically mounted on vehicles and have
continuous data recording and post-processing capabilities.
Metal detectors are standard tools used by many SUE providers for quick detection of large
metallic utility appurtenances such as manhole lids, valves, and meters.
Micro-Gravitational Techniques
These techniques are based on the principle that the gravitational force at any given point on the
surface of earth is directly related to the effects of mass. Theoretically, large underground
objects with densities different from that of the surrounding soil will create variations in this
force that can be detected using sensitive equipment. Gravity methods have applications in
geologic studies involving mass variations, such as study of fault problems, ground water
inventories, and basins. These techniques require very precise measurements and are very rarely
used for utility location purposes.
Chemical Techniques
Liquid chemicals conveyed in pipelines left around pipes due to leaks, or gas leaks from pipes
can sometimes be utilized to detect the presence of an underground pipe. For example, natural
gas companies detect pipe leaks by finding leaked gas with flame ionization or photoionization
detectors. Currently, chemical techniques are typically not being used for general utility
detection purposes.
Joint Use of Other Traditional Methods
In addition to the methods outlined above, the following traditional techniques can further
improve utility location results (3):
•
Utility Markers. Many types of utility markers can be used to increase the visibility of
utility facilities, especially for non-metallic utilities, to aid with the detection by a
geophysical method or other specific detector:
o Visual Markers. Utility owners frequently indicate the presence of buried utilities
with markings, signs, or other types of markers visible at ground surface above the
buried utilities. Visual markers may be installed in the ground flush with the ground
surface or directly connected with the buried utilities. These markers provide
important preliminary location and attribute information about existing utilities for
24
geophysical surveys. However, markers are somewhat unreliable in that they can be
easily moved or removed, which may cause misinformation.
o Utility Tracing Tapes or Wires. A known practice in the utility industry is to install
tracing tapes or wires along with buried non-metallic utilities. A disadvantage for
tracing tapes or wires is that they may break overtime due to pipe construction, repair,
or maintenance, which may cause difficulties during detection and tracing. In
addition, tracing tapes and wires may be moved away from their original locations
overtime and thus result in detection errors.
o Utility Marking Magnets. Utility marking magnets are permanent magnets installed
with buried utilities to improve their visibility during nonintrusive detection. A
magnetometer or other magnet-sensitive detectors can detect some of these magnets
up to several feet under the ground surface.
o Passive Electric Markers. Passive electric markers contain a passive antenna that
can reflect signals from a locator. These markers typically use different colors and
frequencies to indicate different types of utilities. They may be installed at ground
surface or buried up to several feet below surface above a utility facility. Passive
electric markers require specific locators in order to be detected.
o Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Utility Markers. RFID technology has
been widely used in various industries for product inventory and tracking. Some SUE
providers refer to RFID utility markers as one of the most significant technological
improvements in relation to underground utility detection and identification. Markers
typically contain passive RFID tags that store important utility information and
broadcast it via radio waves when an RFID reader has activated these tags. They are
installed at strategic locations along utility lines to provide necessary information
about the buried utilities. RFID utility markers can be designed to work long-term in
various challenging environmental conditions and have the potential to function when
buried deep below surface. It is also theoretically feasible to install RFID readers to
excavation equipment to provide real-time warning about the existence of
underground utilities.
•
Boreholes. As mentioned earlier, GPR antennas can be applied in transillumination
mode where the two antennas are inserted in boreholes for better results. Boreholes may
also be used in conjunction with other techniques to bring sensors (e.g., transmitters or
receivers) closer to utilities or to reduce surrounding noises. Air or water vacuum
devices or micro-directional boring devices are less intrusive and can be used to reduce
the probability of damaging existing utilities. In addition to vertical holes, boreholes may
be drilled horizontally from right-of-way line to right-of-way line for horizontal imaging.
•
Excavation. Exposing utilities through excavation is the best way to accurately measure
and characterize their location. Excavation is typically necessary when there is
knowledge about the existence of a utility facility and other methods cannot provide
satisfactory results. Several methods are typically used to excavate utilities, including
25
manual excavation, machine excavation, and vacuum excavation. Among these methods,
air/vacuum and water/vacuum excavation have a low potential to damage existing utility
facilities during excavation. The air/vacuum method uses a tool that blows pressurized
air to loosen the soil in a small excavation hole, and then a powerful vacuum to remove
the soil from the excavation hole. The water/vacuum method uses water instead of air to
loosen soil that is then removed using a vacuum. The air/vacuum method is more
labor-intensive and time-consuming yet less likely to cause utility damage, and the
removed soil can typically be re-used as backfill. The water/vacuum method consumes
less time and manpower but is not appropriate for all utilities and somewhat more likely
to damage utilities and surrounding soil.
SURVEY OF SUBSURFACE UTILITY ENGINEERING PROVIDERS IN TEXAS
Underground Utility Investigation Practices
The research team contacted several SUE providers actively providing SUE services in Texas to
discuss utility investigation practices, techniques, and technologies. Following an introduction
email, the research team conducted several interviews with seven SUE service providers in
Texas. Appendix C provides a copy of the email sent to SUE providers, followed by a list of
discussion points that the research team used during the interviews.
Based on the interviews with SUE providers, it is clear that SUE providers have different
preferences for utility detection methods and have varying procedures to carry out utility
surveys. However, most SUE providers interviewed indicated that they use ASCE/CI 38-02,
Standard Guidelines for the Collection and Depiction of Existing Subsurface Utility Data, as a
guideline to determine typical tasks, procedures, and responsibilities for SUE services (4).
SUE providers in Texas mostly perform utility investigations at QLB and QLA, surface
geophysical methods, and test holes. QLD and QLC activities are typically performed by
TxDOT or a local public agency and then forwarded to the SUE provider if QLB or QLA data
are needed. This practice appears to contribute to the tendency that some transportation officials
and utility owners equate SUE services with QLB and QLA data collection only. Based on the
interviews with several SUE providers in Texas, the following sections describe some general
activities for QLA and QLB data collection.
Records Research
SUE investigations typically start with records research. Depending on the scope of the work
and staffing/expertise availability, SUE providers may perform this task or rely on information
provided by their clients. Many SUE providers use one-call services to first identify potential
utility owners in the area of interest and then coordinate with individual utility owners to obtain
preliminary utility information. Therefore, effective communications with utility owners is
critical for SUE providers.
Several SUE providers indicated that insufficient and/or inaccurate utility records are a
significant challenge for SUE providers. In addition, utility facilities that are abandoned, or for
26
which owners cannot be found due to historic changes of ownership or owner names, can be
significant challenges for SUE service providers.
Utility Designation
Many SUE providers start the utility designation process with confirming and marking utility
facilities using existing records or visible appurtenances. Depending on site conditions, some
SUE engineers suggested that a good practice is to start the designation process in less congested
areas and then move to more congested areas, a process sometimes referred to as “mapping into
congestion.” Some SUE providers also suggested that detection should not necessarily be
limited to project limits or area of interest. Frequently, there is a need to go beyond the project
boundary to better understand utility conditions and impacts and to produce meaningful results.
Pipe and cable locators are generally the most common tool that SUE providers use. It has
become a good practice among SUE providers to use multiple locators of different
configurations and frequencies from different manufacturers to improve detection results. Pipe
and cable locators are most frequently used in active mode by clamping or direction connection.
For extremely dry soil, operators may pour water on the ground at the connection point to
improve detection range and sensitivity. GPR and metal detectors have also become standard
tools that most SUE providers use for detecting non-metallic facilities and isolated, shallow, and
metallic utility objects.
Several SUE providers mentioned a common procedure referred to as “utility sweep.” A utility
sweep is used to scan for utility facilities at a new site at the beginning of a comprehensive SUE
investigation. Utility sweeps are also used to detect the existence of unknown or abandoned
utilities at the conclusion of a utility investigation. SUE providers typically use pipe and cable
locators (in passive or induction mode) and/or GPR equipment to perform utility sweeps. During
a sweep, SUE providers scan a highway section along both pavement edges and/or right-of-way
lines. Some perform the sweep by walking across the area diagonally from both directions.
Many indicated that a grid-style scan using GPR equipment or pipe and cable locators is very
effective and desirable but not performed for every project as such a scan can be time-consuming
and labor-intensive.
Some SUE providers suggested that during QLB investigations, an attempt should be made to
open and access all utility appurtenances in an effort to improve detection results. This would
require SUE providers to include personnel trained and equipped to perform confined space
entries in accordance with relevant Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
regulations. For utility investigations involving work zones, a trained and/or certified work zone
traffic controller would also need to be available.
Some SUE providers interviewed indicated that in some cases, insufficient coordination among
TxDOT divisions can pose a challenge for SUE service providers. Examples in the past include
uncoordinated maintenance activities and roadside mowing operations during or right after SUE
investigations that damage utility markings on pavement or shoulders.
27
Utility Location Using Test Holes
Critical underground utilities often need to be exposed during QLA utility investigations using
test holes. Currently, there are primarily two excavation methods that have been widely used for
utility investigations in Texas: air/vacuum and water/vacuum. Air/vacuum uses a high-pressure
air flow to dig into the ground while a powerful vacuum removes the loosened soil. Instead of
air, water/vacuum uses a high-pressure water flow to fracture the ground and a vacuum to
remove the water-soil mixture.
Compared with water/vacuum method, the air/vacuum method is less likely to damage utilities
and the vacuumed soil can be used for backfill after testing. The water/vacuum method, on the
other hand, is more powerful and efficient. However, it can be dangerous for operators and is
more likely to damage utility facilities. In addition, it requires access to water and the mud
generated during excavation has to be shipped out for disposal. TxDOT generally does not allow
the use of water/vacuum excavation within state right-of-way. However, some areas in Texas
contain rocky soil where test holes can only be excavated using the water/vacuum method.
When this is the case for a TxDOT project, SUE providers request special permission from both
TxDOT and utility owners.
Test holes during QLA utility investigations are typically between 8 and 12 inches in diameter
and up to 20 ft in depth. Some powerful equipment can excavate as deep as 45 ft. If a test hole
does not reach the probed utility facilities, operators expand the bottom of the hole up to 3 ft
until the utilities are found. For QLA level services, the major challenges include pavement,
traffic control, and access to job sites. Some bored-in utilities may go through solid rock, which
makes them hard to detect and very difficult to locate via test hole. To improve data accuracy,
some SUE providers recommended that vertical QLA data should be taken through direct rod
readings on exposed utilities instead of deriving the data from surface elevation data.
Preparing SUE Deliverables
An integral activity associated with SUE services is to prepare and submit SUE deliverables such
as maps and reports. After utilities are detected and designated on the ground, SUE contractors
collect coordinates of the marked utilities and then process the information using a quality
control mechanism. The coordinate information can be collected by a licensed surveyor from the
contractor’s staff, TxDOT, or a subcontractor, using either handheld GPS instruments or
traditional survey equipment. Some SUE contractors have the ability to produce georeferenced
SUE reports in 2D and/or 3D formats using popular computer-aided design (CAD) software
tools (e.g., Bentley® Microstation®) and GIS tools (e.g., ESRI® products). Animated 3D videos
showing the visualized utilities can also be produced upon requests. In addition, many clients
ask SUE providers to include digital images of utility facilities taken at test holes and other
strategic locations in both QLB and QLA SUE reports.
Unlike SUE service providers, utility designation services such as One-Call typically do not
provide formal SUE reports. During utility designation services, utilities are marked on the
ground as they are detected. Some SUE providers use unique colors (e.g., pink) so that their
markings are differentiated from the standard colors used by utility owners and One-Call centers.
If required by clients, contractors obtain the coordinates of the marked utilities using handheld
28
GPS instruments and provide a georeferenced CAD map or map the utilities with tools such as
Google Maps.
Subsurface Utility Engineering in the TxDOT Project Development Process
The TxDOT Project Development Process manual suggests the collection of utility location data
before the start of the detailed design phase, although there are times when some utility location
data are needed while developing preliminary or geometric schematics (21). Design engineers
need utility data before establishing final alignments of the roadway and related features (e.g.,
storm drains, other excavation work) so that major utility conflicts may be avoided. Although
recommended, SUE services are not a required component in the TxDOT project development
process. When SUE services are determined necessary, project managers develop and execute a
work order for the SUE investigation in coordination with district utility coordinators and the
TxDOT Design Division.
SUE providers suggested that QLB data should be collected as early as possible during the
project development process and before the detailed design phase, which would allow design
engineers to have sufficient information about utilities and avoid major utility relocations. In
cases where QLB services were requested after the 60 percent design meeting, the data were not
useful to avoid utility conflicts but rather used to facilitate utility adjustments.
SUE providers noted that in many project scenarios, it is advisable to pursue a combination of
QLB and QLA data collection. Many QLB utility investigations include critical utility facilities
that cannot be mapped using typical QLB detectors and require QLA investigation. However,
QLA data collection is much more expensive as compared to QLB data collections, and therefore
unnecessary test holes should be avoided. For example, QLA data collections could be limited
to utilities in conflict or suspected conflict with the design.
SUE providers generally recommended the collection of QLA data between the 30 percent and
60 percent stage of the detailed design phase. At this stage, the design has proceeded to the point
that designers can identify utility conflicts through the review of QLB data, yet there should be
enough time for small design modifications, which may avoid a costly utility relocation.
Some SUE providers had experiences with TxDOT projects that were delayed for months or
even years after SUE services were performed due to funding or other issues. In many cases,
TxDOT had to request SUE investigations again once the projects resumed, either because SUE
data from the initial utility investigation was no longer available, or because too much time had
passed and concern that utility conditions might have changed over time. Although there might
not be a solution for the latter issue, the former issue could be addressed by good policy
regarding the storage of SUE deliverables. SUE providers also recommended that using just one
SUE contractor throughout the entire SUE data collection process (i.e., from QLD-QLA) has
significant benefits and can improve efficiency and reliability of the data collection.
29
CHAPTER 3: UTILITY INVESTIGATION PRACTICES AT TXDOT
To understand the current utility investigation practices at TxDOT, the research team conducted
an online survey of several organizational units within TxDOT, including districts, regional
support centers, and divisions, about the current process of using utility investigation practices.
This chapter describes the findings of the survey.
DEVELOP AND CONDUCT ONLINE SURVEY
The contact list for the online survey was assembled using feedback from district offices,
regional support offices, and the ROW and DES divisions. Researchers contacted TxDOT
districts, regional offices, and right-of-way and design divisions with a short explanation of the
project and need for a list of potential contacts. Following the phone call, researchers sent a
contact list template to the person contacted by phone with a detailed explanation of the project,
deadline, and contact information for any questions regarding the project. Researchers sent a
reminder email a week later to contacts that did not respond along with contact information,
projects abstract, and an additional copy of the contact list template. Of the 25 TxDOT Districts,
four Regional Support Centers, and two Divisions, a total of 22 Districts, two Regional Support
Centers, and one Division provided corrections, additional names, or feedback to the contact list.
After gathering all of the edited information, the contact list was compiled and sent to the project
director for final additions and revisions. The final contact list contained 269 potential survey
contacts.
The research team developed a list of relevant questions for the online survey. This
questionnaire initially included approximately 30 questions. The questionnaire was then
converted using the online interface of SurveyMonkey, a commercial online survey provider. To
reduce the overall time needed to complete the survey, the research team added several Yes/No
questions that allowed the use of question logic. This provided the ability to skip questions and
route survey respondents based on their responses. The final survey consisted of 47 questions on
35 pages and is included in Appendix A.
The online survey was opened for respondents on June 15, 2011, and closed on June 23, 2011.
The research team used two survey data collectors, the main data collector, and a secondary
collector for corrections and bounced emails. For each collector, the research team created an
official survey invitation, and a follow-up email for contacts that had not responded with a week.
ANALYSIS OF SURVEY RESULTS
Survey Participants
Out of 269 recipients of the survey invitation, 129 responded (48 percent), 139 did not respond
(52 percent), and one recipient did not respond and opted out from further emails. The majority
of respondents provided information about their geographic location (see Figure 8 and Table 3).
From the responses, it appears that most respondents were located at TxDOT districts
(93 percent), with a few respondents from the ROW and some of the regional offices (7 percent).
31
Shown in Figure 8 are the locations of TxDOT districts, the four regional centers, and the Right
of Way Division. Numbers in Figure 8 are the number of respondents from that location.
Figure 8. Distribution of Survey Respondents (71 Answered, 58 Skipped).
Table 3. Geographic Location of Survey Respondents (71 Answered, 58 Skipped).
Geographic Location
Right of Way Division
North Region
West Region
East Region
Abilene
Amarillo
Atlanta
Austin
Beaumont
Brownwood
Bryan
Childress
Corpus Christi
Dallas
Count of
Responses
2
1
1
1
3
3
2
6
1
2
2
1
1
5
Geographic Location
Houston
Fort Worth
Laredo
Lubbock
Lufkin
Odessa
Paris
Pharr
San Angelo
San Antonio
Tyler
Waco
Wichita Falls
Yoakum
Total
32
Count of
Responses
10
1
2
2
3
2
5
1
1
3
3
3
1
3
71
When asked about the section or field of work, a majority of respondents provided a response
(72 of 129). For the majority, respondents replied to work in design, followed by utilities, other,
and right-of-way (Figure 8).
Figure 9. Section or Field of Work of Survey Respondents (72 Answered, 57 Skipped).
Researchers asked about what type of utility investigation services have been used at the district
of the respondent. As Figure 10 shows, around 90 percent of respondents answered that districts
have used existing records search and surveying of surface utility appurtenances. About
three-quarters of respondents replied to have used pipe and cable locators, and about 40 percent
have used vacuum excavation. Other methods of utility investigation, including ground
penetrating radar (18 percent) and magnetic methods (10 percent), have only occasionally been
used. All other methods have only been rarely used.
The research team also compared responses from respondents located in rural versus urban
districts. However, there was no difference in the relative ranking of utility investigation
techniques used, and only small differences in the responses for each utility investigation
technique. The biggest difference was given for vacuum excavation, with 52 percent for
respondents from urban districts and 34 percent for respondents from rural districts.
33
Figure 10. Utility Investigation Techniques Used at TxDOT Districts.
General Utility Investigation Procedures
Several questions were asked to identify characteristics of utility investigation process. This
included the timeline for collection of utility data as well as the type of data collected. The
utility investigation process for all quality levels of utility data was also determined through the
survey. A description of response received is described in the following section. Appendix B
includes the responses to essay questions in the survey.
Timeline for Collection of Utility Data
Survey participants were asked which quality level of utility data are typically collected for each
of six phases of the project development process, spanning from the preliminary design phase to
the construction phase. Figure 11 shows the responses in six columns, where each column
represents the responses for a particular phase of the process. Respondents were allowed to
select none, one, or more than one type of data collection for each phase. Each column in Figure
11 shows how frequently respondents chose a type of data, indicating that they typically collect
that type of data during that phase of the process. Below each column, Figure 11 also shows the
number n of respondents for that process phase. For example, the second column shows the
responses for the 0-30% design phase: 93 survey participants responded, of which 55 indicated
they typically collect QLC data during this phase, and 44 indicated they collect QLD data during
this phase.
34
The responses show that during the preliminary design phase, QLD and QLC data is typically
being collected, QLD being more prevalent. During the preliminary design phase, there is rarely
data collection at QLB, and only 10 of 97 respondents indicated they do not collect any data
during this phase. At the beginning of the design phase, most respondents indicated they
typically collect QLD and QLC data, while a smaller number of respondents indicated that they
typically collect QLB and QLA data. 30 of 93 respondents provided that QLB is typically
collected during this phase, and 16 of 93 respondents indicated the collection of QLA data.
Throughout the design phase and in the construction phase, a significant number of respondents
indicated that both QLD and QLC data is typically collected. By the end of the design phase, a
smaller number of respondents indicated that they typically collect QLB data, while more
respondents indicated that they collect QLA data. QLB data collection was most frequently
selected at the 30-60 percent stage while QLA data collection was most frequently selected
during the construction phase.
The responses to this question were further clarified with follow-up calls that resulted in an
adjustment of the initial results. For instance initially, about 6 percent of responders noted that
either QLA or QLB data were collected during the Planning and Programming phase. Follow-up
calls to these responders revealed that indeed no such level of data was collected during this
phase.
Figure 11. Stated Use of Utility Data Collection at Different Project Development Process
Phases (n = Number of Respondents).
35
Based on additional follow-up conversations with survey responders, it was evident that the type
of project being undertaken determined, to a large extent, the sequence and detail of utility data
collected. For instance, high-profile projects in dense urban sections with high-volume traffic
will typically mandate a detailed QLB and subsequent QLA data collection. For instance,
smaller, off-system small bridge repairs will completely bypass these detailed data collection
levels.
Researchers also asked who is authorized to request the use of utility investigations at different
quality levels. Out of 129 respondents to the survey, only 93 responded to this question, which
may indicate there is some uncertainty about this item. Figure 12 provides further evidence of
this, showing that less than 60 percent of the respondents indicated that the project manager is
authorized to request a QLB data collection for a project. In reality, there is little limitation
within TxDOT about who may request the collection of any kind of utility data. Rather, it is a
matter of who may authorize the data collection, which researchers asked in the following
question.
Figure 12. Authority to Request Utility Data Collection at Quality Level (QL) at TxDOT
Districts.
36
Less clear is the question on who makes the final decision on the use of a utility investigation
technology. As shown in Figure 13, less than half of respondents answered that the project
manager has the final authority to use QLB on a project, and only slightly more than half of
respondents believe the project manager has final authority to use QLA. In comments requested
to explain the selection of other, most respondents indicated the Director of Transportation
Planning and Development as responsible for making the final decision in the use of utility
investigation technology.
Figure 13. Final Decision to Use Utility Investigation Technology at Quality Level (QL) at
TxDOT Districts.
Utility Investigation Procedure for Quality Level D Data Collection
Responses from survey participants provided that depending on the size of the project, QLD data
collection typically starts during the preliminary design phase or the detailed design phase. It
appears that it is the responsibility of the project manager, or project designer/leader of the
design team to determine the need for any utility investigations. The area engineer and
maintenance supervisor will provide insight at the project design conference. Some districts
37
have a utility coordinator (also called projects construction utility coordinator) that receives all
available data, evaluates the information, and follows up with utility owners as needed. A
discussion between the project designer and the utility coordinator determines what type of data
needs to be collected for the project.
As needed, the project manager can perform the utility investigation or assigns the task to project
staff. On major projects, project managers may get directly involved in the data collection
process. Otherwise, the utility coordinator is typically responsible for acquiring sufficient data to
determine if a utility facility is either clear or in conflict. Responses indicated that QLD data
collection may start anywhere between the preliminary design phase and the 30 percent detailed
design meeting. QLD data collection may include the following:
•
•
•
•
Conducting a visual site survey and/or contact Texas One Call for a listing of utilities to
determine affected utility owners.
Contact utility owners to obtain existing plans, drawings, and maps of existing facilities.
District staff may send utility owners a project layout that utility owners can use to sketch
in the approximate location of their facilities.
Reviewing existing documents available at the district maintenance office and area
offices including utility permits, UIR permits, as-built data, right-of-way maps, old
construction plans, block maps, and SUE records.
Research property interests held by utility owners using court house records.
Other activities related to QLD data collection include:
•
•
•
•
•
Coordinating with local government staff, irrigation and drainage district staff, and the
TxDOT district utility office during planning phase. An initial meeting during the
planning phase with utility owners to obtain information about facilities within proposed
construction area.
Coordinating with local government staff and the district utility office during preliminary
design. This activity may include an initial meeting or workshop to help obtain existing
utility information from utility owners.
Comparing existing utility plans to the preliminary construction plans, and identifying
potential conflicts.
Transfer utility information to project plans.
Send project plans with utility information to utility owners for verification.
Extensive QLD data collection during the early stages of preliminary design must be approved
by the project manager and the district review committee, if applicable. If the project requires a
survey, the QLD can be included in this activity and delayed until the survey is performed.
Survey respondents provided relatively few issues with QLD data collection. However, some
respondents noted that for QLD data collection, many cities and other local public agencies
provide online access to records. Records research can be complicated by the fact that many
TxDOT personnel do not have Internet access.
38
Utility Investigation Procedure for Quality Level C Data Collection
Typically during the preliminary design phase, the project manager and/or design team leader
determines the need for QLC data collection and then makes a request to the district survey
engineer for a survey. For other projects, QLC data collection may not start until the beginning
of the PS&E phase. The request may also come from the district utility coordinator but does not
guarantee that survey staff is available to perform the survey. If the project requires a survey, the
project manager may coordinate with the district advance planning engineer to request that utility
data collection is included in the survey activities. Some districts require that all topographic
surveys include the location of utility facilities; other districts must request the data to be
included. If survey staff is not available, a QLC data collection might not occur and instead the
utility coordinator will plot QLD data on design plans as the information becomes available.
The QLC data collection might either use data from a QLD investigation, or include the QLD
data collection in the QLC data collection activities. For example, the surveyor or designer may
mark utilities (QLD) on design plans during an initial site visit or field investigation. If a
meeting with utilities has not taken place, it is often included as part of QLC data collection.
The surveyor may call One Call and/or utility owners to mark their facilities on the ground and
then survey the paint markings. There appeared to be some confusion on the appropriate quality
level of those markings. Although the surveyor can survey the paint marking with great
accuracy, these markings provide only an approximate location of the utility underground. As
such, the surveyed paint markings should be considered QLD data.
The survey should include all aboveground utility appurtenance and comments from the surveyor
about obvious signs of utility facilities. The data collection may also include approximate depths
of utility facilities, if the utility owners so provided these. Project managers may use additional
site visits to perform a visual survey and apparent potential utility conflicts. Information is
forwarded to the utility coordinator for further evaluation and potential follow-up, and to make
the final determination if a utility facility is in conflict or not.
Some districts use QLC data collection as a verification of previously collected QLD data.
Verified QLC data may be forwarded to the utility owner for further confirmation of the results.
If a utility conflict is potentially reimbursable, district utility coordinators are involved in the
process.
Some districts combine QLC data collection with QLB investigations by utility companies as
part of contracted surveying services. Other districts request a consultant to perform this type of
data collection. The project manager may request consultant services, which the director of
Transportation Planning and Development (TP&D) and/or the regional office must approve.
Some responses suggested that there are no differences between QLD and QLC data collection,
which may indicate unfamiliarity with the difference of the two quality levels. Other responses
provided data collection activities that indicate a QLD or QLB, which indicates some confusion
about the difference of quality levels among survey participants.
39
Utility Investigation Procedure for Quality Level B Data Collection
In general, the project manager or design team leader determines during the detailed design
phase the need for QLB data collection, which a consultant typically provides. For example, a
utility owner may not have accurate records, or the records may appear inaccurate, or may have
lines that were abandoned, which would be common reasons to request the use of QLB data
collection. Another reason is a potential conflict of a utility facility with proposed design
features. The district utility coordinator or survey coordinator requests the SUE work, if the
project has funding for a SUE consultant. Work authorizations are drafted and approved either
by the director of TP&D or the district engineer, along with a justification to collect these data.
The project manager often makes a cursory calculation of estimated cost versus benefit of using
a SUE consultant. In many districts, it is ultimately the region that approves the use of a SUE
consultant.
Some districts have equipment available to perform QLB in-house, such as a pipe locator, but
this response was not very common. Some districts use QLB data to verify previously collected
QLD and QLC data then send the information to the utility owner for further confirmation.
Other districts include QLD and QLC data collection in the QLB data collection contract.
As part of the design review process for added capacity projects, a district may also call on the
utility owner to perform a QLB investigation. This may be in the best interest of the utility
owner if the designer can potentially avoid a utility relocation. A contractor may also request
this kind of data collection at the beginning of the construction phase, if there is some doubt
about the location of some utility facilities. During the construction phase, the contractor may
request for QLB data collection to minimize delays caused by a utility conflict.
Some responses indicated that QLB data collections are rarely or never used. This is generally
due to the lack of funding to hire a SUE consultant. A large number of responses indicated a
confusion of Texas One Call service with QLB data collection.
Utility Investigation Procedure for Quality Level A Data Collection
Generally, TxDOT districts and regions use QLA utility data information on major projects, such
as mobility projects in a highly urbanized area. Typically QLA level utility data are considered
after a QLB survey identifies a possible conflict. There is some coordination between the
districts and the corresponding right-of-way section at the region to allocate the required
resources and funds needed to either pursue the work via a SUE consultant or through the utility
company. In recent times, QLA data collection is seldom pursued because of the costs
associated with pursuing that level of utility data collection. In addition, some district survey
crews are capable of collecting pothole data, which according to the ASCE standard is not QLA
data collection, but provides useful information to the designer.
QLA data are usually not collected project-wide but only at critical locations, as the design team
has determined. QLA is typically collected to verify known conflicts of utility facilities with
proposed design features or if there is a potential for conflict that another method cannot verify.
Typically, the design section determines and requests the location of test hole survey information
and generates utility test hole data sheets, which are forwarded to utility owners for verification.
40
A utility owner or a TxDOT funded contract with a SUE consultant may provide QLA data.
Depending on the district, requests for SUE consultant work might be sent through the district
utility coordinator. If funding is available, a work authorization is drafted and approved by the
director of TP&D and/or the region. In other districts, the project manager requests SUE
consultant services, which the district design engineer must authorize. If the request is approved,
the project manager works with the consultant to negotiate a work authorization or contract. The
director of the region must then approve the work authorization or contract.
Occasionally, designers or project managers request QLA data from utility companies if there is
a potential conflict. For example, the project manager or survey crew may contact the utility
owner to schedule a meeting to discuss the need to more accurately locate some of their
facilities. At the meeting, the design or survey staff and the utility owner develop a plan of
action to address the conflict. The utility owner may decide to relocate or, if there is a potential
to avoid the conflict, decide to perform QLA data collection. If the utility owner decides to use
his own crew and equipment, the project manager or survey crew meets the utility owner in the
field to complete investigations. Otherwise, the utility owner may hire a SUE consultant to
collect the data, or perform the data collection using TxDOT staff. After reviewing the
information, the design team determines if the utility must relocate or if there is an opportunity to
redesign the work to avoid the utility.
Differences in Utility Investigation Process for Different Project Types
Researchers asked survey participants if utility investigations are different based on the
following project factors:
•
•
•
Projects in urban vs. rural locations.
Projects on new vs. entirely on existing right-of-way.
Projects with added capacity vs. non-added capacity.
Figure 14 provides an overview of the responses.
41
Figure 14. Utility Investigations: Project Factors that Make a Difference.
Figure 14 shows that survey respondents slightly favored the notion that procedures for utility
investigations differed for urban projects compared to rural projects as well as for projects
involving new right-of-way compared to those on existing right-of-way. Interestingly, slightly
more respondents (57 percent) indicated that utility investigation procedures did not differ for
added capacity projects compared to non-added capacity projects.
If respondents provided that there are differences based on these factors, they were asked to
describe these further. The following section summarizes these responses.
Projects in Urban versus Rural Locations
Fifty-seven percent of respondents indicated that there was a difference in the procedures for
utility investigations for urban projects compared to rural projects. When asked to discuss their
response, most respondents indicated reasons why there is a different procedure rather than what
that actually is. Only few respondents commented why they indicated that there was no
difference in the procedures. Most respondents gave several reasons as to why the procedures
for utility investigations differed for urban versus rural projects.
Reasons for Procedural Differences. The main reason given was the higher probability of
increased underground utility facilitates for urban projects. Urban projects are likely to
encounter more complex communication systems, underground storm sewer systems, potable
water systems, and natural gas systems. Hence, urban projects usually have more utility
conflicts that need to be relocated and resolved.
The greater utility congestion in urban areas results in significant design constraints. Moreover,
scope of urban projects typically involve more complex design issues and hard roadside
42
improvements, that increase the potential for utility conflicts (e.g., multiple intersecting drives
and roads, storm drain systems, retaining walls, curb and gutter, sidewalks, railings, luminaries).
In addition to the increased density of underground utilities and related design complexities for
urban projects, available right-of-way is much more limited. The limited right-of-way restricts
design options available to districts as well as available space for utility relocations within the
right-of-way. Other reasons cited for the varied approach for urban versus rural projects were (1)
differences in road design standards for rural vs. urban projects, and (2) better relationships
between TxDOT and utility owners in rural areas.
Procedural Differences and Similarities. In general, the process for requesting and conducting
utility investigation appears very similar for rural or urban projects. The main difference
between the procedures for urban and rural projects is in the level of SUE data typically collected
on a project. Due to the higher density of underground utilities, there is a need for a higher level
of SUE (QLB and QLA) on urban projects. These higher SUE levels may be required more
often and sooner in the process to allow more time for the coordination among several utilities
that might need to adjust.
With the reduced funds for SUE, rural projects are less likely to involve higher levels of SUE
investigations and all utility investigations might be conducted in-house at a rural district. Utility
investigations are often not considered during preliminary design work on rural projects. Most
candidate projects for SUE will involve larger, more complicated urban projects. Although rural
areas have pipeline corridors, they are well marked and easily investigated.
When urban projects are concerned, there is a need to have frequent coordination meetings (e.g.,
monthly) with all stakeholders on the project due to the complexities of utilities involved. This
typically involves all relevant TxDOT staff (utility coordinators, project manager, and design
engineers), private utilities, municipalities, and others. In contrast, there are generally fewer
utilities to manage on the rural projects. In general, rural utility owners appear to provide good
information and there appears to be a lesser need for frequent coordination meetings. City
municipalities are rarely involved in a rural setting.
In addition to the increased frequency of coordination meetings on urban projects, city utility
relocation may be included in the highway contract, which simplifies construction and utility
relocation. The project manager leads the coordination with the city municipalities while the
designer engineers and the utility coordinator provide support.
Municipalities typically do not participate in the One Call system, thus eliminating a possible
utility data source for municipal utilities. Although this is not limited to urban municipalities,
since rural utilities also do not participate in the One Call program, the situation is more critical
on urban projects. These utilities must be contacted through local contacts.
Differences in Utility Investigation Process for New Right-of-Way vs. Existing Right-of-Way
Projects
Fifty-seven percent of respondents to the question indicated that there was a difference in the
procedures for utility investigations on projects involving new right-of-way acquisition versus
43
projects on existing right-of way. Survey participants identified several issues as contributing to
these differences in procedures. These differences pertain to (1) the property issues surrounding
the acquisition of the new right-of-way, (2) uncertainties on utility locations in the newlyacquired right-of-way, and (3) differences in design approaches.
Right-of-Way Acquisition. Generally, transportation projects on new right-of-way involve the
acquisition of private property. This process poses significant challenges to TxDOT districts.
These challenges are a result of (1) the legal issues relating to negotiations with property owners,
(2) the need to abide by all federal and state legislation in connection with those negotiations,
and (3) potential re-settlement issues, as well as condemnation procedures in case eminent
domain proceedings must be exercised. These activities require a greater amount of
administrative work, which lengthens the entire project development process and leads to delays
in eventual utility relocation. TxDOT districts also need to acquire permission to be on property
that has not yet been acquired, leading to more delays in utility investigation procedures.
Identification of Existing Utilities. Another major difference has to do with identifying
existing utilities on the new right-of-way. Generally, more importance is placed on projects with
new right-of-way acquisition because of the need to identify and possibly reimburse all utilities
on right-of-way that must be acquired for a project. For projects on existing right-of-way,
TxDOT districts typically have a better knowledge of existing underground utilities and where
they are generally located. Due to the lack of knowledge of potential utility conflicts on new
right-of-way projects, TxDOT districts tend to do a more comprehensive investigation to identify
all utilities within the right-of-way. However, an alternative opinion of respondents was that
new right-of-way usually has only few utilities that create fewer conflicts. New right-of-way
acquisition for transportation projects is likely to occur in less populated locations, which means
there is likely not going to be a high density of underground utilities, as compared to a highly
active section of roadway in an urban setting. However, there are some rural locations where
new right-of-way acquisition occurs on property that could have abandoned oil and/or gas well
production lines.
Design Flexibility. Generally, designers have more flexibility to design on new right-of-way.
However, respondents have offered two perspectives. Some designers felt the fact that utilities
are likely to be relocated because of new space allows them to disregard existing utility
locations. In contrast, other designers see the additional right-of-way as a means to design
structures in a way that will avoid existing utilities and/or purchase right-of-way with fewer
existing utilities.
Utility Relocation and Relocation Costs. When dealing with projects planned for new right-ofway, TxDOT districts often encounter utilities that are eligible for reimbursement if they need to
relocate. Existing utilities on new right-of-way are likely to have a prior property right (e.g.,
easement). Alternatively, for existing right-of-way projects, except federally-sponsored ones,
utilities will largely be responsible for their own relocation. Thus, from TxDOT’s point of view,
projects on new right-of-way tend to be more costly since it is more likely that utilities will need
to be relocated when new right-of-way is needed and will do so at TxDOT’s expense. The
funding required for relocation can be an incentive for TxDOT to collect better utility data to
avoid a utility relocation.
44
A benefit of projects on new right-of-way is that due to the likely compensable utility relocation
for such projects, TxDOT typically experiences increased assistance and cooperation from the
utility owners in the utility adjustment process.
There is more flexibility when dealing with new right-of-way projects as utilities are likely to be
relocated regardless of their exact position, thus eliminating the need to obtain QLA location
data. For projects requiring new right-of-way, utilities are generally relocated while some
crossings may remain in place. However for projects using existing right-of-way, utilities could
remain in place if these are not in conflict with the alignment of the new roadway and structures.
These utilities will be relocated or modified only where in conflict with drainage structures, and
other design features to accommodate the new construction. Thus, there may be a need for
precise location of existing utilities using QLA.
Differences in Utility Investigation Process for Added Capacity vs. Non Added Capacity
Projects
Less than half (43 percent) of respondents expressed that there are different utility investigation
procedures for non-added capacity projects versus projects that involve additional capacity
construction. Differences centered mainly on the idea that added capacity projects tended to be
larger and involve additional right-of-way (or land), hence creating likelihood for utility
conflicts. However, if a project adds capacity without any or only little additional right-of-way,
the project will reduce the amount of available right-of-way, creating facility crowding. This
will most likely result in stricter installation tolerances and space assignments, and in turn
provide a need for QLA investigation.
Added capacity usually means reconstruction and widening. Problems with utilities typically
arise if the vertical profile of the roadway changes, culverts are replaced or extended, storm
drains are relocated or added, retaining walls are required, drill shafts for bridges are required,
the pavement is widened, or any excavation for roadway construction is necessary.
Consequently, QLB and QLA may be required more often, and sooner in the process to allow
more time for the often intricate coordination among several utilities needing to adjust.
Added capacity projects normally require a widening of the roadbed, which likely impacts
adjacent longitudinal utilities. Any project element located outside the current pavement
structure could encounter new utilities, therefore requiring more investigation.
Generally, non-added capacity projects (rehabilitation, restoration, preventive maintenance) most
often work inside the existing ditch line, which does impact the utilities along the back slope and
right-of-way line. However, non-added capacity projects typically will not acquire additional
right-of-way and will typically have minimal conflicts. If no pavement widening or drainage
work is done, normally a detailed utility investigation will not be needed. Knowing the
approximate location of utilities is sufficient to allow district staff to work around it. As a result,
there is less use of contract SUE work for non-added capacity projects.
45
Factors Influencing Decision to Use or Request SUE
Factors determining the use of SUE for TxDOT projects were explored through the survey.
Respondents were asked to list factors influencing the decision to use or request QLB and QLA
data collection for a project. Responses are summarized below.
Factors Influencing Decision to Use or Request QLB Data Collection
Based on the responses from survey participants, several factors were identified as influencing
their decision to use or request a QLB utility data collection for a project. These factors are
generally related to the type of project and level of prior knowledge of utilities around the project
area.
The vast majority of respondents noted that generally the type of project plays a big role in
determining whether a higher level of utility data (i.e., QLB) will be requested and/or collected
as part of the project development process. For instance, if the project is large and involves
excavation of an area with a potentially dense matrix of underground utility facilities, SUE
contracts are set up to handle QLB level utility data collection. When planning for a project in
an area with a known history of high underground utility facilities (for instance, in a high density
urban area), TxDOT districts tend to be more cautious in the utility data gathering process. This
is also the case for complex projects involving a lot of underground activity and construction of
large drainage structures, because there is a greater chance of damaging an existing underground
utility facility.
Survey participants noted that when the amount of utility data available to the district from
existing records QLD (e.g., existing records search) and QLC (e.g., field surveying) is not
sufficient to provide needed accuracy and detail about underground utilities, districts may decide
to pursue QLB utility data collection. This also includes situations when utility owners have
insufficient accurate knowledge of the vertical and horizontal locations of their facilities. In
addition, when QLD and QLC utility data show there is a potential for underground utility
conflicts, districts are likely to pursue QLB utility data collection.
Another factor was the type of utilities on a particular project. When high pressure gas pipelines
or high pressure water mains are potentially located within a project area, there is more urgency
to request and use higher quality levels of utility data such as QLB. Collecting the data ensures
that the safety of construction workers is not compromised and also prevents major service
disruption to utility customers. Collecting QLB data also helps to protect highly valuable utility
infrastructure in the project area (e.g., a main communication duct). Other factors that survey
participants noted as impacting on the decision to use or request QLB utility data are the
following:
•
Cost of Conducting QLB Utility Data Collection. With cuts in district budgets, higher
levels of utility data collection are becoming a luxury at most districts.
•
Costs to Adjust. When the costs associated with adjusting a utility are going to be
incredibly high, there is an attempt to design around the utility and there is a need to have
more accurate information on the utility’s location.
46
•
Prevention of Delays to Project Construction. For high-impact projects with limited
delivery time, districts are more likely to use QLB utility data collection to ensure that the
construction phase does not encounter unknown underground utilities that could delay the
project.
•
Allocated Time for Completion of a Project. TxDOT efforts to compress the project
development process have led to less time available for detailed utility data collection.
Some utilities may not be identified during design stages and are passed on to be handled
during construction.
•
Amount of Right-of-Way Available. When acquiring new right-of-way, there is a need
to perform QLB utility data collection to obtain accurate information on areas that were
previously easements.
Factors Influencing Decision to Use or Request QLA Data Collection
From a pre-selected list of factors, survey participants were asked to indicate how much a factor
impacts their decision to request QLA data collection for a project. Level of impact could be
expressed on a scale from 1 to 5, 1 for no impact, 2 for low impact, 3 for medium impact, 4 for
medium to high impact, and 5 for high impact. Results of this question are shown in Figure 15,
which summarizes the percentage of respondents that rated a factor either medium to high or
high.
Figure 15 shows that the potential safety threat posed by accidentally damaging a utility is the
leading factor considered in requesting SUE QLA data collection. Estimated density of
underground utilities, excavation depth on right-of-way, and type of utility are also important.
Least considered factors include the material of utilities, the ease of access to utilities, and the
estimated age of utilities.
47
Potential safety impact if utility is accidentally damaged
Estimated density of underground utilities
Excavation depth on right of way
Type of utilities (water, gas, oil, etc.)
Potential impact on businesses if utility is accidentally damaged
Project urgency/schedule
Potential environmental impact if utility is accidentally damaged
Estimated utility relocation costs
Quality of known utility information (QL C and QL D)
Past performance and response of utility companies
Project area description (rural, suburban, urban)
Estimated project traffic volume (e.g., ADT per lane)
Material of utilities (concrete, cast iron, PVC, etc.)
Ease of access to utilities
Estimated age of utilities
0%
10%
20%
30%
40%
50%
60%
70%
80%
90% 100%
Figure 15. Factors Influencing Decision to Use or Request Quality Level A (QLA) SUE
Data Collection.
Procurement Process for Requesting and Using SUE
Researchers asked questions about the process currently in place at TxDOT districts and regions
for requesting the use of SUE, and what utility investigations are outsourced to consultants as
compared to being performed by in-house staff.
Participants were asked if there was a formal checklist, flowchart, or other procedure to
determine what type of utility investigation data to collect and when. A large majority of those
who responded (79 percent) indicated that there was no formal checklist or other procedure to
help determine what type of utility investigation data to collect and when. Twenty-one percent
said they had a formal process in place to determine what type of utility investigation data to
collect and when.
In addition, respondents were asked to describe the type of checklist, flowchart, or other
procedure. Respondents mentioned district procedures, FHWA documentation, district
checklists, and overview flowcharts developed at the district. Respondents also mentioned the
Utility Manual and Project Development Process Manual, but stated a lack of detail to determine
the type of utility investigation needed for a project.
Responsibility for Collecting Utility Data Information
Researchers asked who is responsible for collecting various levels of SUE data—whether this
was done in-house or outsourced to a SUE consultant. The results are shown in Figure 16.
48
Figure 16. Contracting of SUE Data Collection.
Initially, the results in Figure 9 were rather different. For instance, 30 percent of survey
responders indicated that their districts performed QLB utility data collection in-house-only and
24 percent noted they collected QLA utility data in-house only. Subsequent follow-up
conversations clarified the responses and provided the updated figure shown in Figure 9.
From Figure 16, over 70 percent of respondents indicated that only TxDOT internal staff
performs QLD utility data collection, while over 65 percent indicated that this is also the case for
QLC utility data collection. In terms of districts, 24 districts indicated that they perform QLD
utility data collection internally only, while 22 districts perform QLC data collection internally
only. In contrast, in most districts, SUE consultants (and in some cases utility owner contractors)
collect QLB and QLA data. In fact, none of the survey respondents indicated that they had the
skills or equipment to perform QLB data collection in-house using district staff. At least five
districts (Yoakum, Pharr, Waco, Paris, and Amarillo) indicated that they do a joint QLA utility
data collection process, where the utility contractor digs the test hole and TxDOT surveys the
utility on site. Most respondents suggested that TxDOT staff lacked the needed equipment and
expertise to carry out QLA and QLB utility data collection.
The survey asked participants whether they have been involved with the procurement of SUE
consultant services and about half of those who responded to that question (47 percent)
responded in the affirmative. The survey asked these participants about the overall effectiveness
of different types of procurement practices for SUE services. Figure 17 shows the results of the
survey responses.
49
From Figure 17, the most effective procurement practice selected by respondents is the evergreen
contract involving multiple SUE consultants per district. The next most effective practice is a
project-specific (not evergreen) engineering services contract with a SUE consultant.
Evergreen contract (multiple SUE consultants per district)
Engineering services contract with SUE consultant (not
evergreen)
Engineering services contract, SUE consultant included as
subcontractor (not evergreen)
Evergreen contract (one SUE consultant per district)
Other
0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100%
Very Effective
Somewhat Effective
Least Effective
N/A(Do not use)
Figure 17. Effectiveness of Procurement Practices for SUE Services.
Managing SUE Contract Task Orders
The survey requested information on some of the challenges and recommendations for managing
SUE contract task orders for survey participants involved in the management of these contracts.
Survey respondents gave insight into challenges and provided recommendations. The challenges
included:
•
Cost. One of the challenges that numerous respondents cited is the cost of SUE services.
The more accurate the utility investigation data that the district requested, the higher the
expenditure needed to perform the work. With current budget constraints at TxDOT, this
is preventing a lot of higher quality (QLB and QLA) utility investigation from being
performed. Currently at a lot of districts, it is only feasible to use SUE contractors on
high-cost and limited-time projects.
•
Turnover in SUE Industry. There was concern expressed at the staff turnover rate of
project managers at several SUE companies. This does not foster continuity for the
districts in dealing with the companies and might create gaps in the company’s
knowledge base.
•
Length of Negotiations on Contract. Some TxDOT districts spend significant time
negotiating hours and linear feet of utilities because of the inherent unknowns. Further,
there were comments indicating a concern about the time that the ROW Division requires
50
to approve a SUE work authorization or contract. Time required providing a proper
review of invoices was also an issue stated about current SUE contracts.
•
Ineffectiveness of SUE Contractor. Incompetent and/or inexperienced SUE contractors
can create significant problems for utility coordinators and other staff involved in project
development. In this case, TxDOT staff is forced to spend significantly more time in the
utility investigation process and follow-up with the contractor.
•
Inconsistent Quality of SUE Deliverables. Several survey participants mentioned the
variation in the quality of SUE survey from one provider to the next. There were also
comments about differences in expected versus actual contract deliverables, e.g., locating
all unknown utilities by use of sweeps versus locating only known utilities.
The recommendations included:
•
Check Reliability and Reputation of SUE Consultants. There is a need for districts to
properly evaluate SUE consultant to ensure that they are capable of producing quality
utility data investigation. SUE contractors need to be accurately evaluated based on the
quality and accuracy of work received at the district.
•
Make SUE Consultants Accountable. Even though errors of SUE consultants can take
up to several years to be discovered (usually during construction), it is important to
provide the legal framework to hold these SUE providers accountable for their work.
•
Monitor Projects Adequately. Regular monthly or weekly status report meetings need
to be scheduled to monitor progress and ensure work is being accomplished on time,
ensuring that the SUE consultant is meeting all requirements and activities. TxDOT
needs to properly define a scope of work, including tasks and activities and associated
timelines for consultants to meet the related tasks in the scope of work. In some cases, it
might be prudent to allow for addition or amendments to the contract to account for
unforeseen issues such as additional technology usage to identify a specific type of
utility. In addition, progress payments should only be made when a like percentage of
work has been completed.
•
Establish Good Coordination with SUE Consultant. Establishing adequate
coordination with the SUE contractor involved with the utility data collection is critical to
the success of the contract. There is a need for communication with the local TxDOT
area office in some cases, as well as with utility companies when they have inadequate
resources to locate their lines. TxDOT needs to maintain good working relationships
among all parties involved. As part of this coordination effort, it is important for TxDOT
staff to make final decisions on the type of utility data quality level needed.
51
Assessment of SUE Deliverables
Almost 70 percent of survey participants who responded to a question on SUE deliverables
indicated that they had received either a QLB or QLA SUE deliverable in the past. The survey
asked those who had received such deliverables to rate their satisfaction with the QLB and QLA
data collection deliverables in the past. Figure 18 shows results for the satisfaction of TxDOT
staff with QLB and QLA data collection deliverables.
Quality Level B Deliverables
Quality Level A Deliverables
Figure 18. Rating of Deliverables from Subsurface Utility Engineering Data Collections.
52
From Figure 18, a majority of survey participants (at least 50 percent) rate QLB deliverables
either good or excellent, regardless of the factor, which indicates a high level of satisfaction of
TxDOT staff with QLB deliverables. The factors quality and accuracy received the most
rankings of good or excellent, while the factors reliability and value received the least. At least
60 percent of respondents indicated that they found SUE QLA data collection deliverables either
good or excellent, regardless of factor. This indicates an even higher level of satisfaction of
TxDOT staff with QLA deliverables, as compared to QLB deliverables. Highest satisfaction
ratings were given to accuracy and quality, while timely response to request for data collection
and value received lower satisfaction ratings. Overall, there appears to be a high level of
satisfaction among TxDOT staff with both QLB and QLA deliverables.
Process for Reviewing SUE Deliverables from Consultants
Of all survey participants involved with reviewing SUE deliverables, 63 (about 82 percent)
indicated that there was no formal process for reviewing these deliverables. Researchers
separated the responses from the five large metro areas in Texas (Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston,
Austin, and San Antonio) to determine if there was a difference between these and smaller
districts. Figure 19 shows that twice as many large districts (26 percent vs. 13 percent) have a
formal process for reviewing SUE deliverables from consultants.
100%
90%
80%
70%
60%
74%
87%
50%
No
40%
Yes
30%
20%
10%
26%
13%
0%
Larger
Metro
Districts
Larger
metro
districts
Smaller
Districts
Smaller
Metro
Districts
Smaller
metroMetro
districts
Figure 19. Formal Review Process for SUE Deliverables from Consultants.
Thirteen respondents provided some insight into what the process for reviewing SUE
deliverables was. Generally, such reviews follow the district’s normal transportation consultant
deliverable process. The review will typically compare the vertical and horizontal data for
potential conflicts and is usually included in the district’s PS&E review process. Part of the aim
of any review is to ensure that the scope of work was adequately accomplished in the
53
deliverable. An assessment is made of the quality of the SUE work performed and a
determination of whether the consultant provided more than was asked. An emphasis is also
placed on the timeliness of the deliverable, and the clarity in its presentation and organization.
Typically, before the deliverable is accepted, both TxDOT staff and the utility companies
involved in the utility coordination process review it to ensure the accuracy of the information
that the SUE contractor had provided. At TxDOT there is usually a team of reviewers made up
of the utility coordinator(s), project manager, and design engineers. If the project manager is not
satisfied with the survey, the SUE provider may be requested to provide additional survey work.
Perceived Benefits of SUE
Researchers attempted to determine the reasons why QLB and QLA utility data investigations
were not used more frequently at districts and regions. This information should provide more
insight as to whether TxDOT staff think there is some value in pursuing higher quality level
utility data collection and how that might affect the use of relevant technologies to gather that
kind of data.
Reasons Why QLB and QLA SUE Not Frequently Used on TxDOT Projects
A few respondents noted that their districts are actively pursuing QLA and QLB utility data
collection through SUE contracts; although a majority indicated that their districts are either
using it very selectively or not using it at all. Several respondents noted that the utility owners
on TxDOT projects usually perform QLA data collection (primarily potholing). Having utility
owners locate their own facilities provides more reliability because they have an incentive to
protect their investment.
Budget Constraints. By far the most common reason given focused on costs that the district
incurred while pursuing QLB and QLA utility data collection. TxDOT typically lacks the
internal capability to do QLB and QLA utility data collection, so it is usually outsourced to SUE
consultants. Due to SUE contractual work being considered a professional service, there is a
lack of a competitive bidding process for these services. In addition, overall budget constraints
within TxDOT often result in a need to eliminate discretionary spending. As a result, hiring SUE
contractors to perform higher quality utility data collection has been considered a luxury in
several districts. Alternatively, some districts have determined that calling the One Call program
(e.g., Texas 811) and requesting pothole depth from the utilities is sufficient and much cheaper
than paying for a SUE contract. On large projects where manpower is low and funding is high,
SUE contracts are more seriously considered.
Quality of SUE Deliverables. Some of the respondents indicated that there is a great deal of
variability in the quality of deliverables that SUE contractors provided, with a good amount of
them lacking the required quality. It was suggested that QLB data in particular did not provide
the desired level of accuracy. For example, Figure 18 shows that about 12 percent of
respondents rated QLB deliverables to be typically of fair or poor quality in terms of accuracy.
Because of this, some districts rely more on the utility companies themselves (or their selected
location/adjustment contractors for both QLB and QLA) to provide the needed information.
54
Thus, given the cost of hiring a SUE contractor and the questionable accuracy of the information
they provide, some districts tend to avoid such contracts.
Perception of TxDOT Project Development Staff. While the cost of performing a proper QLB
and QLA SUE data collection is a significant burden on project budgets, there was a perception
that design engineers and project managers did not place enough emphasis on getting accurate
underground utility information early in the project development process. At the divisional,
regional, and district level, a better understanding of the potential benefits associated with
accurately identifying utility conflicts early in the project development process would be
desirable. There were also statements requesting training to better understand when and how to
use QLB and QLA to optimize returns on investment. Some respondents stated that TxDOT
engineers do not consider utilities or utility impacts to the degree that would be most beneficial,
and that there is a sense that risks associated with unidentified utility conflicts early in the project
development process are minimal.
Project Schedule and Delivery Constraints. Another reason given is the shortened length of
the project development and delivery process. This has made detailed utility data collection
early in the development process a difficult undertaking. Typically, a significant amount of
design needs to be completed (i.e., drainage design around the 60 percent design completion
stage) before accurate utility information is requested. With the shorter time allocated for the
entire project development process, design plans are not completed in time to allow for more
investigation of utility conflicts. It is difficult to meet PS&E deadlines while waiting on SUE
data deliverables.
Other reasons given why QLA and QLB are not frequently collected on TxDOT projects include
the following:
•
For a large majority of rural projects, locates are performed with assistance from utility
companies.
•
Only large projects with potential to impact major underground utility facilities need
QLB or QLA. Smaller projects do not require QLB and QLA and have often information
about existing utilities. A majority of TxDOT projects do not have a potential to disturb
underground utilities. For example, less than 25 percent of the Houston District’s
projects require QLB or QLA data collection.
•
The cost of non-reimbursable adjustments is often assumed by utility owners. Thus there
is less urgency from project managers and design engineers to locate utility conflicts
early in the project development process through the use of SUE contracts.
•
A smaller number of projects requiring new right-of-way results in a lesser need for QLB
and QLA utility data collection. Most of the current projects are within the existing
pavement bed with little change to depth.
55
Return on Investment for SUE
Researchers intended to obtain information on how TxDOT staff perceived the benefits of using
SUE QLB or QLA on a project in terms of return on investment. The survey participants were
asked to give an estimate of the expected return on investment when using SUE QLB or QLA
(i.e., project cost savings to SUE expenditure). For example, a 10:1 ratio means an expected
project cost savings of $10 for every $1 spent on SUE. Figure 20 shows a summary of the
responses received.
Figure 20. Expected Return on Investment (Savings/Expenses) for SUE QLB or QLA.
As shown in Figure 20, more than half of respondents (54 percent) were not able to quantify an
approximate return on TxDOT’s investment in SUE. There was no clear distinction between the
other choices as respondents were split on the various net savings options. This shows that a
large proportion of TxDOT districts and regions do not have a clear understanding about
potential cost savings resulting from the use of SUE technologies. Interestingly, only about
7 percent of participants indicated that they did not expect any net savings to the project when
using SUE.
Issues Associated with Utility Data
Researchers inquired about the issues concerning utility data that districts most frequently
encountered. Figure 21 shows the results for issues that are encountered frequently or sometimes
at TxDOT. From the figure, issues with utility data collection are, by far, the most frequently
encountered by staff at the various TxDOT districts and regions. Over half of all respondents
indicated that they had issues with utility data collection. The issue second most frequently
56
encountered is utility data sharing outside TxDOT. In addition to this, about a quarter of
respondents indicated frequent issues with utility data reliability and utility data sharing within
TxDOT.
Figure 21. Utility Data Issues Encountered Frequently and Sometimes at TxDOT Districts.
Survey participants were asked about how much of a priority or concern the management of
confidentiality and/or security of utility data were at the district or region. Figure 22 shows that
based on the responses received, about two-thirds of the respondents either do not see it as an
issue or perceived it to be a low concern/priority, while about one-third believes it is a medium
or high concern issue.
57
Figure 22. Concern about Management of Confidentiality of Utility Data.
Best Practices at the Districts and Regions
Twenty-seven survey respondents provided a best practice for utility investigations. The most
common and innovative of these practices are briefly described below.
•
Early Involvement of Utilities. Several respondents noted that involving utility owners
early in the project development process benefits the utility coordination process. In
practice, this is not the case though, as some utility owners do not typically participate in
the project development process prior to the detailed design phase. Respondents noted
that it is a best practice to work with all stakeholders as early as is possible to allow for
comprehensive discussions of potential major relocation, for instance.
•
Early Start of Utility Investigations. Respondents indicated that it is important to start
utility investigation early (during preliminary design) and supplement data prior to the
30 percent design complete phase. If conflicts exist, getting accurate information and
coordinating with utilities as early as possible is critical. Time spent doing a thorough
utility investigation during the preliminary design phase and the detailed design phase
can provide huge benefits when the project undergoes construction. In contrast, a lack of
utility considerations can adversely affect project construction immensely.
•
Establishing Good Coordination and Communication. Ensuring the district maintains
good communication channels with the utility owners, SUE contractors, utility
coordination consultants and other stakeholders is critical for making progress in the
utility adjustment process. Because TxDOT frequently requests information from utility
companies, it is important for TxDOT districts to develop excellent communication with
utility owners and cultivate good contacts at the utility company to ensure needed
information is provided. Some district utility coordinators establish good working
58
relationships with utility owners and their contractors which lead to an easier exchange of
ideas and concerns.
In order to do this, one responder suggested visiting project sites with the utility company
representative. One hour of on-site visits can provide better results than three weeks of
emails and phone calls. Another way of improving communication is to discuss the
possibility of designing around utility owner facilities and making an effort to avoid any
major utility when possible.
•
Use of SUE Investigation. The collection of higher quality levels of underground utility
data was suggested as one of the best practices. This included the use of QLA and QLB
data. Districts should start with a QLD investigation first and proceed to higher quality
levels as needed, based on initial findings and other preliminary design information. It is
also important to plan services needed from surveying consultant by preparing utility
records research data for use by the consultant, including a plot of utilities and highway
improvements, if appropriate.
In addition to this, matching the needs for utility locates to the specific project being
developed saves money and provides the optimum use of available funds. QLA and QLB
utility data collection is costly and must only be used when needed and providing the
most benefit for a project. One responder suggested that for smaller projects, TxDOT
designers should exhaust in-house resources to discover utilities and their location within
project limits before requesting SUE provider services. On smaller projects, it may be
necessary to limit the SUE provider to only QLB and QLA. On larger projects, it is
usually feasible for SUE providers to conduct QLD through QLA.
•
Develop Clear Scope of Work for SUE Consultant. The need to develop a clear scope
of work for SUE consultants was also cited as a best practice. One responder noted that
preplanning the need and scope of the utility investigations is the most overlooked area,
but is an important step in establishing measures for evaluating a SUE deliverable.
Respondents also suggested these additional best practices:
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Include CSJ numbers in the online UIR form so that utility adjustments necessitated by
construction projects can be distinguished from utility-generated rehabilitation and
expansion projects. The records will still be maintained in the UIR system.
Follow the FHWA guidelines on SUE investigation.
Use of One Call verification where feasible.
Conduct field visits to confirm utility locate plots by design engineer.
Coordinate QLB and QLC data collection with surveyor.
Conduct a thorough review of SUE deliverables and request supplemental information,
including QLA data, if needed.
Coordinate between TxDOT design and right-of-way staff.
59
Challenges with the Use of SUE at the Districts and Regions and Suggested Improvements
About a third (34 percent) of respondents indicated that they had encountered challenges with the
use of utility investigations or SUE technology, as follows.
Challenges Experienced with the Use of SUE Technology
Survey participants were asked to describe any challenges they have encountered with the use of
utility investigations or SUE technology. The following section briefly describes some of these
challenges.
•
Quality and Accuracy of Utility Investigation Data. Several respondents identified the
quality and completeness of the utility investigation reports including survey reports.
The accuracy of the data that SUE consultants provided can be questionable especially
for anything less than QLA and for dense urban areas. This relates to the failure to
correctly assess underperforming consultants, thereby causing TxDOT to continue to use
them. Sometimes, SUE consultants provide a different level of utility investigation from
what TxDOT requires (for instance, QLC instead of QLB).
In addition to this, respondents expressed some concern as to the ability of SUE
consultants to investigate different utility types. In one instance, a new location freeway
was to be located through an oil field. The district’s usual SUE consultant was unable to
handle the complexity of the oil field piping system. This forced the district to spend
extra funds to obtain assistance from a contractor that specialized in the oil and gas
industry.
•
Timely Response from SUE Consultants. Not only is the accuracy of SUE deliverables
a challenge, the timely delivery of utility investigation data was noted as an issue for
district staff. This is becoming more critical with the shortened project schedules.
•
Coordination Issues. Several respondents identified coordination among the various
stakeholders as a challenge when dealing with utility investigation. This includes
coordination between:
o
o
o
o
TxDOT and utility owners.
TxDOT and consultant utility coordinators.
TxDOT with SUE consultants.
SUE consultants and utility owners.
These challenges in coordination can make an already complex process even more
daunting.
Other challenges listed include the following:
•
•
Abandoning of facilities by the oil and gas industry without notifying TXDOT.
One Call provides inaccurate line markings and has a slow response time.
60
•
Limitations of some SUE technologies. For instance, GPR technologies seem to have
limited capabilities in soils with high clay content. In addition, standing water can limit
the effectiveness of SUE technology.
Improving Current Utility Investigation Practices
In addition to this, researchers asked survey participants if they knew of any current utility
investigation practice in the district or region that could be improved. Only about a quarter of
respondents to this question (24 percent or 18 respondents) indicated that this was the case and
shared practices that could be improved or reviewed at their district or region.
Of the 74 respondents to this issue, less than a third (24 percent) indicated that there were
practices needing improvement at their district or region. Note that a few had expressed their
responses in previous questions and might have been reluctant to repeat them. Respondents
described some practices at their districts and regions that could be improved. Such practices are
described briefly below.
Utility Staffing. There has been a downsizing of utility staff at several districts, mostly due to
budget cuts experienced across TxDOT. In some instances, this has led to serious reduction in
utility relocation and coordination expertise. Downsizing has reduced the level of staffing at
some district utility sections to a bare minimum that is not sufficient to perform utility relocation
and coordination work properly. Some of these personnel are leaving for more lucrative
positions with utility coordination consultants and utility companies that value the expertise they
have gained with TxDOT. As a result, in some districts there are currently no utility
coordinators, and designers have to be increasingly involved in a process they sometimes do not
understand or care much about. There was a suggestion to provide full-time utility coordinators
for each design section that only focus on utility coordination for assigned projects.
SUE Contract Funding. Several respondents noted that there is value in pursuing higher levels
of utility investigation. There was a suggestion that TxDOT needs to commit to funding SUE
provider contracts. There was also an acknowledgement that the current funding levels do not
allow districts to pursue significant underground utility investigation work. There needs to be a
better understanding of the impacts of not doing SUE work early in the project development
process. This might spur the decision makers at TxDOT to provide the needed funding for SUE
investigations. A few respondents cited the inability of districts to secure SUE provider services
as a hindrance to designing certain projects, as well as increasing the overall project cost.
Sometimes an engineering solution could have been used to avoid a utility conflict if SUE data
were available.
Enforcing Responsibility of SUE Consultant. There was some discussion on the need to make
SUE consultants responsible for pursuing further utility investigation when their original
deliverable is not sufficient. In addition, there was a desire to hold SUE consultants accountable
for previously poor deliverables and for the district to have the right to refuse a particular firm
for previously poor work.
Involvement of Utility Owners in Preliminary Design. There was a desire to improve
involvement of utility owners in the preliminary design stage of the project development process.
61
The need to incorporate the impacts of major utilities on the project during preliminary design or
even earlier will allow for a better understanding of the relocation impacts as well as the
challenges of any redesign. Respondents also mentioned the benefits of being proactive by
asking utility companies about their facility upgrades or new construction.
Other suggested improvements include the following:
•
•
•
•
TxDOT should commit to their plans to let a project. Projects that are planned to be let
but end up not being let can cause significant, unnecessary burden on utility owners, and
can very negatively impact the working relationship between TxDOT and utility owners.
Emphasize the utility investigation process that FHWA outlined, and review past
performance of TxDOT and other states.
Personal communication with utility owners can often be improved. More useful and
detailed data could be obtained from utility appurtenance surveys, if survey crews and
consultant contract administrators received adequate training on utility investigation
techniques.
The entire process needs to be standardized and there needs to be more consistency to
utility investigation throughout the design sections.
Policies and Regulations that Constrain or Obstruct Use of SUE in Project Development
Process
A large majority of survey participants (82 percent of 73 respondents) also indicated that there
were no policies and/or regulations that constrain or obstruct the use of utility investigations in
the project development process. Of the 13 respondents that noted the presence of such policies
and/or regulations, 11 of them provided feedback including the following:
•
•
•
There are old, outdated policies that have hindered TxDOT cooperative relationships with
public utilities.
New, innovative approaches to obtaining data are not encouraged and sometimes
obstructed.
Intra-departmental communication is lacking and should be improved.
In addition to this, TxDOT’s current policy of doing more with less was mentioned several
times. This results in a lack of funding set aside for SUE contracts to do the needed utility
investigations and a lack of human resources to handle the utility agreements and relocations.
Documentation Guidance for Utility Investigations during Project Development Process
Researchers asked survey participants about types of documents and manuals used as guides
during utility investigation procedures at the districts and regions. Figure 23 shows the various
documentation and guidance used for utility investigations. Initially, several responders
indicated that their district had standard operating procedures (SOPs) and/or a District Policy
relating to the use of utility investigations during the project development process. Further
conversations with these responders revealed that the majority of these SOPs and/or policies
were in fact, undocumented, and these were subsequently reclassified as “Unwritten District
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Practice/Policy/Procedures.” Responders from the Atlanta District confirmed the availability of
a district policy/SOPs on the process for requesting utility investigations.
From the figure, the most used documentation or guidance is the TxDOT ROW Utility Manual,
followed by unwritten district policy/practice/procedures. Memorandum of Understanding with
SUE providers is the least often used documentation. Surprisingly, only 10 percent of the
respondents mentioned the ASCE 38-02 SUE standard, which includes much guidance on SUE
technology and uses. This demonstrates that many respondents were not familiar with the
standard. Documentation mentioned in the other category included the Texas Administrative
Code, Railroad Commission site, and research reports.
Figure 23. Documents Used for Utility Investigations during Project Development Process
at TxDOT Districts.
Information Management Systems
Survey participants were asked about the type of information management system used at their
districts or regions to record, identify, and/or manage utility investigation data. Figure 24 shows
a summary of the responses received for moderate to heavy use. From the figure, the most
frequently used system is CAD software, which includes AutoCAD® and MicroStation®.
About 80 percent of respondents mentioned CAD software as being moderately or heavily used.
Spreadsheets such as Excel® are also heavily used in recording, identifying, and/or managing
utility data. The least used application was server-based databases such as SQL Server, Oracle,
and MySQL.
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CAD (Auto CAD, MicroStation, other)
Spreadsheet (Excel OpenOffice, other)
Word Processor (Word, WordPerfect, other)
Desktop database (Access,other)
Desktop/Server GIS
(ArcGIS, TransCAD, Geomedia, other)
Server-based database (SQL
Server, Oracle, MySQL, other)
0%
10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100%
Figure 24. Information Management Systems Used to Record, Identify, and/or Manage
Utility Investigation Data (Respondents Indicating Heavy or Moderate Use).
SUMMARY OF UTILITY INVESTIGATION PRACTICES AT TXDOT
In summary, the research team made the following conclusions about current utility investigation
practices of TxDOT organization units:
•
Confusion among Stakeholders about SUE Terminology. Based on the responses
from survey participants, it appears that there is considerable confusion about basic SUE
terminology. Some participants were unfamiliar with the acronym SUE itself. Several
others thought of SUE data collections as QLB or QLA data collections, but did not
consider QLD or QLC data collection to be part of SUE as well. QLD and QLC data
collection requires equipment that is typically available at TxDOT, so project managers
frequently perform these types of data collections using in-house staff. QLB and QLA
data collections require specialized equipment that may not be readily available at
TxDOT, so project managers typically hire a SUE contractor to collect this kind of data.
This fact may also contribute to a common confusion that SUE data collection only refers
to activities that produce QLB and QLA data. Other responses from participants
displayed confusion about QLB or QLA data collections versus One Call services, which
were occasionally thought of as data collection at QLB or QLA.
•
Unfamiliarity with Current QLB and QLA Technology Options. Several respondents
indicated a lack of knowledge about the different types of technologies that are in use for
QLB or QLA data collections.
•
Lack of Knowledge or Experience about Best Use of QLB and QLA Technology.
Several responses indicated that stakeholders had not sufficient knowledge or experience
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to determine the best use of a particular technology for QLB or QLA data collections.
Some respondents asked SUE providers to determine the best technology and appeared
frustrated with results. This may be a result of unrealistic expectations on TxDOT’s side,
a lack of performance or experience on the SUE provider’s side, or a combination of
both. Another example is the use of QLA data collection during construction, which
survey participants selected more often than any other phase of the project development
process. During the construction phase, however, QLA cannot be as effectively used to
avoid project delays and cost increases as during earlier process phases.
•
Use of QLB and QLA SUE Technology Is Relatively Infrequent. Responses showed
that some districts appear not to use certain SUE technologies at all. Since there are no
detailed statewide guidelines on the use of SUE, this issue may be related to a lack of
knowledge about the technology and its benefits.
•
Use of QLB and QLA SUE Technology Has Declined. Based on responses and
follow-up interviews, it appears that the use of SUE for TxDOT projects has significantly
declined over the last few years. This is apparently due to significant reductions in
funding for utility investigations.
•
Uncertainty about Benefits of QLB or QLA SUE. Survey respondents indicated a
general lack of certainty about the benefits of QLB or QLA SUE, particularly final
benefits in terms of return on investment. More than half of respondents were unable to
quantify any return on investment, while about one third of respondents expected an
average return on investment of 2 or higher. However, only 7 percent did not expect a
positive return on investment by using QLB or QLA SUE.
•
Need for Training and Education. A lack of knowledge about SUE technology by
many survey participants is evident, as is a lack of its best uses. Training and educational
materials could close the gap between the options that TxDOT has at its disposal and
make more effective use of project funds. Further, given that cost was the most
frequently cited factor prohibiting more frequent use of QLB and QLA SUE, it appears
that education about the benefits of SUE and expected return on investment could have a
significant impact on the use of SUE by TxDOT officials.
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CHAPTER 4: UTILITY INVESTIGATION PRACTICES AT OTHER
STATES
To identify best practices that are used in the United States to perform utility investigations, the
research interviewed state department of transportation officials from California, Illinois,
Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. To facilitate the
interviews, the researchers used an interview guideline and questionnaire (Appendix C). During
the interviews, the research team gathered information, sample documentation, and data related to
utility investigation practices and evaluated potential strategies to implement utility investigation
techniques into the TxDOT project development process. The following sections provide an
overview of best practices and use of utility investigation practices at eight states that provided
feedback.
GENERAL OBSERVATIONS
All states interviewed collect some type of SUE data on all or most of their projects. The
research team found that the use of the ASCE standard for collection and depiction of SUE data,
including the use of four data quality levels (QLD, QLC, QLB, and QLA), is prevalent at most
DOTs (4). However, there remains some confusion at state DOTs about these different types of
SUE data. For example, during interviews with stakeholders, the research team noted that
frequently stakeholders think of SUE data as the equivalent of QLB or QLA data, but not QLD
and QLC data. This may be attributable to the fact that in many cases, DOTs use in-house staff
to collect QLD and QLC data, and use a SUE consultant to collect QLB and QLA data.
The research team confirmed that in general, state DOTs start data collection at QLD during
preliminary design, followed by QLC data collection that may be included in the activities to
complete a right-of-way map for the project. An approved right-of-way map is typically a
requirement to move a project from the preliminary design into the detailed design phase. In
many cases, the QLC data collection efforts are complete at the end of the preliminary design
phase (Figure 25).
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Figure 25. Utility Conflict Resolution during Project Development.
While QLD and QLC data collections for utilities are often standard procedure, the use of QLB
and QLA data collection varies greatly among the states interviewed for this research. The main
factor that makes the use of QLB and QLA data less prevalent at state DOTs appears to be the
fact that these data collection activities, for the most part, require the services of a consultant.
This in turn requires monitoring of the consultant contract and contract deliverables, and
thoughtful planning to determine locations where data collection at these quality levels will
provide a reasonable return to the DOT on the funds invested in the consultant activities. The
return on the investment, however, is directly related to the quality of utility conflict
management and data collection that the DOT produced up to the point where the consultant is
hired. For example, a QLB data collection may provide a higher payoff in an area of a project
where the DOT has knowledge about the existence of utilities but not their location, as compared
to an area without any utility installations. As a result, the research team found that DOTs
appear to be more inclined to invest in QLB and QLA services if they have a detailed process in
place that outlines utility investigation activities at all quality levels throughout the project
development process.
Many states are using utility conflict matrices to manage utility data collected during the project
development process. The structure of these matrices and content that state DOTs manage vary
considerably, not just between states but also between districts of the same states. At the
moment, use of these utility conflict matrices is mostly voluntary and often limited to internal
use of the state DOT. A current Strategic Highway Research Program 2 (SHRP2) project
“Identification of Utility Conflicts and Solutions,” that is scheduled to complete in July 2011, is
focusing in part on trends and best practices regarding the use of utility conflict matrices at state
DOTs (22). To avoid redundancy with the findings of this report, this technical memorandum
will only briefly summarize activities of state DOTs with regard to use of utility conflict
matrices.
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UTILITY INVESTIGATION PRACTICES AT SAMPLE STATES
California Department of Transportation
General Utility Practices
The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) collects a small amount of utility data
during the planning phase, but the majority of utility data are collected during the preliminary
design phase. During the planning phase, utility data investigation is limited to data that are
needed to provide a utility cost estimate for a summary project data sheet that Caltrans prepares
for each project. During preliminary design, Caltrans compiles existing as-built information and
adds these data to project plans to determine potential utility conflicts. The utility engineering
workgroup and survey group perform the surveying of aboveground utility features, which is
typically complete by 30 percent of the detailed design phase. Caltrans then forwards this
information to affected utility companies, who in turn mark up the plans and return them to
Caltrans.
Caltrans High/Low Risk Policy
California has a policy that determines utility data requirements based on the risk to the public if
an underground utility facility is accidentally damaged, sometimes called the “high/low risk
policy” (23). This policy relates to Section 4216 of the California Government Code, which
provides the requirement for statewide one-call system and include definitions for high priority
utilities (24). High risk utilities are high-pressure natural gas pipelines; petroleum pipelines;
pressurized sewer pipelines; high-voltage electric supply lines, conductors, or cables; and
hazardous materials pipelines, e.g., pipelines transporting oxygen, chlorine, or toxic gases.
Caltrans’ high/low risk policy provides clearance requirements that provide a minimum distance
to high-risk facilities during construction activities (Table 4). To determine these clearance
requirements, the horizontal and vertical location of utility facilities must be determined at
intervals. High-risk utilities have more stringent vertical and horizontal location requirements.
Such utilities within a construction area must be exposed using a so-called “positive location
contractor” to determine and survey the vertical and horizontal location. High-risk facilities
crossing a highway must be located on each side of an undivided highway, and on each side of
the median of an undivided highway. Additional location determinations must be made if the
spacing between locations is greater than 100 feet. High-risk longitudinal installations must be
determined at sufficiently spaced intervals but not greater than 100 feet.
Low-risk utilities may be located using QLB. For example, Caltrans normally does not procure
potholing services for culverts and cross-drains. However, a greater level of investigation may
occur if the project engineer appeals to his or her supervisor. Exceptions to this policy that
would result in a lower level of investigation are also possible, but the chief of the design
division must sign these, and they occur only very rarely.
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Table 4. Minimum Clearance Requirements for Utility Facilities on Caltrans Construction
Projects (23).
High-Risk Utility Facilities
Facility Location
Clearance Requirement
Below the grading plane
18 inches
Below disturbed ground, and in areas of unsuitable material
12 inches
Below the grading plane of drainage structures
12 inches
Below flow line of unlined ditches
18 inches
Horizontally from face of pile or from side of excavation
24 inches
Low-Risk Utility Facilities
Facility Location
Clearance Requirement
Any location
As determined by project
engineer.
Positive Location Contracts and Procedures
Positive location is a procedure to determine the horizontal and vertical location of a utility and
ensure applicable construction clearances. Applicable methods include potholing, probing,
electronic detection, as-builts, and other methods. Potholing and probing involves the exposure
of a facility using a vacuum excavator or other method and determining the exact location of the
facility. Electronic detection provides only an estimate of the facility location and is used only to
determine if a facility is well outside construction limits or required clearances. As-builts can be
accepted in place of potholes or probes if the utility owner certifies the accuracy of the drawings,
and other methods may be applicable if they meet the approval of the project engineer.
In order for positive location procedure to apply, Caltrans must have an agreement with the
utility company that covers positive location. Language in the state regulations enables Caltrans
to sign agreements with utility companies, which allow Caltrans and its contractors to uncover
utility facilities if there is a need during the development or construction of project, and if
Caltrans has paid for these. If the utility does not want a Caltrans contractor to uncover the
utility facility, it must hire its own contractor to do so.
Typically, Caltrans offers one-year contracts for bidding to SUE providers, which then receive
task orders for location activities throughout the contract year. Contracts include both QLB and
QLA data collection activities although QLB data collection is the exception; most data
collection involves potholing at QLA. A Caltrans surveyor will typically provide the final
mapping for locations and will survey the locations of utility facilities based on stakes that the
SUE provider had set. Sometimes Caltrans surveyors will be on-site with the SUE providers; at
other times, the surveyors will survey locations after the SUE provider has left. Contracts have
an annual funding limit. If there is a need for additional funding, contracts can be amended once
annually.
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Some districts use multi-provider contracts where yearlong contracts exist with multiple
companies. If the need for a positive location procedure arises, the district official can call any
of the providers, which can tremendously improve the turnaround time for services. Turnaround
times have been the main issue with single-provider contracts, which has led to the use of
multi-provider contracts.
Positive location activities are paid with funds from the project’s budget for right-of-way costs.
As a result, designers often request more location services than what the high-/low-risk policy
would require. In that case, the Caltrans utility coordinator will work with the project engineer
and determine how many locations are actually needed. These negotiations follow the criteria in
the high-/low-risk policy but also take into account other factors such as project location, type of
facility, and topography. There are no funding formulas to determine the necessary level of
utility investigations, and depending on the project, expenditures can be a significant portion of
the right-of-way funds. Caltrans aims to collect sufficient, accurate data to help the designer
determine if the facility is in conflict or not. Since positive location contracts can only be
amended once in a budget year, there is a level of cost control not so much from the limit of
project funding but more so from the limit of the contract funding. Following the negotiations
between right-of-way and design groups, the right-of-way group issues a task order to a
contractor to perform the locating activities. Occasionally, utilities suggest performing their own
electronic location service. If the project engineer agrees with the process, Caltrans does not use
any positive location contractors.
Before setting up these contracts, it was necessary for Caltrans to validate internally that its staff
did not possess the expertise and equipment necessary to perform these services. Once the
process of validating was complete, Caltrans was able to have SUE contracts. However, it is
important that any SUE provider does not provide any services that Caltrans staff could perform.
Therefore, consultant contracts are limited to services that require QLB or QLA data collection,
and there are no contracts that would include surveying or preliminary data collection.
Contract with Underground Service Alert Providers
Recently, Caltrans has set up a contract with the Underground Service Alert (USA) Providers, or
One-Call system of California. Caltrans pays an annual subscription fee, which allows Caltrans
to use the service on any project. Caltrans can now call this provider in the preliminary stages of
a project and ask for general utility information, without actually having to break ground or
excavate. The USA provider typically sends Caltrans a list of utility companies with facilities in
the project area, which gives the district a great starting point for coordination with utility
companies.
Setting up the contract with USA providers was difficult at first but, according to Caltrans
officials, this service has been tremendously beneficial to the project development process.
Since Caltrans is not a member, it took some time to convince the systems of the benefits to
allow Caltrans access to the data without actually excavating. In some districts, access to the
USA data is limited in that there is a designated Caltrans contact to request data from a USA
provider.
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Utility Facility Databases
Some Caltrans districts have developed local databases of utility facilities, but there is no central
state repository of utility facilities. Since the September 11, 2001, attacks, utility companies
have been more reluctant to share exact locations of utility facilities. As a public agency, all
records provided to Caltrans are potentially accessible by the general public, which can be an
issue for utility companies.
Data sharing between utility companies and Caltrans continues to be a significant issue. On one
hand, Caltrans wants an open and efficient bidding process that provides as much information to
contractors as possible; on the other hand, it must protect critical utility infrastructure
information. Caltrans has proposed a system that would allow Caltrans designers to store utility
information on layers that can be turned on or off, but this has not been completely convincing to
utility companies.
Utility Conflict Matrix
Caltrans has been using spreadsheets to track and manage utility conflicts for 18 years. These
utility conflict matrices may vary from district to district, are used on a voluntary basis, and are
mostly used by districts in urban environments. A new Caltrans policy that is currently in draft
format will make the use of utility conflict matrices mandatory for all Caltrans districts.
Specifically, Article 5 of the Caltrans Encroachment and Utility Policy will mandate that the
project engineer must provide the district utility coordinator with a utility matrix for all projects
on the California state highway system (25).
Utility Engineering Work Group
Caltrans has started working on a utility engineering work group effort to establish a group of
engineers within each Caltrans district that focus on issues with utilities. The idea is to provide a
liaison between the design engineer and the utility coordinator and thus remove an existing
disconnect between the two groups. At Caltrans, most utility coordinators are right-of-way
agents who typically do not have an engineering background. The purpose of the group would
be to give utility issues a higher priority during the project development process and better
convey utility issues to project engineers, who are often not familiar with utility issues and are
mostly focused on the design of the highway facility. The Caltrans utility engineer would be
able to raise awareness about utility issues, better inform the project engineer about how
different types of utilities can impact the design, and provide recommendations for resolving
utility conflicts.
Florida Department of Transportation
General Utility Practices
The Florida DOT uses SUE extensively throughout its project development process and has
developed an efficient process of ensuring adequate utility investigation is provided in support of
project development. FDOT in-house staff or a district’s consultant contracts handle most utility
coordination. In general, SUE consultants perform SUE field services at all quality levels. In
some instances (e.g., in-house design work), in-house district utility staff perform QLD. Utility
72
investigations are procured through district-wide multiyear consultant contracts, a district
General Engineering Contract (GEC), or through the individual stand-alone consultant design
contracts. FDOT requires all consultants to follow the ASCE 38-02 guidelines for SUE work
(4).
For limited access capacity improvements, FDOT uses QLD and QLC project-wide within
project limits during the survey phase at the beginning of design. FDOT uses QLB and QLA at
about 60 percent design, but not for all projects. By comparison, for a non-limited access
capacity improvement project, QLD, QLC, and QLB are used throughout the project limits
during the survey phase at the beginning of design, and QLA is emphasized heavily at about
60 percent design. On non-added capacity such as resurfacing projects, QLD and QLC are used
throughout the project limits during the survey phase but rarely QLB and QLA. Project size in
terms of cost has no bearing on the use of SUE; for example, a small intersection upgrade with a
new traffic signal foundation may require extensive SUE investigation. Liability is addressed by
requiring the design consultant and the SUE consultant to carry errors and omission insurance.
SUE Standards and Deliverables Checklist
Each FDOT district develops its own SUE standards and deliverables checklist. FDOT’s District
2 has developed detailed SUE standards (based on the ASCE 38-02 guidelines) and a
deliverables checklist identifying key items that SUE consultants are to provide in their services.
The district requires QLB during the initial design phase up to 60 percent design to identify
potential utility conflicts. QLA is performed only after 60 percent design. This reduces the cost
that might be incurred by performing unnecessary QLA before conflict location can properly be
identified during design.
The SUE standards also require SUE services and deliverables to be in accordance with the
FDOT current procedures. It requires all field survey data to be gathered using the electronic
field book and in a Computer-Aided Civil Engineering (CAiCE) software readable format. The
SUE consultant is responsible for depicting the subsurface utilities utilizing the ASCE standards
FDOT identified for a particular project (26).
FDOT requires all QLB data to be recorded on a “Designating Form” designed for that purpose.
The department notifies the consultant of which form should be used on a project by project
basis, based on FDOT needs for the particular project. In addition to the Designating Form, the
SUE consultant provides a report detailing any discrepancies found between existing utility
owner plans and what was designated in the field.
District-wide SUE Scope of Services Quality Control
Each FDOT district has a SUE contract with multiple SUE providers. These contracts are
specific to the district and the standards are also specified for that district. As part of their
district-wide SUE scope of services, FDOT requires SUE consultants to have a stringent quality
control process including the following elements (27):
•
Quality Reviews. The consultant is required to make quality reviews to ensure the
organization complies with the requirements cited in the scope of services. The quality
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reviews must evaluate the adequacy of materials, documentation, processes, procedures,
training, guidance, and staffing included in the execution of this contract.
•
Quality Assurance Plan. The quality assurance (QA) plan details the procedures,
evaluation criteria, and instruction to the organization to assure conformance with the
contract. Significant changes to work requirements may require the consultant to revise
the QA plan. The plan must include, among other things:
o A description of the consultant’s quality control organization and its financial
relationship to the part of the organization performing the work under the
contract.
o The consultant’s QA methods to monitor and assure compliance of the
organization with the contract requirements for services and products.
o The types of records that the consultant will generate and maintain during the
execution of the QA program.
o The methods that the consultant used to control the quality of the subcontractors
and vendors.
•
Quality Records. The consultant is required to maintain adequate records of the QA
actions that the organization (including subcontractors and vendors) performed in
providing services and products under this contract. All records shall indicate the nature
and number of observations made, the number and type of deficiencies found, and the
corrective actions taken. It is also noted that all records are subject to audit review and
are required to have a second level of peer review.
Utility Conflict Matrix
In Florida, utility conflicts are typically identified and resolved during the design phase of the
project development process. FDOT uses a utility conflict matrix during the utility investigation
process to track and manage utility conflicts. The purpose of the utility conflict matrix is to
provide adequate information on utility information within a project’s intended right-of-way to
enable design changes and also to avoid such utility conflicts. FDOT uses utility conflict
matrices on all projects and, in particular, for projects that involve higher level of SUE data
collection (i.e., QLB or QLA).
These details of the utility conflict matrices may vary for the various FDOT districts; however, it
is an important component of the utility investigation process. FDOT notes that conflicts they
had identified in the UCM do not relieve the utility company or owner from the responsibility to
identify all conflicts with their facilities.
Florida Utilities Coordinating Committee
Florida established the Florida Utilities Coordinating Committee (FUCC) in 1932 (28). The
FUCC is a confederation of:
•
•
•
Public and private utilities.
Public works departments.
One-call service companies.
74
•
•
•
•
Railroad companies.
Consulting engineers.
Contractors.
State, city, and county governmental agencies who all work together through
coordination, cooperation, and communication to resolve problems and develop standards
for coexistence in public rights-of-way.
The FUCC meets every quarter to discuss and coordinate general utility related issues within the
state of Florida and specific project related issues as needed. The FUCC also has the objective to
accomplish the construction and reconstruction of roadways in Florida with the least amount of
problems and setbacks. FDOT typically has district utility engineers present at such meetings for
districts that might have critical utility related issues on current or upcoming projects. The
FUCC has a website to help provide an online network for information exchange between
governmental agencies and the utilities that provide infrastructure in Florida.
Georgia Department of Transportation
The research team contacted officials from the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) to
discuss best practice for utility investigations. GDOT officials answered the research team’s
questions and provided a wealth of information that was useful to describe the following best
practices.
Utility Investigations in the Project Development Process
GDOT has two procedures to collect utility data: (a) the traditional procedure and (b) the SUE
procedure. Using the traditional procedure, GDOT sends utilities a set of project plans, the
utility provides markups of utility facilities, and GDOT staff transcribes the markup into the
project CAD file. This procedure is useful for projects with few utility installations within the
project limits and similar to procedures that other state DOTs have in place. For all other
project, GDOT uses the SUE procedure, which outlines a series of steps on how to collect QLB
data that QLA data then supplements in locations where the designer needs information that is
more accurate. The determination to use the traditional or SUE procedure on a project is largely
driven by a risk analysis using a risk management matrix.
GDOT has formalized the SUE procedure in several manuals and flow charts. Figure 26
provides an overview of the procedure. In addition, Figure 27 and Figure 28 provide a detailed
process model of the procedure that the research team developed using several documents and
information provided by GDOT officials (29, 30, 31). If GDOT uses the SUE procedure on a
project, contractors typically collect QLB data project-wide. Only in less than 10 percent of all
projects that use the SUE procedure it is not necessary to collect project-wide QLB data.
In general, QLB data collection can begin after control points and preliminary project limits are
established, which typically occurs at about 10–30 percent of the detailed design phase.
However, SUE QLB and QLA services can be requested at any time during the project
development process. Figure 26 shows that the QLB data collection is followed by a utility
impact analysis, which is normally the responsibility of the consultant. This analysis provides a
deliverable, which is the utility conflict matrix. The utility impact analysis can be completed
75
once preliminary drainage, erosion control, staging, structures, and construction limits are
completed, which typically occurs around 30–60 percent of the detailed design phase. The utility
conflict matrix is used during the Preliminary Field Plan Review (PFPR) meeting, and helps
GDOT designers decide if there is a need for any QLA data collection. Following the PFPR,
utility relocations may begin and if needed, a QLA SUE consultant might be hired to perform
potholing, followed by an update of the utility conflict matrix. Once GDOT accepts the QLA
deliverables, there might be a second utility impact analysis (if needed) that the project engineer
performed, followed by a third update of the utility conflict matrix. GDOT then uses the utility
conflict matrix during the Final Field Plan Review (FFPR) to finalize the design and resolve any
remaining conflicts.
Figure 26. Utility Conflict Resolution in the GDOT Project Development Process.
Process to Request SUE
GDOT has formalized the process to request SUE services for a project. Any GDOT employee
involved with a project may identify a candidate for SUE services. However, only a project
manager, district utilities engineer, or state subsurface utilities engineer can actually submit a
request for SUE services.
Requests can be made any time during the project development process, as soon as project enters
the six-year Construction Work Program (CWP), i.e., during concept development, preliminary
design, final design, or construction phase. All that is required is to fill out a request form,
including requested quality level, utility impact rating, and current project development phase,
and submit the form to the state subsurface utilities engineer, who has a two-week approval time
frame to approve or deny the request.
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Figure 27. GDOT Utility Impact Avoidance Process.
77
Figure 27. GDOT Utility Impact Avoidance Process (Continued).
78
Figure 28. GDOT SUE Submittal, Review, and Acceptance Process.
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Utility Impact Score
To estimate the approximate impact of utilities on project delivery time and costs, GDOT has
developed a utility impact score system. To determine the utility impact score of a project,
GDOT has a list of 10 questions that can be answered on a scale of 1 to 3 indicating an impact of
low to high (32). GDOT developed the list of questions for the utility impact scores based on
past project experience. Project characteristics where SUE services provided a good return on
investment include the following:
•
•
•
•
•
Projects in urban or suburban areas.
Projects with a high expected level of utility congestion.
Projects with anticipated issues due to previous poor experience with utility owners to
provide timely and accurate information.
Projects with a high estimated utility relocation cost.
Projects with a high probability to retain utility installations in place.
Upon answering these questions, a simple utility impact score (UIS) is calculated by weighing
the frequency of each type of answer using the following equation:
where
UIS =
(L ∙ 1 + M ∙ 2 + H ∙ 3)
10
L = Number of low responses.
M = Number of medium responses.
H = Number of high responses.
GDOT takes the utility impact score into consideration when determining whether to approve a
request for SUE services. Table 5 provides a description of the Utility Impact Score.
Table 5. GDOT Utility Impact Score (32).
Utility Impact Score
Utility Impact Description
1
Project minimally impacted by utility issues.
2
Project moderately impacted by utility issues.
3
Project severely impacted by utility issues.
Utility Conflict Matrix
GDOT has been involved in the development of a utility conflict matrix concept since about
2005. The purpose of the utility conflict matrix is to provide designers sufficient information to
develop design changes and avoid utility conflicts. GDOT uses the utility conflict matrix on all
projects that involve QLB or QLA data collection. In practice, it has been a challenge to update
the utility conflict matrix with information from the design group. GDOT is planning to make
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changes to the process to facilitate the tracking of changes to the utility conflict matrix made by
the design group, which will also allow the determination of cost savings to the project due to the
use of the utility conflict matrix.
GDOT has developed a training course called “Avoiding Utility Project Impacts” that provides
guidance on how to effectively use the utility conflict matrix and how to perform a utility impact
analysis. The training course shows how to weigh the cost of adjusting a major utility against a
change in the roadway design and is now mandatory for all GDOT designers.
As a future enhancement, GDOT is considering a system that would allow a project contractor to
report the number of utility conflicts discovered on a project once construction starts. This tool
would help determine the cost effectiveness of SUE and provide performance evaluation criteria
for SUE providers, by comparing projects that used the SUE procedure with those that used the
traditional procedure.
Other Recommendations
Based on past experience with SUE providers, GDOT has developed detailed scope of services
contracts and a detailed SUE deliverables checklist that is used for all SUE procurements. Both
documents are essential to receive type, format, and quality of SUE information that is needed
during the project development process.
Maryland Department of Transportation
General Utility Practices
The State Highway Administration (SHA) of the Maryland Department of Transportation
(MDOT) uses SUE work at various stages of their project development process. The SHA
currently does not use geophysical methods such as ground penetrating radar, primarily because
the SUE consultants under contract have not yet proposed to use them. As part of an
administrative policy, Maryland requires SUE investigations on all projects. Typically, internal
SHA staff performs SUE QLD at the 15 percent design stage. SHA’s preliminary engineering
staff takes great care with this initial QLD data gathering to provide a basis for informed
decisions about higher quality level SUE work later in the project development process such as
expensive QLA.
Using the ASCE 38-02 standard, SUE consultants perform QLC and QLB at the 30 percent
design stage and QLA at the 60 percent and 90 percent design stages (4). The specific project
details largely drive the level and type of SUE work performed. Typically, the SHA determines
the SUE scope of work once the initial set of plans is developed. Usually at the end of the
preliminary design phase there is a comprehensive assessment by the design team and the utility
coordinators to see how much and what type of SUE work is required.
Multi-Year SUE Contracts
The Maryland DOT has six SUE contracts with various SUE consultants that are valid for three
years. The contracts have a value of $2 million each for the duration of the contract, or a total of
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$12 million. The multi-year, multi-company contracts allow the state to procure SUE work on
short notice. The Maryland DOT ensures that the SUE consultants have the necessary
qualifications, experience, and technology to meet the data collection standards defined in
ASCE 38-02 (4).
The scope of services for SUE contracts is not limited to only utility investigations. For instance,
SUE consultants are sometimes contracted to design preliminary utility relocations or “design
concepts” for the SHA. In other cases, they are contracted to assist in developing preliminary
cost estimates for utility relocations. These preliminary analyses help the SHA judge a project’s
potential for utility conflict impacts and the options for relocating utilities.
The preliminary utility relocation design concept that SUE consultants developed is subsequently
presented to the relevant utility companies as input into their own relocation design process. At
the beginning, MDOT faced a lot of resistance from utility owners who were concerned about
possible encroachment into a field of their responsibility. To address these concerns,
representatives of MDOT organized meetings and sessions with utility owners to emphasize the
purpose of the preliminary utility relocation design: support for the utility owner’s process to
relocate facilities and equipment. In recent times, the utility relocation design concepts that SUE
consultants developed have served as a helpful input into the utility relocation process.
Internally, the SHA assigns task managers to specific tasks such as coordination with
consultants. The task manager then contacts various consultants about the level of SUE needed.
The SHA selects SUE consultants based on the cost estimate that SUE consultants provide as
well as the consultant’s previous track record with SUE data collection.
Need for Training and Certification of Utility Coordinators
MDOT has found that staff training and certification is a critical need but no suitable program to
train and certify utility coordinators exists as of yet. MDOT representatives expressed frustration
about this lack of a formal training and certification program specifically designed for state DOT
and other agency staff involved with utility investigations, relocation, and coordination. This
certification program should acknowledge the highly specialized skills that are required for
utility coordination staff to conduct thorough utility investigations. Other specialized areas of
the project development process such as right-of-way, construction, planning, and design already
have some type of certification program at MDOT. The lack of certification in the utility
coordination field means there is no way to identify coordinators that have necessary experience
and current knowledge of the utility process, including the knowledge about when and how to
use SUE for maximum benefits to the project development process.
Developing a structured training program and certification for utility staff would allow DOTs,
utility owners, and SUE contractors to learn about the latest and best practices in utility
coordination and investigation. It would also help train new staff in a more structured way
within the utility coordination program.
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North Carolina Department of Transportation
General Utility Practices
The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) adopted SUE practices in 1991, and
since that time, SUE has become an integral part of the highway design process. Most projects
undergo a minimum of some QLB data collection and depending on a review of data needs,
design parameters, and project considerations, additional QLA data collection. The NCDOT
Utilities Section makes the decision to collect QLA data on a case-by-case basis. Some projects
do not require any QLB or QLA data collection.
NCDOT attempts to initiate the SUE data collection as early as possible in the project
development process, which is usually initiated concurrent with or shortly after preliminary
design, but always prior to the 30 percent detailed design stage. In general, QLD and QLC data
are collected concurrently with environmental investigations, and the goal is to complete both
processes at approximately the same time.
NCDOT uses approximately 10 SUE contractors statewide, which are selected based on
qualifications using a typical request for proposal procurement process. After contractors submit
bids, the most qualified firms are selected. The most common technique used to perform QLA
utility investigations at NCDOT is potholing. For QLB data collection, NCDOT makes limited
use of GPR. More recently, NCDOT has experimented with the use of 3M radio frequency
identification (RFID) marker balls.
SUE Best Practices
NCDOT has two manuals that provide information and practices about SUE: The NCDOT
Highway Design Branch Policy and Procedure Manual and the NCDOT Highway Design
Branch Design Manual (33, 34). In addition, NCDOT provides a general guideline on SUE and
the activities included in data collection at a particular quality level (35). These documents have
been useful for project managers that are new to the SUE process, and have helped to make
information about best practice available to a wider audience within NCDOT.
NCDOT makes efforts to combine SUE data collection with environmental data collection. For
example, Chapter 20 of the NCDOT Highway Design Branch Policy and Procedure Manual
provides that the environmental planning document should discuss the magnitude and impact of
utility conflicts (33). The inclusion of SUE data and identification of utility conflicts in the
environmental planning document has been an accepted and useful practice in the past.
The NCDOT Utility Section has recognized the importance of including SUE activities early in
the budgeting process so that funding for SUE is included on cost and budget for projects from
the beginning, as compared to an add-on later in the project. By getting involved in the
programming and budgeting process for projects, the NCDOT Utility Section has helped ensure
that SUE is available early in the projects. NCDOT also emphasizes the importance of early
involvement with utility companies. In NCDOT’s experience, using SUE early in the project
development process enables informed decisions about design and enables better design
decisions earlier in the process.
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NCDOT uses a project management system to improve utility coordination called Scheduling,
Tracking, and Reporting System (STaRS) (36). The development of the system started in 2001,
was implemented as “Project Management Improvement Initiative (PMii)” in 2004, and renamed
to STaRS in 2007. STaRS is a centralized, integrated scheduling management tool that uses
SAP R/3 software. STaRS provides a flowchart of production networks with activities and
activity elements that help with utility coordination activities. For example, the system specifies
for each project:
•
•
•
•
•
When preliminary utility relocation plans are due.
When NCDOT should review these plans.
When these plans should be discussed with the utility owner.
When utility relocation plans should be complete.
When utility permit drawings should be submitted.
Issues with SUE Data
At NCDOT, public access to information about utility facility locations has become a recent
issue, especially with telephone companies. NCDOT has found that telephone/communications
companies do not want the location of their lines to be publicly available because of concerns
about security and competitive advantage. Although NCDOT has exchanged views on the issues
with affected companies, the issue has not been resolved.
Ohio Department of Transportation
General Utility Practices
The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) uses SUE extensively in its project
development process. ODOT also emphasizes the importance of adequate communication
among all stakeholders involved in the project development process and more specifically the
utility coordination and investigation processes.
ODOT has placed a high priority on improving the communication with various stakeholders
(including utility owners) during the project development process and stresses the importance of
stakeholders’ active participation in its project development process. As part of this effort,
ODOT identified several key concurrence points, which are pre-defined stages of the project
development process where the process is put on hold until stakeholders are consulted on key
aspects of the project, including utility owners who are involved in this process. Various
conflicts, concerns, and issues are discussed and resolved at these stages amid input from these
stakeholders. The project is put on hold until all issues are resolved at these concurrence
meetings. Concurrence points exist during the utility coordination process to identify and tackle
any utility conflicts identified during the SUE process. Figure 29 shows the ODOT project
development process and the various concurrent points within the project development process.
Within the larger project development process, ODOT has a well-defined utility investigation
process in which highway plans are provided to utility owners along with a request to review and
provide pertinent as-built or other existing QLD utility information. The next point of
concurrence in the process is a face-to-face meeting and preliminary discussion of potential
85
utility conflicts with utility coordinators who represent districts on all utility investigation issues.
The goal of the meeting is to ensure that there is a clear understanding of the potential for utility
impacts, resolve conflicts as possible, and discuss the need for SUE at better quality levels.
Figure 29. Ohio DOT Concurrence Points during the Project Development Process
(Adapted from 37).
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As part of improving the utility investigation process and utility owner participation during this
process, ODOT conducts training sessions for utility company staff. The training sessions allow
utility company staff to become more familiar with the ODOT design and construction plans and
their interpretation. This improved familiarity with ODOT design plans helps utility companies
to mark the locations of their utility facilities accurately on ODOT plans, which in turn are used
during SUE investigations and construction activities. This training has been of significant
benefit in coordinating both utility investigation and relocation efforts.
To request QLB or QLA data collection, the district project engineer fills out a request form that
includes information about the requested SUE quality level, utility impact rating, and project
development phase. The form is submitted to the State Utilities, Relocations, and Permits Office
for approval.
ODOT plans to implement a mechanism to help monitor change orders. This system will make
it easier for the department to identify which entity is responsible for project delays. The goal is
to ensure that the responsible party is held accountable for the resulting costs associated with
these delays.
SUE Consultant Contracts and Requirements
Currently, ODOT has statewide contracts with four SUE providers, which are worth $1.5 million
each for the duration of a biennium. The geographical locations of the SUE providers ensure
that the entire state is easily accessible to the SUE consultants. A statewide contract is typically
used when utilities are found during construction and a higher quality level SUE is immediately
required. Every district is encouraged to use QLB and QLA data collection and has access to
SUE providers for use in their project development process.
ODOT pays per foot to designate, per test hole to locate, and hourly labor and overheads. Basic
deliverables for utility information are generally a CAD file, or a plan sheet that has utility
information in plan view for QLA, QLB, QLC, and QLD, and in profile view for QLA. ODOT
typically prefers to have the horizontal and vertical locations of mainline subsurface utilities and
their associated attribute information collected and placed on construction plans to be utilized for
design and utility coordination.
Ohio has strict pre-qualification requirements for all SUE consultants. Consultants must
demonstrate that it has the staff, equipment, experience, and resources to perform SUE services
at all quality levels, as follows (38):
•
•
•
The consultant must have at least one professional engineer and one professional
surveyor both registered in Ohio, that are employees of the firm, each with a minimum of
two years’ experience in subsurface utility engineering.
A minimum of two additional full-time staff, each with a minimum of two years’
experience in successfully providing all quality levels of subsurface utility engineering
using the equipment specified in number 3 below.
Equipment available to perform the full range of SUE services including one geophysical
prospecting vehicle equipped with various electromagnetic/acoustical designating
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•
•
•
equipment (QLB), and one vacuum excavation non-destructive vehicle (QLA), and at
least one GPR system.
The consultant must provide a single project manager to represent the firm in a liaison
capacity with the department.
Capability of providing both electronic and certified hard copy deliverables in acceptable
ODOT electronic and plan presentation format.
Documented company plan for current quality assurance and quality control procedures.
Identification of Major Issues in the Project Development Process
ODOT attempts to identify locations with major issues as early in the project development
process as possible. These so-called red flag locations may have environmental, right-of-way,
utility, or engineering issues that could cause revisions to the following (37):
•
•
•
•
Anticipated environmental, design, and construction scope of work.
Proposed project development schedule.
Estimated project budget.
Potential impacts of the project on the surrounding area.
Red flags do not identify issues in locations that must be avoided but rather locations that may
require additional study coordination, creative management or design approaches, or increased
right-of-way or construction costs. The project manager typically consults with the appropriate
specialists to determine the level of concern for each red flag item. Locations that must be
avoided are referred to as fatal flaws. A fatal flaw could involve significant economic,
environmental, or historical impact in an area.
There are several ways to identify red flag locations. ODOT recommends that the first data
source consulted should be a so-called secondary source, such as aerial mapping, existing rightof-way plans, original construction plans, historic geologic reports, Federal Emergency
Management Agency (FEMA) flood plain study mapping, and United States Geological Survey
(USGS) topographic mapping (37). The next level or source for red flag analysis is a site visit
conducted during the planning phase. More in-depth analysis, requiring additional work such as
borings or excavations, is typically conducted during later steps of the project development
process (37).
Potential red flags include utility locations, existing structures, drainage problems, waterways,
geotechnical issues, topography, and existing right-of-way and/or land use issues. Figure 30
shows an example of a red flag summary sheet for utility issues. Although a written red flag
summary is required for both major and minor projects, it is optional for very small projects
although red flag issues must still be identified. All projects require a field review. Each
specialty area of the red flag summary is completed by individuals who possess sufficient
experience to correctly identify and evaluate issues arising from the field review.
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Figure 30. Red Flag Summary for Utility Issues in Ohio (37).
Multilevel Memorandum of Understanding
ODOT is currently pursuing a new system of Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with utility
companies. The idea is a multilevel MOU process that representatives of state DOTs and FHWA
first identified on a recent international scan to Australia and other countries (39). While state
DOTs in the United States have been using MOUs for some time, the ODOT example (adapted
from the international scan recommendation) features a multilevel MOU initiative that identifies
and recognizes the importance of good utility relocation practices to provide efficient and costeffective highway project delivery for ODOT. This recognition begins at the highest levels of
leadership of the department and the utility company, and ensures that utility work is performed
in a manner that provides benefits to both the utility company and ODOT. The MOU initiative
provides an opportunity for each agency to understand one another’s concerns, and use the
resolution of those concerns to save time, money, and resources for both parties.
The MOUs are created at various levels of operation between the parties. In the first level, the
leadership of both agencies signs, and sets forth general principles and intent of parties to work
together cooperatively. It also emphasizes identifying efforts that are created to address the
needs of each party. In the second level MOU, middle management of both parties signs, and
defines the roles and responsibilities of each as well as standards, specifications, and general
procedures for conflict resolution. The third level MOU is project specific; project leaders from
both parties sign this document. The content details specific provisions of the construction
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contract and utility relocation schedule. This overall effort fully integrates utility relocation
activity into all aspects of operation for both the DOT and the utility company.
ODOT has a pilot initiative with three First Energy Company subsidiaries that serve Ohio to
evaluate the potential for such a process to provide benefits to the companies and to ODOT. The
goal is to reach agreement on working together to identify, prioritize, and resolve major issues
for both parties and to document these issues and agreed outcomes in a leadership MOU. A
steering committee consisting of key representatives from each agency oversees and directs the
development of the MOU. The steering committee will appoint a working group of technical
experts from each agency that will create a draft MOU that will be based on the items the
steering committee identifies as being beneficial to the overall utility relocation process. Once
the draft is completed, the steering committee will approve the document. ODOT’s statewide
utilities program manager and his counterpart from the utility company will be members of that
working group (37). The working group will then identify and prioritize major issues that are
impeding good working relationships. When all members of the working group and steering
committee have discussed and resolved these issues through agreed outcomes, a meeting of high
level officials from First Energy and ODOT will be convened. The chairperson of the steering
committee will then present the issues and outcomes for senior management from both agencies
to consider.
The steering committee will advance the draft MOU to top management for both agencies and
recommend that the document be reviewed. A meeting of the top leadership will be scheduled
so that, if adjustments are needed, these will be made during the meeting. The leaders of both
agencies will then approve the draft MOU and authorize the steering committee to document
such approval in an MOU that identifies the primary issues, agreed outcomes, implementation
strategy, and benefits to be gained. The director of ODOT and the CEO of the utility company
will then sign the MOU. While the MOU is not a legally binding document, its contents have
cornerstones for utility relocation activity that will result in efficient and cost-effective activities,
which will provide substantial benefits to both agencies and, ultimately, the public they both
serve (37).
Once this top-level MOU is executed, planners will use a similar process to create a mid-level
MOU that will define the roles and responsibilities of each agency as well as standards,
specifications, and general procedures for conflict resolution. The steering committee will draft
and approve this MOU, the contents of which will reflect the items contained in the leadership
MOU but will be more specific to the needs of the three subsidiary companies. Both the top
level and mid-level MOUs will be reviewed on an annual basis, and benefits associated with the
performance of both parties on highway project delivery and effective utility relocation will be
measured and evaluated (37).
The third MOU will be project specific. The leadership of the ODOT district in which the
highway project is being built and the individual company subsidiary that will perform the
relocation work will create and approve this document.
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Pennsylvania Department of Transportation
General Utility Practices
The Pennsylvania DOT (PennDOT) adopted SUE practices in the 1990s. Nearly all projects in
the state undergo a minimum of QLD or QLC data collection. Beyond QLD and QLC, the need
for SUE is determined based on the outcome of an impact analysis using a spreadsheet called the
“SUE Utility Impact Form.” The Pennsylvania Transportation Institute of the Pennsylvania
State University (PSU) developed this procedure in 2007 based on an in-depth benefit-cost
analysis of 10 SUE projects that the PennDOT districts have executed (40). The PSU research
shows that, compared to the projects not utilizing SUE, the total cost savings of SUE projects
may range from 10–15 percent on a typical project. The study did not find any relationship
neither between SUE benefit and SUE cost, nor between utility complexity level and the total
project cost. However, there appeared to be a strong relationship between SUE benefit-cost and
utility complexity level. The benefits and cost of SUE increases as the utility complexity level of
the project increases. The conclusion in the research is that QLA and QLB should be used based
on the complexity of the buried utilities at the construction site to minimize risks and obtain
maximum benefits. The PSU study estimated that an average of $22.21 is saved for every $1.00
spent on SUE. When the overall cost of the project is taken into consideration, the money spent
on SUE is minor compared to the cost savings of avoiding unexpected utility conflicts and
unnecessary utility relocations.
Utility Impact Analysis
The SUE Utility Impact Rating Form is designed to recommend appropriate quality levels of
SUE based on a utility impact score. The SUE Utility Impact Form was developed to address the
legal requirements and comply with the state and federal laws (41). The SUE Utility Impact
Form provides an analysis to determine if SUE use is practicable, when SUE should be
considered on a project, and what utility quality levels should be utilized based on an analysis of
project criteria. The form is utilized to provide compliance with the Pennsylvania “underground
utility damage prevention law” (42). Utility impact rating refers to the utility complexity for a
given project, section, or location.
The SUE Utility Impact Form involves three steps in which users answer a series of questions.
Depending on the answers, a user might continue from one step to the next or might screen out
of the process. Figure 31 through Figure 35 provide an overview of the spreadsheet, including
form instructions and the list of questions for each step. If step 3 of the process is required, the
form calculates a utility impact score (UIS) based on a series of so-called complexity factors that
in combination provide an estimate of the project’s complexity with regard to utilities. Answers
can be provided on a range from 1 to 3 indicating the expected utility impact for that question
(e.g., low to high, simple to complex, or good to fair.)
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SUE Utility Impact Form Instructions
The SUE Utility Impact Form contains three steps of progressively detailed analysis.
Steps 1 and 2 are screening processes, and Step 3 is an evaluation of the project passing
Steps 1 and 2. Step 1 determines whether SUE QLB and/or QLA should be considered for
a project. If Step 1 indicates further analysis is required, conduct Step 2. Step 2 looks at
additional factors to determine whether SUE QLB and/or QLA should be considered for a
project. If Step 2 indicates further analysis is required, conduct Step 3.
Step 1
Project information such as title, cost, description (general summary), and scope (actual
work scope) should be filled out. If the scope of the project is changed, the utility
impact rating analysis should be done again for that project. Step 1 determines whether
SUE QLB and/or QLA should be considered for a project.
The questions in Step 1 can be answered with traditional utility information QLD
and/or QLC provided by a one‐call system, utility companies, site visits, or a SUE
provider. If there are no boxes checked in Column 2, then it is generally not
cost-effective to perform a SUE QLB and/or QLA investigation. If any boxes in
Column 2 are checked, the utility impact rating analysis proceeds to Step 2 to conduct
further analysis of the project.
Step 2
Step 2 further analyzes and determines whether SUE QLB and/or QLA should be
considered for a project by asking five additional questions. The questions can be
answered with traditional utility information (QLD and/or QLC) provided by a one‐call
system, utility companies, site visits, or a SUE provider. If there are no boxes checked
in Column 2, then it is generally not cost-effective to perform SUE QLB and/or QLA
mapping. If any boxes in Column 2 are checked, the utility impact rating analysis
proceeds to Step 3 to calculate a utility impact score and determine the appropriate
SUE quality levels.
Step 3
Step 3 determines which SUE QLB or QLA should be selected for a
project/section/location. Title, cost, description (general summary), and scope (actual
work scope) should be filled out before answering the questions. The Step 3 questions
are answered for a project, a section, or a location, while all questions in Step 1 and
Step 2 are for a project. One project can have several sections or locations that have
different utility impacts. Step 3 should be conducted for each section or location so
that SUE quality levels can be selected for each section or location.
Figure 31. PennDOT SUE Impact Form Summary Instructions (41).
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SUE UTILITY IMPACT FORM – STEP 1
Steps 1&2 are screening processes and Step 3 is an evaluation of the project passing Steps
1&2. STEP 1 determines whether SUE (quality levels A & B) should be utilized for a project or
not.
MPMS Number/Title:
County/SR/Section:
No.
1
2
QUESTIONS
Is there evidence of underground utilities
in the project area? (based on information
from SUE quality level D&C)
Does the project require any excavation
“regardless of depth”? Note: This includes
any temporary construction easements
(TCE) or other easements.
Column 1
Column 2
NO
YES or
Unknown
NO
YES or
Unknown
- For each question, check the box that best describes the project conditions.
- If there are no boxes in Column 2 checked, then it is generally not practicable to perform a
SUE quality levels A and B investigation.
- If one or both boxes in Column 2 are checked, please proceed to STEP 2 to conduct further
analysis.
Figure 32. PennDOT SUE Impact Form Step 1 (41).
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SUE UTILITY IMPACT FORM-STEP 2
Steps 1&2 are screening processes and Step 3 is an evaluation of the project
passing Steps 1&2.
MPMS Number/Title:
County/SR/Section:
No.
QUESTIONS
Column 1
1 What is the depth of project excavation? Note:
This includes any TCE or other easements.
What is the confidence level that the utility
owners in the project area will be able to
2 accommodate the project’s schedule in regard
to depicting their utility facilities on PennDOT
plans?
What is the likelihood that project will have
3
impact on the existing subsurface utilities?
4
Do the utility owners in the project area have
accurate utility information?
Column 2
≤ 18”
> 18”
Confident
Doubtful
No
Impact
Impact
Yes
No
- If there are no boxes checked in Column 2, then it is generally not practicable to perform a
SUE quality levels A and B investigation.
- If any boxes in Column 2 are checked, please proceed to STEP 3 to calculate utility impact
score and determine the appropriate SUE quality levels.
Figure 33. PennDOT SUE Impact Form Step 2 (41).
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SUE UTILITY IMPACT FORM – STEP 3 DETAILED ANALYSIS
-Check the utility impact rating to the right that best fits your opinion of the issue. If the
answer for the complexity factor is unknown, always check Column 3.
-Refer to page 9 for a detailed description of the complexity factors.
-When using an electronic version for the Step 3 analysis, place cursor over the cell on the
spread sheet for a detailed description of the complexity factor.
No.
Complexity Factors
Column 1
Column 2
Column 3
Density of Utilities
Low
Medium
High
1
(number)
2
Type of Utilities
Less Critical
Sub Critical
Critical
3
Pattern of Utilities
(number)
Simple
Medium
Complex
4
Material of Utilities
Rigid
Flexible
Brittle
5
Access to Utilities
Easy
Medium
Restricted
6
Age of Utilities (year)
New
Medium
Old
Low
Medium
High
7
8
Estimated Utility Relocation
Costs (% of total project
cost)
Estimated Project Traffic
Volume (ADT per lane)
Low
Moderate
High
9
Project Time Sensitivity
Low
Medium
High
10
Project Area Description
Rural
Suburban
Urban
11
Type of
Project/Section/Location
Simple
Moderate
Complicated
Quality of Utility Record
Good
Fair
Poor
Excavation Depth with
Highway Right-of-Way,
including Easement (inches)
Low
Medium
High
Estimated Business Impact
Low
Moderate
High
15
Estimated Environmental
Impact
Low
Moderate
High
16
Estimated Safety Impact
Low
Moderate
High
Other Impact-Specify:
Low
Moderate
High
12
13
14
17
Figure 34. PennDOT SUE Impact Form Step 3, Detailed Analysis (41).
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SUE UTILITY IMPACT FORM – STEP 3 SUMMARY ANALYSIS
STEP 3 determines which SUE quality level should be selected for a project/section/location.
*NOTE-step 3 analysis can be conducted at the project level, or for a specific location within
the project (e.g., intersection, utility crossing, etc.). Conduct Step 3 detailed analysis as
necessary for each potential impact location.
MPMS Number/Title:
County/SR/Section:
SUE Impact Location*Description & Scope:
(leave blank when
using step 3 for overall
project level impact
analysis)
STEP 3 UTILITY IMPACT SCORE RESULTS
Utility Impact Score:
Recommended
SUE Quality
Level:
Relative Cost Factor:
UTILITY IMPACT SCORE CALCULATION DESCRIPTION
1: Total Box Checked
Sum of Column 1
Sum of Column 2
Sum of Column 3
2: Utility Impact Score [(1 x Sum of Column 1) + (2 x Sum of Column 2) + (3 x Sum of Column 3)] / n
This Table demonstrates the process for calculating the utility impact score based on response.
n = Number of the complexity factors considered/checked
UTILITY IMPACT SCORING LEVELS AND FACTORS
This table demonstrates the project complexity level, recommended SUE level to be used and relative cost of
using SUE quality level, and project risk level based on the utility impact score.
Utility Impact Score
1.01-1.67
1.68-2.33
2.34-3.00
Recommended Minimum
SUE Quality Levels
QLB
QLB/A
QLA
Relative Cost Factors
16.67
33.33
66.67
Figure 35. PennDOT SUE Impact Form Step 3, Summary Analysis (41).
96
The utility impact score is calculated by weighing the frequency of each type of answer using the
following equation:
where
L=
M=
H=
n=
UIS =
(L ∙ 1 + M ∙ 2 + H ∙ 3)
n
Number of low responses.
Number of medium responses.
Number of high responses.
Number of responses.
Note that this equation is very similar to the equation that GDOT used to determine the utility
impact score. Depending on this score, the form provides a recommended minimum SUE
quality level and a corresponding relative cost factor (Table 6). The cost factors describe the
relative cost of a SUE unit price at a particular quality level. For example using QLA is about
four times the cost of using QLB per unit (40).
Table 6. PennDOT Utility Impact Score (41).
Utility Impact
Score
Recommended
Minimum SUE QL
Relative
Cost Factors
1.01–1.67
QLB
16.67
1.68–2.33
QLB/QLA
33.33
2.33–3.00
QLA
66.67
Note that PennDOT uses the utility impact score to determine a recommended level of SUE as
compared to GDOT, which uses the utility impact score to describe the estimated impact of
utilities on a project (see Table 5). Project managers use the PennDOT SUE Utility Impact Form
in coordination with the District Utility Relocation Unit, as soon as QLD and QLC information is
available. Since QLD and/or QLC data are necessary to begin the SUE Utility Impact Rating
process, the project manager must put obtaining these data on a critical path. The project
manager may elect to use the district utility unit, a consultant, or a SUE provider to obtain and
depict these data as outlined in ASCE 38-02 (4). The form is typically completed during the
planning and preliminary engineering phase of a project. At this time, the form provides the
greatest benefit and provides input for good decisions regarding line and grade that could help
avoid costly or time consuming utility relocations.
The project manager makes the final decision to conduct SUE QLB and/or QLA at the district
level. However, Section 6.1 of Pennsylvania Act 287 requires that sufficient quality levels of
SUE must be used on all projects greater than $400,000 (42). Specifically, the law requires the
following:
It shall be the duty of each project owner who engages in excavation or
demolition work to be done within this Commonwealth…to utilize
sufficient quality levels of subsurface utility engineering or other similar
97
techniques whenever practicable to properly determine the existence and
positions of underground facilities when designing known complex
projects having an estimated cost of $400,000.00 or more.
Each DOT district procures their own SUE contractors, who are frequently subcontractors to the
design firm. SUE contractors are procured through bids responding to a request for proposal and
contractors are selected based on qualifications. The most common techniques, or technologies
used to perform utility investigations is potholing and some limited use of geophysical
techniques.
Utility Relocation – Electronic Document Management System
A notable practice at PennDOT is the use of a web-based electronic document management
system called Utility Relocation Electronic Document Management System (UREDMS) (43).
The system is designed to work with utility relocation documents using IBM® FileNet® software.
UREDMS functions largely as an electronic filing cabinet. The electronic storage and indexing
of these documents allows for easier search and retrieval, faster document transfer, better
revision control, and saves storage space. It also eliminates lost and misplaced files. The
UREDMS external web interface provides PennDOT’s business partners with the ability to
securely submit and view utility relocation documents using the Internet.
Virginia Department of Transportation
General Utility Practices
The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) contacts utility owners during the design
phase of a project where major relocations are anticipated. This allows designers to understand
relocation needs and to identify major right-of-way corridor requirements for anticipated
relocations. This process has worked particularly well for major power transmission and
petroleum pipeline relocations. For smaller projects involving only a few utilities, VDOT has
had only limited success involving utilities early. VDOT also negotiates and obtains any
required utility easements outside the right-of-way directly with the land owners in conjunction
with proposed highway projects.
VDOT uses several processes to ensure that horizontal locations of utility facilities are included
in the project plans. For example, when the scope of work for mapping services is prepared and
procured, VDOT includes requirements that the mapping contractor identify utilities not
typically marked by utility owners or their one-call contractors. Additionally, the data collection
is timed to correspond with project needs so that the mapping services and utility location data
are available to the design team when needed, and not as a supplemental request for more detail.
Designers and planners have the data needed to make design decisions without waiting for or
requesting more detail. VDOT includes protection clauses against errors or omissions in the
utility mapping data within the scopes of work and mapping services contracts. The survey data
and CAD mapping comply with established standards and VDOT provides utility owners and
consultants with licenses for their project CAD platforms to ensure the data are provided
efficiently.
98
VDOT construction contractors must use the one-call system for damage prevention purposes.
This is an important state-mandated process that provides utility owners a final opportunity to
protect their facilities and identify utility changes and additions within project limits after design
is complete but before construction begins.
SUE Contracts
VDOT was one of the first DOTs to use SUE and has a long history of using SUE services and
consultants. VDOT has established regional contracts for SUE contractors. The SUE contracts
include regional topographical survey contracts as well as horizontal utility mapping. This
enables VDOT to move its collection of utility data into the planning stages of the project and to
start using that data early for planning and preliminary design decisions. The regional SUE
contracts are also used for conflict verification through physical exposure (test holes), which
takes the burden of identifying the utility from the utility owners and places it with the SUE
contractor. Utility owners are still included in correspondence and meetings and can take control
of aspects of these services when they desire. In this way, VDOT projects are not delayed by
waiting for utility owners to provide location information.
Right of Way Utilities Management System
The VDOT Right of Way and Utilities Management System (RUMS) is a system that was
implemented in 1999 and is based on proprietary software that VDOT developed (44). RUMS
provides up-to-the-minute highway project status reports through ad hoc queries served over a
secure intranet. RUMS also enables forms processing and web-based reporting. VDOT also
developed a web-enabled version of RUMS that has an intuitive user interface simple enough for
a new user to quickly become familiar with the system and powerful enough for an advanced
user to quickly navigate to specific information. Key functions of RUMS include the following
(44):
•
•
•
•
Providing metrics of current highway project status.
Centralized management of appraisal forms, letters of correspondence, and other
documentation, which allows right-of-way and utilities staff to generate, customize, store,
and retrieve documents.
Automated assignment and reassignment of work to division agents.
Interfacing with VDOT’s mission-critical project and program management system.
In addition to utility management functions such as easements and utility adjustments, RUMS
helps manage right-of-way functions including appraisal, acquisition, improvement removal,
relocation, legal, and donation. RUMS also assists in assignment tracking (assignee, due, and
complete dates), contract management (contracts, task orders, and subcontractors), and property
management (sale, lease, property grouping, and historical tracking). More importantly, RUMS
allows VDOT management to focus on key highway project dates and shift resources to ensure
that right-of-way and utility activities are completed in time.
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Utility Investigations in the Project Development Process
VDOT integrates utility investigation within its entire project development process. The VDOT
project development process is referred to as the Project Development Concurrent Engineering
Process (PDCE) (45). Two excerpts from the PDCE process screenshots are shown in Figure 36
and Figure 37. Figure 36 is a high-level display of the PDCE process showing that utility
assessments are conducted concurrent preliminary design tasks and environmental
documentation efforts.
The PDCE process provides an example of how SUE can be integrated with project development
early and throughout the process, as compared to an add-on used on an ad-hoc basis. The PDCE
is mapped in a process flow chart to show all major steps in the process. The PDCE process
chart shows when and how SUE should be used during project development, and provides links
to documents and forms that are required. The PDCE process is well documented and supported
through the RUMS managements system and its process manuals. Forms that the project
manager or staff must complete are kept within RUMS so that current project information can be
easily obtained. Figure 37 displays a close-up of the PDCE process indicating that utility
designation and utility impacts are conducted concurrent with hydraulic studies and
environmental functions.
100
Figure 36. Overview of Project Development Concurrent Engineering Process (45).
101
Figure 37. VDOT Project Development Concurrent Engineering Process: Initial and Preliminary Roadway Design (46).
102
During the preliminary project development phase, there are two critical forms that VDOT uses
for almost all projects, as described in the VDOT Road Design Manual (47). These forms are
the VDOT Field Review and Scoping Report, and the VDOT Risk Management Form (48, 49).
The Field Review and Scoping Report is a 10-page document to help a team of project specialists
collect comprehensive project information including a determination if the project has any
potential utility or environmental impacts and if an engineering field office is warranted. With
regard to utilities, the project engineer must determine the following:
•
•
•
•
•
•
Who is the responsible party in the field review team for the location and design of
utilities?
Should utilities be designated?
Are major utility conflicts or problems anticipated?
Are utilities present that may be attached to bridges?
What is the estimated cost for right-of-way including utility relocations?
What are the names of the utility owners within project limits?
The VDOT Risk Management Form provides a chart to evaluate risks for risk events identified
on projects (Figure 38). The form provides several methods that can be selected to respond to a
risk, including avoidance, transference, enhancement, acceptance, and mitigation. The form also
provides a field for the name of the risk owner or responsible person to manage the risk.
To determine the risk response method, a project manager must provide a description of the risk
event, the significance of its impact on the project, and the probability of this impact. Impact
must be rated from 1 to 5 (low to high) and probability must be rated from 0 percent to
100 percent (uncertain to certain). Using the chart provided in Figure 38, the program manager
can then determine the risk exposure. Risk exposure can also be calculated using the following
formula:
where
 =  ∙ 
RE = Risk exposure.
p = Probability of a risk event.
i=
Impact of a risk event.
A risk exposure of 0.5 or lower is considered a low risk and does not require a risk response
(green area in Figure 38). A risk exposure of higher than 0.5 and up to 2.5 is considered a
medium risk and must be addressed using a risk response method and risk response action. A
risk exposure of higher than 2.5 is considered a high risk and must also be addressed using a risk
response method and action.
103
Figure 38. VDOT Risk Management Form (49).
104
Virginia Utilities Coordinating Committee
The Virginia Utilities Coordinating Committee (VUCC) provides an inexpensive and informal
forum to improve communication, cooperation, and coordination among utilities and others with
whom they interact (50). The VUCC is organized as a two-tier committee with one committee
for state and national issues, and another for local issues. The VUCC is an example of how
utility coordination can be accomplished among different utility stakeholders including private
commercial utility interests such as electric cooperatives, communication providers, natural gas
operators, as well as VDOT and local governments. The major goals of the VUCC are (50):
•
•
•
•
•
•
Improve communication and exchange information among all responsible parties, trade
professional associations, and the general public.
Minimize damage to utility and street structures.
Coordinate scheduling of capital improvement and maintenance projects.
Improve safety conditions.
Develop suggested standards for accommodating utilities with common corridors.
Be a liaison network hub for members and potential members for this committee and
regional and local committees by exchanging information.
The VUCC has created statewide committees that work with independent local utility
coordinating committees (UCC) to focus on statewide issues. Local problems and issues have
been shared with other local UCCs and the state steering committee. In turn, statewide and
national issues have been communicated back to local UCC and member groups. Members of
the VUCC have established an electronic notification system and created an ID tagging system.
105
CHAPTER 5: EFFECTS OF UTILITY INVESTIGATION SERVICES
The research team collected and reviewed data from a number of TxDOT projects to examine the
effects of utility investigation services on project costs, project efficiencies, and project delivery
time. This chapter summarizes the results of that effort.
LITERATURE REVIEW OF UTILITY INVESTIGATION BENEFITS
The benefits and cost-effectiveness of using utility investigation services to collect data of
existing utility facilities have been documented in several studies. The Pennsylvania Department
of Transportation (PennDOT) funded a study between 2006 and 2007 that quantified the costbenefit ratio of using SUE in highway projects (40). Based on data of 10 projects that used SUE,
the researchers identified saving of $22.21 for every dollar spent on SUE. They also found a
relationship between SUE benefit-cost ratio and the complexity of buried utility facilities at
project sites. The study took into consideration the following cost/saving items:
•
Utility relocation cost, which is the cost caused by unnecessary utility relocations and by
unidentified utility conflicts due to inaccurate/insufficient utility data. SUE reports and
interviews were used to estimate this cost item.
•
Utility damage cost, which includes person injury costs, equipment damage costs, and
third-party damage costs. This cost was estimated based on interviews and historical
data.
•
Emergency restoration cost, which includes utility restoration costs and project delay
costs due to unexpected utility damages. Interviews and historical data were used to
estimate this cost item.
•
Traffic delay cost, which is the cost for road users due to increased travel delays caused
by project delays as a result of utility emergencies. This cost was estimated based on
interviews and sample projects that did not use SUE.
•
Business impact cost, which is the cost incurred by business enterprises resulting from
loss of business activities due to unexpected utility damages. This cost was estimated
based on interviews and sample projects that did not use SUE.
•
User service cost, which is the monetary value for users’ inconveniences incurred by
loss/delay of utility services due to utility damages. This cost was estimated based on
interviews, historical data, and projects without SUE.
•
Environmental impact cost, which is the cost to restore/remediate the environmental
damages caused by utility damages. This cost was estimated based on projects that did
not use SUE.
107
•
Information gathering and verification cost, which is the additional cost for gathering and
verifying utility information if SUE was not used. This cost item was estimated based on
interviews and projects that did not use SUE.
•
Legal and litigation cost, which is the cost on negotiation, arbitration, legal and litigation
process to resolve disputes due to utility damages. This cost item was estimated based on
interviews and sample projects that did not use SUE.
•
Additional design costs due to insufficient/inaccurate utility data. SUE reports and
interviews were used to estimate this cost item.
•
Other utility related costs and benefits, such as savings in risk management and
insurance, digital mapping accuracy, and comprehensive utility management systems
estimated based on interviews.
Purdue University published a study of SUE cost-effectiveness in 1999 that FHWA had funded
(51). The study found a total of $4.62 in savings for every dollar spent on SUE based on data of
71 projects from Virginia, North Carolina, Texas, and Ohio. A later reevaluation of the collected
project data suggested a more significant return of $12.23 in average for each dollar spent on
SUE (52). For both studies, the research team obtained the total cost for utility investigation
services (i.e., costs of designation and locating), which was compared against potential time,
cost, and/or user savings that were attributable to the use of SUE, such as:
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Reduction in the number of utility line relocations.
Reduction in project delay due to utility relocations.
Reduction in construction delay due to utility cuts
Reduction in contractor’s claims and change orders.
Reduction in project contingency fees.
Lower project bids.
Reduction in costs caused by conflict redesign.
Reduction in travel delays to the motoring public.
Reduction in the cost of project design.
Improvement in contractor productivity and quality.
Reduction in utility owners’ costs to repair damaged facilities.
Minimization of utility customer’s loss of service.
Minimization of damage to existing pavements.
Minimization of traffic disruption and increase in DOT public credibility.
Improvement in working relationships between DOT and utility owners.
Increase in efficiency of surveying activities by elimination of duplicate surveys.
Improvements in electronic map accuracy and as-builts.
Inducement of savings in risk management and insurance.
Introduction of the concept of a comprehensive SUE process.
Reduction in right-of-way acquisition costs.
Reduction in probability of environmental damage.
Reduction in damage to existing site facilities.
108
Many of the aforementioned potential savings were qualitative costs and could not be estimated
with any degree of certainty. The researchers estimated the remaining saving items based on
existing project data, interviews with personnel involved in the projects, and historical cost data.
In 2005, the Ontario Sewer and Watermain Contractors Association commissioned a study to
investigate the cost-effectiveness of SUE on large infrastructure projects in Ontario (53). The
researchers conducted nine case studies with projects generally characterized by having a value
greater than $500,000, being located in urban settings, and having a large number of buried
infrastructure systems. The case studies included interviews with project owners and
contractors, studies of project drawings, and comparisons of utility information before and after
SUE. Based on the information, what-if scenarios were used to estimate the costs that could
have been incurred if the SUE investigations had not been employed. During the cost-benefit
assessment, the Ontario study calculated the average return on investment (ROI) as follows:
Where
  =
 
   
  =         −   
The estimated cost of not performing SUE was calculated based on a summation of the estimated
amounts of 13 cost items shown in Table 7. The case studies suggested an average return on
investment of approximately $3.41 for each $1 spent on SUE.
Based on the literature review, the use of SUE in transportation projects is estimated to yield
noteworthy benefits. The estimated benefits by the studies reviewed ranged from $3.41 to
$22.21 per $1 spent on SUE services, suggesting a significant return in benefit. Readers should
note that most of the previous SUE cost-effectiveness studies relied on information obtained
during interviews with personnel involved in the studied projects. The data collected in this
manner is inevitably subjective and results can vary significantly, depending on personal
opinions and biases of the interviewees. In addition, the studies made multiple assumptions
about the cost items, many of which could not be accurately measured. The significant
difference between estimated ROI in the studies reviewed is therefore not unexpected. In
addition, most of the studies reviewed were based on information of a limited number of projects
(e.g., 10 projects in the PennDOT study and nine projects in the Ontario study), limiting the
statistical significance of the findings.
109
Table 7. Descriptions of Cost Items Considered in the Ontario Study.
Abbr.
Cost
Description
Costs that contribute towards increasing the quality of utility information (alternatives to SUE)
UIC
Utility information
cost
The cost and time that the designer or owner would spend to gather
information from different utilities and possibly do any field
stakeouts using their own crews or by hiring subcontractors.
UVC
Utility verification
cost
The cost that the contractor must pay to verify the location of plant
(by vacuum excavating, locating, etc.). This cost gets included in
the bid price.
Costs directly incurred by the designer/owner
URC
Utility relocation cost
DSC
Design cost
When SUE is utilized in the early stages of a project, designers can
proceed with more confidence, and the chance for project redesigns
due to utility conflicts is greatly reduced.
OCC
Overall construction
cost
Information revealed by SUE will sometimes lead to a more
efficient design that will decrease overall construction costs.
Costs directly incurred by the contractor
CCC
Contractor
contingency costs
CCO
Contractor claims and
change order costs
CIC
Contractor injury cost
In cases where the SUE information is clearly shown in tender
documents, there exists a potential for reduction in contractor bid
contingencies due to confidence in subsurface utility information. In
some cases, there exists a potential for increased excavation
productivity rates, which can result in shortened project durations.
The cost of injuries to contractor staff due to damaging existing
utilities. CIC is estimated as P(CIC)*CICAV, where P(CIC) is the
probability that a contractor injury occurs due to a hit utility and
CICAV is the average cost of contractor injury due to a hit utility.
Costs directly incurred by users/public
UDC
Utility damage cost
The cost of damage to existing utilities during construction.
PIC
Public injury cost
The cost of injuries to the public due to damaging existing utilities.
PIC is estimated as P(PIC) * PICAV, where P(PIC) is the probability
that a public injury occurs due to a hit utility and PICAV is the
average cost of a public injury due to a hit utility.
TDC
Travel delay cost
The cost of travel delays to the motoring public (function of the
amount of project delay).
BIC
Business impact cost
The cost of impact on businesses (function of the amount of project
delay).
SIC
Service interruption
cost
The cost of loss of service to utility customers.
110
METHODOLOGY
The purpose of this analysis was to collect and review data from a number of TxDOT projects to
examine the effects of utility investigation services on project costs, project efficiencies, and
project delivery time. During the literature review, the researchers identified several previous
studies that involved relatively comprehensive analyses of the cost-benefit of using SUE services
in transportation projects. Most of these studies were based on data obtained from states other
than Texas, except for the national study that Purdue University conducted in 1999, and relied
heavily on estimates from practitioners and project managers. To avoid bias due to personal,
subjective estimates, the analysis only used project data obtained through a variety of TxDOT
data systems.
To accomplish this objective, the research team developed a large variety of measures of
effectiveness (MOEs) and used these MOEs to compare projects that used SUE services and
projects that did not use SUE services. Through the comparison, the research team attempted to
examine the effects of SUE services on various aspects of project cost and project delivery time.
As shown in Figure 39, the researchers developed a road map that visualizes goals, potential
MOEs, and required data items to evaluate the effects of SUE on project performance.
Figure 39. Methodology for Assessing Effects of Utility Investigation Services.
111
Based on the availability of data, the researchers proposed to calculate several potential MOEs to
assess the effect of utility investigation services on TxDOT projects. The MOEs included:
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Project cost per lane-mile, which is the total project cost divided by the total lane-miles of
the project.
Design cost per lane-mile, which is the design cost of a project divided by its total
lane-miles.
Construction cost per lane-mile, which is the total construction cost of a project divided
by the total lane-miles of the project.
Project delivery time per lane-mile, which is the total project delivery time defined as the
time from the design conference to the completion of construction divided by the total
lane-miles of the project.
Design time per lane-mile, which is the total design time divided by total lane-miles of
the project.
Percent of identified utility conflicts prior and during design, which is the number of
identified utility conflicts prior and during design divided by the total number of utility
conflicts.
Number of utility accidents during construction per lane-mile, which is the number of
events where unknown utilities been damaged when constructing a project divided by the
total lane-miles of the project.
Number of utility-related change orders per lane-mile, which is the total number of
utility-related change orders divided by the project lane-miles.
Percent of utility-related change order cost, which is the total cost associated with the
utility-related change orders divided by the total project cost.
Percent of project delay, which is the time difference between the proposed project
delivery time (the time from the design conference to the completion of construction) and
the actual delivery time divided by the proposed project delivery time.
The research team also identified a number of data items that would be required to calculate the
aforementioned MOEs, and potential sources of the data within TxDOT data systems:
•
Utility Relocation Data. Utility relocation data are necessary for calculating the percent
of identified utility conflicts prior and during design. More specifically, utility relocation
data include the data items total number of utility conflicts, number of identified utility
conflicts, and number of utility relocations after design. Potential sources for this data
item include the TxDOT Utility Agreement Database, the Utility Installation Review
System (UIR), and project utility clearance certifications.
•
Project Time Stamps. This data item is used to calculate MOEs such as project delivery
time per lane-mile, design time per lane-mile, construction time per lane-mile, and
percent of project delay. Necessary data elements include the design conference date, the
environmental clearance date, the PS&E completion date, the project letting date, and the
construction completion date. Potential data source of these data elements include the
Design and Construction Information System (DCIS) and the Contract Information
System (CIS).
112
•
Basic Project Data. This data item is required to group projects into similar categories
(stratification). In addition, the lane-mile information is necessary for calculating several
MOEs. Basic project data includes data items such as project type, project lane-miles,
roadway classification, and area type. DCIS was a potential source for this data.
•
Project Cost Data. This data item is necessary for calculating several MOEs such as
total project cost per lane-mile, design cost per lane-mile, and construction cost per lanemile. Project cost data includes the data items total project cost, design cost, construction
cost, and SUE cost. Potential sources of cost information are data sources such as DCIS,
FIMS, and CIS.
•
Other Data. Other data items include change orders related to utilities and number of
utility emergency repairs during construction. These data items are needed to calculate
MOEs such as utility accidents during construction per lane-mile, number of utilityrelated change orders per lane-mile, and percent of utility-related change order cost. The
potential data sources include UIR and SiteManager.
Based on the experience of the research team with TxDOT database systems, the research team
created a list of potential data sources to obtain a variety of data elements. Table 8 lists the data
elements and potential sources the research team proposed.
Table 8. Potential Data Sources for Data Items.
Potential Data Source
Data Type
Data Element
Bid Analysis
Management System
(BAMS)
Project Time Stamps
Construction completion date
Project Cost Data
Construction cost
Contract Information
System (CIS)
Project Time Stamps
SUE cost
Construction/Maintenance Utility Relocation
Contract System (CMCS) Data
Construction completion date
Number of utility conflicts identified during
construction
Number of utility conflicts cleared before letting
Number of utility conflicts not cleared before letting
Number of utility relocations before letting
Number of utility relocations after letting
Project Time Stamps
Letting date
Construction completion date
Basic Project Data
Project type
Project lane-miles
Roadway class
113
Table 8. Potential Data Sources for Data Items (Continued).
Potential Data Source
Data Type
Construction/Maintenance Project Cost Data
Contract System (CMCS)
Design and Construction
Information System
(DCIS)
Data Element
Project total cost
SUE cost
Other Data
Change orders related to utilities
Project Time Stamps
Design conference date
Letting date
Basic Project Data
Project type
Project lane-miles
Roadway class
Area type
Project Cost Data
Project total cost
Design cost
Environmental Tracking
System (ETS)
Utility Relocation
Data
Number of utility conflicts cleared before letting
Number of utility conflicts not cleared before letting
Number of utility relocations before letting
Project Time Stamps
Environmental clearance date
Letting date
Basic Project Data
Project type
Project lane-miles
Roadway class
Financial Information
Management System
(FIMS)
Other Data
Change orders related to utilities
Project Cost Data
Project total cost
Design cost
Construction cost
SUE cost
Plans Online
Number of utility conflicts not cleared before letting
Utility Relocation
Data (through Utility
clearance
certifications)
Number of utility relocations after letting
Project Time Stamps
Letting date
Basic Project Data
Project type
Project lane-miles
Roadway class
114
Table 8. Potential Data Sources for Data Items (Continued).
Potential Data Source
Data Type
Data Element
Plans Online
Other Data
Project description
Right of Way Information
System (ROWIS)
Utility Relocation
Data
Number of utility conflicts identified during
construction
Number of utility conflicts cleared before letting
Number of utility relocations before letting
Number of utility relocations after letting
Project Time Stamps
Environmental clearance date
Letting date
Basic Project Data
Project type
Project lane-miles
Roadway class
Project Cost Data
Project total cost
SUE cost
Other Data
Estimated right-of-way clearance date
Estimated acquisition costs
SiteManager
Change Order
Database(COD)
Utility Relocation
Data
Number of utility conflicts identified during
construction
Number of utility conflicts not cleared before letting
Number of utility relocations after letting
Project Time Stamps
Construction completion date
Basic Project Data
Project type
Project lane-miles
Roadway class
Project Cost Data
Project total cost
Construction cost
SUE cost
Utility Agreement
Database (UAD)
Other Data
Change orders related to utilities
Utility Relocation
Data
Number of utility conflicts identified during
construction
Number of utility conflicts cleared before letting
Number of utility conflicts not cleared before letting
Number of utility relocations before letting
115
Table 8. Potential Data Sources for Data Items (Continued).
Potential Data Source
Utility Agreement
Database (UAD)
Data Type
Data Element
Utility Relocation
Data
Number of utility relocations after letting
Project Time Stamps
Letting date
Basic Project Data
Project type
Project lane-miles
Roadway class
Utility Installation
Review System (UIR)
Project Cost Data
SUE cost
Other Data
Utility adjustment cost
Utility Relocation
Data
Number of utility conflicts identified during
construction
Number of utility conflicts cleared before letting
Number of utility conflicts not cleared before letting
Number of utility relocations before letting
Number of utility relocations after letting
District databases
Data not available at
other data systems
Data not available at other data systems
Project documents
Data not available at
other data systems
Data not available at other data systems
Project-specific
spreadsheets
Data not available at
other data systems
Data not available at other data systems
The research team proposed a comparison of MOEs between three general groups of projects:
projects that used SUE before construction, projects that used SUE during construction, and
projects that did not use SUE. To make comparisons between project groups more meaningful,
the research team proposed a stratification of project groups, i.e., a division of the project groups
into more homogeneous and mutually exclusive subpopulations or categories. The establishment
of project categories involved the following project characteristics:
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Project type.
Project cost.
Area type.
Roadway class.
Number of right-of-way parcels acquired and/or area of right-of-way acquired.
Total right-of-way cost.
Total utility relocation cost.
Funding type.
116
Table 9 shows the conceptual design of the proposed comparison analysis using MOEs and
project categories.
Table 9. Conceptual Design of the Proposed Comparison Analysis.
Category 1
Projects with SUE
(before construction)
Projects with SUE
(during Construction)
Projects without SUE
[MOE1,1]
[MOE1,2]
[MOE1,3]
…
…
…
[MOEn,1]
[MOEn,2]
[MOEn,3]
…
Category n
MOE 1
Note: For each project group and category, multiple MOEs are calculated, e.g.,[MOE1,1 ] = �MOE 2�
⋯
Recognizing the potential difficulty for identifying SUE projects, the researchers also considered
an alternative methodology that would be based on case studies, similar to previous research
described in the literature review. That methodology proposed to identify the potential savings
in project delivery time and monetary cost if SUE had been used during the projects by studying
in detail a sample of projects that did not use SUE. During the analysis, the research team would
use several projects of different categories as study cases and estimate the potential benefits of
SUE for the following scenarios:
Scenario 1: worst-case scenario that would be the current project conditions.
Scenario 2: assuming at least 50 percent of the utility facilities within the project limit
would be identified if SUE had been used prior to construction.
Scenario 3: assuming 75 percent of the utility facilities within the project limit would be
identified if SUE had been used prior to construction.
Scenario 4: assuming 100 percent of the utility facilities within the project limit would be
identified if SUE had been used prior to construction.
•
•
•
•
The research team would then divide the selected projects into different categories based on their
characteristics and then calculate the MOEs from Table 7 for each category and for each
scenario, as illustrated in Table 10. The MOEs would then be compared between different
scenarios to identify effects of using utility investigation services during the project development
process.
Table 10. Conceptual Design of the Alternative Comparison Analysis.
Comparison
Group
Category 1
…
Category n
Scenario 1
Scenario 2
Scenario 3
Scenario 4
[MOE1,1]
[MOE1,2]
[MOE1,3]
[MOE1,4]
…
…
…
…
[MOEn,1]
[MOEn,2]
[MOEn,3]
[MOEn,4]
MOE 1
Note: For each project group and category, multiple MOEs are calculated, e.g.,[MOE1,1 ] = �MOE 2�
⋯
117
Since the research team was able to identify SUE projects as described in the following section,
the research team ultimately did not use this alternative methodology.
IDENTIFICATION OF SUE PROJECTS
The identification of SUE projects was a challenging process due to the way SUE data are stored
on TxDOT data systems and due to the current data retention practices of SUE contracts at
TxDOT. In general, centralized data systems at TxDOT do not keep track of historical SUE
contract data. Detailed information about such contracts is generally stored at the district level in
the format of hard copy records. This information, however, can only be tracked down,
accessed, and evaluated using significant resources, and is constrained by the retaining limit for
hard copies of contract records. For this reason, the research team used several different options
to identify projects that used SUE services, including a review of TxDOT data system,
contacting district staff, and reviewing the Contract Information System, as described in the
following sections.
Query of TxDOT Data Systems
One possible avenue to identify projects that used SUE was a review and query of several
TxDOT data systems. The research team started this effort by identifying potential data systems
and then querying these systems using a set of keywords. For this effort, the research team
focused on three major TxDOT data systems, the Design and Construction Information System
(DCIS), the Financial Management Information System (FIMS), and the Contract Information
System (CIS).
Design and Construction Information System
TxDOT uses DCIS to track projects throughout the project development process. DCIS includes
a large number of project, contract, and utility screens that enable authorized users to complete
data inputs and updates, and run queries and reports. The screens cover a wide range of topics,
including project identification and evaluation data, project planning and finance data, project
estimate data, and contract summary data. DCIS runs on a Software AG® Adabas®
non-relational database platform. There are several files in Adabas that handle data needed for
DCIS, including:
•
•
•
•
File 121 (DCIS-PROJECT-INFORMATION).
File 122 (DCIS-WORK-PROGRAM).
File 123 (DCIS-PROJECT-ESTIMATE).
File 124 (DCIS-CONTRACT-LETTING).
In recent years, TxDOT has begun to use an Adabas replicator utility to export Adabas data files
to a Microsoft® SQL Server® environment. TxDOT has replicated all DCIS files into a SQL
Server schema called COMMON_DSGN. For the purpose of this project, TxDOT provided
access to the replicated database, which included project data from January 1994 to March 2011.
118
Financial Management Information System
Like DCIS, FIMS runs on an Adabas platform. FIMS allows the recording of TxDOT
accounting events and is the basis for all official departmental financial information. Segment
76 (FIMS-CNS76) – Construction and Maintenance Projects contains financial data for highway
construction projects and maintenance projects managed using construction program procedures.
The query for SUE projects was primarily focused on this data file. Similar to DCIS, the
researchers were able to access a replicated database of FIMS with project data from January
1994 to March 2011.
Contract Information System
CIS is a TxDOT legacy system that the Construction Division manages. It stores information
about various types of TxDOT contracts, including those for highway projects. The Contract
Identification File (File 9) of the system is the primary data file that contains a record for each
contract describing the general contract information and grand totals. Each record contains a
control section job (CSJ) number that can be used to establish connection with the project
information in other data systems, such as DCIS and FIMS. For the purpose of this project,
TxDOT provided access to contract records from January 1998 to March 2011 through a
replicated database. Among the large number of data fields in the file, the following were of
particular interest to this project (54):
•
CONTRO-CSJ: This field contains the controlling CSJ (CCSJ), which is assigned when
the contract is entered into a TxDOT system (e.g., SiteManager) after letting. The CCSJ
is normally the lowest CSJ of all CSJs within a contract and serves as the major contract
identification field.
•
TYPE-OF-WORK: This field contains a general verbal narrative of the type of work to
be performed for the contract.
•
TUCP_NAICS_CTGRY_DSCR: This field contains the Texas Unified Certification
Program (TUCP) North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) category
description, which describes the business type of a TUCP certified Federal
Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE). NAICS is the standard that federal and state
agencies use in classifying business establishments.
In addition to File 9, the replicated CIS database also included a table named
CMCS_AD_TRACKING that contains information about the advertisement posted in relation to
each of the contract records in CIS. In this table, the field AD_TEXT includes a description of
the work for each contract that was advertised. This field is also used during the search for
contracts that potentially involved SUE services.
The research team searched the aforementioned data fields and files of each data system using
keywords including: UTILIT, SUE, SUBSURFACE, QL, SURVEY, and UNDERGROUND.
During the search, the researchers used the SQL LIKE statement (e.g., LIKE “*UTILIT*”) to
ensure all potential records were captured. At the end of this process, the queries of DCIS and
119
FIMS did not return any records about SUE services. The CIS data query resulted in nine unique
contract records containing potential information about SUE contracts. Unfortunately, a closer
review of these records found that the keywords were part of clauses intended to describe the
qualification of a contractor and therefore did not necessarily indicate SUE contracts. As a
result, the query of DCIS, FIMS, and CIS was not helpful to identify projects that used SUE
services.
Contact District Staff
The research team contacted all 25 TxDOT districts to request a list of past projects that used
SUE services. Since the research focused on the effects of SUE on project delivery, the research
team requested projects for which SUE services were performed prior to 2009. That is,
assuming that such projects would have finished or at least would be undergoing construction,
and would therefore be more suitable for the purpose of this analysis.
Before contacting district staff, the research team developed a list of utility-related officials at
each TxDOT district to whom the request would be sent. Each list was developed with the
assistance of project panel members, based on the researchers’ experience related to other
relevant previous and ongoing research, and/or telephone/email inquiries to the district public
information offices. The lists mainly included district engineers, district utility coordinators,
district design engineers, and area engineers in the case of major urban districts.
At the end of this process, the districts provided a total of 50 CSJs that included the use of SUE.
However, many of the projects involved SUE services used in 2009 and 2010 since information
about recent projects, and more specifically SUE contract information could be easier recalled
than from older projects. A search of these CSJs in DCIS returned 10 project records, indicating
that only 10 of the 50 projects were past the project letting phase. When the research team
contacted districts for further information about these 10 SUE contracts, district officials were
only able to provide very few contract details such as type of SUE and contract amounts, and for
only three of the 10 projects. As a result, this approach to collect SUE information did not
provide sufficient information for the analysis.
Contact TxDOT Design Division
Given the unsatisfactory results from the aforementioned efforts, the researchers approached the
TxDOT Design Division (DGN) for assistance with the research. Based on internal data systems
and records, DGN provided the research team with information about three sets of contracts:
•
Contracts for Specific Projects That Included SUE Services in the Contract
Description. These contracts ranged from 2004 to 2011 and had a great probability that
SUE services were actually performed under the contracts.
•
Indefinite Deliverable Survey Contracts That Included Both SUE and Other
Services. An indefinite deliverable contract (also known as an evergreen contract) is a
contract containing a general scope of services that identifies the types of work that will
be later required under work authorizations. Such contracts do not specify deliverables,
locations, or timing in sufficient detail to define the provider’s responsibilities under the
120
contract. Historically, TxDOT issued indefinite deliverable survey contracts that
included SUE services in scope. The contracts that DGN provided were issued between
1997 and 2009.
•
Other Indefinite Deliverable Contracts. These contracts included a broader range of
engineering services in addition to SUE. DGN also identified a set of contracts that were
issued after 2005 and included SUE in their original scope. Those contracts included a
broad range of engineering services, and there was a relatively high probability that SUE
services were not actually performed.
To confirm if SUE services were actually performed for any of the contracts DGN provided and
for which project, the research team examined the original work orders issued in association with
the contract. Work orders are stored in TxDOT’s electronic document management system
(EDMS) in form of scanned copies of the original work orders that the department had issued.
EDMS is an electronic document management application that supports the storage, indexing,
retrieval, management, and archiving of documents (electronic files) in a controlled environment
utilizing a storage subsystem and a catalog subsystem. TxDOT officials conveyed that TxDOT
implemented EDMS in 2009 and that any records stored in the system would be from late 2009.
The research team randomly retrieved work orders of several SUE contracts and found that all
the projects for which the contracts were issued had not yet gone to letting. As a result, this
approach also proved to be not useful to identify projects that used SUE.
Review of TxDOT Payment Voucher Documents
During separate discussions with TxDOT Construction Division (CST), the research team
learned of the possibility to identify SUE projects through TxDOT payment vouchers. Scanned
copies of the original payment voucher documents since FY2008 are available through the
Imaging Service data system at TxDOT Finance Division (FIN) (see Figure 40). Each voucher
document is a collection of payment vouchers, invoices, and other supporting materials that a
district submitted during a payment cycle. Voucher documents frequently consisted of hundreds
of pages including invoices that contractors submitted with detailed descriptions of work
performed and costs. Vouchers were identified using voucher numbers that could be further
linked to specific contractors to whom the payments were issued. Figure 41 provides an example
of an invoice summary of work that a SUE service provider had performed.
121
Figure 40. FIN Imaging Service Interface.
122
Figure 41. Sample Invoice with Information about SUE Services.
123
Figure 41. Sample Invoice with Information about SUE Services (Continued).
TxDOT provided access to a TxDOT computer, through which the researchers were able to
access the FIN Imaging Service. To identify payment vouchers associated with SUE services,
the researchers first identified a list of contractors who historically provided SUE services to
TxDOT. Based on their tax IDs and with the assistance from CST, the researchers were able to
obtain a list of voucher numbers through FIMS for each of the contractors. Using the voucher
numbers, the research team extracted all voucher documents associated with the identified
contractors.
At the end of this process, the research team extracted 346 payment voucher documents
associated with SUE contractors that were issued in fiscal year 2008. The rationale for focusing
on 2008 vouchers was that such vouchers would reflect SUE services performed during or before
fiscal year 2008, and therefore associated projects would have a higher probability of having
construction completed. A review of all 346 payment vouchers found that 36 payment vouchers
were associated with SUE services. All other payment vouchers were either related to other
engineering services such as utility coordination and surveying, or did not provide sufficient
information to conclusively identify the services performed. The 36 payment vouchers were
associated with 54 project CSJs. An examination of the 54 CSJs found that 35 CSJs went to
letting, and that these 35 CSJs in turn belonged to 29 CCSJs.
124
Final List of SUE Projects
Including the three projects the research team identified with the help from TxDOT districts,
researchers were able to identify 32 CCSJs or projects that used SUE in the last 12 years. During
this analysis, the researchers used CCSJs as a project identifier since a CCSJ is the identifying
CSJ of a group of CSJs that belong to the same project, although each CSJ is a portion of a
project that is typically performed through a separate contract.
Table 11 is a list of all SUE projects identified during this research. SUE year, which is the year
the SUE services were performed, SUE type, and SUE cost were transcribed from payment
vouchers. The table also provides basic project information from DCIS, such as project class,
functional class, area type, let year, and bid amount. All dollar values in this table and hereafter
throughout the research are values that were converted to reflect December 2011 dollars using
the TxDOT Highway Cost Index (HCI) (55).
125
126
CCSJ
District
SUE
SUE Cost
Year
Functional
Area
Bid Amount
SUE/Bid
SUE Type
Project Class
Year
(2011 Dollar)
Let
Class*
Type**
(2011 Dollar)
Amount
003401102
Abilene
1997 AB
$235,617
2000 Interchange
3
U
$10,333,859
2.28%
090833066
Abilene
2008 AB
$104,929
2008 Rehabilitate existing road
5
R
$3,860,323
2.72%
042502029
Amarillo
2007 A
$40,672
2009 Bridge replacement
3
U
$10,048,149
0.40%
090411037
Amarillo
2007 AB
$43,512
2008 Upgrade to standards freeway
5
U
$804,780
5.41%
004906070
Bryan
2008 A and/or B
$16,364
2004 Right-of-way
0
R
120801017
Corpus Christi
2007 A
$7,288
2010 Rehabilitate existing road
5
R
$12,315,778
0.06%
226302079
Corpus Christi
2007 B
$15,519
2008 Bridge widening or rehab
4
R
$9,000,931
0.17%
226302082
Corpus Christi
2007 B
$7,760
2007 Rehabilitate existing road
4
U
$3,223,828
0.24%
000912073
Dallas
2007 B
$42,382
2009 Interchange
1
U
$20,539,424
0.21%
004801057
Dallas
2007 A
$68,933
2006 Rehabilitate existing road
3
U
$3,423,163
2.01%
009510034
Dallas
2007 AB
$73,336
2008 Interchange
2
U
$13,183,452
0.56%
016204047
Dallas
2008 AB
$17,152
2010 Rehabilitate existing road
3
R
$9,789,025
0.18%
017304025
Dallas
2008 B
$7,648
2011 New location non-freeway
4
U
$15,319,836
0.05%
019607018
Dallas
2008 AB
$84,034
2008 New location freeway
2
U
$39,247,660
0.21%
035304084
Dallas
2007 AB
$37,155
2008 Miscellaneous construction
2
U
$2,241,358
1.66%
036402021
Dallas
2008 AB
$35,710
2007 Upgrade to standards freeway
3
U
$22,471,707
0.16%
058102121
Dallas
2008 B
$86,428
2008 Widen freeway
2
U
$185,426,472
0.05%
156701029
Dallas
2008 B
$2,297
2010 Widen non-freeway
3
U
$58,185,243
0.00%
000802068
Fort Worth
2007 B
$11,476
2008 Traffic signal
4
U
$66,159
17.35%
000814058
Fort Worth
2007 A and/or B
$69,667
2009 Widen freeway
1
U
001310072
Fort Worth
2008 A and/or B
$9,701
2008 Traffic signal
3
U
$71,535
13.56%
008002052
Fort Worth
2007 A and/or B
$3,318
2008 Bridge replacement
3
R
$1,490,997
0.22%
008112042
Fort Worth
2007 B
$5,973
2010 Traffic signal
1
U
$156,282
3.82%
017201042
Fort Worth
2007 A and/or B
$44,084
2008 Widen non-freeway
4
U
$14,212,665
0.31%
074704059
Fort Worth
2007 A and/or B
$3,318
2009 Widen non-freeway
3
U
$2,971,496
0.11%
133002034
Fort Worth
2007 A and/or B
$1,612
2010 Widen non-freeway
3
U
$7,385,511
0.02%
226602127
Fort Worth
2008 A and/or B
$69,585
2008 Interchange
2
U
$46,291,016
0.15%
002713171
Houston
2007 AB
$10,951
2002 Widen freeway
2
U
$105,254,131
0.01%
027107242
Houston
2007 A and/or B
$29,227
2010 Widen freeway
1
U
$52,034,879
0.06%
005301090
Lubbock
2009 A
$15,144
2009 Widen non-freeway
3
U
$50,083,584
0.03%
013005069
Lubbock
2008 B
$63,368
2010 Rehabilitate existing road
3
U
$10,274,313
0.62%
003916057
Pharr
1999 AB
$269,783
2003 Widen freeway
2
U
$106,081,415
0.25%
Total
$47,936
$28,130,654
1.82%
*: 1 – Interstate; 2 – Other Urban Freeway Or Expressway; 3 – Rural Principal Arterial, Urban Connecting Links Of Rural Arterials, Or Other Urban Principal Arterials;
4 – Minor Arterial Road Or Street; 5 – Rural Major Collector Or Urban Collector Street (based on classification in DCIS).
**: U – Urban; R – Rural (based on classification in DCIS)
Table 11. List of Identified SUE Projects.
Table 12, Table 13, and Table 14 show the distribution of SUE projects by SUE quality level, the
year the SUE work was conducted, and the year the project was let. As illustrated in these
tables, most projects had SUE services in 2007 and 2008, and many of them were let between
2008 and 2010.
Table 12. SUE Projects by SUE Quality Level.
SUE Quality Level
Number of Projects
A only
4
B only
9
A and B
10
A and/or B
9
Total
32
Table 13. SUE Projects by Year SUE Conducted.
Year SUE Conducted
Number of Projects
1997
1
1999
1
2007
18
2008
11
2009
1
Total
32
Table 14. SUE Projects by Year Project Let.
Year Project Let
Number of Projects
2000
1
2001
0
2002
1
2003
1
2004
1
2005
0
2006
1
2007
2
2008
12
2009
5
127
2010
7
2011
1
Total
32
Of 32 projects that used SUE, Figure 42 and Figure 43 show the mean costs of SUE per project
in 2011 (December) dollars, by districts, and by project class. Although the researchers
identified projects from rural districts such as Amarillo, Abilene, and Lubbock, most projects
were from urban districts such as Dallas and Fort Worth. In addition, SUE projects were most
common for project classes such as rehabilitate existing road, widen freeway, widen nonfreeway, and interchange. The figures also clearly illustrate that widen freeway, interchange,
and new location freeway projects had the highest average SUE cost per project.
Abilene
2
$22,651
Amarillo
2
$19,787
Bryan
$98,874
1
3
Corpus Christi
$8,182
10
Dallas
$32,903
9
Fort Worth
$18,283
$21,621
$45,533
Houston
2
Lubbock
2
Pharr
$178,128
Average SUE Cost/CCSJ
1
Number of SUE CCSJs
Figure 42. Mean Cost and Number of Projects Using SUE by District.
128
$8,508
Bridge replacement
$8,351
Bridge widening or rehab
3
1
Interchange
$59,663
$19,994
$50,807
$9,249
4
Miscellaneous construction
1
New location freeway
1
New location non-freeway
1
Rehabilitate existing road
$35,683
$19,787
$6,156
$22,503
$80,172
$8,522
Right of way
6
1
Traffic signal
Upgrade to standards freeway
3
2
Widen freeway
5
Widen non-freeway
5
Average SUE Cost/CCSJ
Number of SUE CCSJs
Figure 43. Mean Cost and Number of Projects Using SUE by Project Class.
PROJECT DATA COLLECTION
For the analysis, the researchers needed a control group of projects that did not use SUE so that
researchers could compare between projects that used SUE and projects that did not use SUE to
assess SUE effectiveness. SiteManager data, including construction cost, construction duration,
and change order information, was provided through record searches by TxDOT employees and
not available to the research team through direct database access. Due to the time and effort
required for record searches, it was not feasible to request and retrieve SiteManager data for an
11-year period from 2000–2011. Instead, the research team limited the request to 6 years of data
from 2005 to 2009, which provided a sufficient sample size for the control group. To request the
SiteManager data, the researchers extracted all project records in DCIS that were let between
fiscal year 2005 and fiscal year 2009, which provided 4,587 CSJs or 2,181 CCSJs. The research
team then requested SiteManager data for these CSJs from TxDOT.
As shown previously in Figure 39 and Table 8, the research team proposed to obtain a range of
data items relevant to project delivery and utility conflicts from a variety of TxDOT data
systems. As the data collection effort proceeded, the researchers found that it was not practical
to obtain some of the potential data elements, nor was it necessary to request data from all
systems initially considered, for the following reasons:
•
Some Data Items Were Not Available. Many data elements the research team proposed
to request were not available in any of the existing TxDOT data systems. Examples are
the project development process time stamps pertaining to design activities, such as
design conference date and PS&E date. The researchers are aware of the TxDOT
statewide implementation of P6 starting in late 2009, which may provide some of these
project time stamps in the future. However, all districts do not utilize the system well,
129
and project development process time stamps included in the current system only reflect
projects for which design was started in 2009 or later.
•
Data Required Extensive Processing. Further examination of certain TxDOT data
systems indicated that some data elements might possibly be available in certain data
systems, but would require a significant amount of time to process so the research team
can derive the information needed. Examples of such data elements include the utility
relocation data elements from UIR, which is a system that enables the processing of
utility installation requests online. Manually examining the information stored in the
system for each individual utility installation request would make it possible to derive
some data elements beneficial for this research. However, this would have been too
time-consuming and resource-intensive to complete within the scope of this research.
•
Access to Data Could Not Be Obtained in Time. For various reasons, the researchers
could not obtain timely access to the Environmental Tracking System (ETS). However,
some of the data elements included in ETS were available from other data systems. Most
of the data elements not included in other data systems turned out to be less critical to this
research so that the overall impact of not having access to ETS was minor.
•
Multiple Systems included Identical Data Elements. As show in Table 8, the research
team identified all potential sources that could provide a certain data element. As a
result, the same data element could be obtained from multiple sources, increasing the
possibility of obtaining it. During the data collection process, the researchers would not
make requests to additional data sources once a data element was obtained.
Figure 44 illustrates the data sources that the research team queried and the data items the
research team acquired for the analysis.
DCIS
FIMS
Basic project information
UAD
Reimbursable utility
adjustments
In-house design cost
In-house design man-hours
0-6631
CIS
SiteManager
Actual construction cost
Construction completion
COD
Construction duration
Additional days
Utility related change orders
Figure 44. Data Source and Items Used in Analysis.
130
More specifically, the research team obtained the following data for both groups of projects:
•
Basic Project Information from DCIS. The researchers used the following major data
elements during the analysis:
o Project class. The researchers grouped the project class observations into five
broader project class groups to increase the effective sample sizes (see Table 15).
o Area type. This data element indicated whether a project was a rural or urban
project.
o Project lane-miles. This data element indicated the extent of a project in lanemiles. In DCIS, for many projects this field was not populated either because the
project was a point project (e.g., signal project) or the data was missing. For
projects with missing lane-mile information, the researchers populated the field as
the product of proposed project length and number of main lanes.
o Design standard. This data element indicated the TxDOT design standard used
for a project, or project type, with values of 2R, 3R, 4R, and other (see Table 16).
Table 15. Groups of Project Class Observations.
Project Class Observations
•
Description
Group
BR
Bridge replacement
Bridge (B)
BWR
Bridge widening or rehab
Bridge (B)
INC
Interchange
Bridge (B)
NLF
New location freeway
New location (N)
NNF
New location non-freeway
New location (N)
RER
Rehabilitate existing road
Rehabilitate (R)
UPG
Upgrade to standards freeway
Upgrade (U)
WF
Widen freeway
Upgrade (U)
WNF
Widen non-freeway
Upgrade (U)
MSC
Miscellaneous construction
Other
TS
Traffic signal
Other
ROW
Right-of-way
Other
Design Effort Data from FIMS. This data included design man-hours and design costs
for projects that were designed in house. TxDOT populated these fields in FIMS based
on the timesheets that the TxDOT employees submitted and their salaries. FIMS uses a
set of function codes to identify the purpose or reason of each payment recorded in the
system. To extract the costs and man-hours associated with design-related functions, the
131
researchers only used payments with a function code between 160 and 181, which reflect
design-related activities associated with projects designed in-house (Figure 45).
•
Construction Costs and Completion Dates from SiteManager. CST extracted the
following information from SiteManager for the selected projects:
o Original bid amount. This data element was the construction amount proposed
during letting.
o Construction expenditures to date. This data element was the actual construction
expenditures to the date when the information was extracted. For completed
projects this was the actual construction cost.
o Construction completion date. This data element was the actual date projects
finished construction.
Table 16. List of TxDOT Design Standards (56, 57).
Type
Description
2R
Non-freeway resurfacing or restoration projects. 2R projects consist of non-freeway work on
facilities with an average daily traffic (ADT) of up to 3000 and are not on National Highway
System (NHS) routes, which propose to restore the pavement to its original condition. Adding
through travel lanes is not permitted for 2R projects. However, adding continuous two-way
left-turn lanes, acceleration or deceleration lanes, turning lanes, and shoulders are acceptable as
long as the existing through lane and shoulder widths are maintained. 2R projects could include
upgrading roadway components as needed to maintain the roadway in an acceptable condition.
3R
Non-freeway rehabilitation projects. 3R projects consist of non-freeway work that extends the
service life and enhance the safety of a roadway. In addition to resurfacing and restoration, 3R
projects could include upgrading the geometric design and safety of a transportation facility.
However, work does not include adding through travel lanes. Work may include upgrading
geometric features such as roadway widening, minor horizontal realignment, and improving
bridges to meet current standards for structural loading and to accommodate the approaching
roadway width. 3R projects address pavement needs and/or deficiencies and substantially follow
the existing horizontal and vertical alignments. The scope of 3R projects ranges from thin
overlays and minor safety upgrading to more complete rehabilitation work.
4R
New location and reconstruction projects. 4R projects consist of work associated with new
locations or reconstructions of transportation facilities such as urban streets, suburban roadways,
two-lane rural highways, multilane rural highways, and freeways. In general, the result is a new
roadway or upgrade to an existing roadway to meet geometric design criteria for new facilities.
In addition to resurfacing, restoration, and rehabilitation, 4R projects could include reconstruction
work, which typically involves substantial changes to the road such as additional through lanes,
horizontal and/or vertical realignment, and major pavement structure improvements.
Reconstruction work includes bridge replacement work.
Other Projects that did not belong to any of the above standards.
132
•
Utility-Related Change Order Data from the Change Order Database (COD). COD
is part of the TxDOT SiteManager system and is used to track change orders during the
project construction phase. Change orders are significant changes in the character of the
work or time extensions during construction due to a large number of potential factors.
CST uses a set of change order reason codes to identify the purpose for each change
order. The researchers focused on change orders with a code relevant to utilities (see
Table 17). This type of data included the following data elements:
o Change order date.
o Change order amount.
o Change order reason descriptions.
•
Construction Duration Data from CIS. This type of data included the following data
elements:
o Proposed construction length in days.
o Additional days granted for construction.
133
Figure 45. List of Design-Related Function Codes in FIMS.
134
Table 17. Utility-Related Change Order Categories and Reason Codes.
Category
Code
Change Order Reason
2. Differing
Site Conditions 2G
(Unforeseeable)
Unadjusted utility (unforeseeable): This code should be used when unknown
utilities impact the project.
6. Untimely
Right-of-Way/
Utilities
6C
Utilities not clear: This code should be used for contractor impacts that are the
result of known utilities not being adjusted or relocated on the date(s) specified
in the plans.
6D
Other: This code should be used for untimely right-of-way or utilities where
other codes in this category are not appropriate.
7C
Contract termination or significant portion of project eliminated – Utilities:
This code should be used when a project is terminated or a significant portion
of a project is eliminated due to a major utility delay or impact. The utility
impact could be the result of either a known or an unknown utility.
7. Termination
•
Reimbursable Utility Adjustment Data from the Utility Agreement Database (UAD).
This type of data included the following data elements:
o U-number. This data element is the main ID for records in the UAD.
o CSJ. The researchers used this data element to link the adjustment data with
projects.
o Utility agreement date.
o Utility agreement amount.
o Utility agreement amendment dates.
o Proposed utility adjustment date.
o Actual utility adjustment date.
o Utility adjustment type, i.e., if the adjustment was an emergency work
authorization (EWA).
The research team compiled all data elements into one master data sheet where each record
represented one project.
REVISED METHODOLOGY
After data collection, the researchers had a better understanding of the information available for
the analysis, so they made some revisions to the analysis methodology accordingly. Figure 46
shows which MOEs the researchers were able to calculate based on the available data and which
were excluded from the analysis. Compared to the originally proposed methodology, the
research team was not able to compare the total project costs, total project delivery time, percent
of identified utility conflicts before design, and percent of identified utility conflicts during
design. However, the research team was able to assess the number of reimbursable emergency
work authorization utility adjustments.
135
Figure 46. Refined SUE Cost-Effectiveness Methodology.
Based on available data, the researchers were unable to separate SUE projects into projects
within SUE during design and projects with SUE during construction. As such, the research
team only compared projects that used SUE at some point during the project development
process with those that did not use SUE at all. In addition, the categories within each group of
projects were made based on primarily three basic project characteristics: area type, project class
groups, and design standard. Table 18 shows the sets of MOEs that the research team calculated
for each combination of project category and project group.
The research team used SAS® to conduct both the comparison analysis and a two-sample t-test
during this research. The t-test is designed to compare two means of the same variable between
two populations (58). Depending on whether the variances for both populations are the same or
not, the standard error of the mean of the difference between the groups and the degree of
freedom are computed differently. As a result, SAS outputs two different t-statistics and two
different p-values. When using the t-test for comparing independent groups, it is necessary to
test the hypothesis on equal variance first. SAS uses two methods for computing the standard
error of the difference of the means based on the assumption regarding the equity of the
variances of the two groups. If the two populations have the same variance, SAS uses a pooled
variance estimator; otherwise, SAS uses Satterthwaite’s method.
136
Table 18. Conceptual Design of the Proposed Comparison Analysis.
Project
Characteristic
Area Type
Project Class
Design Standard
Project
Categories
Projects with SUE
Control Group
(Projects without SUE )
Rural Area
[MOE1,1]
[MOE1,2]
Urban Area
[MOE2,1]
[MOE2,2]
Bridge
[MOE3,1]
[MOE3,2]
New Location
[MOE4,1]
[MOE4,2]
Rehab
[MOE5,1]
[MOE5,2]
Upgrade
[MOE6,1]
[MOE6,2]
Other
[MOE7,1]
[MOE7,2]
2R
[MOE8,1]
[MOE8,2]
3R
[MOE9,1]
[MOE9,2]
4R
[MOE10,1]
[MOE10,2]
Other
[MOE11,1]
[MOE11,2]
MOE 1
Note: For each project group and category, multiple MOEs are calculated, e.g.,[MOE1,1 ] = �MOE 2�
⋯
The pooled estimator of variance is a weighted average of the two sample variances, with more
weight given to the larger sample and is defined to be:
2 =
�1 (1 − 1) + 2 (2 − 1)�
(1 + 2 − 2)
where s1 and s2 are the sample variances and n1 and n2 are the sample sizes for the two groups,
and s2 is the pooled variance. The standard error of the mean of the difference is the pooled
variance adjusted by the sample sizes. It is defined as:
1
1
 = � 2 � + �
1 2
Satterthwaite’s method is an alternative to the pooled-variance t-test and is used when the
assumption that the two populations have equal variances seems unreasonable. It provides a
t-statistic that asymptotically (that is, as the sample sizes become large) approaches a
t-distribution, allowing for an approximate t-test to be calculated when the population variances
are not equal.
137
DATA ANALYSIS RESULTS
This section summarizes the results of comparing the SUE projects and control projects in an
effort to examine SUE effectiveness on:
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Project design cost.
Project design effort.
Project construction cost increase.
Project construction duration.
Additional project construction days.
Utility-related change order cost.
Project utility agreements.
Project emergency work authorizations.
Appendix D shows figures of the data and tables related to the statistical analysis.
SUE and Project Design Cost
Table 19 compares the mean project design cost and the mean project design cost per-lane-mile
between SUE and control projects. As shown, SUE projects in general had much higher total
design costs than control projects. However, when comparing the design costs on a lane-mile
basis, SUE projects on average had a smaller per-lane-mile design cost than control projects.
This is particularly the case for bridge and 4R projects. T-test results suggested that the
differences for the mean project design costs are significant for all projects, and for the project
classes urban projects, upgrade projects, and other projects. Differences of the mean design
costs are also significant for the design standard category 4R projects. Statistically different
values are highlighted with dark background in Table 19. T-tests did not find any statistically
significant differences in means for design costs per-lane-mile. In Appendix D, Figure 50
through Figure 55 provide illustrations of the design cost by project category, and Table 80 and
Table 81 provide the results of the t-test analysis.
138
Table 19. Mean Project Design Cost and Mean Project Design Cost per Lane-Mile
(2011 Dollars).
Project
Type
SUE Projects
Count
All Projects
Control Projects
Total
Design Cost/
Total
Design Cost/
Count
Design Cost Lane-Mile
Design Cost Lane-Mile
26
$2,144,614
$229,536
817
$203,704
$290,155
Rural
3
$513,283
$63,587
219
$145,668
$308,110
Urban
23
$2,308,400
$239,908
345
$358,039
$278,966
Bridge
7
$2,669,903
$274,252
110
$407,799
$710,368
New
Location
2
$3,490,188
$170,125
26
$490,734
$99,943
Upgrade
8
$3,225,237
$181,603
93
$640,762
$104,925
Other
8
$427,546
$269,354
84
$117,436
$40,382
3R
4
$605,352
$133,820
194
$220,696
$110,697
4R
19
$2,626,878
$258,987
235
$469,106
$408,637
3
$1,142,627
-
367
$29,820
$98,019
Area Type
Project Class
Design Standard
Other
Note: Highlighted values are statistically significantly different.
SUE and Project Design Effort
Table 20 compares mean design man-hours per project and mean design man-hours per project
lane-miles between the SUE and control projects. Results were similar to those of the design
costs analysis. On average, SUE projects had significantly more design man-hours than control
projects, which may indicate that SUE was used for projects that required more significant
design efforts. This fact was observed for all projects as a whole, and for the project categories
urban, new location, upgrade, 4R projects, and other design standard projects. When comparing
the design man-hours on a lane-mile basis, differences were not statistically different, except for
4R projects, which showed that SUE projects overall needed fewer man-hours per lane-mile to
design. In Appendix D, Figure 56 through Figure 61 provide illustrations of the mean design
time by project category, and Table 82 and Table 83 provide the results of the t-test analysis.
139
Table 20. Mean Total Design Man-Hours and Mean Design Man-Hours per Lane-Mile.
SUE Projects
Project
Group
Count
Total Design
Man-Hours
26
13,520
Rural
3
Urban
Control Projects
Design
Man-Hours/
Lane-Mile
Design
Man-Hours/
Lane-Mile
Count
Total Design
Man-Hours
1,527
813
2,133
2,238
1,401
1,297
217
1,511
2,103
23
15,101
1,542
343
3,514
2,173
Bridge
7
5,968
2,422
110
3,395
4,684
New location
2
13,869
2,551
26
3,327
1,164
Upgrade
8
30,323
1,343
93
6,968
1,271
Other
8
3,301
1,151
84
1,740
425
3R
4
6,532
1,799
192
3,268
1,878
4R
19
16,538
1,444
235
3,978
2,800
3
3,725
-
365
406
824
All Projects
Area Type
Project Class
Design Standard
Other
Note: Highlighted values are statistically significantly different.
SUE on Construction Cost Increases
Table 21 compares the percent construction cost increase and construction cost increase per-lanemile between SUE projects and control projects. Construction increase was estimated as the
difference between actual construction costs and the winning bid amount. Both projects that did
and did not use SUE experienced mean cost increases of approximately ±5 percent. However,
mean percent increases were only significantly different for rural projects, with a mean cost
increase of 0.3 percent for SUE projects and 1.5 percent for control projects. In terms of
per-lane-mile cost increase, differences between mean cost increases were only significantly
different on a per lane-mile basis for urban and 4R projects. Here, urban SUE projects
experienced a significantly higher cost increase than the control group, while 4R SUE projects
experienced a significantly lower cost increase than the control group. In Appendix D, Figure 62
through Figure 67 provide illustrations of the mean construction cost increases by project
category, and Table 84 and Table 85 provide the results of the t-test analysis.
140
Table 21. Mean Percent Construction Cost Increase and Mean per-Lane-Mile
Construction Cost Increase.
SUE Projects
Project
Type
All Projects
Count
Construction
Cost Increase
%
Control Projects
Construction
Cost Increase/
Lane-Mile
Count
Construction
Cost Increase
%
Construction
Cost Increase/
Lane-Mile
14
4.1%
$254,243
1174
3.0%
$71,114
Rural
3
0.3%
$54,629
443
1.5%
$74,928
Urban
11
5.1%
$334,089
420
4.2%
$70,407
Bridge
3
6.2%
$503,332
196
2.8%
$165,986
New
location
0
-
-
20
–4.3%
-$97,441
Rehabilitate
3
3.4%
$20,257
99
–4.2%
-$74,763
Upgrade
4
3.5%
$356,134
86
2.9%
$97,145
Other
4
3.5%
-
335
5.3%
$13,301
Area Type
Project Class
Design Standard
2R
0
-
-
61
2.6%
$3,303
3R
3
7.0%
$358,371
291
–4.3%
-$3,951
4R
7
2.3%
$41,758
318
2.7%
$125,319
Other
4
4.9%
$895,929
504
2.4%
$21,132
Note: Highlighted values are statistically significantly different.
SUE and Construction Duration
Table 22 shows the comparison analysis for mean project construction duration and mean project
construction duration per lane-mile between SUE projects and control projects. The comparison
suggested that mean construction duration for SUE projects was statistically significantly higher
than the construction duration for the control projects. This was also found for the project
categories urban projects and bridge projects. However, when comparing mean construction
duration per lane-mile, the comparison study showed somewhat different results. In general,
differences between SUE and control projects were not statistically significant, except for
upgrade projects and 3R projects. These project categories showed a significantly lower mean
construction duration on a per lane-mile basis for SUE projects. In Appendix D, Figure 68
through Figure 73 provide illustrations of the mean construction duration by project category,
and Table 86 and Table 87 provide the results of the t-test analysis.
141
Table 22. Mean Project Construction Duration and
Mean per-Lane-Mile Construction Duration.
SUE Projects
Project
Type
Construction
Count
Duration
(Days)
All Projects
Control Projects
Construction
Duration/
Lane-Mile
(Days)
Construction
Count
Duration
(Days)
Construction
Duration/
Lane-Mile
(Days)
14
391
202
1174
184
294
Rural
3
344
388
443
177
337
Urban
11
405
127
420
231
230
Bridge
3
457
518
196
237
642
New
location
0
-
-
20
408
166
Rehabilitate
3
264
98
99
198
87
Upgrade
4
660
41
86
404
136
Other
4
93
-
335
146
123
2R
0
-
-
61
198
13
3R
3
468
42
291
195
159
4R
7
438
262
318
284
468
Other
4
205
279
504
114
48
Area Type
Project Class
Design Standard
Note: Highlighted values are statistically significantly different.
SUE and Additional Project Construction Days
Table 23 compares the mean percent of additional project construction days and the mean
additional construction days per-lane-mile between SUE projects and control projects. Percent
additional construction days were the difference of actual minus the planned number of
construction days, divided by the number of planned construction days. The results suggested
that in several project categories, SUE projects experienced a significantly lower percentage of
additional construction days than the control projects. These project categories included all
projects, rural, urban, upgrade, other project class, and 4R projects. The t-test results indicated
that the differences in mean additional construction days per lane-mile were statistically
significant for rural, bridge, upgrade, other project class, and 4R projects. For these categories,
SUE projects on average showed significantly fewer additional construction days per lane-mile.
In Appendix D, Figure 74 through Figure 79 provide illustrations of the mean number of
142
additional project construction days by project category, and Table 88 and Table 89 provide the
results of the t-test analysis.
Table 23. Mean Percent Additional Construction Days and
Mean Per-Lane-Mile Additional Construction Days.
Project
Type
SUE Projects
Count
All Projects
Control Projects
Additional Additional Days/
Additional Additional Days/
Count
Days %
Lane-Mile
Lane-Mile
Days %
14
11%
7.6
1174
16%
16.1
Rural
3
2%
0
443
14%
22.8
Urban
11
14%
9.3
420
21%
16.1
Bridge
3
18%
33.5
196
15%
62.2
New
Location
0
-
-
20
23%
11.4
Rehabilitate
3
16%
4.4
99
23%
11.2
Upgrade
4
12%
1.0
86
18%
15.5
Other
4
2%
0
335
17%
2.5
2R
0
-
-
61
21%
0.5
3R
3
16%
4.4
291
16%
9.0
4R
7
9%
0.8
318
19%
45.2
Other
4
12%
16.8
504
14%
1.2
Area Type
Project Class
Design Standard
Note: Highlighted values are statistically significantly different.
SUE and Utility-Related Change Orders
Table 24 makes a comparison of SUE projects and control projects in terms of the mean sum of
utility-related change order amounts per project, the mean sum of utility-related change order
amounts per lane-mile, and the mean percent of change orders amounts per project construction
cost. Mean utility-related change order amounts showed no significant difference except for
bridge projects, where SUE projects showed a significantly lower mean cost. In terms of
utility-related change order amounts per-lane-mile, costs were significantly different for all
projects, and rural, bridge, and 4R projects. For these project categories, SUE projects showed
significantly lower costs. Overall, the percent of utility-related change order amounts were low,
ranging between 0.01 to 0.12 percent of the total construction cost, for both SUE and control
projects. Differences between the mean percentages were not significant except for bridge
143
projects, where SUE projects showed a significantly lower percentage of the total construction
cost.
In Appendix D, Figure 80 through Figure 88 provide illustrations of the mean cost of utility
related change orders by project category. Table 90 through Table 92 provide the results of the
t-test analysis for the comparisons of utility-related change order data.
Table 24. Mean of Utility Related Change Order Amount per Project, per-Lane-Mile, and
Percent of Utility-Related Change Orders.
SUE Projects
Project
Type
Count
All Projects
Control Projects
CO*
Amount/
Lane-Mile
CO*
Amount
CO*
CO*
Count
Amount
Percent
CO*
Amount/
Lane-Mile
CO*
Percent
14
$5,091
$163
0.04%
1174
$3,324
$2,917
0.10%
Rural
3
$547
$69
0.01%
443
$1,799
$756
0.02%
Urban
11
$6,331
$201
0.05%
420
$5,965
$4,234
0.12%
Bridge
3
$0
$0
0.00%
196
$5,481
$3,283
0.07%
New
location
0
-
-
-
20
$4,574
$188
0.08%
Rehabilitate
3
$3,762
$381
0.10%
99
$3,972
$2,908
0.10%
Upgrade
4
$14,998
$0
0.07%
86
$19,530
$3,744
0.16%
Other
4
$0
0.00%
335
$1,176
$12,159
0.18%
2R
0
-
-
-
61
$2,703
$324
0.10%
3R
3
$3,215
$503
0.09%
291
$456
$4,960
0.10%
4R
7
$8,805
$34
0.04%
318
$10,332
$3,265
0.11%
Other
4
$0
$0
0.00%
504
$639
$735
0.09%
Area Type
Project Class
Design Standard
*CO = Change Order
Note: Highlighted values are statistically significantly different.
SUE and Utility Agreement Amount
Table 25 compares the mean reimbursable utility agreement amounts per project and the mean
reimbursable utility agreement amounts per project lane-mile. The study found that, in general,
differences between mean agreement amounts are statistically significant for all projects, and
urban, bridge, and 4R projects. For these types of projects, mean agreement amounts for SUE
144
projects were significantly higher. Mean agreement amounts on a per-lane-mile basis were not
significantly different, except for 3R projects. In this case, SUE projects had significantly lower
agreements costs. In Appendix D, Figure 89 through Figure 94 provide illustrations of the mean
utility agreement amount by project category, and Table 93 and Table 94 provide the results of
the t-test analysis.
Table 25. Mean Reimbursable Utility Agreement Amount per Project and
per Project Lane-Mile.
SUE Projects
Project
Type
Count
All Projects
Agreement
Amount/
Project
Control Projects
Agreement
Amount/
Lane-Mile
Count
Agreement
Amount/
Project
Agreement
Amount/
Lane-Mile
31
$1,013,215
$97,560
1969
$19,313
$7,742
Rural
4
$346,174
$1,736
507
$20,888
$9,607
Urban
27
$1,112,036
$114,470
650
$34,096
$6,435
Bridge
7
$2,034,249
$441,042
211
$40,732
$12,505
New
location
2
$1,148,455
$54,853
39
$254,927
$4,382
Rehabilitate
6
$229,102
$868
118
$12,095
$2,346
12
$1,124,868
$9,015
136
$114,815
$12,676
4
$0
-
628
$959
$0
3R
5
$4,500
$174
450
$26,183
$2,030
4R
18
$1,009,876
$153,493
365
$34,306
$13,092
8
$1,651,177
$27,148
1101
$12,464
$1,872
Area Type
Project Class
Upgrade
Other
Design Standard
Other
Note: Highlighted values are statistically significantly different.
SUE and Utility Agreements
Table 26 compares SUE projects with control projects in terms of mean number of reimbursable
utility agreements per project, mean number of utility agreements per-lane-mile, and mean
percent of agreements not needed. Agreements not needed were those agreements in the UAD
that were entered into the database but not executed. Reasons for entering agreements into the
database but not executing them could be that the utility did not need to adjust (the utility
conflict was resolved) or it was found that the utility is not reimbursable. The researchers
calculated percent of agreements not needed by dividing the number of agreements not needed
for a project by the total number of agreements for a project. Utility agreements included all
agreement records in the UAD, including EWA utility agreements.
145
The number of agreements per project was significantly different for all projects, and urban,
bridge, other project class, 4R, and other design standard projects. For these project categories,
SUE projects generally had more reimbursable utility adjustments, except for the other project
class category, where the control group had marginally more utility agreements. The mean
number of utility agreements per lane-mile was not significantly different for SUE projects and
the control group, except for rural projects, where the control group showed a marginally higher
number of utility agreements per lane-mile.
The mean percent of utility agreements not needed was significant for a number of project
categories, including all projects, and urban, upgrade, and 4R projects. Percent utility
agreements not needed were roughly twice as high for SUE projects as compared to the control
group. In Appendix D, Figure 95 through Figure 103 provide illustrations of the mean number
of utility agreements by project category, and Table 95 through Table 97 provide the results of
the t-test analysis.
Table 26. Mean Number of Utility Agreements, Mean Number of Utility Agreements
Per-Lane-Mile, and Percent Utility Agreements Not Needed.
SUE Projects
Project
Type
Count
All Projects
UAs*
UAs* per
per
Lane-Mile
Project
Control Projects
%
UAs* not Count
Needed
UAs*
per
Project
%
UAs* per
UAs* not
Lane-Mile
Needed
31
1.84
0.17
53.3%
1969
0.09
0.06
25.2%
Rural
4
1.50
0.01
75.0%
507
0.07
0.05
24.0%
Urban
27
1.89
0.20
50.0%
650
0.20
0.08
26.5%
Bridge
7
4.14
0.75
51.7%
211
0.15
0.08
16.5%
New
location
2
5.50
0.15
20.0%
39
0.74
0.01
25.0%
Rehabilitate
6
0.67
0.00
50.0%
118
0.03
0.01
33.3%
12
1.08
0.02
66.7%
136
0.69
0.13
30.3%
4
0.00
-
-
628
0.01
0.00
33.3%
3R
5
0.20
0.01
0.0%
450
0.08
0.01
25.6%
4R
18
2.50
0.22
55.6%
365
0.27
0.11
24.2%
8
1.38
0.20
60.0%
1101
0.04
0.01
27.2%
Area Type
Project Class
Upgrade
Other
Design Standard
Other
*UA= Utility Agreement
Note: Highlighted values are statistically significantly different.
146
SUE and Reimbursable EWA Utility Agreements
Table 27 compares the number of reimbursable EWA utility adjustments per project and the
number of reimbursable EWA utility adjustments per lane-mile between SUE and control
projects. Reimbursable EWAs are a subset of the agreements analyzed in the section above and
were identified using a column code from the UAD.
The mean number of EWAs per project were significantly different for all projects, and urban,
bridge, other project class, and 4R projects. Except for the other project class, the number of
EWA utility agreements was significantly higher for SUE projects than for the control group. In
the case of the other project class, EWA utility agreements were marginally higher for control
projects.
T-tests did not show any significant difference between the two project groups in the mean
number of EWA utility agreements per lane-mile. In Appendix D, Figure 104 through Figure
109 provide illustrations of the mean number of reimbursable EWAs by project category, and
Table 98 and Table 99 provide the results of the t-test analysis.
Table 27. Mean Number of Reimbursable EWA Utility Agreements per Project and
per Project Lane-Mile.
SUE Projects
Project Type
Count
All Projects
No. of
EWA
Control Projects
No. of EWA/
Lane-Mile
Count
No. of
EWA
No. of EWA/
Lane-Mile
31
5.29
0.86
1969
0.25
0.17
Rural
4
5.00
1.68
507
0.29
0.15
Urban
27
5.33
0.72
650
0.52
0.21
Bridge
7
7.57
3.88
211
0.29
0.22
New location
2
15.50
0.19
39
1.51
0.07
Rehabilitate
6
3.33
0.10
118
0.31
0.03
12
5.00
0.10
136
2.13
0.33
4
0.00
628
0.03
0.07
3R
5
2.00
0.15
450
0.16
0.07
4R
18
6.22
1.32
365
0.85
0.27
8
5.25
0.20
1101
0.09
0.06
Area Type
Project Class
Upgrade
Other
Design Standard
Other
Note: Highlighted values are statistically significantly different.
147
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS
To examine the effects of QLA and B SUE on project costs and delivery time, the researchers
analyzed a large variety of project data at TxDOT by comparing projects that used SUE with a
number of control projects. Compared with other SUE cost-effectiveness studies previously
published, this analysis uniquely contributes to the current body of knowledge in the following
aspects:
•
Instead of estimating a SUE cost-benefit ratio, this study was intended to examine SUE
effectiveness on project performance based on objective project data available at TxDOT
data systems.
•
Since the analysis was based on project data, findings are less subjective than previous
studies based on personal opinions obtained through surveys or interviews.
•
This study drew conclusions based on comparisons of a large variety of project
performance measures between SUE projects and control projects.
•
The study results are based on a relatively large number of TxDOT projects that used
SUE mostly during design, including different project types in terms of location (i.e.,
rural and urban), project class, and design standard.
During the analysis, the research team undertook a significant effort in order to identify a
sufficient number of SUE projects. The effort involved queries of TxDOT existing data systems,
direct contacts to districts and DGN, and review of payment vouchers via FIN Imaging Service.
At the end of the process, the research team was able to identify 32 SUE projects from several
different districts representing multiple project classes and design standards. Those projects
were then compared with a large group of control projects containing all TxDOT projects let
between FY2005 and FY2009. To enable an in-depth and comprehensive assessment of SUE
cost-effectiveness, the research team collected project performance data from a number of
TxDOT data systems, including DCIS, FIMS, SiteManager, CIS, COD, and UAD.
The comparison of projects that used SUE to a control group of projects indicate that there is
some evidence of a positive effect of SUE on several project MOEs. The findings of this
analysis support anecdotal evidence from practitioners that almost uniformly described a positive
impact of SUE on project performance. The major findings are summarized and discussed as
follows:
•
Projects That Use SUE Services Tend to Be Larger Projects. The analysis suggested
that SUE projects in general were associated with projects that had a significantly higher
design cost and involved more design man-hours. This observation was shown to be
statistical significant for several difference project categories, such as urban, new
location, upgrade, and 4R projects. In addition, results showed that projects involving
SUE took longer to construct than control projects on average.
148
•
Projects That Use SUE Services Tend to Have a Lower Design Effort on a Per-LaneMile Basis. The comparison of design man-hours per project and per project lane-mile
between projects that did and did not use SUE showed that projects that use SUE involve
more man-hours, but not significantly more man-hours per lane mile. Mean values for
man-hours per lane-mile were smaller for all project categories, although the difference
was only statistically significant in the case of 4R projects. Due to the limited sample
size for most project categories, t-tests were not able to prove the differences were
significantly different.
•
Differences in Mean Construction Cost Increases Did Not Show Consistent Trends.
Both projects that did and did not use SUE experienced mean cost increases of
approximately ±5 percent. However, mean percent increases were only significantly
different for rural projects, with a mean cost increase of 0.3 percent for SUE projects and
1.5 percent for control projects. In terms of per-lane-mile cost increase, differences
between mean cost increases were only significantly different on a per lane-mile basis for
urban and 4R projects. Here, urban SUE projects experienced a significantly higher cost
increase than the control group, while 4R SUE projects experienced a significantly lower
cost increase than the control group.
•
Projects That Used SUE Services Tended to Have a Longer Construction Duration,
but a Shorter Construction Duration per Lane Mile. Although SUE projects had a
longer mean construction duration in some cases, many categories of SUE projects
actually took shorter to construct on a per-lane-mile basis. In particular, t-tests suggested
that the difference in mean construction duration per lane-miles was significantly lower
for upgrade and 3R projects that used SUE services.
•
Projects That Used SUE Services Tended to Have Less Construction Delays. When
comparing construction delays, SUE projects had significantly less construction delays
measured in both per-lane-mile additional construction days and percent of additional
construction days for most project categories. T-tests suggested that the differences in
construction delays between SUE projects measured by percent additional construction
days were statistically significant for all projects, and rural, urban, upgrade, other project
class, and 4R projects. Differences measured by additional days per lane-mile were
significantly lower for SUE projects in the project categories rural, bridge, upgrade, other
project class, and 4R projects.
•
Projects That Used SUE Services Tended to Have Lower Costs Related to Change
Orders Associated with Utilities during the Construction Phase. Although mean
change order amounts were overall low for the group of projects that the research team
analyzed, there were significant differences for projects that did and did not use SUE.
Mean change order amounts were significantly lower for bridge projects. On a change
order amount per lane-mile basis, t-tests showed that projects that used SUE had
significantly lower change order amounts for all projects, and in the project categories
rural, bridge, and 4R. T-tests also showed that bridge projects that used SUE had a
significantly lower change order amount measured as a percentage of the project
construction cost.
149
•
Projects That Used SUE Services Tended to Have Significantly More Utility
Agreements, and Higher Utility Agreement Costs. Several project categories had
significantly more utility agreements for projects that used SUE than for projects that did
not. These categories included all projects, urban, bridge, other project class, 4R, and
other design standard. Utility agreements per lane-mile were not significantly different,
except for the rural project category, where projects that did not use SUE had fewer
projects than projects that did not use SUE. Mean cost of utility agreements per project
were higher for projects that used SUE in the categories all projects, urban, bridge, and
4R. On an agreement amount per lane-mile basis, mean values were not significantly
different, except in the project category 3R, where projects that used SUE had
significantly lower mean agreement costs. This evidence could indicate that SUE
services tend to be used for projects with complicated utility conditions.
•
Projects That Used SUE Services Tended to Have a Higher Number of Agreements
That Were Not Executed. This became evident during the analysis of UAD data.
When compared with the control projects, projects that used SUE services generally had
a larger percentage of utility agreements that were entered into the database but were not
executed. The database did not provide the reason why agreements were not executed.
However, a possible reason could be that the underlying utility conflict was resolved, and
so the agreement was no longer needed. Another reason could be that TxDOT found that
the utility was not reimbursable. The percent of utility agreements not executed per
project was significantly higher for projects that used SUE in the project categories all
projects, urban, upgrade, and 4R projects.
•
SUE Costs Constituted a Small Percentage of the Total Construction Costs. Total
cost of SUE services amounted to a mean of 1.85 percent of total construction costs.
SUE costs were slightly higher for three types of projects: widen freeway, interchange,
and new location freeway projects.
This analysis intended to assess SUE cost-effectiveness based on a comparison of a pool of SUE
projects with control projects. Readers should notice that during the analysis the researchers
were not able to control other factors that might have contributed to project performances. An
example of the factors is the experience of the project manager and design engineers. Large
projects tend to use more experienced project managers and design engineers, and therefore may
result in more frequent use of SUE, better performances in relation to utilities, and/or better
performances in project delivery.
During this analysis, the researchers intended to collect comprehensive project data for the
calculation of project delivery time, costs, and other relevant MOEs. In the course of data
collection, the researchers found that TxDOT was not tracking many needed data elements in the
current data systems or had only recently started tracking these data items. For example, TxDOT
has implemented Oracle Primavera P6 for tracking key milestones during the project
development process. However, this system was implemented in 2009; during the time of this
analysis, the districts did not fully implement and/or utilize the system. In addition, there is
currently no database that stores data elements related to SUE contracts, work order, and
150
payment information. As a result, most information lies with local staff and becomes lost over
time and due to staff turnover. Therefore, it is necessary for TxDOT to develop strategies to
retain the information either at the district level or in a central data system.
This research used 32 projects that availed of the SUE services. This was a relatively small
sample size especially when comparing to the control group that contained a few thousand
projects. If possible, future analyses should utilize more SUE projects. If data are available, it
would be important to also compare projects with SUE services during design and those with
SUE during construction.
151
CHAPTER 6: BEST PRACTICES FOR UTILITY INVESTIGATIONS
DEVELOPMENT OF BEST PRACTICES
An objective of this project was to develop best practices for utility investigations that can
potentially benefit the TxDOT project development process. This development involved three
major steps:
•
•
•
Assemble draft best practices based on the findings of the review of utility investigation
practices in other states and the online survey for TxDOT districts.
Conduct stakeholder workshops to gather feedback on draft best practices and
recommendations for additional improvements.
Recommend final best practices based on stakeholder feedback.
As part of the review of best practices in other states, researchers identified trends and common
practices among the states. The online survey attempted to extract information from
practitioners at TxDOT about what has worked, what has not worked, and what elements of
utility conflict management would be advisable to implement. This presentation of best practices
can also serve as a decision-making framework for selecting and implementing practices that
could benefit TxDOT with utility investigation activities. In this regard, it would be
unreasonable to think that all recommendations and practices could be implemented
immediately. However, it is possible to view the range of practices in context and narrow
choices to implementable actions for the near future using the list presented here.
Categories of Best Practices for Utility Investigations
Chapter 3 highlighted current TxDOT utility investigation practices, while Chapter 4 provided a
summary of innovative practices for utility investigations in several states. These practices were
further examined and grouped into five general categories or approaches for how the practices
are used, and how they might provide good examples for implementation at TxDOT. The five
categories are:
•
•
•
•
•
Policy and administrative approaches.
Education and training.
Procurement and contracting approaches.
Project development processes (e.g., utility conflict matrix).
Technology and information systems.
The best practices were also examined to identify possible trends, which the researchers sorted
into these same general implementation categories. Additionally, best practices were evaluated
based on the results of the TxDOT survey described in Chapter 3 that identified needs for
strengthening utility investigation practices at TxDOT. For example, the wide variety of SUE
QL practices reported in the survey results indicates a need for more standardized SUE policies
across TxDOT agency-wide. Survey results also point to the need for education and training on
153
utility investigation (specifically in when and how to use SUE, and the benefits of SUE). The
results from the questionnaire are used to justify and reinforce the recommendations.
The best practices and recommendation are also evaluated using three general criteria for the
implementation, including the relative cost, its perceived benefits, and its relative complexity.
The evaluation is based on the researchers’ judgment in consideration of the results from the
interviews and experiences reported in the literature. For example, a simple and short agencywide policy could be issued to encourage SUE usage and its demonstrated benefits. This would
be a relatively low cost, low complexity effort that would yield an immediate benefit. In
contrast, developing a document management system for utility investigation reports is a high
cost, high return, and highly complex implementation action (as VDOT’s RUMS and
PennDOT’s UREDMS demonstrated).
Table 28 provides a summary of research recommendations followed by Table 29, which
provides a summary of example practices in other states. Table 30 presents a summary of
noteworthy practices that have been implemented by state DOTs within each of the five
categories. Following the summary tables are detailed descriptions of each recommendation and
a condensed version of example practices from various state DOTs. Note that TxDOT Research
Project 0-6624 “Improving the Response and Participation by Utility Owners in the Project
Development Process” was a parallel and complementary research effort. Not surprisingly, the
recommendations resulting from both the 0-6631 and 0-6624 research projects share some
common themes and content. The practices provided herein focus on utility investigation, but
may overlap in some instances with 0-6624 emphasis on utility owner participation.
154
Table 28. Summary of Best Practice Recommendations by Implementation Category.
Implementation Category
Specific Implementation Action
Policy Approaches
Multilevel committees
Statewide utility coordinating committee/working groups.
Agency-wide policy for SUE
Describe policy and requirements for SUE on all projects.
Agency outreach to stakeholders
Agency prepared educational briefing material (e.g., white
paper) for legislators and stakeholders.
Standard operating procedures
Prepare SUE SOP for districts and divisions.
Education and Training
Basic SUE training
Targets a broad audience, using a brief 1–2 hour format,
focusing on SUE benefits and processes.
Advanced utility impact/utility
conflict matrix training
Advanced SUE training for utility coordinators and designers
involving utility conflict matrix.
Outreach/training for utility owners
Training for utility owners (similar to ODOT).
Procurement and Contracting
Widespread availability
Any employee related to project can identify investigation
need.
Widespread authority
Any project manager can approve SUE investigation.
Improved QA/QC
SUE provider qualifications, scope of services, quality control,
minimum standards for submission, and review.
Project funding
Project budgets include SUE services and estimates.
Project Development Processes
Utility impact/conflict analysis
SUE impact forms and conflict matrices for all projects.
Agency-wide uniform SUE criteria
Provide detailed guideline for agency-wide use of SUE.
Agency manual updates
Addenda and corrections to PDP, ROW, and Utility Manual.
Development of concurrence points
Utility conflict review at pre-determined stages in project
development process.
Environmental review concurrency
Concurrent utility investigation and involvement with
environmental reviews.
Quality Assurance
Develop SUE deliverables checklist.
Technology and Information Systems
Utility project management systems
Develop software that provides utility project tracking
scheduling and reporting.
Utility document management
systems
Develop software to aid in the storage, retrieval, and
utilization of utility investigation data.
Data archiving, sharing, uniformity,
and asset management
Conduct pilot program for data archiving project.
Investigation of new SUE
technology
Institute pilot project to investigate benefits of new and
emerging utility investigation technologies.
155
Table 29. Recommended State DOT Best Practice Examples for Implementation
Categories.
Implementation Category
State DOT
Policy Approaches
Multitiered Committees
Florida
Policy on Utilities in ROW
Caltrans
Comprehensive SUE policy
Pennsylvania/Virginia
Multilevel MOUs
Ohio
Detailed SUE Manuals and Policies
North Carolina
Education and Training
Training for Utility Companies
Ohio
Avoiding Utility Project Impacts Course
Georgia
Procurement and Contracting
SUE Quality Control Requirements and Standards
Florida
Detailed SUE scope of services contracts with easy
and early access to SUE services
Georgia
Design Concepts and Cost Estimating by SUE
Providers
Maryland
Project Budgets include the cost of SUE services
North Carolina
SUE provider qualifications
Ohio
Project Development Process
Utility Standards and Deliverables Checklists
Florida
Utility Impact Avoidance Process
Georgia
SUE concurrent with Environmental Review
North Carolina
Concurrence Points during PDP
Ohio
Utility Impact Form
Virginia
Technology and Information Systems
VDOT Right-of-Way and Utilities Management
System (RUMS)
Virginia
NCDOT SAP PMii program which provides utility
coordination, and flowchart of production networks
North Carolina
UREDMS Web-based Document Management
System
Pennsylvania
156
Table 30. Implemented Best Practices by State DOT and Implementation Category.
State DOT
Policy
Approaches
Education &
Training
Procurement
& Contracting
Project
Development
Processes
Caltrans
X
X
X
Florida
X
X
X
Georgia
X
X
X
Maryland
X
North Carolina
X
Ohio
X
Pennsylvania
Virginia
X
Technology &
Information
Systems
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
Policy Approaches
State DOTs use a range of policies and procedures to improve utility investigation and
management. These types of policy best practices range from broad agency-wide policies
requiring SUE to specific SUE procedures and SUE QL usage criteria. In general, states that
have had SUE policies and practices in-place for many years have best practices in most of the
categories mentioned above. Virginia, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina DOTs for example,
have had SUE policies since the early 1990s. As a result these states have evolved not only
policy mechanisms to advance SUE practices, but also have advanced, technology applications,
project development processes, and SUE procurement and contracting requirements.
Policy Recommendations
Based on examples from other states, the following are policy approaches to improve utility
investigations that TxDOT could implement:
•
Policies to promote and standardize SUE practices internal to TxDOT, including:
o Broad policies to establish minimum SUE investigation requirements at TxDOT.
o Narrow targeted policies with specific changes and updates to SOPs and manuals
(also applicable to project development process recommendations).
•
Policies to improve coordination with utility owners and operators that are external to
TxDOT, including:
o Establishing coordinating committees and working groups between the TxDOT
and utility companies in districts where these groups do not exist.
o Establishing coordinating committees with oil and gas operators and pipeline
owners
157
•
Outreach to legislature and stakeholders external to TxDOT that educate about utility
investigation issues:
o Outreach to educate legislature on utility issues and challenges faced by state
DOTs, municipalities, and utility companies.
o Information and education to local development partners, such as cities, oil and
gas, and utility owners.
Results of the agency-wide questionnaire conducted in Task 5 justified the recommended policy
actions. Responses from the questionnaire indicate a general lack of awareness of SUE benefits.
In particular, there were many responses of “don’t know” when asked about expected return on
investment for SUE. Additionally, low response rates to many questions may also indicate a
lack of awareness or experience on the subject.
Table 31 summarizes the policy recommendations and also presents the researcher’s evaluation
of three criteria for implementing the recommendation, on a scale from low to high: relative cost,
perceived benefits, and relative complexity. In general, policy actions are comparatively lower
in cost and complexity but moderately beneficial. For example, a simple and short agency-wide
policy could be issued to encourage SUE and its demonstrated benefits at comparatively little
cost but with immediate benefit. Table 32 presents example policy approaches found at state
DOTs, followed by a brief description of the cited example.
Table 31. Policy Implementation Recommendations.
Proposed Policy
Recommendations
Specific Implementation Action
Relative
Cost
Perceived
Benefit
Relative
Complexity
Multilevel
Committees
Statewide Utility Coordinating
Committee/Working Group
Low
Low
Low
Agency-wide/
Statewide Policy for
SUE
Agency-wide policy describing the
benefits and minimum
requirements for SUE
Low
Medium
Low
Agency Outreach to
Legislators and
Policy Makers
Agency prepared education
briefing material for legislators
and policy makers (e.g., white
paper)
Low
Low
Medium
Standard Operating
Procedures
Prepare SUE SOP for Districts and
Divisions
Low
Medium
Low
158
Table 32. Summary of State Policy Approaches.
State DOT Example Policies
State DOT
Multitiered MOUs/Committees
Florida
Policy on Utilities in ROW
Caltrans
Multilevel MOUs
Ohio
Documented savings resulting from SUE practices
Pennsylvania
Florida Multitiered Committees
Multitiered committees in Florida, which combined with explicitly stated responsibilities for
state DOT and utility owners, resulted in a dramatic reduction in utility-related claims. The
multitiered committees included the following:
•
Metropolitan utility coordinating groups. These committees operate at the local level to
address conflicts among stakeholders, including utilities and governmental agencies.
•
Florida Utilities Coordinating Committee. Established in 1932, FUCC is a state-level
association of stakeholders that strives for better relations and a clearer understanding of
plans and issues affecting those stakeholders. FUCC includes a number of
subcommittees that advise the committee on items such as governmental procedures and
operational methods, utility accommodation policies, utility easement dedications, and
permit handling.
•
District liaison committees. These committees are district-level committees that convene
semiannually with the goal to facilitate utility adjustments that maximize safety to the
public and workers in the field (both highway and utility); protect highway and utility
facilities; accelerate project delivery; and minimize cost, inconvenience, and delays.
•
AASHTO/IRWA Liaison Committee. This committee encourages mutual advance
planning procedures (i.e., the focus is on advance planning, not design-level or
reimbursement issues).
FDOT’s responsibilities included the following:
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Furnish annually a five-year plan, including probable construction dates.
During corridor studies, contact all utilities along the corridor.
Notify utilities of all hearings along the corridor.
After the corridor selection, send preliminary plans to the utilities.
Consider changes recommended by the utilities to reduce utility costs whether or not such
costs are reimbursable.
Establish liaison committees in all districts and arrange for regular meetings among them.
Include utilities in pre-construction meetings.
159
Utility owners’ responsibilities included the following:
•
•
•
•
•
Review plans for new utility construction and major changes.
Provide area maps of their facilities.
Provide data on utility structures and on prospective routes.
Cooperate with the liaison committee.
Review preliminary plans provided by the DOT.
Multilevel Memorandum of Understanding
ODOT is currently pursuing a new system of Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with utility
companies. While state DOTs in the United States have used MOUs for some time, the ODOT
example features a multilevel MOU initiative that identifies and recognizes the importance of
good utility relocation practices to provide efficient and cost-effective highway project delivery
for ODOT. This recognition begins at the highest levels of leadership of DOT and utility
company, and ensures that utility work is performed in a manner that provides benefits to both
utility company and ODOT. The MOU initiative provides an opportunity for each agency to
understand one another’s concerns and use the resolution of those concerns to save time, money,
and resources for both parties.
The MOUs are created at various levels of operation between the parties. In the first level,
leadership of both agencies signs and sets forth general principles and intent of parties to work
together cooperatively. It also emphasizes identifying efforts that are created to address the
needs of each party. In the second level MOU, middle management of both parties signs and
defines the roles and responsibilities of each as well as standards, specifications and general
procedures for conflict resolution. The third level MOU is project specific; project leaders from
both parties sign. The content details specific provisions of the construction contract and utility
relocation schedule. This overall effort fully integrates utility relocation activity into all aspects
of operation for both the DOT and the utility company.
Caltrans High/Low Risk Policy
California has a policy that determines utility data requirements based on the risk to the public if
an underground utility facility is accidentally damaged, sometimes called the “high/low risk
policy” (23). This policy relates to Section 4216 of the California Government Code, which
provides the requirement for statewide One-Call system and include definitions for high risk
utilities (24). Examples of high risk utilities are:
•
•
•
•
•
High-pressure natural gas pipelines.
Petroleum pipelines.
Pressurized sewer pipelines.
High-voltage electric supply lines, conductors, or cables.
Hazardous materials pipelines, e.g., pipelines transporting oxygen, chlorine, or toxic
gases.
160
Low-risk utilities may be located using QLB. For example, Caltrans normally does not procure
potholing services for culverts and cross-drains. However, a greater level of investigation may
occur if the project engineer appeals to his or her supervisor. Exceptions to this policy that
would result in a lower level of investigation are also possible, but occur very rarely, and the
chief of the design division must sign.
This policy is applicable to the design phase of a project. For the construction phase, the
contractor must follow applicable statutes, which require that all utilities be located and marked
out on the ground by a regional notification center prior to any excavation (59).
Pennsylvania General Utility Practices
The Pennsylvania DOT (PennDOT) adopted SUE practices in the 1990s. Nearly all projects in
the state undergo a minimum of QLD or QLC data collection. Beyond QLD and QLC, the need
for SUE is determined based on the outcome of an impact analysis using a spreadsheet called the
“SUE Utility Impact Form.” In 2007, the Pennsylvania Transportation Institute of the
Pennsylvania State University (PSU) developed this procedure based on an in-depth benefit-cost
analysis of 10 SUE projects that PennDOT districts have executed (40). The PSU research
shows that, compared with projects not utilizing SUE, the total cost savings of SUE projects may
range from 10 percent to 15 percent on a typical project. The study found no relationship
between SUE benefit and SUE cost and found further no relationship between utility complexity
level and the total project cost. However, there appeared to be a strong relationship between
SUE benefit-cost and utility complexity level. The benefits and cost of SUE increases as the
utility complexity level of the project increases. The conclusion in the research is that QLA and
QLB should be used based on the complexity of the buried utilities at the construction site to
minimize risks and obtain maximum benefits. The PSU study estimated that an average of
$22.21 is saved for every $1.00 spent on SUE. When the overall cost of the project is taken into
consideration, the money spent on SUE is minor when compared to the cost savings of avoiding
unexpected utility conflicts and unnecessary utility relocations.
Education and Training
This category for implementation reinforces other implementation efforts and offers the potential
for a significant return on investment. Some DOTs have had success in developing and
delivering training including Ohio and Georgia. Other states have recognized the need for
training and even certification for DOT employees involved in utility investigation. For
example, MDOT representatives thought a certification program should acknowledge the highly
specialized skills that are required for utility coordination staff to conduct thorough utility
investigations. Other specialized areas of the project development process such as right-of-way,
construction, planning, and design already have some type of certification program at MDOT.
Education and training approaches used by state DOTs for utility investigation include:
•
•
•
Overall staff and capacity development with a broad agency-wide focus.
SUE and utility management and coordination with a narrow focus on utility coordinator
and designers (similar to GDOT).
Training and outreach targeting industry relationships (similar to the ODOT).
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The justification for education and training is evident in the agency-wide questionnaire responses
conducted in Task 5. This includes:
•
•
•
•
Uncertainty from respondents on the authority to request SUE, and lack of knowledge on
factors that influence SUE (see Questions 6–9).
Uncertainty from respondents on the SUE procurement process, and indications that
there are no procedures or criteria for SUE deliverables (see Question 26–27).
A lack of knowledge and the response “don’t know” when asked about expected return
on investment for SUE (see Question 28).
A need for training was also identified in 0-6624.
Table 33 shows the education and training examples presented earlier. The table provides a
judgment on the three criteria for implementation including relative cost, perceived benefits, and
relative complexity.
Table 33. Education and Training Recommendations.
Education and
Training
Specific Implementation Action
Relative
Cost
Perceived
Benefit
Relative
Complexity
Basic SUE Training
Targets a broad audience, using a
brief 1-2 hour format, focusing on
SUE benefits and processes
Low
Medium
Low
Advanced Utility
Impact Training
Advanced SUE Training for
practitioners (similar to GDOT)
Medium
Medium
Low
Outreach Training
to Utility
Companies.
Training for utility designers
(similar to ODOT)
Medium
Medium
Medium
Table 34 shows the education and training examples at state DOTs are presented followed by a
brief description of the cited example. In general, there were fewer examples of education and
training practices available from the review in Task 3. This same lack of education and training
resources was noted in the SHRP2 Report “Encouraging Innovation in Locating and
Characterizing Underground Utilities” (3).
Table 34. Summary of State Education and Training Practices.
Education and Training Example
State DOT
Training for Utility Companies
Ohio DOT
Avoiding Utility Project Impacts Course
GDOT
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Ohio DOT Training for Utility Companies on Transportation Design
As part of improving the utility investigation process and utility owner participation during this
process, ODOT conducts training sessions for utility company staff. The training sessions allow
utility company staff to become more familiar with the ODOT design and construction plans and
their interpretation. This improved familiarity with ODOT design plans helps utility companies
to mark the locations of their utility facilities accurately on ODOT plans, which in turn are used
during SUE investigations and construction activities. This training has been of significant
benefit in coordinating both utility investigation and relocation efforts.
Georgia’s Avoiding Utility Project Impacts
GDOT has developed a training course called “Avoiding Utility Project Impacts” that provides
guidance on how to make effective use of the utility conflict matrix and how to perform a utility
impact analysis. The training course shows how to weigh the cost of adjusting a major utility
against a change in the roadway design and is now mandatory for all GDOT designers.
Procurement and Contracting
State DOTs typically have statewide or district-wide contracts for SUE providers. Best practices
in procurement and contracting SUE services center on several issues including SUE provider
qualifications requirements, quality control for SUE deliverables, having widespread availability,
and SUE data management.
State DOTs use procurement and contracting approaches for utility investigation, including:
•
•
•
•
Widespread availability of SUE services to ensure designers and project managers have
ready access to SUE services.
Widespread authority to use SUE in order to give access to SUE services and resources
as soon as it is needed in the project development process and avoid delays caused by
waiting for purchase authorities and approvals.
Project budgets that includes funding for the cost of SUE investigations.
Improved Quality and Quality Control of SUE contractor.
The justification for procurement and contracting improvements is evident in the agency-wide
questionnaire described previously. This includes:
•
•
Uncertainty indicated by respondents on the authority to request SUE, and lack of
knowledge on factors that influence SUE use (see Questions 6–9).
Uncertainty indicated by respondents on the SUE procurement process, and indications
that there are no procedures or criteria for SUE deliverables (see Question 26–27).
Table 35 shows the procurement and contracting recommendations. The table also provides the
relative cost, perceived benefits, and its relative complexity of the practice. Generally, the
researchers observed that greater benefits were found in procurement practices that emphasized
having easy access and availability of SUE services. Additionally, those states that emphasized
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strict pre-qualification standards for SUE providers and deliverables generally reported greater
benefits.
Table 35. Procurement and Contracting Recommendations.
Procurement
and Contracting
Specific Implementation Action
Relative
Cost
Perceived
Benefit
Relative
Complexity
Widespread
availability
Any GDOT employee related to
project can identify need
Low
Medium
Low
Widespread
Authority
Project manager approval
Low
Medium
Low
Improved QA/QC
SUE Provider qualifications, scope of
services, and quality control
Medium
Medium
Low
Project Funding
for SUE
Project budgets include SUE services
and estimates
Medium
High
Medium
Table 36 shows procurement and contracting examples at state DOTs with a brief description of
the practice.
Table 36. Summary of State DOT Procurement and Contracting Practices.
Procurement and Contracting Examples
State DOT
SUE Quality control requirements and standards
Florida
Detailed SUE scope of services contracts with easy and early
access to SUE services
Georgia
Design Concepts and Cost estimating by SUE Providers
Maryland
Project Budgets include the cost of SUE services
North Carolina
SUE provider qualifications
Ohio
Florida District-Wide SUE Scope of Services Quality Control
Utility investigations are procured through district-wide multiyear consultant contracts, a district
General Engineering Contract (GEC), or through the individual stand-alone consultant design
contracts. FDOT requires all consultants to follow the ASCE 38-02 guidelines for SUE
work (4).
Each FDOT district has a SUE contract with multiple SUE providers. These contracts are
specific to the district and the standards are also specified for that district. As part of their
district-wide SUE scope of services, FDOT requires SUE consultants to have a stringent quality
control process including the following elements (27):
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•
Quality Reviews. The consultant is required to make quality reviews to ensure the
organization is in compliance with the requirements cited in the scope of services. The
quality reviews must evaluate the adequacy of materials, documentation, processes,
procedures, training, guidance, and staffing included in the execution of this contract.
•
Quality Assurance Plan. The quality assurance (QA) plan details the procedures,
evaluation criteria, and instruction to the organization to assure conformance with the
contract. Significant changes to work requirements may require the consultant to revise
the QA plan. The plan must include, among other things:
o A description of the consultant’s quality control organization and its financial
relationship to the part of the organization performing the work under the
contract.
o The consultant’s QA methods to monitor and assure compliance of the
organization with the contract requirements for services and products.
o The types of records that will be generated and maintained by the consultant
during the execution of the QA program.
o The methods used by the consultant to control the quality of the subcontractors
and vendors.
•
Quality Records. The consultant is required to maintain adequate records of the QA
actions performed by the organization, (including subcontractors and vendors), in
providing services and products under this contract. All records shall indicate the nature
and number of observations made, the number and type of deficiencies found, and the
corrective actions taken. All records are subject to audit review and are required to have
a second level of peer review.
Georgia DOT Process to Request SUE
GDOT has formalized the process to request SUE services for a project. Any GDOT employee
involved with a project may identify a candidate for SUE services. However, only a project
manager, district utilities engineer, or state subsurface utilities engineer can actually submit a
request for SUE services.
Requests can be made any time during the project development process, as soon as project enters
the six-year Construction Work Program (CWP), i.e., during concept development, preliminary
design, final design, or construction phase. Fill out the request form, including requested quality
level, utility impact rating, and current project development phase, then submit it to the state
subsurface utilities engineer. The latter has a two-week approval time frame to approve or deny
the request.
Maryland DOT Multi-Year SUE contracts
The Maryland DOT has six SUE contracts with various SUE consultants that are valid for three
years. The contracts have a value of $2 million each for the duration of the contract, or a total of
$12 million. The multi-year, multi-company contracts allow the state to procure SUE work on
short notice. The Maryland DOT ensures that the SUE consultants have the necessary
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qualifications, experience, and technology to meet the data collection standards defined in
ASCE 38-02 (4).
The scope of services for SUE contracts is not limited to only utility investigations. For instance,
SUE consultants are sometimes contracted to design preliminary utility relocations or “design
concepts” for the DOT. In other cases, they are contracted to assist in developing preliminary
cost estimates for utility relocations. These preliminary analyses help the SHA judge a project’s
potential for utility conflict impacts and the options for relocating utilities.
North Carolina DOT Project Budgeting for SUE
The NCDOT Utility Section has recognized the importance of including SUE activities early in
the budgeting process so that funding for SUE is included on cost and budget for projects from
the beginning, instead of being an add-on later in the project. By getting involved in
programming and budgeting process for projects, the NCDOT Utility Section has helped ensure
that SUE is available early in the projects. NCDOT also emphasizes the importance of early
involvement with utility companies. In NCDOT’s experience, using SUE early in the project
development process enables making better and informed decisions earlier in the process.
Ohio DOT SUE Consultant Contracts and Requirements
Currently, ODOT has statewide contracts with four SUE providers, which are worth $1.5 million
each for the duration of a biennium. The geographical locations of the SUE providers ensure
that the entire state is easily accessible to the SUE consultants. A statewide contract is typically
used when utilities are found during construction and a higher quality level SUE is immediately
required. Every district is encouraged to use QLB and QLA data collection and has access to
SUE providers for use in their project development process.
ODOT pays per foot to designate, per test hole to locate, and hourly labor and overheads. Basic
deliverables for utility information are generally a CAD file, or a plan sheet that has utility
information in plan view for QLA, QLB, QLC, and QLD, and in profile view for QLA. ODOT
typically prefers to have the horizontal and vertical locations of mainline subsurface utilities and
their associated attribute information collected and placed on construction plans to be utilized for
design and utility coordination.
Ohio has strict pre-qualification requirements for all SUE consultants. They must demonstrate
that they have the staff, equipment, experience, and resources to perform SUE services at all
quality levels, as follows (60):
•
•
•
The consultant must have at least one professional engineer and one professional
surveyor both registered in Ohio that are employees of the firm, each with a minimum of
two years’ experience in subsurface utility engineering.
A minimum of two additional full time staff, each with a minimum of two years’
experience in successfully providing all quality levels of subsurface utility engineering
using the equipment specified next.
Equipment available to perform the full range of SUE services including one geophysical
prospecting vehicle equipped with various electromagnetic/acoustical designating
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•
•
•
equipment (QLB), one vacuum excavation non-destructive vehicle (QLA), and at least
one GPR system.
The consultant must provide a single project manager to represent the firm in a liaison
capacity with the department.
Capability of providing both electronic and certified hard copy deliverables in acceptable
ODOT electronic and plan presentation format.
Documented company plan for current quality assurance and quality control procedures.
Project Development Processes
State DOTs that have a long history of conducting SUE as a matter of practice have developed a
wide range of project development processes including, detailed process manuals, checklists,
impact/conflict criteria and matrices. The best practices that DOTs use in their project
development processes also represent the greatest quantity of content and examples from which
to choose. This section describes only a sampling of notable practices that characterize the wide
range of project development processes involving SUE investigation at state DOTs.
Project development processes recommended for utility investigation include:
•
•
Establishing uniform SUE criteria, impact forms, and conflict matrices.
Standardizing SUE QL Criteria:
o Early QLD-C by 30 percent on all projects.
o QLB by 60 percent design.
o QLA by 60–90 percent design.
•
•
•
Providing detailed investigation procedures in PDP, Utility, and ROW manuals.
Including funding for SUE in the project budgeting process.
Including quality assurances and SUE concurrence points during the PDP.
The justification for procurement and contracting recommendations is evident in the
agency-wide questionnaire described previously, including:
•
•
Uncertainty of respondents on the authority to request SUE, and lack of knowledge on
factors that influence SUE use (see Questions 6–9).
Uncertainty of respondents on the SUE procurement process, and indications that there
are no procedures or criteria for SUE deliverables (see Question 26–27).
Table 37 presents the project development process recommendations and includes a judgment on
the recommendation’s relative cost, benefits, and relative complexity. Based on several
examples from the study of best practices in Task 3, the use of utility impact/ conflict analysis
provides a relatively high benefit for relatively low cost and complexity.
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Table 37. Project Development Process Recommendations.
Project
Development
Processes
Specific Implementation Action
Relative
Cost
Perceived
Benefit
Relative
Complexity
Utility Impact/
Conflict Analysis
SUE Impact forms and conflict
matrices for all projects
Low
High
Low
Agency-wide
uniform SUE
Criteria
QLD-C by 30% on all projects
QLB by 60% design
QLA by 60%–90% design
Medium
High
Low
Detailed Manuals
Addenda and corrections to PDP,
ROW and Utility Manual
Low
Medium
Medium
Concurrence
Points
Utility review at pre-determined
stages of project development
Medium
High
High
Environmental
review
concurrency
Concurrent involvement with
environmental reviews and
information
Low
Medium
Medium
Quality Assurance
SUE deliverables checklist
Low
Medium
Medium
Project development process examples from state DOTs, as mentioned previously, are abundant.
Table 38 provides a sample of these practices by state DOT.
Table 38. Summary of State DOT Project Development Process Practices.
Project Development Process
State DOT
Utility standards and deliverables checklists
Florida
Utility impact avoidance process
Georgia
SUE concurrent with environmental process
North Carolina
Concurrence points during project development process to
review utility conflicts
Ohio
Utility impact form
Virginia
Florida SUE Standards and Deliverables Checklist
FDOT’s District 2 has developed detailed SUE standards (based on the ASCE 38-02 guidelines)
and a deliverables checklist of key items that SUE consultants must provide in their services.
The district requires QLB during the initial design phase up to 60 percent design to identify
potential utility conflicts. QLA is performed only after 60 percent design. This reduces the cost
that might be incurred when performing unnecessary QLA before conflict location can properly
be identified during design.
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The SUE standards also require SUE services and deliverables to be in accordance with the
FDOT current procedures. It requires all field survey data to be gathered by using an electronic
field book and in a Computer-Aided Civil Engineering (CAiCE) software readable format. The
SUE consultant is responsible for depicting the subsurface utilities utilizing the ASCE standards
that FDOT identified for a particular project (26).
FDOT requires all QLB data to be recorded on a “Designating Form” designed for that purpose.
FDOT notifies the consultant of which form should be used on a project-by-project basis, based
on FDOT needs for the particular project. In addition to the Designating Form, the SUE
consultant provides a report detailing any discrepancies found between existing utility owner
plans and what was designated in the field.
Georgia Utility Conflict Matrix
GDOT has been involved in the development of a utility conflict matrix concept since 2005 (31).
The purpose of the utility conflict matrix is to provide designers sufficient information to
develop design changes and avoid utility conflicts. GDOT uses the utility conflict matrix on all
projects that involve QLB or QLA data collection. In practice, it has been a challenge to update
the utility conflict matrix with information from the design group. GDOT is planning to make
changes to the process to facilitate the tracking of changes to the utility conflict matrix that the
design group made, which will also allow the determination of cost savings to the project due to
the use of the utility conflict matrix.
NCDOT Procedure Manuals and Environmental Coordination
NCDOT has two manuals that provide information and practices about SUE: The NCDOT
Highway Design Branch Policy and Procedure Manual and the NCDOT Highway Design
Branch Design Manual (33, 34). In addition, NCDOT provides a general guideline on SUE and
the activities included in data collection at a particular quality level (35). These documents have
been useful for project managers that are new to the SUE process and have helped to make
information about best practice available to a wider audience within NCDOT.
NCDOT makes efforts to combine SUE data collection with environmental data collection. For
example, Chapter 20 of the NCDOT Highway Design Branch Policy and Procedure Manual
provides that the environmental planning document should discuss the magnitude and impact of
utility conflicts (33). The inclusion of SUE data and identification of utility conflicts in the
environmental planning document has been an accepted and useful practice in the past.
Ohio Concurrence Points and General Utility Practices
The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) uses SUE extensively in its project
development process. ODOT has placed a high priority on improving the communication with
various stakeholders (including utility owners) during the project development process and
stresses the importance of stakeholders’ active participation in this process. As part of this
effort, ODOT identified several key concurrence points, which are pre-defined stages of the
project development process where the process is put on hold until stakeholders are consulted on
key aspects of the project, including utility owners who are involved in this process. Various
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conflicts, concerns and issues, are discussed and resolved at these stages amid input from these
stakeholders. The project is put on hold until all issues are resolved at these concurrence
meetings. Concurrence points exist during the utility coordination process to identify and tackle
any utility conflicts identified during the SUE process.
Within the larger project development process, ODOT has a well-defined utility investigation
process in which highway plans are provided to utility owners along with a request to review and
provide pertinent as-built or other existing QLD utility information. The next point of
concurrence in the process is a face-to-face meeting and preliminary discussion of potential
utility conflicts with utility coordinators who represent districts on all utility investigation issues.
The goal of the meeting is to ensure that there is a clear understanding of the potential for utility
impacts, resolve conflicts as possible, and discuss the need for SUE at better quality levels.
Pennsylvania Utility Impact Analysis
The SUE Utility Impact Rating Form is designed to recommend appropriate quality levels of
SUE based on a utility impact score. The SUE Utility Impact Form was developed to address the
legal requirements and comply with the state and federal laws (41). The SUE Utility Impact
Form provides an analysis to determine if SUE use is “practicable,” when SUE should be
considered on a project, and what utility quality levels should be utilized based on an analysis of
project criteria. The form is utilized to comply with the Pennsylvania “underground utility
damage prevention law” (42). Utility impact rating refers to the utility complexity for a given
project, section, or location.
The SUE Utility Impact Form involves three steps in which users answer a series of questions.
Depending on the answers, a user might continue from one step to the next or might screen out
of the process. If step 3 of the process is required, the form calculates a utility impact score
(UIS) based on a series of so-called complexity factors that in combination provide an estimate
of the project’s complexity with regard to utilities. Answers can be provided on a range from 1
to 3 indicating the expected utility impact for that question (e.g., low to high, simple to complex,
or good to fair.) Figure 34 in Chapter 4 provides an overview of the complexity factors and
answer options that are used to calculate the utility impact score.
Technology and Information Systems
Technology and information system approaches can range from back-office technology such as
document management systems, to field investigation techniques, utility databases and mapping
software, ground penetrating radar, and utility tagging technologies. The range of technologies
is quite broad. Many of these types of practices can be found in the literature, in particularly in
SHRP 2 Report S2-R01-RW “Encouraging Innovation in Locating and Characterizing
Underground Utilities” (3). For this task, the research team limited the presentation of
technology and information systems to those that are state-of-the-practice versus state-of-the-art.
•
Utility project management systems – Develop software that provides utility project
tracking scheduling and reporting to improve investigation process efficiency.
170
•
•
•
Develop utility document management systems (software) to aid in the storage, retrieval,
and utilization of utility investigation data (similar to Penn DOT/VDOT). These systems
have proven to save time and improve efficiency.
Data archive technology and data sharing technologies. Improved data sharing between
utility owners and DOTs has been cited in other states as problematic. VDOT provided
utility owners and contractors with licenses for project CADD platforms. Additionally, a
pilot program to establish a data archive for easier retrieval of as-built drawings and
utility locations would improve future.
Pilot projects for innovative and emerging utility investigation, detection, and mapping
technologies such as 3-D mapping and visualization technologies.
The responses obtained in an agency-wide questionnaire conducted in Task 5 have reinforced the
justification for technology and information system recommendations. This observation
includes:
•
•
On questions related to “issues associated with utility data quality,” the response rate was
very low. This may indicate that data quality is a low priority. However, data quality is
generally a high priority in other states practices reviewed.
Survey participants that were asked about the use of information management systems
used CAD almost as much as spreadsheets to record data or manage utility information.
There was a relatively high use of word processing, and 37 responses with 97 skipping
the question. The low response rate may indicate a lack of interest in technology
applications and/or low usage of information technology. It also may indicate there is
little or no uniformity in data collection and archiving (Question 41).
Table 39 presents a summary of technology and information system recommendations listed
above. The table includes a judgment on the recommendation’s relative cost, perceived benefits,
and relative complexity. It is apparent from the examples provided and study of best practices in
Task 3, that technology and information systems generally provides a relatively high benefit for
relatively high cost and complexity. Meanwhile, Table 40 lists the summary of technology and
information practices.
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Table 39. Technology and Information System Recommendations.
Technology and
Information
Systems
Specific Implementation Action
Relative
Cost
Perceived
Benefit
Relative
Complexity
Utility Project
management
systems
Develop software that provides
utility project tracking scheduling
and reporting.
High
High
High
Utility Document
management
systems
Develop software to aid in the
storage, retrieval, and utilization of
utility investigation data (similar to
Penn DOT/VDOT).
High
High
High
Data archiving,
sharing, uniformity,
and asset
management
Provide utility owners and
contractors with licenses for project
CADD platforms. Pilot program for
data archiving.
Medium
Medium
Medium
Investigation new
technology (e.g.,
GPR)
Institute pilot project to try new and
emerging investigation technologies.
Medium
High
High
Table 40. Summary of Technology and Information Practices.
Technology and Information Systems
State DOT
NCDOT SAP PMii program that provides utility coordination,
and a flowchart of production networks
North Carolina
UREDMS
Web-based Document Management System
Pennsylvania
VDOT Right-of-Way and Utilities Management System
(RUMS)
Virginia
North Carolina Scheduling, Tracking, and Reporting System
To improve utility coordination, NCDOT uses a project management system called Scheduling,
Tracking, and Reporting System (STaRS) (36). The development of the system started in 2001,
was implemented as “Project Management Improvement Initiative (PMii)” in 2004, and renamed
to STaRS in 2007. STaRS is a centralized, integrated scheduling management tool that uses
SAP R/3 software. This tool provides a flowchart of production networks with activities and
activity elements that help with utility coordination activities. For example, the system specifies
for each project when preliminary utility relocation plans are due, when NCDOT should review
these plans, when these plans should be discussed with the utility owner, when utility relocation
plans should be complete, and when utility permit drawings should be submitted.
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Pennsylvania UREDMS
A notable practice at PennDOT is the use of a web-based electronic document management
system called Utility Relocation Electronic Document Management System (UREDMS) (43).
The system is designed to work with utility relocation documents using IBM® FileNet® software.
UREDMS functions largely as an electronic filing cabinet. The UREDMS external web
interface provides PennDOT's business partners with the ability to securely submit and view
utility relocation documents using the Internet. A notable practice at PennDOT is the use of a
web-based electronic document management system called Utility Relocation Electronic
Document Management System (UREDMS) (43). The system is designed to work with utility
relocation documents using IBM® FileNet® software. UREDMS functions largely as an
electronic filing cabinet. The UREDMS external web interface provides PennDOT's business
partners with the ability to securely submit and view utility relocation documents using the
Internet.
Right of Way Utilities Management System
The VDOT Right of Way and Utilities Management System (RUMS) is a system that was
implemented in 1999 and is based on proprietary software VDOT developed (44). RUMS
provides up-to-the-minute highway project status reports through ad hoc queries served over a
secure intranet. RUMS also enables forms processing and web-based reporting. VDOT also
developed a web-enabled version of RUMS that has an intuitive user interface simple enough for
a new user to quickly become familiar with the system and powerful enough for an advanced
user to quickly navigate to specific information. Key functions of RUMS include the
following (44):
•
•
•
•
Providing metrics of current highway project status.
Centralized management of appraisal forms, letters of correspondence, and other
documentation, which allows right-of-way and utilities staff to generate, customize, store,
and retrieve documents.
Automated assignment and reassignment of work to division agents.
Interfacing with VDOT’s mission-critical project and program management system.
CONDUCT STAKEHOLDER WORKSHOPS
Overview of Workshops
The research team planned and conducted workshops in Dallas, Houston, Odessa, and San
Antonio. Several weeks before each workshop, the research sent out an invitation to potential
workshop participants. On the day of the workshop, the research team gave a brief overview of
SUE technology and practices with the respect to the TxDOT project development process,
followed by an overview and examples of several potential best practices for utility
investigations. The research team provided a handout for each participant including an agenda
(Figure 47), tables to record comments and feedback for each potential best practice, additional
background documentation for some best practices, and presentation slides. In total, 71
participants attended the workshops, including 58 TxDOT personnel, five consultants, three
173
utility company representatives, a representative from Texas 811, and four TTI personnel.
TxDOT officials from 23 districts participated in the workshops (Figure 48).
Best Practices for Utility Investigations in the TxDOT Project Development
Process – Stakeholder Workshop in Dallas
Dallas District Office, Dallas Room, December 9th, 2011, 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM
9:00-9:20
9:20-10:00
10:00-10:30
Session 1
Introductions
Session 2
Overview of SUE and
PDP
Session 3 – Part 1
Utility Investigation
Practices
10:30-10:45
10:45-11:45
Break
Session 3 - Part 2
Utility Investigation
Practices
11:45-Noon
Session 4
Workshop Review and
Summary
Participant self-introductions
Review workshop objectives
A brief overview of SUE and the
PDP.
20 minutes
Best practices implementation:
What practices are right for
TxDOT, what approaches are
needed?
• Policy and administrative
• Education and training
30 minutes
40 minutes
15 minutes
60 minutes
Best practices implementation:
What practices are right for
TxDOT, what approaches are
needed?
• Procurement and
contracting
• PDP opportunities
• Technology and
information systems
Activity #1- Participants will
provide feedback using a
moderated discussion and feedback
forms.
A capstone and summary of the
15 minutes
workshop.
Figure 47. Sample Workshop Agenda (Dallas Workshop).
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Figure 48. Number of TxDOT Officials Participating in Workshops by District.
The research team solicited comments from participants about the general use of utility
investigation technology and SUE, the results of the TxDOT survey, and for each best practice
outlined in the workshop documentation. After presentation of each best practice, workshop
participants were asked to indicate if the best practice presented would be appropriate and useful
for TxDOT or not. Possible answers were “yes,” “not sure,” or “no.” In addition, workshop
participants were asked to provide comments as appropriate for each best practice. The
following presents a summary of comments received and a combined ranking of the best
practices.
Comments on Utility Investigation Technology and SUE Technology
Participants at the four workshops focused on different aspects of the presentation. Some rural
districts commented that they rely mostly on SUE data that utility owners provided, including
test hole data, and only use a SUE provider if SUE data are not available from utility owners.
Some participants highlighted that a phased approach is typical, where utility investigations start
with less accurate information and additional, more accurate information is collected as needed
as the project progresses.
Participants in East Texas noted that GPR SUE methods are often not effective due to soil
conditions. Participants also commented that for longitudinal lines, approximate location data
are typically sufficient. Crossings, however, typically require accurate location data, including
depth. Exceptions are pipelines, which regardless of orientation have often caused significant
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issues during the construction phase in the past. Therefore, TxDOT should always determine the
exact location of pipelines within project limits. Further, if TxDOT acquires new right-of-way
for a project, it is critical to locate all utilities in the new right-of-way including depth
information. Since these installations are outside the state right-of-way, utility accommodation
rules did not apply at the time of installation, so they might be installed at a shallower depth than
allowable under state rules.
There was consensus among participants that if done right, SUE is a fine investment that can
provide a significant return on investment. There was less consensus on what return to expect,
since there are many factors that affect that value, and it is difficult to quantify certain risks. For
example, detailed location information can minimize the risk of damaging high-pressure pipes in
addition to saving time and efforts and avoiding project delays. However, funding for utility
investigation activities at QLB or QLA is often unavailable, which remains a frequent and
widespread issue.
Comments Survey Results and General SUE/Project Development Process
Many districts commented that they do not currently have any guidelines for the use of SUE.
Some districts are unfamiliar with the ASCE/CI standard 38-02 and therefore do not use it.
Others were familiar with the standard but noted that it is not freely and readily available.
Some districts use checklists during the project development process, but most districts rely on
the experience of the staff working in the utilities section. Frequently, district participants were
unsure about how to transition from QLD and QLC data collection, which can be considered
standard practice, to QLB and QLA data collection. Some districts avoid QLB data collection all
together, for reasons related to funding, lack of experience, and lack of guidance.
All districts mentioned that compressed project timelines are the source of many project issues.
Today, projects have much shorter timelines but project regulations and requirements, including
utility coordination requirements, have been largely unchanged. As a result, projects get delayed
more frequently.
Some districts reported that utility owners or contractors do not always follow permits, installing
utilities at depths different from those specified in the permit. This is a major issue that happens
quite frequently; as a result, utility installations require continuous tracking and inspections.
However, districts typically lack the manpower to conduct these inspections, so many utility
issues are not dealt with until they become a problem during the construction phase.
Possibly the biggest issue in the process of managing utility conflicts, according to some
participants, is the uncertainty whether TxDOT projects move forward as planned, or are
delayed, or even canceled. The funding reliability of TxDOT projects is a significant issue for
utility companies. Projects that TxDOT delays for funding or other reasons can severely impact
or even derail the budgeting plans of utility owners. The cancelation or indefinite delay of
projects has increased in many areas of the state to a point where utility companies do not take an
interest in a project until there is high certainty that a project will be funded, presumably very
close to letting. However, at this time in the process it is too late to adjust utilities in a timely
manner. Because projects are pulled from letting frequently, utility companies now wait for
176
construction to start before they will spend money and commit resources to relocation. In other
cases, TxDOT projects are designed years ahead to be shovel-ready once funding becomes
available. In these cases it is unrealistic to ask utilities to get involved and start adjustments
before a project is funded.
Best Practice Ranking Based on Worksheet Responses
Workshop participants were asked to provide input for each potential best practice, either “yes,”
“not sure,” or “no,” and add comments as desired. Based on the responses of the workshop
participants, the researchers calculated a score and rank (1–16) for each best practice. To
calculate the score, the team multiplied “yes” responses by 2, adding ”unsure” responses, and
dividing by the total responses. The score could thus range from 0 to 2. A score of 0 indicates
rejection by all workshop participants, and a score of 2 indicates full support of all workshop
participants for a best practice.
Table 41 shows a summary of the responses, score, and ranking for each best practice presented.
The highest ranking best practices included: “advanced utility impact/utility conflict matrix
training,” “basic SUE training,” “utility impact analysis,” “outreach/training for utility owners,”
and “utility document management system.” In total, the first 10 best practices received the
uniform approval of workshop participants, evident in a score of 1.5 or higher.
The lowest ranking best practices were: “agency-wide policy for SUE” and “concurrent
environmental and SUE review.” However, even the lowest-ranked best practice received a
score of 1.00, which indicates that workshop participants were overall unsure about this best
practice. No best practice received a score of lower than 0.5, which would have indicated
rejection of the best practice.
177
Table 41. Ranking of Best Practices (All Workshops).
Number of Responses
Best Practice
Score* Rank
Yes
Not
Sure
No
Total
Education and training: advanced utility
impact/utility conflict matrix
46
0
0
46
2.00
1
Education and training: basic SUE training
44
0
0
44
2.00
1
Utility impact analysis
41
3
1
45
1.89
3
Outreach/training for utility owners
42
2
2
46
1.87
4
Utility document management systems
35
1
2
38
1.87
4
Project funding and budgeting for SUE
services
30
5
0
35
1.86
6
Utility project management systems
33
4
1
38
1.84
7
Standard operating procedures
33
11
1
45
1.71
8
Improved QA/QC for SUE providers
24
12
3
39
1.54
9
Project development process concurrence
points
23
20
1
44
1.50
10
Widespread availability and authority
18
24
1
43
1.40
11
Multilevel committees
18
23
3
44
1.34
12
Data archiving, sharing, uniformity, and
asset management
14
27
1
42
1.31
13
Investigation of new SUE technology
13
21
3
37
1.27
14
Agency-wide policy for SUE
19
8
16
43
1.07
15
Concurrent environmental and SUE review
11
18
11
40
1.00
16
*
Score is calculated as follows: (“Yes” responses × 2 + “Unsure” responses)/Total responses. Score
ranges from 0 (all “No”) to 2 (all “Yes”).
Comments on Best Practices
This section provides a summary of comment received for best practices in the order of highest
to lowest ranked best practice, based on the feedback from workshop participants.
178
Best Practices 4, 5, and 6: Education and Training
•
•
•
•
•
•
There was a general consensus that training was critical in improving the use of SUE and
the overall project development process. Participants should include TxDOT staff, utility
company staff, and consultants.
Training should vary depending on the audience, e.g., focus on process, technology, and
applications for TxDOT staff, process for utility company staff, and consultants.
Training is needed for new TxDOT staff and staff who do not deal with utility issues on a
daily basis.
Training is important because many business processes in the utilities area are
undocumented, and TxDOT relies to a large degree on experienced staff.
Training could provide TxDOT staff with a better understanding of the issues that utility
companies have to deal with.
Training should include coordination with larger cities and local partners for local
projects because they have an impact on the TxDOT utility conflict management process.
If all entities would use the conflict matrix for managing their conflicts, it would be a
major improvement of coordination.
Best Practice 8: Utility Impact Analysis (UIA)
•
•
•
•
•
All districts agreed that a utility impact analysis tool would be helpful. Some districts
saw a potential for significant cost savings when using this tool.
Some districts experimented with the utility impact tool prior to the workshop and found
it to be very straightforward and helpful. Some districts suggested the utility impact
analysis should be a required tool, while others indicated that it should be used as a guide
and not a requirement.
Utility impact analysis could give district utility staff an early estimate of what conflicts
are likely to be encountered and their estimated impact.
UIA could be used at the design concept meeting. This could even include a checklist for
utilities at the time of work authorization as part of the request package.
Asked to comment on the GDOT utility impact avoidance process, district representatives
suggested that the decision of using SUE should be made at their (district) level.
Best Practice 12: Utility Document Management Systems
•
•
•
All districts supported the idea of developing such a system. However, some participants
were concerned about the time and effort requirements for populating such a system.
Districts were concerned about having another stand-alone or stovepipe system. An
effective utility document management system should be as much integrated with
existing systems as possible.
The system should address the need to include SUE and utility data in project records.
Frequently, QLA data are not on design plans or any other project record systems.
179
•
•
The system could be especially valuable if there was a feature for keeping track of the
reimbursement eligibility of all utility relocations.
Some participants suggested that such a system should have a GIS component for better
functionality.
Best Practice 7: Project Funding and Budgeting for SUE Services
•
•
•
•
Many participants suggested that, although it is possible to include SUE work in project
budgets during the early stages of the project development process, it is frequently hard
to identify the need and estimate the budget for SUE at that time. As a result, districts
frequently do not include SUE as a line item in a project. A potential rule of thumb could
be 1–2 percent of the budget for SUE.
When working in a corridor, TxDOT could budget for QLB and QLA once the project is
divided into sections (CSJs).
Some districts suggested that TxDOT should consider including SUE as a line item for all
non-system bridges.
TxDOT should consider a rule to include all major utilities on the planimetrics, aerials,
and schematics.
Best Practice 3: Standard Operating Procedures
•
•
•
•
Workshop participants agreed that SUE should be a standard practice across all districts.
There seemed to be a consensus from participants that this will be very helpful,
particularly to new designers and other new employees involved in the project
development process.
There was no consensus on the level of detail that the standard operating procedures
(SOPs) should provide. There should be a TxDOT-wide coordinated system, but not
necessarily the same requirements for all districts.
Districts supported the idea of standard procedures that sufficiently consider local
situations. Some districts expressed concern about statewide standard operating
procedures due to the fact that different districts conduct business differently.
The conditions for different project sites vary substantially, so SOPs should include
enough flexibility for procedures and/or equipment to take that into account.
Best Practice 6: Improved QA/QC for SUE Providers
•
•
Districts agreed on the need for QA/QC of SUE providers, because pre-certifications
alone are not sufficient to determine whether a SUE consultant is well-trained in how to
acquire and use SUE.
Some districts were concerned about how well SUE consultants defined their scope of
work and the subsequent quality of the work provided.
180
•
•
Several TxDOT participants supported the idea of guidelines for minimum standards for
SUE providers and deliverables. For example, it is critically important to correlate
information on the deliverables, e.g., utility facility location with owner and type, which
may seem obvious but is not always delivered.
In particular, participants indicated a SUE deliverable checklist for QLA would be a good
idea. Frequently, when districts receive the SUE data from different service providers,
they are not standardized in many ways and therefore cause difficulties when the district
personnel try to understand and use them.
Best Practice 9: Concurrence Points in the Project Development Process
•
•
•
•
Some districts suggested the Ohio DOT example involved too many concurrence points
and this might be too ambitious for TxDOT to implement. Fewer concurrency points
than suggested might be better and more useful.
Concurrent points might be used as an information sharing point for all stakeholders in
the project development process and not necessarily to request everyone’s buy-in and
concurrence for the project.
To some degree, TxDOT is doing something similar, without having the stakeholders’
actual “concurrence.” There would be benefit in formalizing this process.
It is probably unrealistic to expect that projects would be put on hold because of lack of
concurrence with utilities.
The following best practices received an overall rating between 1 and 1.49, which indicates that
participants did not reject the practice but were somewhat unsure about it.
Best Practice 5: Widespread Availability and Authority for SUE Services
•
•
•
•
TxDOT staff commented that generally, if SUE providers are available through evergreen
contracts, TxDOT district staff use them. The consultant procurement process is too
lengthy and not feasible for a single project. The problem recently has been a lack of
available SUE contracts due to budgetary constraints.
SUE projects can be approved by districts on specific control section jobs (CSJs) and
added as supplemental agreements to existing design contracts. The division approves
evergreen (indefinite deliverable) contracts, and then districts can authorize task orders
for SUE providers without further requiring the division’s approval. However, if a
supplemental contract is needed to request additional SUE data collection, it can become
difficult to deal with.
The cost of SUE can also be included in the project budget up front. However, it is
difficult to estimate costs, including unit cost for SUE tasks. For example, the cost per
test hole can vary significantly depending on the location and depth of the required hole.
It is important that staff experienced with utilities and right-of-way issues are involved
with the request for SUE services to avoid unnecessary costs and unnecessary data
collection. Some participants suggested giving utility staff the authority to order SUE
services because it would encourage designers to work more closely with utility staff.
181
•
Participants highlighted the need to develop a method or process that standardizes SUE
requests, so that SUE is based more on need and less on available funding. This would
also help with districts’ awareness of when and how to use SUE. In this regard, several
districts liked how Georgia and Pennsylvania have formalized aspects of this process. If
a similar process would be developed for TxDOT, participants emphasized that the
process should consider neighboring districts that may have staff available to help with
SUE investigations.
Best Practice 1: Multilevel Committees/Working Groups
•
•
•
•
Overall, workshop participants provided mixed responses. Participants seemed to like
the idea of memoranda of understanding (MOUs) at a high level for large,
statewide-operating utility companies, but were more skeptical about MOUs at a lower
level.
Participants suggested it might be feasible to agree on some general principles, but
neither party would likely be happy with very detailed agreements. In addition, it was
unclear how MOUs would work given the fact that different districts have different
practices and procedures when dealing with utility issues.
There was some doubt that many utilities would see benefit and participate. There was
also concern about the considerable turn-over, new utility companies, and change of
ownership. A state statute to participate was seen as potentially helpful.
There was some concern about the effort it would take to implement this at a project
level, which would require a lot of communication from top to bottom, both within
TxDOT and within utility companies. At a project level, this would probably create a lot
of paper work: there could be potentially hundreds of agreements to develop and review.
Currently, TxDOT districts do not appear to have the staff to perform this adequately.
Some participants did not think these MOUs would carry a lot of weight in the field and
may not be worth the effort.
Best Practice 14: Investigation of SUE Technologies
•
•
Given recent developments in the area of SUE, most participants agreed that exploration
of new technologies is a good idea. However, the cost for investigating new technologies
is always a challenge that a research project may best bear.
TxDOT officials managing utilities at the district level should be kept in the loop of new
technology advancements.
Best Practice 2: Agency-Wide SUE Policy
•
Overall, this best practice received a score of 1.07, with 19 “yes,” 16 “no,” and 8
“unsure” votes. However, the comments received on the feedback forms and during the
discussion were much more positive. The main issue appeared to be a concern that an
agency-wide SUE policy would not adequately take into account issues at the district
level. As long as a policy would consider local issues, participants appeared to like this
idea.
182
•
•
•
•
Some districts had concerns that a state-wide SUE policy might result in projects with
SUE used because of the policy but not actual needs. For SUE to be cost-effective, its
use should depend on project conditions such as the complexity of utilities and
confidence of existing utility data. From the design point of view, however, at least QLB
data should be collected as much as possible to support and facilitate the design.
There was some uncertainty about what should trigger additional SUE work. Local best
professional judgment is important, but some utilities are inherently more risky than
others (e.g., gas lines vs. water lines). There could also be specific, local triggers. There
could be multiple criteria for using SUE that considers risk and site conditions.
There was consensus that the high/low risk policy (Caltrans) was a good idea. This is a
good method to guide the use of SUE. In many cases, there are limited funds that can be
used for SUE. If utility-related risks can be correctly assessed, the limited funds then can
be used for SUE on projects associated with high risks.
An agency-wide policy could include a requirement to incorporate SUE information on
design drawings, for example at the schematic design phase. A state-wide policy should
also involve other agencies such as the Railroad Commission and the Public Utility
Commission.
Best Practice 10: Concurrent Environmental and SUE Review
•
•
•
•
Participants were somewhat skeptical about this practice because the two processes
require very different sets of skills and expertise. Environmental process data collections
are generally focused on database searching, whereas utility data collections require more
on-site surveying.
Some participants liked the idea when focusing not necessarily on combining tasks, but
when coping with utility-related issues that affect both areas. In the past, certain utility
impacts helped some projects to justify certain environmental issues.
Other participants were concerned that this strategy could lead to further delay to the
project delivery process because environmental and design process are often very
disconnected. SUE data collected during the environmental process can become outdated
when collected too far ahead of the design phase. In addition, it is difficult to forecast the
need of SUE that early. In other cases, the environmental assessment is performed after
design and is usually the last step prior to letting, especially if the assessment is produced
in-house. In that case the SUE data would be collected too late.
Some participants highlighted potential issues related to right of entry. If right of entry
could be done once instead of twice, there could be significant benefits.
Conclusions and Recommendations
The workshops were well-attended and included TxDOT representation from 23 districts. None
of the potential best practices were rejected outright, and the overall lowest ranked best practice
(“Concurrent environmental and SUE review”) received an average score of “unsure.” The two
highest ranked best practices received unanimous support from workshop participants:
“Advanced utility impact/utility conflict matrix training,” and “Basic SUE training.”
183
Overall, workshop participants supported the top 10 ranked best practices, even though ranking
of those practices varied among the workshops. For example, the best practice “Standard
operating procedures” received full support from Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio Districts, but
Odessa participants were unsure about the best practice. The best practice “Improved QA/QC
for SUE providers” received full support at the San Antonio workshop, but was ranked fairly low
at all other workshops. Similarly, San Antonio gave full support to the best practice “Agencywide policy for SUE,” but Houston ranked it lower, and Odessa and Dallas ranked it in last
place. This might point to the fact that different districts have had different experiences with
SUE in the past, and therefore have different opinions about which best practices to pursue.
Judging from the comments received, differences among workshop participants about certain
best practices were also a result of how participants envisioned the implementation of a best
practice.
Researchers noted that the following three issues seemed to be recurring at all district
workshops:
•
•
•
The need for resources and funding of SUE activities.
The need to better integrate SUE services in the project development process.
The need for SUE-related training.
Other relevant issues that participants felt strongly about were the need to raise awareness for
SUE and the need to document TxDOT processes and experiences. Apart from the Utility
Manual, there seems to be little documentation at TxDOT districts about utility investigation
processes and procedures. It became apparent that most of the institutional knowledge on utility
investigation lies with experienced TxDOT individuals who have acquired this knowledge
through years of project experience.
Based on the feedback received at the workshops, the research team recommends advancing all
of the best practices that received strong support from the workshop participants. Table 42
provides an overview of the best practices with a specific recommendation for advancing the
practice toward implementation. According to these recommendations, the research team will
prepare a range of materials, ranging from executive summary style descriptions to readily
implementable training materials. In addition, the research team will prepare summaries and
potential implementation options for those best practices that workshop participants did not fully
support or were unsure about. These summaries can be used to help TxDOT administration
determine the feasibility of future implementation.
184
Table 42. Implementation Strategies for Best Practices.
Best Practice
Rank
Stakeholder
Feedback
Implementation Strategy
Education and training:
advanced utility impact/
utility conflict matrix
1 Strong
support
• TTI developed training materials for using utility
conflict matrix as part of SHRP2. Provide
recommendation to implement utility conflict matrix
training.
Education and training:
basic SUE training
1 Strong
support
• Develop training module outlining basic SUE
terminology, technologies, and techniques.
• Include local limitations, pitfalls, and best practices.
Utility impact analysis
3 Strong
support
• Modify and adopt existing utility impact tools for
TxDOT business process.
• Develop examples for using utility impact tool in
TxDOT projects.
• Develop training materials to use utility impact tool.
Outreach/training for
utility owners
4 Strong
support
• Determine which training topics would be
appropriate subjects for utility owners (e.g., TxDOT
processes, terminology, and policies; SUE
technology and techniques)
• Consider potential involvement and perspective of
utility owners when developing training materials.
• Coordinate with project 0-6624, which is focusing
on strategies to improve utility owner participation
in the project development process.
Utility document
management system
4 Strong
support
• Prepare executive summary of current systems
inside and outside of Texas, research, potential
value, and implementation options.
Project funding and
budgeting for SUE
services
6 Strong
support
• Prepare summary of funding and budgeting
strategies, advantages and disadvantages, and
applications.
• Develop training materials as needed to be used in
basic and advanced courses.
• Prepare executive summary as needed.
Utility project
management systems
7 Strong
support
• Prepare executive summary of current systems,
research, potential value, and implementation
options.
Standard operating
procedures
8 Support
• Develop framework for SUE standard operating
procedures.
• Coordinate with project 0-6624, which involves a
modernization of the TxDOT utility process.
185
Table 42. Implementation Strategies for Best Practices (Continued.)
Best Practice
Rank
Stakeholder
Feedback
Implementation Strategy
Improved QA/QC for
SUE providers
9 Support
Project development
process concurrence
points
10 Support
• Prepare executive summary of strategy, including
recommendations for integration into the TxDOT
project development process.
• Coordinate with project 0-6624 as needed.
Widespread availability
and authority for SUE
11 Unsure
• Prepare summary of availability and authority for
SUE services at districts.
• Provide recommendations to improve availability
and authority for SUE services.
Multilevel committees
12 Unsure
• TxDOT administration is reviewing strategy.
• Prepare executive summary of comments and
concerns received at workshops for TxDOT
administration.
Data archiving, sharing,
uniformity and asset
management
13 Unsure
• Prepare executive summary of current systems
inside and outside of Texas, research, potential
value, and implementation options.
Investigation of new
SUE technology
14 Unsure
• Prepare executive summary of comments and
concerns received at workshops for TxDOT
administration, including recent research
developments.
Agency-wide policy for
SUE
15 Unsure
• Review and summarize current TxDOT SUE
policies.
• Prepare executive summary with recommendations
based on Task 6 technical memorandum and
feedback from workshop participants.
• Develop training materials as needed to be used in
basic and advanced courses.
Concurrent
environmental and SUE
review
16 Unsure
• Prepare executive summary of comments and
concerns received at workshops for TxDOT
administration, including recent research
developments.
• Prepare summary of existing requirements for SUE
providers, including process to review deliverables.
• Provide recommendations for improved QA/QC for
SUE providers.
• Develop training materials as needed to be used in
basic and advanced courses.
• Prepare executive summary as needed.
186
REFINE BEST PRACTICES
Based on the feedback received in the workshops, the research team refined the best practices
identified earlier to facilitate potential implementation of them at TxDOT.
Education and Training
Currently, many business processes in the utilities area are not well-documented in TxDOT
manuals. Utility practices vary more or less in different districts and among different
practitioners of the same districts. These factors result in a great need of training for all
utility-related TxDOT employees as well as utility owners and consultants. Table 43 presents
the education and training practices. The table provides the researchers’ judgment about three
implementation criteria including relative cost, perceived benefits, relative complexity, and rank
based on workshop feedback. The following further describes the practices and recommended
implementation actions:
•
Basic SUE training. TxDOT should develop training modules outlining basic SUE
terminology, technologies, and techniques. The training materials should include
limitations, pitfalls, and best practices that are specific to different geographic areas due
to the different soil conditions and possibly utility installation practices.
•
Advanced utility impact training. TxDOT should implement existing utility impact
analysis tools and provide training about its use to improve utility conflict analysis
capacity agency-wide.
•
Outreach training to utility owners. There are several utility-related topics that utility
owners need to be familiar with. TxDOT may identify a list of training topics (e.g.,
TxDOT processes, terminology, and policies; SUE technology and techniques) and
develop training materials. When developing the materials, it is important to consider
utility owners’ feedback to ensure maximized participation and benefits.
Table 43. Education and Training Recommendations.
Education and
Training
Specific Implementation
Action
Relative
Cost
Perceived
Benefit
Relative
Complexity
Rank
Basic SUE
Training
Targets a broad audience, using
a brief 1–2 hour format, focusing
on SUE benefits and processes
Low
Medium
Low
1
Advanced
Utility Impact
Training
Advanced SUE Training for
practitioners (similar to GDOT)
Medium
Medium
Low
1
Outreach
Training to
Utility
Companies
Training for utility designers
(similar to ODOT)
Medium
Medium
Medium
4
187
The training programs should be developed in such a manner that they meet the needs of
different types (e.g., designers versus project managers) and levels (e.g., new versus experienced
employees) of audiences. The training programs should also include coordination with larger
cities and local partners for local projects because they have an impact on the TxDOT utility
conflict management process.
TxDOT project 0-6624 devoted a significant effort to develop a training strategy for utility
related topics. The strategy included a catalog of recommended courses, their contents, and their
recommended durations. The outcome of that research complements the best practices described
herein.
Technology and Information Systems
Technology and information system approaches can range from back-office technology such as
document management systems, to field investigation techniques, utility databases and mapping
software, ground penetrating radar, and utility tagging technologies. The range of technologies
is quite broad. Many of these types of practices can be found in the literature, particularly in
SHRP 2 Report S2-R01-RW “Encouraging Innovation in Locating and Characterizing
Underground Utilities” (3). The following further describes the practices and recommended
implementation actions:
•
Utility document management system. TxDOT should develop utility document
management systems to aid in the storage, retrieval, and utilization of utility investigation
data, similar to systems in use at PennDOT and VDOT. These systems have proven to
save time and improve efficiency.
•
Utility project management systems. TxDOT should develop software that provides
utility project tracking scheduling and reporting to improve utility investigation process
efficiency.
•
Data archive technology and data sharing technologies. Improved data sharing between
utility owners and DOTs has been cited in other states as a critical issue. A pilot program
to establish a data archive for easier retrieval of as-built drawings and utility locations
would improve future data sharing.
•
Investigation of new SUE technology. TxDOT should consider getting involved with
pilot projects for innovative and emerging utility investigation, detection, and mapping
technologies such as 3-D mapping and visualization technologies.
Table 44 presents a summary of technology and information system recommendations listed
above. The researchers recommend that TxDOT should prepare executive summary of current
systems inside and outside of Texas, research, potential value, and implementation options.
Based on the summary, TxDOT could then identify opportunities to expand the functionality of
certain existing data systems to fulfill the needs for utility document/project management and
data archive. As needed, TxDOT could then assemble a team to allocate resources and develop
new software tools for these purposes.
188
During the workshops, some participants raised concerns about the time and effort requirements
for populating utility project/document management systems. In addition, participants had
concerns about having another stand-alone system. To address these issues, TxDOT should
implement utility data systems at multiple levels, with only the most pertinent staff responsible
for populating and administrating the data system. Other users should only be responsible for a
limited number of data elements that are in their function areas. In addition, such data systems
should be integrated with other existing data systems to avoid redundant data input to the extent
possible. Such a system should also have functions to store SUE and utility data, track
reimbursement eligibility, and have a GIS component.
Table 44. Technology and Information System Recommendations.
Technology and
Information
Systems
Specific Implementation
Action
Relative
Cost
Perceived
Benefit
Relative
Complexity
Rank
Utility Document
management
systems
Develop software to aid in the
storage, retrieval, and
utilization of utility
investigation data (similar to
PennDOT/VDOT).
High
High
High
4
Utility Project
management
systems
Develop software that provides
utility project tracking
scheduling, and reporting.
High
High
High
7
Data archiving,
sharing,
uniformity, and
asset
management
Provide utility owners and
contractors with licenses for
project CAD platforms. Pilot
program for data archiving.
Medium
Medium
Medium
13
Investigation new
technology (e.g.,
GPR)
Institute pilot project to try new
and emerging investigation
technologies.
Medium
High
High
14
Procurement and Contracting Best Practices
The research found that state DOTs typically have statewide or district-wide contracts for SUE
providers. Best practices in procurement and contracting SUE services center on several issues
including SUE provider qualifications requirements, quality control for SUE deliverables, having
widespread availability, and SUE data management. The following are best practices for
procurement and contracting approaches used by state DOTs for utility investigation, including
recommendations for implementation:
•
Project budgets that include funding for the cost of SUE investigations. This is a best
practice that is already feasible but based on the data that the research team collected, is
not a standard TxDOT practice. In order to improve the use of SUE, TxDOT should
189
prepare a summary of funding and budgeting strategies, advantages and disadvantages,
and applications. To facilitate the implementation, TxDOT should develop training
materials for use in basic and advanced courses.
Notice that although it is possible to include SUE work in project budgets during early
states of project development process, it is frequently hard to identify the need and
estimate the budget for SUE at that time. A potential rule of thumb could be to include
1–2 percent of the budget during project development for SUE. TxDOT may consider
including SUE as a line item for all on-system bridge projects. Moreover, TxDOT should
consider a requirement to include all major utilities on the planimetrics, aerials, and
schematics.
•
Improved QA/QC of SUE contractors. Currently, many SUE providers are selected
based on pre-certification, which sometimes do not necessarily ensure the quality and
reliability of SUE deliverables. TxDOT should review existing QA/QC requirements for
SUE providers, including the process to review deliverables. Based on the review,
TxDOT should provide recommendations for improving QA/QC for SUE providers and
develop training materials as needed for implementing the recommendations.
A potential improvement to the current QA/QC process at TxDOT is to establish
guidelines for minimum standards for SUE providers and deliverables. A SUE
deliverable checklist for QLA and QLB SUE data would be also beneficial due to the
different formats various SUE providers currently use.
•
Widespread availability and authority of SUE services to ensure designers and project
managers have ready access to SUE services and avoid delays caused by waiting for
purchase authorities and approvals. For implementation, TxDOT should prepare
summary of availability and authority for SUE services at districts and provide
recommendations to improve availability of and authority for these services. TxDOT
should also develop a SUE contracting mechanism such that SUE can be used based
more on needs and less on available funding in project budgets. It is important to involve
staff that is experienced with utilities and right-of-way issues to avoid unnecessary costs
and data when requesting SUE services. TxDOT may consider giving utility staff the
authority to order SUE due to their experience with utility issues. It would also
encourage designers to work more closely with utility staff.
Currently, districts have used indefinite deliverable or evergreen contracts for SUE
services. Such contracts do not involve lengthy consultant selection processes and
therefore are more flexible and efficient. Evergreen contracts need to be approved
through the ROW division, making it time-consuming when districts need approval for
supplemental contracts for additional SUE. The cost of SUE can be also included in the
project budget up front or approved by districts on specific CSJs as supplemental
agreements to existing design contracts. The former is less used due to the difficulty of
estimating SUE costs in advance. The latter is less flexible, considering the processes of
contracting and consultant selection.
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Table 45 shows the procurement and contracting best practices, along with the relative cost,
perceived benefits, and its relative complexity of the practice. Generally, the researchers
observed that greater benefits were found in procurement practices that emphasized having easy
access and availability of SUE services. Additionally, those states that emphasized strict
pre-qualification standards for SUE providers and deliverables generally reported greater
benefits.
Table 45. Procurement and Contracting Recommendations.
Procurement
and
Contracting
Specific Implementation
Action
Relative
Cost
Perceived
Benefit
Relative
Complexity
Rank
Project Funding
for SUE
Project budgets include SUE
services and estimates
Medium
High
Medium
6
Improved QA/
QC
SUE provider qualifications,
scope of services, and quality
control
Medium
Medium
Low
9
Widespread
availability and
authority
Any employee related to the
project can identify need for
SUE
Low
Medium
Low
11
Project Development Process Best Practices
State DOTs that have a long history of conducting SUE as a matter of practice have developed a
wide range of project development processes including detailed process manuals, checklists,
impact/conflict criteria, and matrices. The best practices used by DOTs in their project
development processes also represent the greatest quantity of content and examples from which
to choose. This section describes only a sampling of notable practices that characterize the wide
range of project development processes involving SUE investigation at state DOTs. Project
development processes recommended for utility investigation include:
•
Establishing uniform SUE criteria, impact forms, and conflict matrices. This would
require TxDOT to:
o Modify and adopt existing utility impact tools for TxDOT business process.
o Develop examples for using these utility impact tools with TxDOT projects.
o Develop training materials to use such utility impact tools.
Utility impact analysis could give district utility staff an early estimate of what conflicts
are likely to be encountered and their estimated impact. It could be used during design
concept meetings as well. During the workshops, all district representatives agreed that a
utility impact analysis tool would be helpful. Some districts saw a potential for
significant cost savings when using this tool.
191
TTI has developed training materials for using the utility conflict matrix as part of
SHRP2 (22). The training materials included modules and hands-on exercises that help
different audiences to develop skills for utility impact analysis. As part of the same
research, TTI also developed prototype utility conflict matrix tools that can be
implemented with minimal effort. The project developed two prototype utility conflict
matrices including one using the Excel platform and another using a DBMS. The
research team coordinated recommendation for implementing the tools with Research
Project 0-6624.
•
Including quality assurances and SUE concurrence points during the PDP. Concurrent
points can be used as information sharing points for all stakeholders in the project
development process and not necessarily to request everyone’s buy-in and concurrence
for the project. To some degree, several districts have been doing something similar,
without having actual concurrence from stakeholders. For implementation, TxDOT
should prepare an executive summary of strategy, including recommendations for
integration into the TxDOT project development process. Note that when implementing
this practice, it is necessary to identify the most logical concurrence points without
actually making the process overwhelmingly complex. It is unrealistic to expect that
projects be put on hold because of lack of concurrence with utilities. Rather, it is a
mechanism to ensure the timely collection of utility data.
TxDOT Project 0-6624 has developed a modernized depiction of the TxDOT utility
process, which includes an overview of the entire project development process with
emphasis on utility-related activities including SUE data collection.
•
Conduct concurrent environmental and SUE review. For implementation, TxDOT should
prepare an executive summary of comments and concerns received at workshops for
TxDOT administration, including recent research developments.
Environmental process data collections are generally focused on database searching,
whereas utility data collections require more on-site surveying. Stakeholders were
concerned that SUE data collected during the environmental process could become
outdated. Moreover, it is difficult to predict the need of SUE during that early stage. In
other cases, the environmental assessment is performed after design and is usually the last
step prior to letting, especially if the assessment is produced in-house. Thus, the SUE
data would be collected too late. However when coping with utility issues that affect
both areas, there are advantages for staff to work closely together. Results from Research
Project 0-6065 indicated that there is potential merit to coordinate environmental and
utility data collection (61).
Table 46 summarizes the best practices in the project development process category. The table
also includes a judgment on the recommendation’s relative cost, perceived benefits, and relative
complexity.
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Table 46. Project Development Process Recommendations.
Project
Development
Processes
Specific Implementation
Action
Relative
Cost
Perceived
Benefit
Relative
Complexity
Rank
Utility Impact/
Conflict Analysis
SUE Impact forms and
conflict matrices for all
projects
Low
High
Low
3
Concurrence
Points
Utility review at
predetermined stages of
project development
Medium
High
High
10
Environmental
review
concurrency
Concurrent involvement with
environmental reviews and
information
Low
Medium
Medium
16
Policy Approaches
The research identified several policy approaches that have a potential to improve TxDOT’s
utility investigations.
•
Policies to promote and standardize SUE practices internal to TxDOT. These policies
include:
o Broad policies to establish minimum SUE investigation requirements at TxDOT.
o Narrow targeted policies with specific changes and updates to SOPs and manuals
(also applicable to project development process recommendations).
For implementation, TxDOT should develop a framework for SUE standard operating
procedures. SOPs should include some flexibility for different districts in terms of level
of details and data requirements due to the different practices at districts. In addition,
SOPs should take into consideration project site conditions. Different locations may have
very different site conditions and therefore require different levels of SUE data. The
implementation of this practice should also coordinate with Project 0-6624, which
involves a modernization of the TxDOT utility process.
•
Policies to improve coordination with utility owners and operators external to TxDOT.
These policies include:
o Establishing coordinating committees and working groups between the TxDOT
and utility companies.
o Establishing coordinating committees with oil and gas operators and pipeline
owners.
TxDOT administration has been reviewing this practice for potential implementation. An
important component of this practice is multilevel memoranda of understanding (MOUs).
Some workshop participants were concerned that implementation of a MOU at the
193
project level would be difficult because it requires communications from top to bottom,
both within TxDOT and within utility companies. In addition, this would result in
numerous agreements to review by districts.
•
Establish an agency-wide SUE Policy. TxDOT should review and summarize their
current SUE policies, based on which TxDOT then prepares an executive summary with
recommendations and develop training materials to be used in basic and advance courses.
An agency-wide SUE policy should take into consideration factors such as local
conditions and project needs for SUE data due to utility conditions and risks. Such a
policy would promote the use of SUE based on needs instead of the existence of a policy.
The SUE policy may also include a requirement to incorporate SUE information on
design drawings, particularly at the schematic design phase. The policy may also involve
other relevant state agencies such as RRC and PUCT. The high/low risk policy that
Caltrans used can be an example for the TxDOT SUE policy.
Table 47 summarizes the policy recommendations and also presents an evaluation on the three
criteria for implementing the policy including the relative cost, its perceived benefits, and its
relative complexity. In general, policy actions are comparatively lower in cost and complexity
but moderately beneficial. For example, a simple and short agency-wide policy, or SOP, could
be issued to encourage SUE and its demonstrated benefits. This simple agency-wide policy
would presumably cost very little, but would have an immediate benefit.
Table 47. Policy Implementation Recommendations.
Proposed Policy
Recommendations
Specific Implementation
Action
Relative
Cost
Perceived
Benefit
Relative
Complexity
Rank
Standard Operating
Procedures
Prepare SUE SOP for Districts
and Divisions
Low
Medium
Low
8
Multilevel
Committees
Statewide Utility Coordinating
Committee/Working group
Low
Low
Low
12
Agency-wide/
Statewide Policy for
SUE
Agency-wide policy describing
the benefits and minimum
requirements for SUE
Low
Medium
Low
15
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CHAPTER 7: DEVELOP AND TEST TRAINING MATERIALS
As part of this project, the research team developed training materials to disseminate the research
findings and to improve the use of utility investigation services. The training materials are
included in a separate product (0-6631-P1). This chapter summarizes the development and
testing of the training materials.
BACKGROUND
Based on the research findings and with the concurrence of the project monitoring committee,
the project team selected two best practices as focal points of the 4-hour workshop, basic SUE
training and education, and utility impact analysis. As shown in Table 48, both best practices
were ranked at the top by stakeholders during previous workshops.
Table 48. Overall Ranking and Implementation Strategies for Best Practices.
Best Practice
Rank
Stakeholder
Feedback
Implementation Strategy
Education and Training:
Basic SUE Training
1 Strong
support
• Develop training module outlining basic SUE
terminology, technologies, and techniques.
• Include local limitations, pitfalls, and best practices.
Utility impact analysis
3 Strong
support
• Modify and adopt existing utility impact tools for
TxDOT business process.
• Develop examples for using utility impact tool using
TxDOT projects.
• Develop training materials to use utility impact tool.
Basic SUE Training and Education
This best practice is included in the workshop by providing an overview of subsurface utility
engineering, including terminology, practices, and technology used to determine the location of
utility facilities. The workshop also provides an overview of utility investigation practices
during the TxDOT project development process and the TxDOT utility cooperative management
process. The workshop also includes a brief overview of contracting options and
recommendations for utility investigation activities that are typically conducted by a consultant.
This content of this section is intended for the widest possible audience and would appropriately
include engineers and non-engineers, including utility coordinators, planners, managers, and
administrators. This section of the workshop is designed to raise awareness for the effects that
utilities can have on TxDOT projects, and how SUE can be used to counteract the effects and
keep projects within budget and on schedule.
195
Utility Impact Analysis
Utility impact analysis (UIA) is a proven technique for assessing a transportation project need for
SUE at quality levels (QL) B or A, which are much costlier than QLD or C and typically involve
the use of consultants. The analysis is used by several state DOTs to assess the need for more
detailed utility data and usually involves the completion of a SUE utility impact form or table.
These forms may provide a step-by-step process to determine if QLB or QLA SUE use is
practicable, when SUE should be considered on a project, and what utility quality levels should
be utilized based on an analysis of project criteria.
This section of the workshop is applicable to a very wide audience and it not necessarily focused
on designers or utility practitioners, and is also useful for planners and managers. The UIA tool
can be used as a screening tool to determine if the use of QLB or QLA on a project is warranted.
WORKSHOP DEVELOPMENT
Workshop Format
The research team developed training materials for a 4-hour workshop titled “Introduction to
SUE and Utility Impact Analysis.” The workshop is divided into four lessons, as follows:
•
•
•
•
Lesson 1: Introductions and Workshop Overview (30 minutes).
Lesson 2: Utility Investigation Concepts (90 minutes).
Lesson 3: Utility Impact Analysis (90 minutes).
Lesson 4: Wrap-Up (15 minutes).
The workshop is designed for a total of four hours of instruction, from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. It
includes 3:45 hours (225 minutes) of direct instructor contact and 0:15 hours (15 minutes) of
breaks. The seminar provides ample opportunities for participant interaction and enables the
instructor to adjust session and lesson start times and durations depending on the participants’
discussion. Table 49 provides an overview of the workshop lesson plan, including lesson
durations and instructional methods. Table 50 through Table 53 provide a detailed description of
each lesson, including learning outcomes, topics covered by the lesson, activities conducted
during the lesson, detailed time allocation for each portion of the lesson, plans for evaluating the
effectiveness of the lesson, and references used during the lesson.
196
Table 49. Workshop Lesson Plan.
Lesson
Time
Lesson Title
Instructional Method
1
8:00 AM –
8:30 AM
Introductions
and Seminar
Overview
Instructor(s) welcomes participants, introduces him/herself,
and leads participants through introductions. Participants
introduce themselves and provide a brief description of their
role and experience with utility investigation in the project
development processes and their expectation for the workshop
(15 minutes).
Instructor provides an overview of the workshop objectives,
outcomes, agenda, and reference materials (10 minutes).
Instructor discusses ground rules, sign-in sheet, feedback
forms, and other housekeeping items as needed (5 minutes).
2
8:30 AM –
10:00 AM
Utility
Investigation
Concepts
Instructor provides an overview of SUE Quality levels,
technology and terminology, including limitations. Instructor
provides an overview of TxDOT project development process,
including utility cooperative management process (30
minutes).
Instructor discusses best practices for utility investigations tied
to the project development process (30 minutes).
Instructor provides an overview of contracting options and
recommendations for QLB and QLA SUE, including funding
mechanisms and deliverables (20 minutes).
Activity 1: Questions and answers “SUE Jeopardy” (10
minutes).
10:00 AM – Break
10:15 AM
3
10:15 AM – Utility
11:45 AM
Impact
Analysis
Instructor provides an introduction into Utility Impact
Analysis (10 minutes)
Activity 2: Instructor leads participants in completing the
PennDOT utility impact form. This group exercise provides
introduction for next activity (20 minutes).
Activity 3: Participants are presented with an example project
in a suburban setting and complete the GDOT UIA form.
Participants share their results and the form is reviewed with
the entire class (30 minutes).
Activity 4: Participants are provided a much more complicated
example section of Interstate through an urban setting. The
class discusses challenges and issues with the example project.
The purpose of the Interstate section is to share experiences
and discuss strategies for SUE (20 minutes).
Presentation of results and discussion (10 minutes).
4
11:45 AM – Wrap-Up
12:00 PM
Activity 5: Instructor conducts a brief review of the workshop
and assesses learning outcomes through question and answer
session. Participants are given an opportunity to complete
workshop/instructor evaluations (15 minutes).
197
Table 50. Lesson 1: Introductions and Seminar Overview.
Lesson
Number:
1
Lesson Title: Introductions and Seminar Overview
Learning
Outcomes
At the end of lesson 1, the participant will be able to:
Describe the workshop topics and agenda.
Activity 1:
The participant activities for this session include:
• Each workshop participant will make self-introductions. The participant
introduction should include their name, where they work, and what they do.
• Each participant will also have an opportunity to express their expectations
for the workshop.
Topics:
• Introductions (both instructor and participants).
• Review of seminar objectives, outcomes, agenda, and reference materials.
• Discussion of ground rules, sign-in-sheet, feedback forms, and other
housekeeping items.
Instructional Interactive Lecture
Method:
Instructor welcomes participants, introduces him/herself, and leads participants
through introductions. Participants introduce themselves and provide a brief
description of their role and experience with utility investigations, design, and
other project development processes.
Instructor provides an overview of the seminar learning objectives, agenda, and
reference materials.
Instructor discusses ground rules, sign-in sheet, feedback forms, and other
housekeeping items as needed.
Instruction
Day:
Day 1: 8:00 AM – 8:30 AM
Time
Allocation:
•
•
•
•
Evaluation
Plan:
• Instructor uses the instructor review form to take notes on the background,
experience, and role of participants in utility investigations, design, or other
project development processes.
References:
• Participant notebook.
• Lesson 1 PowerPoint file and handouts.
• TxDOT research project 0-6631 final report (online link).
Participant Introductions
Workshop Review
Housekeeping
Total Lesson 1
15 minutes
10 minutes
5 minutes
30 minutes
198
Table 51. Lesson 2: Utility Investigations Concepts.
Lesson
Number:
2
Lesson Title: Utility Investigation Concepts
Learning
Outcomes:
At the end of this lesson, the participants should be able to:
• Describe SUE and SUE quality levels.
• Identify when SUE occurs in the project development process.
• Identify relevant contracting options for QLB and QLA SUE.
Instructional Instructor uses interactive lecture using question and answer methods with slides
Method:
to introduce the following topics:
• Utility investigation concepts and issues, including SUE technology and
terminology, and limitations.
• The typical TxDOT project development process.
• A diagram describing when SUE occurs during the TxDOT project
development process.
• TxDOT contracting options for providing QLB and QLA SUE services.
• Funding mechanisms for SUE services.
Activity 1: Questions and answers: “SUE Jeopardy”
• Instructor answers questions from participants. As needed, other participants
participate in the discussion.
Instruction
Day:
Day 1: 8:30 AM – 10:00 AM
Time
Allocation:
•
•
•
•
•
Evaluation
Plan:
• Instructor will assess responses by participants evaluate learning.
• Instructor uses the instructor review form to summarize the type of questions
and comments from participants.
References:
• Lesson 2 PowerPoint file (slides) and Participant notebook.
SUE technology and terminology
Utility investigations in the project development process
Best practices for contracting
Lesson Review/questions and answers
Total Lesson 2
199
30 minutes
30 minutes
20 minutes
10 minutes
90 minutes
Table 52. Lesson 3: Utility Impact Analysis.
Lesson
Number:
3
Lesson Title: Utility Impact Analysis
Learning
Outcomes:
At the end of the lesson the participant will be able to:
• Perform utility impact analysis (UIA).
• Complete a Utility Impact Analysis form.
• Describe when to conduct QLB and QLA SUE on TxDOT projects.
Instructional The instructor uses a combination of interactive lecture to explain the utility
Method:
impact analysis process and introduces an example case study. The instructor
should walk-through the first UIA example with the participants. Upon
completion of the first example, the instructor should introduce a second
example for the participants to complete as a small group exercise with the
instructor closely monitoring the groups. Groups should report back on their
experience completing a UIA form. Prior to activities the instructor should:
• Describe Utility Impact Analysis form in other states.
• Describe a real-life example using Utility Impact Analysis.
• Describe the sample documents that workshop participants will use for the
hands-on activity to perform a Utility Impact Analysis.
Activity 2: Instructor leads participants, as a group, in completing the PennDOT
UIA form. This group exercise provides introduction for next activity (20
minutes).
Activity 3: Participants are presented with an example project in a suburban
setting (FM 546 in Collin County) and complete the GDOT UIA form.
Participants share their results and the form is reviewed with the entire class (30
minutes).
Activity 4: Participants are provided a much more complicated example section
of Interstate through an urban setting. The class discusses challenges and issues
with the example project. The purpose of the Interstate section is to share
experiences and discuss strategies for SUE (20 minutes).
• Perform a Utility Impact Analysis on a TxDOT project.
• Discuss analysis results within the group, and select a group representative to
present results.
• Direct participants during exercise and answer questions as needed.
• Share findings and experiences with the class.
• Lead a discussion with participants about the use of the utility impact analysis
tool.
Instruction
Day:
Day 1: 10:15 AM – 11:45 AM
200
Table 52. Lesson 3: Utility Impact Analysis (Continued).
Time
Allocation:
•
•
•
•
•
Evaluation
Plan:
• Instructor uses question and answer to assess learning outcomes.
• Instructor reviews results of UIA activities to asses learning outcomes.
• Participants use the participant feedback form to rate the effectiveness of the
presentation.
References:
• Lesson 3 PowerPoint file and handouts.
• Sample TxDOT project printouts and plan sheets.
• Handouts that include blank UIA forms and example project information.
Utility impact background and lecture
Activity 1: Group UIA walk-through
Activity 2: Complete Example UIA for Actual project
Activity 3: Discuss example utility analysis urban section
Total Lesson 3
20 minutes
20 minutes
30 minutes
20 minutes
90 minutes
Table 53. Lesson 4: Wrap-Up.
Lesson
Number:
4
Lesson Title: Wrap-Up
Topics:
• Instructor provides summary and review of workshop.
• Instructor reviews learning objectives.
• Instructor collects feedback forms.
Instructional Interactive lecture.
Method:
Activity 5: Instructor summarizes the activities of the seminar, addresses any
final questions of seminar participants, and provides some closing remarks.
Participants fill out the feedback forms. The instructor then collects the
feedback forms provided by the seminar participants.
Instruction
Day:
Day 1: 11:45 AM – 12:00 PM
Time
Allocation:
• Activity 1: Final questions, closing remarks, and feedback
• Total Lesson 4
References:
• Participant feedback form.
201
15 minutes
15 minutes
Training Materials
The training materials consist of an instructor guide and a participant materials binder, which
include the following items:
•
Instructor Guide:
o Workshop lesson plan.
o Lesson descriptions.
 Lesson 1: Introductions and Seminar Overview.
 Lesson 2: Utility Investigations Concepts.
 Lesson 3: Utility Impact Analysis.
 Lesson 4: Wrap-Up.
o Presenter Notes.
•
Participant Materials:
o Workshop overview.
o Workshop agenda.
o Participant notes.
o Handout No. 1. PennDOT SUE utility impact form.
o Handout No. 2. GDOT utility impact score form.
o Appendix A. Sample data for workshop activities.
o Appendix B. Texas Utilities Code: Underground Facility Damage and Safety
(One Call Law).
o Appendix C. Sample indefinite delivery contract.
o Appendix D. Feedback form and sign-in sheet.
Workshop Testing and initial Delivery
The TTI research team conducted five workshops in July 2012. The workshop dates, locations,
and attendance are summarized in Table 54. Several weeks before each workshop, the
researchers sent invitations and reminders to potential workshop participants, using the same list
of potentially interested parties that the research team developed for the survey conducted as part
of Task 5 Survey of TxDOT Organizational Units on Current Utility Investigation Practices.
202
Table 54. Workshops Locations and Attendance.
Location
Date
Attending
In-person
Attending
Online
Total
Attendance
Austin
Tuesday, July 3, 2012
11
n/a
11
Dallas
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
7
6
13
Waco
Monday, July 23, 2012
4
1
7
Houston
Thursday, July, 26, 2012
16
1
17
San Antonio
Friday, July 27, 2012
10
n/a
10
48
8
56
Totals
During the workshop, the research team provided a draft participant notebook that includes an
agenda, copies of slides, handouts for exercises, and evaluation forms to record feedback from
workshop participants.
SUMMARY OF WORKSHOP FEEDBACK
Overview
The following is a description of the feedback that workshop participants provided anonymously
in writing on feedback forms provided at the conclusion of each workshop. The research team
collected feedback in terms of comments and ratings of presentation materials, handouts, and
time allocation for each lesson. The research team collected lesson ratings using the following
rating options: excellent, good, acceptable, needs some improvement, needs urgent
improvement. This section provides a summary of comments received at all workshops for each
lesson.
Comments for Lesson 1
Comments for lesson 1 were overall positive, although some comments appeared to relate to
lesson 2. Due to the fact that this lesson provided an overview and introduction to the workshop
there were not many comments from participants.
Ratings of Lesson 1
Participants at the workshops were asked to rate presentation materials, handouts, and time
allocation for each lesson. Overall ratings from all workshops for Lesson 1 are provided in
Table 55.
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Table 55. Overall Ratings for Lesson 1 from Workshop Participants.
Excellent
Good
Acceptable
Needs Some
Improvement
Needs Urgent
Improvement
Total
Presentation
27
20
0
1
0
48
Handouts
22
24
0
2
0
48
Time
19
24
3
2
0
48
Total
68
68
3
5
0
144
Presentation
56%
42%
0%
2%
0%
100%
Handouts
46%
50%
0%
4%
0%
100%
Time
40%
50%
6%
4%
0%
100%
Overall Rating
47%
47%
2%
4%
0%
100%
Ninety-eight percent of participants rated the presentation either excellent or good. Handouts
received a similar rating, with 46 percent excellent and 50 percent good. Timing received a
rating of 94 percent excellent or good. Researchers noted that the timing was slightly off target
at some of the workshops. As workshops progressed, researchers were able to improve the
timing.
Comments for Lesson 2
Participants’ comments indicated that this section provided useful, even essential information for
a broad variety of stakeholders in the TxDOT project development process. Participants also
liked the discussion of SUE technology benefits and limitations and graphics used to highlight
regional limitations. Several attendees appreciated the discussion on the relationship between
cost savings and risk when conducting SUE.
Participants provided a number of comments to improve this section. Some attendees
recommended a short overview of utility conflict analysis and utility conflict matrices, which are
covered in detail in a separate TxDOT course. Others recommended to provide more examples
and more detail on developing SUE technologies.
Ratings of Lesson 2
Participants at the workshops were asked to rate presentation materials, handouts, and time
allocation for each lesson. Overall ratings from all workshops for Lesson 2 are provided in
Table 56.
Ninety-seven percent of participants rated the presentation either excellent or good. Handouts
received a similar rating, with 57 percent excellent and 39 percent good. Timing received a
rating of 89 percent excellent or good. Researchers noted that especially at one workshop, there
was so much discussion during this lesson that the timing was off by a significant amount.
However, this discussion was very useful to gain insight into how the researchers could improve
204
the workshop. During subsequent workshops, timing was much closer to the target time and
should not be an issue during implementation of the deliverables.
Table 56. Overall Lesson Ratings for Lesson 2 from Workshop Participants.
Excellent
Good
Acceptable
Needs Some
Improvement
Needs Urgent
Improvement
Total
Presentation
27
19
0
1
0
47
Handouts
26
18
1
1
0
46
Time
19
23
4
1
0
47
Total
72
60
5
3
0
140
Presentation
57%
40%
0%
2%
0%
100%
Handouts
57%
39%
2%
2%
0%
100%
Time
40%
49%
9%
2%
0%
100%
Overall Rating
51%
43%
4%
2%
0%
100%
Comments for Lesson 3
Participants liked the discussion and the hands-on activities and worksheets. Several participants
found it very useful; some considered this lesson the best part of the workshop. Constructive
comments for improving the workshop documents focused for the most part on the handouts,
which should provide more detail and additional information to conduct the utility impact
analysis. Following these comments, the research team improved the handouts for subsequent
workshops. Some participants would have liked discussion of another example of how to use the
UIA worksheets.
Ratings of Lesson 3
Participants at the workshops were asked to rate presentation materials, handouts, and time
allocation for each lesson. Overall ratings from all workshops for Lesson 3 are provided in
Table 57.
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Table 57. Overall Lesson Ratings for Lesson 3 from Workshop Participants.
Excellent
Good
Acceptable
Needs Some
Improvement
Needs Urgent
Improvement
Total
Presentation
26
16
1
1
1
45
Handouts
21
19
3
1
1
45
Time
19
18
5
2
1
45
Total
66
53
9
4
3
135
Presentation
58%
36%
2%
2%
2%
100%
Handouts
47%
42%
7%
2%
2%
100%
Time
42%
40%
11%
4%
2%
100%
Overall Rating
49%
39%
7%
3%
2%
100%
Ninety-six percent of participants rated the presentation either excellent or good. Handouts
received a lower rating, with 47 percent excellent and 42 percent good. Four percent of
participants indicated a need for improving the handouts. Timing received a rating of 82 percent
excellent or good.
Comments for Lesson 4
In total, the research team received few comments for Lesson 4, possibly because Lesson 4 was
relatively short and intended to give participants some time to provide feedback.
Ratings of Lesson 4
Participants at the workshops were asked to rate presentation materials, handouts, and time
allocation for each lesson. Overall ratings from all workshops for Lesson 3 are provided in
Table 58.
Table 58. Overall Lesson Ratings for Lesson 4 from Workshop Participants.
Excellent
Good
Acceptable
Needs Some
Improvement
Needs Urgent
Improvement
Total
Presentation
22
18
1
1
0
42
Handouts
20
20
1
1
0
42
Time
16
21
4
1
0
42
Total
58
59
6
3
0
126
Presentation
52%
43%
2%
2%
0%
100%
Handouts
48%
48%
2%
2%
0%
100%
Time
38%
50%
10%
2%
0%
100%
Overall Rating
46%
47%
5%
2%
0%
100%
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General Comments
General comments were overwhelmingly positive, generally noting that the information provided
was useful and beneficial. One participant at one workshop did not like the utility impact
analysis and handouts provided, but did not elaborate on the particular issue or provided a
recommendation for improvement. Another participant noted that the workshop should spend
more time on the subject of SUE QLA data collections.
A recurrent comment was that the mix of utility owners, consultants, and TxDOT officials
attending the workshop seemed to be a good fit and beneficial for the discussion of issues. Some
participants noted that starting the workshop at 8 a.m. makes it difficult for out of town
participants to attend. Several participants suggested scheduling the workshop from 9 a.m. to
2 p.m., or 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Several participants mentioned that a longer class with more
background information and additional examples would be preferable. Another recommendation
was to keep the current format and make it a one day class in combination with a utility conflict
matrix workshop.
Participants also provided recommendations to extent the current format, aiming for a one-day
class focusing on utility investigations only. For example, there was a request to devote one
section to identifying utility appurtenances such as poles, risers, valves, in the field. This would
be very helpful for new utility coordinators who often start with little utility background and
knowledge about utility facilities, and often have to learn about utility facilities on the job.
Other requests included a section that focuses on advanced funding agreements and including
utilities such as water and sewer facilities in the highway construction contract. There was also a
request to provide some discussion on the decision process for changing the highway design to
accommodate utilities versus adjusting the utility out of the way.
Webinar attendees provided some mixed responses on the usefulness of attending the workshop
online. The research team felt that on the one hand, there were portions that could be reasonable
attended via webinar, such as Lesson 2. On the other hand, there were portions such as Lesson 3
with the hands-on activities that were very difficult to follow online. The recommendation of the
research team would be to offer the workshop only for attending in person and not via webinar.
Overall Workshop Ratings
Table 59 provides an overview of the overall workshop ratings by workshop participants, based
on 545 ratings of presentation, handouts, and time allocation.
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Table 59. Overall Lesson Ratings from Workshop Participants.
Excellent
Good
Acceptable
Needs Some
Improvement
Needs Urgent
Improvement
Total
264
240
23
15
3
545
Presentation
56%
40%
1%
2%
1%
100%
Handouts
49%
45%
3%
3%
1%
100%
Time
40%
47%
9%
3%
1%
100%
Overall Rating
48%
44%
4%
3%
1%
100%
Total Responses
A large majority found the workshop to be either excellent (48 percent) or good (44 percent),
while 8 percent found the workshop to be acceptable or in need of improvement. Presentation
and handouts were rated excellent or good by 96 and 94 percent of participants, respectively,
while timing were rated 92 percent excellent or good. Most of the recommended improvements
to the workshop were either included in the final workshop materials that will be delivered as
0-6631-P1 or could be fairly easily included during an implementation of the research
deliverables.
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CHAPTER 8: CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
SUMMARY OF RESEARCH FINDINGS
Accurate information about underground utility facilities is critical for timely identification of
utility conflicts during highway projects. Collecting accurate underground utility location
information from utilities can be challenging. This is one of the reasons SUE has become a
critical tool to help identify and locate utility installations within the right-of-way. The major
objective of this project is to review the state of the practice in utility investigations and develop
best practices for timing and use of utility investigation services in the TxDOT project
development process. During the project, the research team:
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Reviewed current utility investigation techniques and technologies.
Reviewed best practices and use of utility investigation practices in other states.
Reviewed TxDOT project data to examine effects of utility investigation services.
Surveyed TxDOT organizational units on current utility investigation practices.
Developed draft best practices for utility investigations.
Conducted workshops with practitioners.
Reviewed and revised draft best practices for utility investigations.
Developed and tested training materials.
Developed draft content for inclusion in the ROW Utility Manual.
The following sections summarize the major findings of this project, followed by
recommendations developed based on the findings. The chapter also includes a section on
implementation-related issues aimed to facilitate the department when implementing the
recommended strategies/best practices and/or the training materials developed during the project.
Utility Investigation Techniques
There is a wide range of geophysical survey techniques or methods that have been or could
potentially be used for underground utility detection. Depending on a survey method’s
underlying technology, methods can be categorized into one of the following groups:
•
•
•
Methods based on electromagnetic waves, such as GPR, pipe and cable locators, EMI,
and electromagnetic terrain conductivity, and infrared thermography.
Methods based on mechanical waves, such as detection methods based on acoustic
waves, water waves, and seismic waves.
Other Methods. These methods can be used for utility location and do not fall in the
above groups, including electricity resistivity methods, magnetic methods, microgravitational methods, and chemical methods.
Among the various techniques, pipe and cable locators, GPR, and terrain conductivity are three
geophysical methods that have been widely used.
209
•
Pipe and cable locators. Pipe and cable locators are by far the most commonly used
utility detection method. These locators utilize electromagnetic induction technology
using antennas with coils to detect magnetic fields generated by buried utility facilities.
Pipe and cable locators work in either passive or active mode. When in active mode, the
method requires an AC to be induced onto a buried utility line through direct connection,
clamping, or induction. Several factors, such as facility material and diameter, ground
conductivity, and AC frequency, affect the accuracy and reliability of pipe and cable
locators.
•
GPR. A typical GPR detects underground facilities non-intrusively by capturing and
analyzing the temporal variations of electromagnetic filed reflected by the facilities. The
technology can theoretically detect utilities of a large range of materials and is suitable
for buried utility facilities for which preliminary information is not available. The
reliability of GPR in utility detection is affected by factors such as target size and shape,
depth of cover, and site conditions. Many regions in Texas have soils with high levels of
clay, caliche, and/or limestone, which can limit the usability of GPR.
•
Terrain conductivity. Terrain conductivity is a non-intrusive geophysical method for
detecting underground objects by measuring the conductivity of a cone-shaped volume of
underground soil. The most important factors that affect terrain conductivity
measurements include porosity of the subsurface material, degree of saturation, and
concentration of dissolved electrolytes in the pore fluids.
The research team contacted several SUE providers actively providing SUE services in Texas to
discuss utility investigation practices, techniques, and technologies. Most SUE providers
interviewed indicated that they use ASCE/CI 38-02, Standard Guidelines for the Collection and
Depiction of Existing Subsurface Utility Data, as a guideline for SUE services. SUE providers
suggested that QLB data should be collected as early as possible during the project development
process and before the detailed design phase, which would allow design engineers to have
sufficient information about utilities and avoid major utility relocations. QLA data collection, on
the other hand, should be collected between the 30 percent and 60 percent stage of the detailed
design phase so that unnecessary test holes can be avoided.
Utility Investigation Practices at TxDOT
To understand the current utility investigation practices at TxDOT, the research team conducted
a comprehensive survey of several organizational units within TxDOT, including districts,
regional support centers, and divisions, about the current process of using utility investigation
practices. Out of 269 recipients of the survey invitation, 129 responded (48 percent) the survey
and provided meaningful results. The researchers found that:
•
There is considerable confusion about basic SUE terminology. Some participants were
unfamiliar with the acronym SUE itself. Several others thought of SUE data collections
as QLB or QLA data collections, but did not consider QLD or QLC data collection to be
part of SUE as well. Other responses from participants displayed confusion about QLB
210
or QLA data collections versus One Call services, which were occasionally thought of as
data collection at QLB or QLA.
•
Several respondents indicated a lack of knowledge about the different types of
technologies that are in use for QLB or QLA data collections.
•
Stakeholders had not sufficient knowledge or experience to determine the best use of a
particular technology for QLB or QLA data collections. Some respondents asked SUE
providers to determine the best technology and appeared frustrated with results. Another
example is the use of QLA data collection during construction, which survey participants
selected more often than any other phase of the project development process. During the
construction phase however, QLA cannot be as effectively used to avoid project delays
and cost increases as during earlier process phases.
•
Use of QLB and QLA SUE technology is relatively infrequent. Some districts appear not
to use certain SUE technologies at all. Since there are no detailed statewide guidelines on
the use of SUE, this issue may be related to a lack of knowledge about the technology
and its benefits.
•
The use of SUE for TxDOT projects has significantly declined over the last few years.
This is apparently due to significant reductions in funding for utility investigations.
•
TxDOT officials are uncertain about benefits of QLB or QLA SUE, in particular final
benefits in terms of return on investment. More than half of respondents were unable to
quantify any return on investment, while about one third of respondents expected an
average return on investment of 2 or higher. However, only 7 percent did not expect a
positive return on investment by using QLB or QLA SUE.
•
A lack of knowledge about SUE technology by many survey participants is evident, as is
a lack of its best uses. Training and educational materials could close the gap between
the options that TxDOT has at its disposal, and to make more effective use of project
funds. Further, given that cost was the most frequently cited factor prohibiting more
frequent use of QLB and QLA SUE, it appears that education about the benefits of SUE
and expected return on investment could have a significant impact on the use of SUE by
TxDOT officials.
Utility Investigation Practices at Other States
To identify best practices that are used in the United States to perform utility investigations, the
research interviewed state department of transportation officials from California, Illinois,
Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. During the
interviews, the research team gathered information, sample documentation, and data related to
utility investigation practices and evaluated potential strategies to implement utility investigation
techniques into the TxDOT project development process.
211
All states interviewed collect some type of SUE data on all or most of their projects. The
research team found that the use of the ASCE standard for collection and depiction of SUE data,
including the use of four data quality levels (QLD, QLC, QLB, and QLA), is prevalent at most
DOTs. However, there remains some confusion at state DOTs about these different types of
SUE data. For example, during interviews with stakeholders the research team noted that
frequently stakeholders think of SUE data as the equivalent of QLB or QLA data, but not QLD
and QLC data. This may be attributable to the fact that in many cases, DOTs use in-house staff
to collect QLD and QLC data, and use a SUE consultant to collect QLB and QLA data.
The research team confirmed that, in general, state DOTs start data collection at QLD during
preliminary design, followed by QLC data collection that may be included in the activities to
complete a right-of-way map for the project. An approved right-of-way map is typically a
requirement to move a project from the preliminary design into the detailed design phase, so in
many cases the QLC data collection efforts are complete at the end of the preliminary design
phase.
While QLD and QLC data collections for utilities are often standard procedure, the use of QLB
and QLA data collection varies greatly among the states interviewed for this research. The main
factor that makes the use of QLB and QLA data less prevalent at state DOTs appears to be the
fact that these data collection activities for the most part require the services of a consultant.
This in turn requires monitoring of the consultant contract and contract deliverables, and
thoughtful planning to determine locations where data collection at these quality levels will
provide a reasonable return to the DOT on the funds invested in the consultant activities. The
return on the investment, however, is directly related to the quality of utility conflict
management and data collection that the DOT produced up to the point where the consultant is
hired. For example, a QLB data collection may provide a higher payoff in an area of a project
where the DOT has knowledge about the existence of utilities but not their location, as compared
to an area without any utility installations. As a result, the research team found that DOTs
appear to be more inclined to invest in QLB and QLA services if they have a detailed process in
place that outlines utility investigation activities at all quality levels throughout the project
development process.
Many states are using utility conflict matrices to manage utility data collected during the project
development process. The structure of these matrices and content that state DOTs manage vary
considerably, not just between states but also between districts of the same states. At the
moment, use of these utility conflict matrices is mostly voluntary and often limited to internal
use of the state DOT.
Effects of Utility Investigation Services on Transportation Projects
To examine the effects of QLA and B SUE on project costs and delivery time, the researchers
analyzed a large variety of project data at TxDOT by comparing projects that used SUE with a
number of control projects. Utilizing a variety of data sources, the research team was able to
identify 32 SUE projects from several different districts representing multiple project classes and
design standards. Those projects were than compared with a large group of control projects
containing all TxDOT projects let between FY2005 and FY2009. To enable an in-depth and
comprehensive assessment of SUE cost-effectiveness, the research team collected project
212
performance data from a number of TxDOT data systems, including DCIS, FIMS, SiteManager,
CIS, COD, and UAD.
The findings of this analysis support anecdotal evidence from practitioners that almost uniformly
described a positive impact of SUE on project performance. The major findings are:
•
Projects that use SUE services tend to be larger projects. The analysis suggested that
SUE projects in general were associated with projects that had a significantly higher
design cost and involved more design man-hours. This observation was shown to be
statistical significant for several difference project categories, such as urban, new
location, upgrade, and 4R projects. In addition, results showed that projects involving
SUE took longer to construct than control projects on average.
•
Projects that use SUE services tend to have a lower design effort on a per-lane-mile basis.
The comparison of design man-hours per project and per project lane-mile between
projects that did and did not use SUE found that projects that use SUE involve more manhours, but not significantly more man-hours per lane mile. Mean values for man-hours
per lane-mile were smaller for all project categories, although the difference was only
statistically significant in the case of 4R projects. Due to the limited sample size for most
project categories, t-tests were not able to prove the differences were significantly
different.
•
Differences in mean construction cost increases did not show consistent trends. Both
projects that did and did not use SUE experienced mean cost increases of approximately
±5 percent. However, mean percent increases were only significantly different for rural
projects, with a mean cost increase of 0.3 percent for SUE projects and 1.5 percent for
control projects. In terms of per-lane-mile cost increase, differences between mean cost
increases were only significantly different on a per lane-mile basis for urban and 4R
projects. Here, urban SUE projects experienced a significantly higher cost increase than
the control group, while 4R SUE projects experienced a significantly lower cost increase
than the control group.
•
Projects that used SUE services tended to have a longer construction duration, but a
shorter construction duration per lane mile. Although SUE projects had a longer mean
construction duration in some cases, many categories of SUE projects actually took
shorter to construct on a per-lane-mile basis. In particular, t-tests suggested that the
difference in mean construction duration per lane-miles was significantly lower for
upgrade and 3R projects that used SUE services.
•
Projects that used SUE services tended to have less construction delays. When
comparing construction delays, SUE projects had significantly less construction delays
measured in both per-lane-mile additional construction days and percent of additional
construction days for most project categories. T-tests suggested that the differences in
construction delays between SUE projects measured by percent additional construction
days were statistically significant for all projects, and rural, urban, upgrade, other project
class, and 4R projects. Differences measured by additional days per lane-mile were
213
significantly lower for SUE projects in the project categories rural, bridge, upgrade, other
project class, and 4R projects.
•
Projects that used SUE services tended to have lower costs related to change orders
associated with utilities during the construction phase. Although mean change order
amounts were overall low for the group of projects that the research team analyzed, there
were significant differences for projects that did and did not use SUE. Mean change
order amounts were significantly lower for bridge projects. On a change order amount
per lane-mile basis, t-tests showed that projects that used SUE had significantly lower
change order amounts for all projects, and in the project categories rural, bridge, and 4R.
T-tests also showed that bridge projects that used SUE had a significantly lower change
order amount measured as a percentage of the project construction cost.
•
Projects that used SUE services tended to have significantly more utility agreements, and
higher utility agreement costs. Several project categories had significantly more utility
agreements for projects that used SUE than for projects that did not. These categories
included all projects, urban, bridge, other project class, 4R, and other design standard.
Utility agreements per lane-mile were not significantly different, except for the rural
project category, where projects that did not use SUE had fewer projects that projects that
did not use SUE. Mean cost of utility agreements per project were higher for projects
that used SUE in the categories all projects, urban, bridge, and 4R. On an agreement
amount per lane-mile basis, mean values were not significantly different, except in the
project category 3R, where projects that used SUE had significantly lower mean
agreement costs. This evidence could indicate that SUE services tend to be used for
projects with complicated utility conditions.
•
Projects that used SUE services tended to have a higher number of agreements that were
not executed. This became evident during the analysis of UAD data. When compared
with the control projects, projects that used SUE services generally had a larger
percentage of utility agreements that were entered into the database but were not
executed. The reason for not having to execute was not provided by the database.
However, potential reason could be that the underlying utility conflict was resolved, and
as a result, the agreement was no longer needed. Another reason could be that TxDOT
found that the utility was not reimbursable. The percent of utility agreements not
executed per project was significantly higher for projects that used SUE in the project
categories all projects, urban, upgrade, and 4R projects.
•
SUE costs constituted a small percentage of the total construction costs. Total cost of
SUE services amounted to a mean of 1.85 percent of total construction costs. SUE costs
were slightly higher for three types of projects: widen freeway, interchange, and new
location freeway projects.
This analysis intended to assess SUE cost-effectiveness based on comparison of a pool of SUE
projects with control projects. Readers should notice that during the analysis the researchers
were not able to control other factors that might have contributed to project performances. An
example of the factors is the experience of project manager and design engineers. Large projects
214
tend to use more experienced project manager and design engineers and therefore may result in
more frequent use of SUE, better performances in relation to utilities, and/or better performances
in project delivery.
This research used 32 projects that used SUE services. This was a relatively small sample size
especially when comparing to the control group that contained a few thousands of projects. If
possible, future analyses should utilize more SUE projects and if data available, it would be
important to also compare projects with SUE services during design and those with SUE during
construction.
Best Practices for Utility Investigation
As part of the review of best practices in other states, researchers identified trends and common
practices among the states. The online survey questions attempted to extract information from
practitioners at TxDOT about what has worked, what has not worked, and what elements of
utility conflict management would be advisable to implement. Based on the findings, the
research team identified and developed best practices that could benefit TxDOT in utility
investigation. Those best practices were then further refined based on feedback gathered from
several stakeholder workshops conducted across the state. The result of this process was a list of
16 best practices in five categories:
•
Best practices in education and training. Currently, many business processes in the
utilities area are not well documented in TxDOT manuals. Utility practices vary more or
less in different districts and among different practitioners of the same districts. These
factors result in a great need of training for all utility-related TxDOT employees as well
as utility owners and consultants. The best practices in this category that were widely
supported by stakeholders include:
o Training on basic SUE terminology, technologies, and techniques, including
limitations, pitfalls, and best practices that are specific to different geographic
areas due to the different soil conditions and possibly utility installation practices.
o Training on advanced utility impact analysis including the use of utility impact
analysis tools.
o Outreach training to utility owners on utility-related topics they need to be
familiar with, such as TxDOT processes, terminology, and policies and SUE
technology and techniques.
•
Best practices pertaining to technology and information systems. The stakeholders
supported that implementation of following best practices in this category:
o Utility document management systems to aid in the storage, retrieval, and
utilization of utility investigation data.
o Utility project management systems that provide utility project tracking
scheduling and reporting to improve utility investigation process efficiency.
o Data archive technology and data sharing technologies to improve data
management and sharing between utility owners and the department.
215
o Investigation of new SUE technology that leads to innovative and emerging utility
investigation, detection, and mapping technologies such as 3-D mapping and
visualization technologies.
•
Procurement and contracting best practices. These best practices center on several issues
including SUE provider qualifications requirements, quality control for SUE deliverables,
having widespread availability, and SUE data management:
o Project budgets that include funding for the cost of SUE investigations. This is a
best practice that is already feasible but based on the data collected by the
research team, not a standard TxDOT practice.
o Improved QA/QC of SUE contractors. Currently, many SUE providers are
selected based on pre-certification, which sometimes do not necessarily ensure the
quality and reliability of SUE deliverables.
o Widespread availability and authority of SUE services to ensure designers and
project managers have ready access to SUE services and avoid delays caused by
waiting for purchase authorities and approvals.
•
Project development process best practices. A sampling of notable practices that
characterize the wide range of project development processes involving SUE
investigation at other state DOTs include:
o Establishing uniform SUE criteria, impact forms, and conflict matrices. This
would require TxDOT to modify and adopt existing utility impact tools for
TxDOT business process, develop example for using utility impact tool with
TxDOT projects, and develop training materials to use utility impact tool.
o Including quality assurances and SUE concurrence points during the PDP.
Concurrent points can be used as information sharing points for all stakeholders in
the project development process and not necessarily to request everyone’s buy-in
and concurrence for the project. To some degree, some districts have been doing
something similar, without having actual concurrence from stakeholders.
o Conduct concurrent environmental and SUE review. This practice has been used
by NCDOT. Stakeholders’ feedback suggested that environmental process data
collections were generally focused on database searching, whereas utility data
collections required more on-site surveying. Stakeholders were also concerned
that SUE data collected during the environmental process could become outdated.
In addition, it is difficult to predict the need of SUE during that early stage.
•
Best practices pertaining to policy approaches. The research identified several policy
approaches that have a potential to improve utility investigations by TxDOT:
o Policies to promote and standardize SUE practices internal to TxDOT, such as
broad policies to establish minimum SUE investigation requirements at TxDOT,
and narrow targeted policies with specific changes and updates to SOPs and
manuals (also applicable to project development process recommendations).
216
o Policies to improve coordination with utility owners and operators external to
TxDOT, such as establishing coordinating committees and working groups
between the TxDOT and utility companies, and establishing coordinating
committees with oil and gas operators and pipeline owners.
o Establish an agency-wide SUE Policy to encourage the use of SUE throughout the
state.
RECOMMENDATIONS
Based on the research findings of this project as well as the feedback from stakeholder
workshops, the research team recommends:
•
Implement the best practices identified during this project to improve project
development at TxDOT. Table 60 summarizes the identified best practices, their
anticipated implementation costs and benefits, and their ranks based on stakeholders’
feedback. These practices have been used successfully in several other states. Some of
the practices were highly supported by many stakeholders as evidenced during the two
rounds of workshops conducted as part of this research.
In the training materials developed as part of this project, the research team has included
two best practices including basic SUE training and utility impact analysis training. A
parallel project at TxDOT, project 0-6624 “Improving the Response and Participation by
Utility Owners in the Project Development Process,” has developed training materials
that include a module on the use of utility conflict matrices.
Table 60. List of Best Practices, Implementation Cost, Benefit, Complexity, and Ranks.
Best Practice
Specific Implementation Action
Relative Perceived Relative
Rank*
Cost
Benefit Complexity
Education and Training
Basic SUE training
Targets a broad audience, using a brief 1-2
hour format, focusing on SUE benefits and
processes.
Low
Medium
Low
1
Advanced utility
impact training
Advanced SUE Training for practitioners
(similar to GDOT).
Medium
Medium
Low
1
Outreach training to
utility companies
Training for utility designers (similar to
ODOT).
Medium
Medium
Medium
4
Technology and Information Systems
Utility document
management systems
Develop software to aid in the storage,
retrieval, and utilization of utility
investigation data (similar to Penn
DOT/VDOT).
High
High
High
4
Utility project
management systems
Develop software that provides utility
project tracking scheduling and reporting.
High
High
High
7
217
Best Practice
Specific Implementation Action
Relative Perceived Relative
Rank*
Cost
Benefit Complexity
Data archiving,
Provide utility owners and contractors with
sharing, uniformity,
licenses for project CAD platforms. Pilot
and asset management program for data archiving.
Medium
Medium
Medium
13
Investigation new
technology (e.g.,
GPR)
Medium
High
High
14
Institute pilot project to try new and
emerging investigation technologies.
Procurement and Contracting
Project funding for
SUE
Project budgets include SUE services and
estimates.
Medium
High
Medium
6
Improved QA/QC
Sue Provider qualifications, scope of
services, and quality control.
Medium
Medium
Low
9
Widespread
availability and
authority
Any employee related to project can
identify need and project manager
approval.
Low
Medium
Low
11
Project Development Processes
Utility impact/
conflict analysis
SUE Impact forms and conflict matrices
for all projects.
Low
High
Low
3
Concurrence points
Utility review at pre-determined stages
project development.
Medium
High
High
10
Low
Medium
Medium
16
Low
Medium
Low
8
Multilevel committees Statewide Utility Coordinating
Committee/Working group.
Low
Low
Low
12
Agency-wide/
statewide policy for
SUE
Low
Medium
Low
15
Environmental review Concurrent involvement with
concurrency
environmental reviews and information.
Policy
Standard operating
procedures
Prepare SUE SOP for Districts and
Divisions.
Agency-wide policy describing the benefits
and minimum requirements for SUE.
*Rank is based on stakeholder’s feedback.
•
Implement 0-6631-P1 (Best Practices in Utility Investigation Services – Training
Materials) to improve the utility investigation practices at the department. The
survey of a large number of TxDOT employees suggested that SUE is not well utilized at
many districts. In addition, many relevant TxDOT employees lack sufficient knowledge
about SUE including the latest SUE techniques and the potential benefits of SUE.
Describe training materials, modules, targets, best format to deliver, feedback, etc.
•
Maintain information about SUE contracts and services performed to enable SUErelated analysis and studies. As part of this project, the research team conducted an indepth analysis of the effects of SUE on project delivery time, costs, and efficiencies.
During data collection, the researchers found that TxDOT was not tracking many needed
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data elements in the current data systems or had only recently started tracking these data
items. For example, TxDOT has implemented Oracle Primavera P6 for tracking key
milestones during the project development process. However, this system was
implemented in 2009 and during the time of this analysis, the system was not fully
implemented and/or utilized by districts. In addition, there is currently no database that
stores data elements related to SUE contracts, work order, and payment information. As
a result, most information lies with local staff and becomes lost over time and due to staff
turnover. Therefore, it is necessary for TxDOT to develop strategies to retain the
information either at the district level or in a central data system to enable future SUErelated studies including performance evaluation.
IMPLEMENTATION
Implementation Plan and Potential Impediments
The research resulted in a number of best practices pertaining to education and training,
technology and information systems, procurement and contracting, project development process,
to policies. The research also developed a set of training materials aimed to improve
practitioners’ awareness and knowledge about SUE for more effective and reliable utility
investigation during highway projects. There are several possible avenues that TxDOT could
consider for implementing the findings of this project:
•
Implement SUE Training Materials. At a minimum, TxDOT should implement the
training materials developed during this project. The implementation of the training
materials would include the following actions:
o Conduct SUE training courses at selected districts or regions. Plans for providing
SUE training at districts and/or regions should be developed. Trainers who are
selected for this task should have a thorough knowledge of SUE services, utility
conflict management topics, and utility coordination, as well as how the interaction
between utility activities and other project development process components.
o Transition SUE training materials to long-term training mechanism. TxDOT should
evaluate options to transition the SUE training materials to a long-term training
mechanism within the department to ensure training is available to TxDOT
employees, utility owner staff, contractors, and consultants. Ideally, the training
course would become part of the regular catalog of courses offered at TxDOT.
•
Implement Training and Education Best Practices. The need for training of staff
involved in utility-related activities in the project development and delivery process was
a common theme mentioned during the stakeholder workshops. Training needs are not
limited to staff who normally interact with utility owners, e.g., utility coordinators and
right-of-way agents, but extend to staff whose work is likely to be affected by utility
issues, such as project managers, design engineers, and area engineers. The need for
training also extends to highway and utility consultants and contractors. This
implementation would involve basic SUE training, advanced utility impact training, and
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outreach training to utility companies. The implementation would likely include the
following activities:
o Implement the SUE training materials developed during this project.
o Schedule one-day training courses to disseminate the systematic use of UCMs in the
project development process. The one-day UCM training course, which was
developed as part of project SHRP 2 R15-B, is ready for deployment. The course
content could be easily customized to suit TxDOT needs, as needed.
o Develop and pilot other utility-related training courses as needed following a
systematic approach that includes conducting a survey of user needs and takes into
consideration factors such as availability of existing courses that could be updated to
address relevant utility issues and financial constraints. The researchers recommend
that TxDOT do so in conjunction with the implementation of 0-6624 training
courses.
•
Implement Education and Training Best Practices and Other Selected Best
Practices. Unlike the education and training best practices, implementing the best
practices of other categories may require changes to current TxDOT businesses and
therefore the implementation process may be more effort demanding. However, some
of those practices may yield more significant benefits if implemented. It is not the
researchers’ intention to implement all recommended practices. TxDOT should identify
and implement those practices that are most suitable for the department and will likely
yield most benefits. TxDOT may implement one practice at a time or bundle multiple
practices and implement them simultaneously. The following are the activities that such
an implementation should include:
o Assemble TxDOT implementation task force. TxDOT should assemble a task force
to supervise and lead the implementation of the research products. The task force
should include a delegate from ROW and officials from regional service centers
and/or selected districts.
o Conduct training session with task force. The researchers should provide a
relatively brief presentation with the implementation task force to familiarize the
team with the details of the best practices and aid the team with the determination of
the best implementation plan.
o Agree on implementation plan. Before implementation begins, the task force should
agree on an implementation plan. This plan should define, as a minimum, which
research products should be implemented and in what sequence, as well as what
districts should be involved in pilot implementation. In addition, the plan should
outline the strategy to provide associated training, including location, frequency, and
participant groups.
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o Establish progress milestones, targets, responsibilities, and funding. The task force
should establish major implementation milestones, target dates, responsibilities, and
estimated needs for funding. In addition, the task force should get a commitment
from TxDOT administration for the proposed plan, which might include one or more
meetings and presentations of the plan with TxDOT administrators.
o Update relevant manuals. The implementation team should play a strong role in
updating the ROW Utility Manual, the Project Development Process Manual, and
other relevant manuals if needed. At this point, the researchers do not foresee the
need to make changes to statutes or Texas Administrative Code rules.
The researchers conducted a comprehensive analysis of impediments that might hinder the
successful implementation of the recommended best practices and the developed SUE training
materials. Potential impediments include:
•
Technical challenges. Some best practices (e.g., technology and information systems and
project development process best practices) require the use of information systems.
Implementing such systems can be associated with additional efforts required for system
maintenance, data collection and population, and system upgrades. Currently, TxDOT
does not collect utility data systematically on all projects, which can be a challenge for
some of the recommended best practices. In addition, different districts have different
business practices and therefore may require customized designs and/or configurations of
such systems.
•
Economic challenges. For the training and education best practices, the researchers’
perception is that there is a consensus at TxDOT for the training needs. In addition,
implementing those best practices will generally require moderate resources. For some
other best practices, their implementation may face the following impediments:
o TxDOT might not have the financial resources to implement some of the research
findings. This is an important issue, particularly at a time when TxDOT is facing
severe budgetary constraints. To overcome this challenge, TxDOT may implement
the selected best practices gradually to reduce initial capital requirement. Instead of
implementing an enterprise-level system statewide, TxDOT may develop low cost
alternatives such as Excel- or Access- based tools and implements them at the district
level first. However, the savings of implementing an enterprise-level system could
be realized in the long term in terms of adaptability, scalability, avoidance of
redundant data entry, data access, data sharing, and data security.
o TxDOT administration or districts might not perceive tangible economic benefits
from implementing the selected best practices. This is an important issue, for which
an obvious counter strategy is to document and disseminate lessons learned from
study cases in which the selected best practices are used. Insufficient utility
information and not managing utility data effectively increase the level of risk for a
project owner, which in turn can have significant negative economic repercussions.
For certain practices such as the use of UCM and other utility data management
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systems, strategies to address this issue include using them with control dates (to
ensure the UCM or the other utility data systems are a living document), and start
using them early in the project development process, i.e., at the beginning of the
preliminary design phase.
o For some policy and project development process best practices, users might decide
to ignore the updated policies/requirements in favor of existing practices they
perceive to be more efficient or more cost-effective. The continuous and widespread
training and outreach at different level can be an effective strategy for this challenge.
In addition, users will typically increase their acceptability of the newly implemented
policies/practices as they find that stakeholders increase their knowledge and
understanding and project development and delivery efficiencies increase.
o TxDOT might not have the necessary tools to implement the best practices. Some of
the best practices can be highly technical. Others require updates to several TxDOT
manuals, a series of workshops throughout the state to disseminate the practices, and
monitor the degree to which the practices implementation is successful.
Criteria or performance measure elements to evaluate the effectiveness of the implementation of
the research products include the following:
•
•
•
Number of TxDOT officials, by function category (e.g., utility coordination, preliminary
design, design) who have attended the associated training courses.
Reduction in the number of, and dollar amount associated with, unnecessary utility
adjustments.
Reduction in the number of, and dollar amount associated with, utility-related change
orders or claims.
Required Changes to TxDOT Manuals
To facilitate potential implementation, the researchers reviewed several TxDOT manuals,
including the ROW Utility Manual (62), the Project Development Process Manual (21), the
PS&E Preparation Manual (63), and the Roadway Design Manual (57) to identify relevant
sections that may benefit from findings of the research and propose updates to content and
potential changes.
ROW Utility Manual
TxDOT Right of Way (ROW) Utility Manual is the main source of regulation and guidance for
the accommodation of utilities on the state right-of-way in Texas. In its current version, the
manual includes 12 chapters and one appendix.
TxDOT project 0-6624 “Strategies to Encourage and Facilitate Utility Owner Participation in
Transportation Projects” developed a modernized depiction of the TxDOT utility process. The
new depiction reorganized the activities associated with the utility process to better reflect
desired or current utility practices at districts. The new depiction excluded several outdated or
inaccurate activities in the current utility manual and updated other activities as needed. In
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particular, the new depiction includes a number of utility data collection and assessment
activities that emphasized the use of SUE services and the importance of utility impact analysis.
If implemented, the new depiction would result in major changes to Chapters 1, 2, 4, and 8, and
relatively minor changes to other chapters.
In addition to the necessary changes resulting from 0-6624 recommendations, the following is a
summary of recommended changes the 0-6631 research team identified. The recommended
changes are mostly in Chapters 2, 4, and 5. The changes are based on the assumption that
recommendations from 0-6624 will be mostly implemented while the current manual structure
(i.e., major chapters, sections, and format) will be maintained.
•
Chapter 1 – Introduction. This chapter includes an overview of the utility process at
TxDOT, an overview of relevant fiscal and authorization issues, and a listing of available
forms and templates. This research will not result in major changes to this chapter.
However, the research team noted that on page 1-4, the manual provides a link to the
Utility Accommodation Rules (UAR) in pdf. The link points to a file “uar.pdf” located at
ftp://ftp.dot.state.tx.us/pub/txdot-info/row/. It appears that this file does not represent the
latest version of the UAR and would need to be updated. Alternatively, the link could
point to the online version of the UAR at http://info.sos.state.tx.us.
•
Chapter 2 – TxDOT-Utility Cooperative Management Process and Subprocess. This
chapter contains detailed descriptions in Sections 1 and 2 about required activities during
the TxDOT utility cooperative management process and the right-of-way utility
adjustment subprocess. The chapter also includes a section describing the process and
issues relevant to the use of memorandums of understanding (MOUs). Recommended
changes to Section 1, TxDOT Utility Cooperative Management Process, are as follows:
o Activity “Exchange of Project Specific Information: Field Verification – Process
Activity IV.” The rewrite of the utility process will likely result in a split of this
activity into several activities in the preliminary design phase and the detailed design
phase. Notwithstanding the specific implementation of the new utility process, it is
critical to stress a succession of increasingly detailed utility data collection efforts,
starting with quality level (QL) D (existing records and oral recollections), and
followed by QLC (aboveground survey), QLB (geophysical survey), and QLA (test
holes).
The narrative should also emphasize that QLD and QLC SUE data collection are
typically performed by TxDOT staff. QLB SUE data collection is typically
performed by a SUE provider, and QLA SUE data are either provided by the utility
company or a SUE provider. Due to the high cost of QLA SUE data, it is important
to emphasize the need of sufficient utility data collection prior to QLA SUE data
collection/test holes to help identify critical locations for test holes. These locations
should be determined by the TxDOT project designer with input by the TxDOT
utility coordinator and utility owner.
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The cost for test holes is typically a project expense, although utility owners
sometimes agree to expose their facilities at their own cost, which can then be
surveyed by a TxDOT surveyor at significantly lower cost. This requires some
coordination with the utility company to ensure that utility locations are surveyed
immediately after exposure of the facility. The activity should note that many
projects require some detailed design definitions to make a determination for test hole
locations, and a reference to activity VI that describes further SUE data collection
activities.
The objectives of the activity could be modified as follows:



Identify location and ownership of utility facilities within project limits using
QLD and QLC SUE data collection activities.
Consider the use of a SUE provider for QLB SUE data collection.
Determine accurate horizontal and vertical locations in critical locations using
TxDOT control datum.
o Activity “Design and Utility Construction Phase: Intermediate Design Meeting(s) –
Process Activity VI.” The rewrite of the utility process will likely result in a split of
this activity into several activities in the detailed design phase, which will provide
some information about SUE data collection. Notwithstanding the specific
implementation of the new utility process, it is critical to stress that the activity
should include recommendations for SUE data collection and requirements of SUE
data collection deliverables, and a reference to SUE data collection in previous
activities.
In particular, the activity should include a reminder to consider QLB SUE data
collection prior to 30 percent design so that data collection deliverables can be
included in 30 percent design submittal. The activity should also include a
recommendation that a need for test holes can arise at any time during the project
development process, and that utility data collected should be included in the next
round of design drawings. On many projects, the great majority of QLA SUE data
should be collected following a review of the 60 percent design drawings, or as soon
as the design of drainage and underground features is substantially complete. SUE
QLA data should then be included in the 90 percent design submittal.
A review of utility conflicts at this stage typically allows for a determination if the
utility may remain in place or may need to move. However, some types of utility
conflicts have the potential to create significant costs to utility owners and delays to
the project. If there is any evidence of such conflicts, these utility conflicts should be
reviewed as early as possible in the project development process to allow the designer
to make changes to the design to avoid significant costs and delays. SUE deliverables
should also be included in final plans, specifications, and estimates (PS&E)
submittals.
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•
Recommended changes to Section 2, Right of Way Utility Adjustment Subprocess, are as
follows:
o Activity “Field Verification – Right of Way Subprocess Activity II.” This activity
describes the location verification and determination of utility ownership in the field
during preliminary design prior to right-of-way release. To avoid confusion with
activity “Exchange of Project Specific Information: Field Verification – Process
Activity IV” of Section 1, the title of the activity could be changed to “Field
Verification Prior to Right of Way Release – Right of Way Subprocess Activity II.”
Although the activity already includes some suggestions for use of SUE data
collection, this should be expanded and clarified. Most SUE data collection during
the preliminary design stage should be at QLD and QLC, which is typically
performed by TxDOT staff. Typically, a SUE provider should be involved if there is
a need for QLB or QLA data collection and only after QLD and QLC data have been
collected by TxDOT and forwarded to the SUE provider.
In addition to the above changes, TxDOT should consider adding a section in this chapter
to specify requirements for the collection and storage of utility document and utility
project data. The requirements should clearly identify data collection and management
responsibilities, data items to be collected and stored, data collection timing, and
potential data usage information.
•
Chapter 3 – References for Utility Accommodation. This chapter reviews relevant
federal and state codes, regulations, policies, and guidance. The research team does not
anticipate major changes to the chapter.
•
Chapter 4 – Preliminary Planning. This chapter provides information and guidance about
utility-related preliminary planning activities, utility location investigations, preliminary
utility adjustment funding determinations, initial exchange of design data and criterion,
and requirements for LPAs. The implementation of TxDOT research 0-6624
recommendations will likely to result in significant changes throughout the chapter.
Nevertheless, the recommended best practices of 0-6631 would result in changes mainly
in Section 2 – Utility Location Investigations. Currently, this section includes very brief
requirements on utility facility identification and use of SUE services.
This section should be significantly expanded to describe the standard SUE data
collection procedure, including the recommended SUE standards and referencing
ASCE/CI standard 38/02 (4); required deliverables including standards, contents, and
format; and required QA/QC procedures. The section should also provide a definition of
SUE and quality levels, indicate which types of data collection are typically performed by
TxDOT employees and which typically require a utility engineering contract, unless
defined in an earlier section. This section should also include a brief overview of One
Call data, how district may be able to acquire data effectively, and its uses and
limitations.
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•
Chapter 5 – Utility Considerations During Highway Design. This chapter describes
utility-related issues that need to be considered during highway design. Sections of this
chapter contain information about SUE data collection, combined transportation utility
construction, and intermediate design meetings, which need to be modified to ensure
consistency. Specific changes that need to be made include:
o Section 1 – Determination of Utility Impacts. This section should be expanded to
include more information about utility impact analysis and the use of utility conflict
matrices. The section should clearly identify the responsibilities, utility conflict
identification and tracking activities, and the need for design solutions to avoid
conflicts.
o Section 3 – Utility Engineering Contracts. This section should be updated to include
more recent research on estimated cost savings when using SUE QLB and A. This
section could also include a summary of survey results that describes TxDOT staff
estimates of cost savings when using SUE. This section should also expand on
information about requirements or guidelines on the types, procedure, budgeting, and
payment associated with SUE contracts. In addition, the section should include
guidelines on project funding and budgeting for SUE services.
o Section 8 – Intermediate Design Meetings. This section should be expanded to
include recommendations for SUE deliverables during 30 percent, 60 percent, and/or
90 percent design milestones. Recommendations could be in form of concurrency
points between SUE data collection and the project development process to ensure
that SUE is effectively and timely utilized. Changes to this section should be
coordinated with recommended changes for individual activities in Chapter 2.
•
Chapter 6 – Utility Plans and Specifications. This chapter provides information and
guidance on initial actions of the utility owners upon needed adjustments, utility plan
preparation, and use of contractors on utility work. The researchers do not anticipate
major changes to the chapter. However, based on comments from TxDOT staff in rural
districts, it may be useful to add a section here that describes the benefits of coordinated
test hole activities between TxDOT and utility owner. In some TxDOT districts, utility
owners expose their facilities at their cost, and then notify TxDOT to survey the location
of the facility. Utility owners that agree to this coordinated effort realize that there is a
benefit if a utility may be allowed to remain in place if accurate information is available
early in the project development process.
•
Chapter 7 – Utility Cost Estimates. This chapter contains information about utility cost
estimate requirements, estimate categories, and cost estimate issues pertaining to contract
work and consultants. The researchers do not anticipate major changes to this chapter.
•
Chapter 8 – Procedures for Utility Adjustments. This chapter includes general
information and guidance on utility adjustment procedures, such as state, federal, local,
and non-reimbursable utility adjustment procedures. The researchers do not anticipate
major changes to this chapter.
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•
Chapter 9 – Forms and Agreements. This chapter describes the forms and agreements
involved in the utility process. The researchers recommend that TxDOT add a section in
the chapter to provide specifications and examples of SUE contract forms and
requirements. The section should be developed in coordination with the changes
previously recommended for Chapter 5 to avoid redundancy.
•
Chapter 10 – Performing the Utility Adjustment. This chapter includes information about
utility pre-construction activities, inspection activities, abandoned interests, and utility
installation inspection. The researchers do not anticipate major changes to this chapter.
•
Chapter 11 – Billing and Payments. This chapter provides general requirements and
guidance on billing and payment related issues, such as invoicing and payment
procedures, partial payments, final billings, reimbursement when LPA is responsible
party, payments and final audit, and utility considerations in right-of-way project
closeout. The proposed practices would not result in major changes to this chapter.
•
Chapter 12 – Unique Conditions and Special Cases. This chapter pertains to the issues
related to unique utility conditions and special cases. The proposed practices would not
require major changes to this chapter.
•
Appendix A – Reimbursement Guidelines and Billing Procedures for Utility
Adjustments. The researchers do not anticipate major changes to this section.
Project Development Process Manual
The Project Development Process Manual is the main information source concerning the project
development process at TxDOT. In its current version, the manual includes six chapters. The
following is a summary of recommended changes the 0-6631 research team identified. The
recommended changes are mostly in Chapters 2, 4, and 5, as follows:
•
Chapter 1 – Planning and Programming. This chapter contains project development
process activities during the transportation planning and programming phase. The
activities are organized into several groups including needs identification, project
authorization, compliance with planning requirements, study requirements determination,
and construction funding identification. The recommended practices would not result in
changes to these activities.
•
Chapter 2 – Preliminary Design. This chapter describes the project development process
activities during the preliminary design phase of transportation projects. The
implementation of the recommended practices would require changes to several
activities, as follows:
o Task 2180, “Obtain information on existing utilities.” This activity requires utility
locations to be identified early during project development. The activity description
currently includes a helpful suggestion to consider using SUE services (Task 4200.)
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This task should be modified to avoid confusion about SUE activities at different
quality levels. As is, several sub-tasks constitute SUE QLD activities. As such, the
task should state that TxDOT staff should perform SUE QLD activities such as
reviewing as-built plans and QLC (aboveground survey of utilities), and should
consider using QLB and QLA data collection as performed by a SUE provider as
described in Task 4200, depending on the specifics of the project. This task should
also include information about performing a utility impact analysis using Excel
spreadsheets that are used during the training workshop. Alternatively, performing a
utility impact analysis could be included as a new, separate task.
o Task 2640, “Identify existing utilities on geometric schematic.” This activity states
that the design engineer should obtain information on existing utilities from utility
owners and create a layout of the existing utilities on geometric schematic. To avoid
confusion, sub-task two should state that information should be collected from utility
owners unless it has already been collected as part of Task 2180. Similarly, a utilitylayout should only be developed if it was not developed as part of Task 2180. The
activity description also states that SUE can be considered for this purpose.
Information about using SUE should be modified similarly to the recommendation
provided for changes to Task 2180.
o Task 2650, “Identify potential utility conflicts.” The manual requires the design
engineer to determine potential utility conflicts based on the utility layout. The
activity description also suggests that designers avoid utilities by revising alignments
and project features. The description of this activity should be expanded to include
information on utility conflict analysis including the use of utility conflict matrices
and available utility project/document data sources.
•
Chapter 3 – Environmental. This chapter includes project development process activities
that take place during the environmental phase. The activities are organized into several
groups including preliminary environmental issues, interagency coordination/permits,
environmental documentation, public hearing, and environmental clearance. The
recommendations of this research would not result in major changes to this chapter.
•
Chapter 4 – Right of Way Utilities. This chapter describes project development process
activities in relation to right-of-way and utilities. Section 1 of this chapter contains
activities about right-of-way and utility data collection.
o Task 4200, “Locate existing utilities.” This task should be changed based on the
recommended practices of this research. Currently, the description of this activity
includes recommendations of using SUE. However, the activity does not include
clear guidelines as to when SUE is used and how SUE contracts are procured. In
addition, it does not provide any information on SUE standards, deliverables, use of
utility conflict matrices, and utility document/project data sources. Information on
these topics should be added to the manual. The task should also avoid confusion by
defining SUE as non-destructive process of accurately locating utility facilities.
Rather, it would be beneficial to define SUE in terms of data collection at different
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quality levels, as defined in ASCE/CI standard 38/02 and described later in this task.
Helpful suggestions should be modified to state accurate levels of estimated project
savings as documented in the research report. There could also be a helpful
suggestion outlining estimated benefits by TxDOT staff, as documented in the
TxDOT staff survey and described in the research report. All changes to this task
should be coordinated with those recommended for the ROW Utility Manual, and
cross-references should be added to both manuals. The section listing resource
materials could include several important references, such as the ASCE/CI standard
and two recent SHRP 2 studies (3, 22).
o The section “Information on Subsurface Utility Engineering (SUE)” should be
reviewed and updated to align with the definitions for quality levels and other
terminology provided by the ASCE standard 38/02.
o On page 4-2, paragraph four states that “This section includes the following tasks:
(…) 2180. Obtain information on existing utilities. (…)” Task 2180 is not included
in this section but rather chapter 2, and therefore this line should be removed.
•
Chapter 5 – PS&E Development. This chapter describes project development process
activities that pertain to the development of PS&E. The activities are organized in
several groups including design conference, begin detailed design, final
alignments/profiles, roadway design, operational design, bridge design, drainage design,
retaining/noise walls and miscellaneous structures, traffic control plan, PS&E
assembly/design review. The researchers recommend changes to the following activity
descriptions:
o Task 5120, “Review data collection needs.” This activity is an opportunity during the
detailed design phase for additional data collection to ensure data items needed during
detailed design are up-to-date and accurate. TxDOT should add a recommendation in
this activity for the review of utility data that have been collected up to this point in
the project development process, and the need for additional QLB and QLA SUE data
in order to obtain precise location information of conflicting utility facilities and
develop design solutions to reduce project costs. Under the headline “Previous data
collection may include (…)” the following additional tasks should be referenced:


Task 2180, “Obtain information on existing utilities.”
Task 4200, “Locate existing utilities.”
o Task 5480, “Prepare preliminary bridge layouts.” This task outlines the development
of proposed features of bridge structures to be newly constructed, replaced, or
modified. Under sub-tasks, the task outlines the need to obtain layouts of existing
structures and utility facilities. This subtask should be expanded to include a
recommendation to accurately locate utility facilities that may be in conflict with the
proposed bridge structure.
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o Task 5500, “Prepare bridge details.” This task describes the updating of bridge
layouts developed under Task 5480. Under sub-tasks, the task mentions a need to
obtain proposed utility plans from the roadway engineer. This subtask should be
expanded to include a recommendation to accurately locate all exiting utility facilities
in the vicinity of the bridge structure, to determine if any utilities are in conflict, and
to ascertain if a design change can avoid the utility conflict.
o Section 7 – Drainage Design. This section discusses the design of drainage features,
which often have a major impact on existing utility facilities. Either the introductory
section or subsequent drainage design tasks should be expanded to discuss the need to
evaluate impacts on utilities, and the opportunity to save costs and avoid substantial
project delays during the construction phase. The task should emphasize the need to
coordinate drainage design activities with the utility coordinator, the need to review
existing utility data, and the opportunity to request additional utility data as necessary.
There should also be a reference under this task to Task 4610, “Coordinate utility
adjustment plans,” which requires that as soon as design of proposed underground
features are substantially complete, construction plans should be sent to all utility
owners. Plans must be forwarded to the utility coordinator so that they can be
forwarded to utility owners.
o Task 5640, “Prepare retaining and/or noise wall layouts.” This task describes the
activities to prepare layouts for planned retaining walls and/or noise walls. The task
includes a sub-task that mentions the need to obtain plots of existing utilities to
determine proposed wall locations. The sub-task should be expanded to emphasize
the opportunity to avoid existing utilities by collecting accurate utility data in areas
close to the potential location of such walls. The sub-task should also provide a
warning for substantial delays during the construction phase if existing utilities are
impacted. It would also be helpful to include references to previous tasks that may
have collected utility data, including the following:





Task 2505, “Perform preliminary geotechnical surveys.”
Task 2240, “Perform other surveys.”
Task 2230, “Perform topographic surveys.”
Task 2180, “Obtain information on existing utilities.”
Task 4200, “Locate existing utilities.”
o Task 5830, “Prepare PS&E package.” This activity pertains to the assembly of the
PS&E package for review by district. The current project development process
manual includes a general list of documents that need to be included in the project
development process assembly. This list could be expanded to include SUE
deliverables such as utility plans, test hole reports, and other SUE documents.
•
Chapter 6 – Letting. This chapter describes project development process activities during
the final processing and letting phase. The research team does not anticipate changes to
this chapter due to the recommended practices of this research.
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PS&E Preparation Manual
The TxDOT PS&E Preparation Manual contains requirements and guidelines on the documents,
records, forms, and other materials that are needed during the assembly of PS&E documents.
The research team recommends changes to the following section in Chapter 2, “Plan Set
Development:”
•
Section 2, “Plan Set Preparation.” This section contains requirements on the various
plans that need to be included in PS&E assemblies. Under the header “Plan Sheet
Sequence,” the section contains brief information about plans pertaining to utilities,
existing utilities, proposed utility (PS&E) layouts, and utility standards. These
paragraphs may need to be revised to include requirements for SUE deliverables and to
clearly specify the format/standard of the deliverables if they are to be included.
Roadway Design Manual
TxDOT Roadway Design Manual contains requirements and guidelines pertaining to roadway
design topics such as geometrics, road side features, and road accessories. The recommended
practices of this research will not result in changes to existing contents. However, it is preferable
that TxDOT adds a separate chapter discussing design data collection including potential sources
and data collection methods for each type of data needed for roadway design. One essential data
component for roadway design would be the collection of utility data at different SUE quality
levels. Alternatively, the Roadway Design Manual could reference sections in the ROW Utility
Manual or the Project Development Process Manual that describes the data collection activities.
Utility Accommodation Rules
In addition to the manuals, the research team also examined the relevant rules included in the
Utility Accommodation subchapter of the Texas Administrative Code (TAC) to identify needed
changes (7). The researchers’ assessment is that the recommended practices of this research are
not likely to require changes to the current utility accommodation rules.
231
REFERENCES
1. Right of Way and Utilities Guidelines and Best Practices. Strategic Plan 4-4, Subcommittee
on Right of Way and Utilities, AASHTO Standing Committee on Highways, Federal
Highway Administration, Washington, D.C., 2004.
2. Avoiding Utility Relocations. Publication DTFH61-01-C-00024. Office of Research
Development, and Technology, Federal Highway Administration, Washington, D.C., 2002.
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Encouraging Innovation in Locating and Characterizing Underground Utilities. Strategic
Highway Research Program 2, Transportation Research Board, Washington, D.C., October
2007. Draft Final Report.
4. Standard Guidelines for the Collection and Depiction of Existing Subsurface Utility Data.
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6. Jeong, H. and Abraham D. A Decision Tool for the Selection of Imaging Technologies to
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11. McNeill, J. Electromagnetic Terrain Conductivity Measurement at Low Induction Numbers.
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http://www.geovision.com/PDF/App%20Note%20-%20EM%20method.pdf.
Accessed February 11, 2011.
14. Wightman, W., F. Jalinoos, P. Sirles, and K. Hanna. Application of Geophysical Methods to
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2003.
233
15. Metje, N., P. Atkins, M. Brennan, D. Chapman, H. Lim, J. Machell, J. Muggleton, S.
Pennock, J. Ratcliffe, M. Redfern, C. Rogers, A. Saul, Q. Shan, S. Swingler, and A. Thomas.
Mapping the Underworld – State-of-the-Art Review. Tunneling and Underground Space
Technology Volume 22, Elsevier B. V., Amsterdam, Netherlands, pp. 568–586, 2007.
16. RADAN Software. Geophysical Survey Systems, Salem, New Hampshire, 2009. Website.
http://www.geophysical.com/software.htm. Accessed May 26, 2011.
17. Processing and Interpretation Software. Underground Imaging Technologies, Latham, New
York. Website. http://www.uit-systems.com/spade.html. Accessed May 26, 2011.
18. Barber, J. and Indelicato, D. Subsurface Utility Engineering and Advanced 3D Multi-Sensor
Geophysical Mapping. Presentation given at 2010 Iowa TSI Pipeline Safety Conference
Des Moines, Iowa, 2010.
http://www.iowa.gov/iub/docs/misc/S_and_E/TSI_conference/2010/SubsurfaceUtilityEngine
ering2.pdf. Accessed February 15, 2011.
19. Surface Resistivity. GeoModel, Inc., Virginia, 2011. Website.
http://www.geomodel.com/resis/. Accessed February 11, 2011.
20. Geophysical Methods and Applications. SubSurface Surveys & Associates, Inc., Carlsbad,
California, 2011. http://www.subsurfacesurveys.com/pdf/Methods.pdf. Accessed February
15, 2011.
21. Project Development Process Manual. Texas Department of Transportation, Austin, Texas,
June 2009.
22. Identification of Utility Conflicts and Solutions. Project SHRP2 R15 (B), Strategic Highway
Research Program 2, Transportation Research Board of The National Academies.
http://apps.trb.org/cmsfeed/TRBNetProjectDisplay.asp?ProjectID=2561. Accessed February
24, 2011.
23. Policy on High and Low Risk Underground Facilities within Highway Rights of Way.
Appendix LL of the Project Development Procedures Manual. California Department of
Transportation, Division of Design, Sacramento, California, 1997.
http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/oppd/pdpm/apdx_pdf/apdx_ll.pdf. Accessed February 24, 2011.
24. California Government Code Section 4216. http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgibin/calawquery?codesection=gov&codebody=4216&hits=20. Accessed February 24, 2011.
25. Project Development Procedures Manual. California Department of Transportation,
Division of Design, Sacramento, California, 2010.
http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/oppd/pdpm/other/PDPM-Chapters.pdf. Accessed February 24,
2011.
26. Florida DOT District 2 Survey Database Guidelines - Subsurface Utility Engineering,
Revised Standards. Florida Department of Transportation, Tallahassee, Florida, December
2010.
27. Exhibit A: Scope of Services for District-Wide Subsurface Utility Engineering. Sample
Subsurface Utility Contract, Florida Department of Transportation, Tallahassee, Florida,
October 2010.
234
28. Florida Utilities Coordinating Committee website:
http://www.fucc.org/FUCC/homepage.htm. Accessed March 5, 2011.
29. Georgia Department of Transportation SUE Subconsultant Project Workflow. Georgia
Department of Transportation, Atlanta, Georgia, 2011.
http://www.dot.state.ga.us/doingbusiness/utilities/sue/Documents/SUE-as-SubWorkflow.pdf.
Accessed February 24, 2011.
30. Georgia Department of Transportation SUE Submittal Review & Acceptance Process.
Georgia Department of Transportation, Atlanta, Georgia, 2011.
http://www.dot.state.ga.us/doingbusiness/utilities/sue/Documents/SUEReviewProcess.pdf.
Accessed February 24, 2011.
31. Optimizing SUE on GDOT Projects (PDP). Georgia Department of Transportation, Atlanta,
Georgia, 2011.
http://www.dot.state.ga.us/doingbusiness/utilities/sue/Documents/AvoidingUtilityProjectImp
acts_GDOT_Portion_Only.pdf. Accessed February 24, 2011.
32. SUE Utility Impact Rating Form, Revised 09/17/2008. Georgia Department of
Transportation, Atlanta, Georgia, 2011.
33. Highway Design Branch Policy and Procedure Manual. North Carolina Department of
Transportation, Raleigh, North Carolina, 2011.
http://www.ncdot.gov/doh/preconstruct/altern/value/manuals/ppm/. Accessed April 27,
2011.
34. Highway Design Branch Design Manual. North Carolina Department of Transportation,
Raleigh, North Carolina, 2011.
http://www.ncdot.gov/doh/preconstruct/altern/value/manuals/ppm/
http://www.ncdot.org/doh/preconstruct/altern/value/manuals/designmanual.html.
Accessed April 27, 2011.
35. NCDOT Location & Surveys Subsurface Utility Engineering Guidelines. North Carolina
Department of Transportation, Raleigh, North Carolina, August 1, 2006.
http://www.ncdot.gov/doh/preconstruct/highway/location/support/Support_Files/Documents/
Manuals/Sue_Guidelines.pdf. Accessed April 27, 2011.
36. Meeting Minutes of the Project STaRS/Transformation Management Team Work Group.
North Carolina Department of Transportation, Raleigh, North Carolina, December 2007.
http://www.ncdot.org/download/performance/Volume4pProjectSTaRS.pdf. Accessed April
27, 2011.
37. Project Development Process Manual. Ohio Department of Transportation, July 2010.
http://www.dot.state.oh.us/Divisions/ProdMgt/Production/pdp/PDP/PDPcomplete_0710.pdf.
Accessed April 27, 2011.
38. Survey on Subsurface Utility Engineering – Prequalifications and Method of Compensation
to Contractor. AASHTO Subcommittee on Right-of-Way and Utilities, Washington, D.C.,
May 2008.
http://rightofway.transportation.org/Documents/UTPAPreQualJobCosting5192008.doc.
Accessed April 27, 2011.
235
39. Campbell, J., G. Solomon, G. Fawver, R. Lorello, D. Mathis, C. Quiroga, B. Rhinehart, B.
Ward, J. Zaharewicz, and N. Zembillas. Streamlining and Integrating Right of Way and
Utility Processes with Planning, Environmental, and Design Processes in Australia and
Canada. Report FHWA-PL-09-011, Office of International Programs, Federal Highway
Administration, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials,
Washington, D.C., June 2009.
http://international.fhwa.dot.gov/links/pub_details.cfm?id=644. Accessed April 27, 2011.
40. Sinha, S., H. Thomas, M. Wang, and Y. Jung. Subsurface Utility Engineering Manual.
Pennsylvania Transportation Institute, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park,
Pennsylvania, August 2007. FHWA-PA-2007-027-510401-08.
ftp://ftp.dot.state.pa.us/public/pdf/BPR_PDF_FILES/Documents/Research/Complete%20Proj
ects/Smart%20Transportation%20Solutions/WO%208%20Final%20Report.pdf.
Accessed April 27, 2011.
41. Design Manual Part 5, Utility Relocation. Publication 16M (01-10), Pennsylvania
Department of Transportation, Bureau of Design, Pennsylvania, January 2010.
ftp://ftp.dot.state.pa.us/public/PubsForms/Publications/PUB%2016M/. Accessed April 27,
2011.
42. Pennsylvania Act 287 of 1974 as Amended, Section 6.1.
http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt?open=514&objID=552996&mode=2.
Accessed April 27, 2011.
43. Utility Relocation Electronic Document Management System (UREDMS). Website.
Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Bureau of Design, Pennsylvania, 2011.
https://www.dot14.state.pa.us/uredmsweb/home.jsp. Accessed April 27, 2011.
44. Right of Way and Utilities Management System. Website. Virginia Department of
Transportation, Richmond, Virginia, 2011. http://www.virginiadot.org/business/rowrums.asp. Accessed April 27, 2011.
45. Concurrent Engineering Process Graphic. Virginia Department of Transportation,
Richmond, Virginia, 2011. http://www.virginiadot.org/projects/resources/CE-Process.pdf.
Accessed April 27, 2011.
46. Project Development Flow Chart. Virginia Department of Transportation, Richmond,
Virginia, 2011. http://www.virginiadot.org/business/resources/LocDes/PDCE.pdf.
Accessed April 27, 2011.
47. Road Design Manual. Virginia Department of Transportation, Location and Design
Division, Richmond, Virginia, 2005.
http://www.extranet.vdot.state.va.us/locdes/Electronic%20Pubs/2005%20RDM/RoadDesign
CoverVol.1.pdf. Accessed April 27, 2011.
48. Field Review and Scoping Report. Form Number PM-100, Revised 2/15/2011. Virginia
Department of Transportation, Richmond, Virginia, 2011.
http://vdotforms.vdot.virginia.gov/SearchResults.aspx?filename=PM_100.doc.
Accessed April 27, 2011.
236
49. VDOT Risk Management Form. Form Number PM-103, Revised 7/1/2008. Virginia
Department of Transportation, Richmond, Virginia, 2008.
http://vdotforms.vdot.virginia.gov/SearchResults.aspx?filename=78200947PM-103.doc.
Accessed April 27, 2011.
50. Northern Virginia Utilities Coordinating Committee. Website. Virginia Department of
Transportation, Richmond, Virginia, 2011.
http://www.virginiadot.org/about/NVUCC_quick.asp. Accessed April 27, 2011.
51. Lew, J. J. Cost Savings on Highway Projects Utilizing Subsurface Utility Engineering.
Report No. FHWA-IF-00-014. Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, January 2000.
52. Jeong, H., D. Abraham, and J. Lew. “Evaluation of an Emerging Market in Subsurface
Utility Engineering.” Journal of Construction Engineering and Management 130 (2). 2004,
225–234.
53. Osman, H. and T. El-Diraby. “Implementation of Subsurface Utility Engineering in Ontario:
Cases and a Cost Model.” Canadian Journal of Civil Engineering 34, 2007, 1529–1541.
54. Data Dictionary Report. File 9: CIS-Contract-Identification. Texas Department of
Transportation, Austin, Texas, 05/12/2009.
55. Highway Cost Index (1997 Base) – Index Report for April 2012. Texas Transportation
Institute, Austin, Texas, 2012.
56. 43 TAC 15.120-15.122. Texas Administrative Code. Title 43, Part 1, Chapter 15,
Subchapter J.
http://info.sos.state.tx.us/pls/pub/readtac$ext.TacPage?sl=R&app=9&p_dir=&p_rloc=&p_tlo
c=&p_ploc=&pg=1&p_tac=&ti=43&pt=1&ch=15&rl=121. Accessed April 26, 2012.
57. Roadway Design Manual. Texas Department of Transportation, Austin, Texas, May 2010.
http://onlinemanuals.txdot.gov/txdotmanuals/rdw/index.htm. Accessed April 26, 2012.
58. SAS/STAT 9.2 User’s Guide – The TTEST Procedure (Book Excerpt). SAS, 2008.
http://support.sas.com/documentation/cdl/en/statugttest/61844/PDF/default/statugttest.pdf.
Accessed April 26, 2012.
59. Chapter 3.5 of Division 5 of the California Government Code.
60. Survey on Subsurface Utility Engineering – Prequalifications and Method of Compensation
to Contractor. AASHTO Subcommittee on Right-of-Way and Utilities, Washington, D.C.,
May 2008.
http://rightofway.transportation.org/Documents/UTPAPreQualJobCosting5192008.doc.
Accessed April 27, 2011.
61. Quiroga, C., E. Kraus, J. Overman, and N. Koncz. Integration of Utility and Environmental
Activities in the Project Development Process. Report FHWA/TX-10/0-6065-1, Texas
Transportation Institute, College Station, Texas, January 2010.
62. ROW Utility Manual. Texas Department of Transportation, Austin, Texas, February 2011.
63. PS&E Preparation Manual. Texas Department of Transportation, Austin, Texas, May 2012.
237
APPENDIX A. TXDOT SURVEY QUESTIONNAIRE
Page 1
1. In what phase(s) of the transportation project development process (see figure below)
are you personally involved? (Check all that apply.)
Planning and Programming
Preliminary design
Detailed Design (PS&E Development)
Letting
Construction
Post-construction
Typical phases of the TxDOT project development process:
239
Page 2
2. Which utility investigation techniques has your district or region used in the past?
(Check all that apply.)
Existing records research (e.g., utility owner records)
Surveying of surface utility appurtenances
Pipe and cable locators
Terrain conductivity
Ground penetrating radar
Ground penetrating radar arrays
Magnetic methods
Elastic wave methods (e.g., acoustic location)
Vacuum excavation
Infrared thermography
Other
If Other please specify
Page 3
Some of the following questions refer to quality levels (QL) for utility investigations, as defined
in ASCE/CI standard 38-02. A quality level is a professional opinion of the quality and
reliability of utility data, certified by a professional engineer or surveyor:
QLD: Data collection from existing records or oral recollections.
QLC: Surveying and plotting of visible utility appurtenances and making inferences
about underground linear utility facilities that connect those appurtenances.
QLB: Surface geophysical methods (e.g., ground penetrating radar) to determine the
approximate horizontal position of subsurface utilities.
QLA: Accurate horizontal and vertical utility locations through exposure of utility
facilities at certain locations (e.g., test holes).
240
Page 4
3. Who can request the use of utility investigations on a project? (Check all that apply.)
Planning and Programming
Preliminary Design
0–30% design
30–60% design
60–90% design
90–100% design
Construction
QLD
241
QLC
QLB
QLA
Page 5
4. Who can request the use of utility investigations on a project? (Check all that apply.)
Project manager
Design team
District utility coordinator
District environmental coordinator
Utility engineer
SUE consultant
Utility company
Other
QLD
QLC
QLB
QLA
If Other please specify
5. Who makes the final decision to use utility investigations? (Check all that apply.)
Project manager
Design team
District utility coordinator
District environmental coordinator
Utility engineer
SUE consultant
Utility company
Other
QLD
QLC
QLB
QLA
If Other please specify
Page 6
For the following quality levels, briefly describe the process to request and approve the
data collection effort:
6. QLD data collection
242
7. QLC data collection
8. QLB data collection
9. QLA data collection
Page 7
Please select if procedures for utility investigations are different for the following:
10. Urban vs. rural projects?
•
•
Yes
No
Briefly explain why:
11. Projects on new right-of-way vs. projects entirely on existing right-of-way?
•
•
Yes
No
Briefly explain why:
243
12. Added capacity vs. non-added capacity projects?
•
•
Yes
No
Briefly explain why:
Page 8
13. What factors influence your decision to use or request QLB data collections for a
project?
Page 9
14. How do the following factors influence your decision to use or request QLA data
collection for a project:
244
Estimated density of
underground utilities
Type of utilities (water, gas,
oil, etc.)
Material of utilities (e.g.,
concrete, cast iron, PVC)
Ease of access to utilities
Estimated age of utilities
Estimated utility relocation
costs
Estimated project traffic
volume (e.g., ADT per lane)
Project urgency/schedule
Project area description (e.g.,
rural, suburban, urban)
Excavation depth on right-ofway
Quality of known utility
information (QLC and QLD)
Past performance and response
of utility companies
Potential impact on businesses
if utility is accidentally
damaged
Potential environmental
impact if utility is accidentally
damaged
Potential safety impact if
utility is accidentally damaged
1 (No
impact)
2 (Low
impact)
3 (Medium 4 (Medium
impact)
to high
impact)


5 (High
impact)




































































15. What other factors influence your decision to use or request QLA data collections for a
project?
245
Page 10
16. Do you use any type of checklist, flowchart, or other procedure to determine what type
of utility investigation data to collect and when?
•
•
Yes
No
[go to question 17]
[go to question 18]
Page 11
17. Briefly describe the type of checklist, flowchart, or other procedure you use to
determine what type of utility investigation data to collect and when:
Page 12
18. Which of the following utility investigation levels are typically performed in-house or
outsourced to SUE consultants? (Check all that apply.)
In-House
QLD
QLC
QLB
QLA
SUE
Consultant
Briefly explain why:
Page 13
19. Have you been involved with the procurement of SUE consultant services?
•
•
Yes
No
[go to question 20]
[go to question 21]
246
Page 14
20. Please rate the overall effectiveness of the following types of procurement practices for
SUE services:
Evergreen contract (one SUE consultant per
district)
Evergreen contract (multiple SUE
consultants per district)
Engineering services contract with SUE
consultant (not evergreen)
Engineering services contract, SUE
consultant included as subcontractor (not
evergreen)
Other
Least
Effective

Somewhat
Very
Effective Effective


N/A (Do
not use)

















If Other please specify
Page 15
21. Have you been involved with the management of SUE contract task orders?
•
•
Yes
No
[go to question 22]
[go to question 23]
Page 16
22. Briefly describe challenges and recommendations for managing SUE contract task
orders:
Page 17
23. Have you received QLB or QLA SUE deliverables in the past?
•
•
Yes
No
[go to question 24]
[go to question 26]
247
Page 18
24. Please rate your satisfaction with QLB data collection deliverables in the past:
Quality
Accuracy
Completeness
Reliability
Timely response to request
for data collection
Timely product delivery
Value
Excellent
Good
Average
Fair
Poor

























No
answer

















25. Please rate your satisfaction with QLA data collection deliverables in the past:
Quality
Accuracy
Completeness
Reliability
Timely response to request
for data collection
Timely product delivery
Value
Excellent
Good
Average
Fair
Poor

























No
answer

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
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
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
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Page 19
26. Do you have a formal process to review deliverables from SUE consultants?
•
•
Yes
No
[go to question 27]
[go to question 28]
Page 20.
27. Briefly describe the process you have in place for reviewing SUE deliverables:
248
Page 21
Research has shown that the use of QLB and QLA SUE can have significant benefits in terms of
lower project cost. However, QLB and QLA SUE are not frequently used on TxDOT projects.
28. Can you give a reason why QLB and QLA SUE are not frequently used on TxDOT
projects?
29. What is your expected return on investment when using SUE (project cost savings to
SUE expenditures)? For example, a 10:1 ratio means expected project cost savings of $10
for every $1 spent on SUE.
Expected
project savings
1:1
(no net
savings)
2:1
3:1
4:1
5:1
10:1
20:1 or
more
Don’t
know








Page 22
30. For the following issues with utility data, indicate how frequently your district has
experienced them.
Frequently Sometimes
Utility data collection
Utility data liability
Utility data sharing within
TxDOT
Utility data sharing outside
TxDOT
Utility data updates
Utility data reliability
Other









Not an
issue



















If Other please specify
249
Rarely
Page 23
In other states, utility companies are increasingly concerned about sharing information about the
location of their facilities with the general public and/or competitors.
31. To what degree is the management of confidentiality and/or security of utility data an
issue in your district/region?
Utility data security
High
Medium
Low
Not an issue
concern/priority concern/priority concern/priority




Briefly explain why:
Page 24:
32. Can you share a best practice for utility investigations?
•
•
Yes
No
[go to question 33]
[go to question 34]
Page 25:
33. Briefly describe best practice(s) for utility investigations:
Page 26
34. Have you experienced any challenges with the use of utility investigations/SUE
technology?
•
•
Yes
No
[go to question 35]
[go to question 36]
250
Page 27
35. Briefly describe what challenges you have experienced with the use of utility
investigations/SUE technology, if any.
Page 28
36. Do you know of a current utility investigation practice in your district/region that
could be improved or should be reviewed?
•
•
Yes
No
[go to question 37]
[go to question 38]
Page 29
37. Briefly describe current utility investigation practices in your district/region that could
be improved.
Page 30
38. Are there any policies and/or regulations that constrain or obstruct the use of utility
investigations in the project development process?
•
•
Yes
No
[go to question 39]
[go to question 40]
Page 31
39. Briefly describe the policy and/or regulations that constrain or obstruct the use of
utility investigations in the project development process.
251
Page 32
40. Please select documents you use for utility investigations during the project
development process. (Check all that apply.)
Standard operating procedure (SOP)
TxDOT Utility Manual
SUE/utility investigations manual
ASCE SUE standard (ASCE 38-02)
Memorandum of understanding with utility companies
Memorandum of understanding with SUE providers
Field guide
District policy or guide
Other
If Other please specify
41. What other information would help you decide when and how to use utility
investigations or SUE technology in the project development process?
Page 33
42. What type of information management systems are used at your district/region to
record, identify, and/or manage utility investigation data?
Data Management Platform
Spreadsheet (Excel, OpenOffice, other)
Word processor (Word, Word Perfect, other)
Desktop database (Access, other)
Server-based database (SQL Server, Oracle,
MySQL, other)
CAD (AutoCAD, MicroStation, other)
Desktop/Server GIS (ArcGIS, TransCAD,
Geomedia, other)
Other
If Other please specify
252
Heavy
Use
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

Moderate
Use




Light
Use




Do Not
Use




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



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Page 34
The following are questions for demographic purposes only that will not be related to survey
responses in the final report.
43. What division, region, or district do you work in?
[Pull down menu of choices]
Design Division
Right of Way Division
Environmental Division
North Region
West Region
East Region
South Region
Abilene
Amarillo
Atlanta
Austin
Beaumont
Brownwood
Bryan
Childress
Corpus Christi
Dallas
El Paso
Fort Worth
Houston
Laredo
Lubbock
Lufkin
Odessa
Paris
Pharr
San Angelo
San Antonio
Tyler
Waco
Wichita Falls
Yoakum
Other
If Other please specify
253
44. What section/field do you work in?
[Pull down menu of choices]
Design
Environmental
Right of Way
Utilities
Other
If Other please specify
45. What is your position/title? (Select the option most closely matching your official title
and functions).
[Pull down menu of choices]
Director/Head
Project Manager
Engineer
Staff/Support
Other
If Other please specify
Page 35
46. Sometimes it is useful to follow up to clarify a response. May we contact you for
further discussion?
•
•
Yes
No
47. Thank you for participating in this survey, we sincerely appreciate your help. If you
have any further comments please enter them below or contact the project's principal
investigator Edgar Kraus at [email protected]
254
Potential Follow-Up Interview
0-6631 Interview Notes
Interview conducted by: _______________________________________ Date: _________
Interview with:
__________________________________________________
Title:
__________________________________________________
TxDOT Division/Region/District:
________________________________________________
Mailing address:
__________________________________________________
Phone number:
__________________________________________________
Email address:
__________________________________________________
Description of Innovative/Best Practice(s)
Recommendations for Implementation
Lessons learned
Other issues, recommendations, or comments
Sample Documentation Gathered
Additional Contact for Interview
255
APPENDIX B. RESPONSES TO TXDOT SURVEY ESSAY QUESTIONS
Question 6. For the following quality levels, briefly describe the process to request and
approve the data collection effort: QLD Data Collection. (63 Responses, 66 Skipped.)
Table 61. Responses to Question 6.
Title
QLD Data Collection Process
Transportation Engineer
Supervisor
The designer will discuss with Area Engineer and Maintenance Supervisor
at PDC.
Transportation Engineer
Design personnel have to collect this information themselves.
Transportation Engineer
Project Manager, Design Team leader, determines need for utility locate
Design Engineer
Design team leader (project manager) and designer discuss the need and
initiate the investigation.
Engineering Technician
Check district utility permit files, UIR permits, ROW maps, and old
construction plans.
Transportation Engineer
Usually a visual inspection on the project and anything in previous plan
sets by the Project Manager.
Design Engineer
Individual designer is assign all tasks associated with the design of a
project, including utilities investigation. Designer obtains existing records,
may conduct site survey.
Utility Coordinator
Project Manager may request & collect available data from area office
records (design, maintenance, & SUE data, if available), then pass data
along to others, incl. appropriate Projects Construction Utility Coordinator
(PCUC) for evaluation & follow-up. PCUC ultimately responsible for
acquiring final evaluation of “clear” or “in conflict.”
Transportation Specialist
If there's money in a contract it's requested thru the District Utility
coordinator.
Engineering Specialist
Pull and review existing permits on file.
Project Manager
Compare and verify the existing utility plans to the preliminary
construction plans.
Director of TPD
Request is made to our Survey Office to request SUE work through a
professional services contract.
Engineer Supervisor
Request is submitted to whoever is managing the SUE contracts. A work
authorization is drafted and approved by the Director of TP&D.
Head of Traffic
Utility Coordinator.
Design Engineer
Contact utility providers and request plans, drawings, maps of existing
facilities in the area of the project. Or provide utility providers with
project layouts to sketch in the approximate location of their facilities.
257
Title
QLD Data Collection Process
Utility Coordinator
We have records that we can check for every project. The request would
be from the Design Team to the Utility Coordinator.
District Design Eng.
Designer contacts area office/maintenance office to obtain copies of any
utility permits or utility maps that may be on file.
District Design Eng.
Data collection is part of the survey that is requested/performed.
Utility Coordinator
Review permit files.
Transportation Engineer
Supervisor.
A discussion between the Project Manager and the District's Utility
Coordinator to determine the level of the utilities needed for the
complexity of the project. If there is lots of structures or excavation in a
limited right-of-way and/or well developed urban area, one would request
a higher level of data collection. You pick the level based on the type and
location of the project. Same for all levels.
Design Technician
In our area office, we contact the affected utility companies for the
approximate locations of their facilities. We determine the affected
utilities by field verification and past experience of known service areas.
Advance Project
Development Director
Coordinate project with local government staff and district utility office.
Utility Supervisor
As- built data.
Transportation Engineer
Design team can do utility location research in house. Team can request a
SUE contractor be utilized, final decision is regional.
Transportation Engineer
Request plans from utility companies by letter. Transfer information to
plans and have utility verify.
Plan Reviewer
On large projects, starts with project manager requesting to district utility
manager. We do not do any levels on small projects.
Transportation Engineer
Supervisor
PM initiate utility block map search and have utility owners provide layout
at 30% utility meeting
Transportation Engineer
No need to request for approval. It is part of the required design process
(data collection)
Design Project Supervisor
Look through old construction plans and permits.
Transportation Engineer
During early design (0–30%) the in-house design team or the consultant
team starts collecting existing records. Usually, TxDOT personnel do not
have internet access so the search is harder and more limited. The City of
Houston has a lot of records electronically.
Utility Coordinator
We would give the project information to our surveyor group and start the
work.
ROW Utility Coordinator
Design section call the Texas 811 call service for listing of utilities within
the project limits and from the lists request records of utility maps/”As
built” plans.
Engineering Specialist
Preliminary stage
258
Title
QLD Data Collection Process
Transportation Engineer
This information comes solely from existing utility records; also there is
an initial meeting with the locals to help us in obtaining existing utility
information from utility providers.
Area Engineer
Pull old utility permits.
Design Engineer
Tell designers to look it up and contact utility companies.
District Design Engineer
Designer looks up district utility permits on file and notifies companies of
potential project by letter.
Transportation Engineering
Supervisor
In pre-design conference and preliminary field trips to site, oral
recollections and/or old plans are used to indicate existing utilities.
Area Engineer
Just go to the maintenance office and look at the existing records.
Staff Support
Utility coordinator.
Project Manager
Designer/design team conducts initial research on all applicable projects
for general location and ID info (request/approval is implied by SOP); on
major projects at request of project manager (PM) and approval of district
review committee, more thorough research is conducted (detailed info,
maps, etc.) early in preliminary design/alternatives development phase to
be used with QLC & QLB data for plot plan of best available location info;
PM is directly involved with data collection effort on major projects
District Utility Coordinator
APPROVAL
Must talk with the local utility companies, permit mangers, maintenance
foreman's and city officials to recall the placement. Also search utility
files.
back-up utility coordinator
Utility meeting held early on in planning phase with utility companies
whose responsibility it is to inform us of where there utilities are located in
the proposed construction area.
District Utility Coordinator
Research property interests held by a utility in the court house, request
utility As-built plans if available, conduct utility workshops to obtain
utility information and introduce construction project and goals, visit with
irrigation and drainage districts. Visit with local municipality.
District Design Engineer
The project manager or design team member will request utility maps
(hard copies or electronic files) directly from the utility companies, and
request utility permits from the TxDOT permit office.
Trans Engineer Supervisor
Letter sent to utility company.
Utility Coordinator
Request as needed based on exiting SUE contract.
Trans Engineer Supervisor
Research as-builts, use one call, research existing permits within ROW
Engineering Specialist
Starts with preliminary design.
Engineering Specialist
email sent to the Utility Coordinator
Design Engineer
TxDOT contacts/meets with the utilities and requests as-built utility plans.
Advanced Project
Development
Utility coordinator will provide for in-house projects. Consultants provide
for consultant projects.
259
Title
QLD Data Collection Process
Utility Coordinator
Review existing permit records, contact locate providers for list of
registered utilities within the limits of the project, establish preliminary list
of utilities
District Utility Coordinator
The Utility Coordinator (UC) discusses projects with the design team and
survey team and determines if there could be potential utilities in the area
Bridge Engineer
Occurs through general discussion about project with adjacent land owners
& local officials.
Director of Operations
Informal process.
Director /Head
Draft a scope of work for the region to execute a work authorization.
Supervisor, Design Utility
Coordination Section
Design Engineer/Project Manager request SUE investigation through
Design Utility Coordination section, and Region. Design Engineer/Project
Manager may request block maps and utility documentation from utility
during Preliminary Design phase.
Engineer
Designers could perform this level of data collection.
Director/Head
This collection is requested through district utility coordinator.
Utility Coordinator
This is expected - to do basic preliminary research.
Staff Support
Design reviews the project foot print area.
260
Question 7. For the following quality levels, briefly describe the process to request and
approve the data collection effort: QLC Data Collection. (60 Responses, 69 Skipped.)
Table 62. Responses to Question 7.
Title
QLC Data Collection Process
Transportation Engineer
Supervisor
The surveyor and designer will observe marked utilities when a site visit is
made at start of project.
Transportation Engineer
Designers and surveyors have to collect this information ourselves.
Sometimes the surveyor takes it upon himself to call Dig TESS and then
surveys in all the paint markings on the ground.
Transportation Engineer
Project Manager, Design Team leader, determines need for utility locate
Design Engineer
Design team leader (project manager) and designer discuss the need and
initiate the investigation.
Engineering Technician
Request survey crew to topography above ground appurtenances and
comment on obvious signs.
Transportation Engineer
We survey all above ground utilities on projects that requires a survey.
Design Engineer
Individual designer may conduct survey work including utility
investigations.
Utility Coordinator
Project Manager may use site visits to perform visual survey & record any
apparent potential utility conflicts, then pass data along to others, incl.
appropriate PCUC for evaluation & follow-up. PCUC ultimately
responsible for acquiring final evaluation of “clear” or “in conflict.”
Transportation Specialist
If there's money in a contract it's requested thru the district utility
coordinator.
Engineering Specialist
Utilize One Call.
Project Manager
Verify the construction plans with the existing utilities, at driveways, side
streets, crossings, etc.
Director of TPD
Same as above (request is made to our survey office to request SUE work
through a professional services contract).
Engineer Supervisor
Request is submitted to whoever is managing the SUE contracts. A work
authorization is drafted and approved by the Director of TP&D.
Head of Traffic
Utility Coordinator.
Design Engineer
Contact utility providers to locate facilities on the ground at the project site
via paint markings or flags and provide approx. depths. Schedule District
survey crews to survey in utility locations once locates are complete.
Utility Coordinator
The survey request would be from the Design Team/Utility Coordinator to
the Survey Crew.
District Design Eng.
Designer works through the District Advance Planning Engineer to request
this information as part of the field survey for the project.
Utility Coordinator
Field survey.
261
Title
QLC Data Collection Process
Design Technician
We do in house field verification and call in locates from the affected
utilities. This is done at the Area office level with in house personnel.
Advance Project
Development Director
Coordinate project with local government staff, District Utility Office, and
conduct project field trip.
Utility Supervisor
On the ground data
Transportation Engineer
Design team can survey utilities, or request assistance from district
personnel. SUE contract must be requested and approved by Region.
Transportation Engineer
Field investigation and survey. Compare with record drawings. Have
company verify findings.
Plan Reviewer
Same as above.
Transportation Engineer
Supervisor
PM and project design team.
Transportation Engineer
No need to request for approval. It is part of the required design process
(data collection).
Design Project Supervisor
Review survey notes with old construction plans and permits.
Transportation Engineer
District Survey Engineer orders a survey and provides basic data to the
project manager.
Utility Coordinator
We would give the project information to our surveyor group and start the
work.
ROW Utility Coordinator
Design section request field survey of utilities and generate utility plans
for utility companies to verify the locations of the existing utilities.
Engineering Specialist
Preliminary stage.
Transportation Engineer
This information is usually collected during the preliminary phase of the
project; all topographic surveys requested by the District identify utility
facilities. This is initiated by design team.
Area Engineer
Surveyors pick up on topography surveying.
Design Engineer
Call Tx 1 call or Utility Co.
District Design Engineer
Designer request surveying for project design which the surveyor will
obtain any visible utilities in the surveyed area
Transportation Engineering
Supervisor
In general we use the One Call number to locate utilities for design and
construction purposes. The designer makes the call and once the locates
are marked goes out and gets measurements to include in the plans.
Area Engineer
Designer goes out to the project and looks when needed.
Staff Support
Utility Coordinator.
Project Manager
Typically, this process is combined with and immediately follows QLB
investigation by utility companies as part of contracted surveying services;
PM is responsible for request (approval by TP&D director) and
coordinates data collection effort.
262
Title
QLC Data Collection Process
District Utility Coordinator
Approval
Must call DIGTESS, usually responsible person is the surveyor or the
designer in charge.
District Utility Coordinator
Windshield survey of project, surface locates for utility topography.
District Design Engineer
The project manager will work with the surveyor (TxDOT or consultant)
to request that surface data for utilities be collected in the topographic
survey.
Trans Engineer Supervisor
Letter sent to utility company.
Utility Coordinator
Request as needed based on exiting SUE contract.
Trans Engineer Supervisor
Research, find utility companies and request as-builts with horizontal and
vertical information.
Engineering Specialist
Starts with preliminary design and detail design.
Engineering Specialist
Email sent to the utility coordinator.
Design Engineer
TxDOT contacts Texas One Call/Dig TESS/individual utilities and has
lines located/marked. TxDOT then has marked utility lines surveyed.
Advanced Project
Development
Utility coordinator will provide for in-house projects. Consultants provide
for consultant projects.
Utility Coordinator
Perform site visit, request a meeting with utilities, request as-built records
and ask them to mark up highway schematic/plans showing all known
depths and locations, if available request survey staff to survey visible
utility locations otherwise plot locations as they become available from
utility's mark ups.
District Utility Coordinator
The UC will visit the site to look for utility appurtenances.
Bridge Engineer
Above ground utilities features are gathered as part of routine topographic
surveying preformed during the initial design phase of most projects.
Supervising Design
Engineer
Visit site and do One Call.
Director /Head
Draft a scope of work for the region to execute a work authorization.
Supervisor, Design Utility
Coordination Section
Design Engineer/Project Manager may use appurtenances shown on the
ROW maps to make inferences about UG utilities in the project limits.
Design Engineer/Project Manager will also visit the project to visually
determine OH utilities. QLC is also requested when we contract SUE
services by an outside vendor.
Engineer
In recent times we are lacking in utility investigations during the design
phase, but designers should use this level when needed.
Director/Head
This collection is requested through district utility coordinator.
Utility Coordinator
For congested urban areas, this level becomes an expectation.
Staff Support
Design request plans from utility companies for review.
263
Question 8. For the following quality levels, briefly describe the process to request and
approve the data collection effort: QLB Data Collection. (54 Responses, 75 Skipped.)
Table 63. Responses to Question 8.
Title
QLB Data Collection Process
Transportation Engineer
Supervisor
The surveyor or designer will place a call to 811, Texas one-call service,
when a project begins.
Transportation Engineer
TxDOT has to contract this type of data collection out to a contractor. I
think this type of data collection service is rarely used. Sometimes the
surveyor takes it upon himself to call Dig TESS and then surveys in all the
paint markings on the ground. Dig TESS does not provide depth
information.
Transportation Engineer
Project Manager, Design Team leader, determines need for utility locate
Design Engineer
Design team leader (project manager) and designer discuss the need and
initiate the investigation.
Engineering Technician
Project manager or survey crew submits online locate ticket.
Transportation Engineer
We contact DIGTESS/811 in conjunction with our survey to locate
underground utilities; call is made by Design Team.
Utility Coordinator
Either Project Manager or PCUC will use GEO-REMOTE list request or
formal “locate request” to acquire a list of utilities within project limits,
then (appropriate) PCUC ultimately responsible for evaluating data and
acquiring final evaluation of “CLEAR” or “IN CONFLICT.”
Transportation Specialist
If there's money in a contract it's requested thru the District Utility
coordinator.
Engineering Specialist
Request thru survey coordinator for consultant SUE work.
Project Manager
Contact one call dig test to locate existing utilities on a project prior to any
excavation.
Director of TPD
Same as above.
Engineer Supervisor
Request is submitted to whoever is managing the SUE contracts. A work
authorization is drafted and approved by the Director of TP&D.
Head of Traffic
Ask the TP&D Director.
Utility Coordinator
The request would be from the Design Team to the Design Engineer with
help from the Utility Coordinator.
District Design Eng.
Designer contacts those utilities using the one-call method that may be
affected by the proposed work and requests the utility locations be staked
in the field using whatever methods (electronic or physical) are available.
Utility Coordinator
Use of pipe locator.
Design Technician
We do not have the equipment in house for QLB, and I've been informed
that we have no money budgeted for SUE consultant contracts.
264
Title
QLB Data Collection Process
Advance Project
Development Director
Hire qualified Subsurface Utility Engineer.
Utility Supervisor
Located data.
Transportation Engineer
Level B data would need to be requested through Region.
Transportation Engineer
Request Level B investigation from provider. Compare data collected
with Level C & D information. Have company verify.
Plan Reviewer
Same as above.
Transportation Engineer
Supervisor
PM request it through district utility coordinator, Region & Austin
Transportation Engineer
Designer will request this level of data collection through the Project
Manager/Engineer and the District Utility Coordinator/Manager - Contract
outsource at this level.
Design Project Supervisor
Request additional data collection from District Utility Coordinator.
Transportation Engineer
The Project Engineer (or consultant-if his scope includes utility
investigations) asks that more data be collected through a SUE
investigation. The SUE investigation is coordinated through our Survey
Section or District Utility Section.
Utility Coordinator
We request type B investigation thru outside consultant.
ROW Utility Coordinator
Design section request field survey of utilities and generate utility plans
for utility companies to verify the locations of the existing utilities.
Engineering Specialist
Review and approve level D, C than proceed to level B and level A.
Transportation Engineer
Sometimes the utility company may not have accurate records or some of
their lines may be abandoned; at that time we would request the use of this
level of data.
District Design Engineer
Never used.
Transportation Engineering
Supervisor
I don't think we have used this very often, but I do think it has been done
in the past.
Area Engineer
When more information is needed. PM calls utilities to locate.
Project Manager
Except when using SUE consultants, this service is provided by major
utility companies upon request of TxDOT's PM for design purposes;
requested and approved through design review process only for new
location, added capacity and projects involving major drainage facility
construction or other significant excavation activities; repeated or
conducted initially for other applicable projects at beginning of
construction by contractor request.
District Utility Coordinator
APPROVAL
Not used but in contract.
265
Title
QLB Data Collection Process
District Utility Coordinator
Call in Dig-Tess to obtain surface locates electronically, call city or local
water distribution company to locate facilities within project limits, (this
usually happens early in design to explore design around options to
minimize impact of utility infrastructure).
District Design Engineer
The project manager must request from the District Design Engineer to use
the services of a SUE consultant to collect the data. The District Design
Engineer must request from the Region if they can use consultant services
for SUE work on a project. If approved the project manager works with
the consultant to negotiate a work authorization or contract. The work
authorization or contract must be approved by the region.
Utility Coordinator
Request as needed based on exiting SUE contract.
Trans Engineer Supervisor
Hire consultant to perform this work.
Engineering Specialist
Detail design phase.
Engineering Specialist
Email sent to the Utility Coordinator.
Design Engineer
Not used.
Advanced Project
Development
Utility coordinator will provide for in-house projects. Consultants provide
for consultant projects.
Utility Coordinator
Provide survey and/or mark ups from utilities to project manager for
review, determine preliminary conflict locations that may require more
research than reviewing the ex-records and mark ups, request QLB from
utility if applicable however it is not the preferred level.
ROW Program Specialist
After contracting with SUE provider, request B, C, and D levels. Review
results with project manager and identify potential conflict points. The
decision to obtain additional data is made at that time.
District Utility Coordinator
The UC will call for locates using the Dig TESS system if the surveyors
have not already done so.
Bridge Engineer
Normally performed by the Utility Company if they determine that the
project may come into conflict with the utility.
Director /Head
Draft a scope of work for the region to execute a work authorization.
Supervisor, Design Utility
Coordination Section
Design Engineer/Project Manager request SUE investigation through
Design Utility Coordination section, and Region.
Engineer
This would need to be requested through the district utility coordinator
during the design phase. In the construction phase this could be requested
by contractor. Although at this phase it usually causes delays in
construction.
Utility Coordinator
This level requires district funding and must be justified.
Staff Support
Project Manager determines the cost vs. need.
266
Question 9. For the following quality levels, briefly describe the process to request and
approve the data collection effort: QLA Data Collection. (59 Responses, 70 Skipped.)
Table 64. Responses to Question 9.
Title
QLA Data Collection Process
Transportation Engineer
Supervisor
Rarely used, lack of funds.
Transportation Engineer
TxDOT has to rely on the willingness of utility companies to provide this
type of information, or obtain it through a TxDOT funded SUE contract.
Designers/project managers can request this type of information from
utility companies. Uncooperative utilities have to be referred to
management.
Transportation Engineer
Data normally collected in urbanized areas. Approval needed to obtain
SUE contract.
Design Engineer
Design team leader (project manager) and designer discuss the need and
initiate the investigation. This level is not typically project wide, but is
used at identified critical locations.
Engineering Technician
Project manager or survey crew contacts utility company about the need to
more accurately locate some of their utilities. Survey crew and project
manager or designer meet utility in the field to complete investigation
using utility company’s crew and equipment.
Transportation Engineer
If there is a potential conflict, the Project Manager tells the Utility
Coordinator to contact and set up a meeting with the utility company. The
PM and UC meet with the owners and discuss a plan. Then it is the utility
company’s option to do the test holes or move the line.
Design Engineer
Individual designer requests approval for outsourcing survey work.
Project manager secures funding approval for outsourcing. Both designer
and PM will perform utility coordination.
Utility Coordinator
Either PCUC, or rarely Project Manager, will request physical verification
of a utility if there is a potential for conflict that cannot be verified by any
other method. After location, if the utility does not agree there is a need to
adjust the facility in apparent conflict, the PCUC consults the Project
Manager and may thereafter request the utility to make the needed
adjustment(s).
Transportation Specialist
If there's money in a contract it's requested thru the District Utility
coordinator.
Engineering Specialist
Request thru survey coordinator for consultant SUE work.
Project Manager
Verify known conflicts of existing utilities with proposed construction.
Director of TPD
After info above, we coordinate with utility company to decide if pothole
or other method needed.
Engineer Supervisor
Request is submitted to whoever is managing the SUE contracts. A work
authorization is drafted and approved by the Director of TP&D.
267
Title
QLA Data Collection Process
Head of Traffic
Ask the TP&D Director.
Design Engineer
When conflicts are anticipated utility companies are asked to either
pothole facility for an accurate location, or plan to adjust the facility.
District survey crews are scheduled to collect pothole data.
Utility Coordinator
The request would be from the Design Team to the Design Engineer with
help from the Utility Coordinator.
District Design Eng.
Designer contacts those utilities that appear to conflict with the proposed
work and requests that accurate horizontal and vertical locations be
provided. This information is used to either request the utility relocation
or to redesign the work to avoid the utility.
District Design Eng.
If there is an apparent conflict with a utility, the district will have the
utility cored to find its exact depth and location.
Design Technician
We do not have the equipment in house for QLA, and I've been informed
that we have no money budgeted for SUE consultant contracts.
Advance Project
Development Director
Hire qualified Subsurface Utility Engineer.
Utility Supervisor
Exposed data.
Transportation Engineer
Level A data would need to be requested through Region.
Transportation Engineer
Determine need and necessity for Level A investigation. Request work
and compare data with current information. Provide to utility company to
work on adjustments
Plan Reviewer
Same as above.
Transportation Engineer
Supervisor
Same as GL B.
Transportation Engineer
Designer will request this level of data collection through the Project
Manager/Engineer and the District Utility Coordinator/Manager - Contract
outsource at this level.
Design Project Supervisor
Request additional data collection from District Utility Coordinator.
Transportation Engineer
The Project Engineer (or Consultant-if his scope includes utility
investigations) asks that more data be collected through a SUE
investigation. The SUE investigation is coordinated through our Survey
Section or District Utility Section. QLA is not very frequently done.
Utility Coordinator
We request type A investigation thru outside consultant
ROW Utility Coordinator
Design section determine and request the location of test hole survey
information of the utilities and generate utility test hole data sheet for
utility companies to verify information.
Engineering Specialist
Review and approve Level D,C, B and review A
268
Title
QLA Data Collection Process
Transportation Engineer
Typically a mobility project in an urban area will require the use of SUE
level A. We coordinate this with the region to allocate resources/funds to
do this work.
Area Engineer
Once defined plan and known conflicts have utility tie down locations.
District Design Engineer
Never used
Transportation Engineering
Supervisor
We have used SUE contracts where they potholed the utilities, but my
knowledge of the use is over 10 years ago, not sure how often this happens
now.
Area Engineer
We do not do this that I know of.
Staff Support
Utility Coordinator.
Project Manager
Upon design team request and PM approval, this level of investigation is
conducted by utility company, TxDOT maintenance or contractor forces,
only as needed to provide critical location data (higher quality level) or
where other methods have been exhausted and quantity of data collected is
inadequate
District Utility Coordinator
APPROVAL
Work with the local utility companies to pothole when needed.
District Utility Coordinator
Request from utility physical exposures and obtain a positive tie on
existing facilities within project limits, Survey and analyze all information
obtained, have design team plot on utility plan sheets.
District Design Engineer
The project manager must request from the District Design Engineer to use
the services of a SUE consultant to collect the data. The District Design
Engineer must request from the Region if they can use consultant services
for SUE work on a project. If approved the project manager works with
the consultant to negotiate a work authorization or contract. The work
authorization or contract must be approved by the region.
Trans Engineer Supervisor
If conflicts exist with current design, PM will request utility company
verify the location X, Y, Z of their lines at these potential conflict
locations.
Utility Coordinator
Request as needed based on exiting S.U.E. contract.
Trans Engineer Supervisor
Hire consultant to perform this work.
Engineering Specialist
Should be complete by Letting
Engineering Specialist
Email sent to the Utility Coordinator.
Design Engineer
TxDOT contacts utilities to have underground lines potholed/uncovered
and then has lines surveyed.
Advanced Project
Development
Approved by staff level for major freeway projects.
269
Title
QLA Data Collection Process
Utility Coordinator
Request utility assistance in completing QLA, ask utility to expose their
facilities at certain locations and have district survey staff survey the pot
hole locations to obtain the necessary elevations, if funding is available
this could be accomplished by contracting with a utility engineering/sue
provider, after pot hole information is obtained, confirm conflicts with
utility and project manager.
ROW Program Specialist
Notify SUE provider about additional data needed and the locations of
potential conflict points. Receive data and review with project manager.
District Utility Coordinator
The UC or AE will request the Utility excavate or expose their lines if
other location techniques do not give accurate data.
Bridge Engineer
Is considered after a QLB survey identifies a possible conflict.
Director /Head
Draft a scope of work for the Region to execute a work authorization.
Supervisor, Design Utility
Coordination Section
Design Engineer/Project Manager request SUE investigation through
Design Utility Coordination section, and Region.
Engineer
District Utility Coordinator.
Utility Coordinator
This level requires District funding and must be justified, particularly in
areas where the extent of conflicts is not well understood but is expected to
be complex.
Staff Support
Project Manager determine amount of money to spend, Design engineer
pick points to spend it on such as drainage areas.
Question 10. Please select if procedures for utility investigations are different for the
following: Urban vs. rural projects? Briefly explain why.
36%
36%
Yes
No
No Answer
28%
Figure 49. Responses to Question 10: Yes: 47, No: 36, No Answer: 46.
270
Table 65. Responses to Question 10.
Title
Urban vs. rural projects?
Transportation Engineer
Supervisor
City utilities are coordinated with municipality and TxDOT utilities are
commonly present and have to be located.
Transportation Engineer
Urban projects usually have more utility conflicts that need to be located
and resolved.
Design Engineer
Urban projects are more likely to have underground storm sewer systems.
This type of underground work requires a much greater understanding of
potential conflicts within the entire length of the project.
Engineering Technician
Densification and limited room in ROW. Also usually fewer above
ground appurtenances.
Transportation Engineer
More utilities, more investigation, limited ROW, limited options
Design Engineer
Typically, ROW is restrictive for urban project. Coordination with city is
led by PM with designer and utility coordinator providing support. City
utilities may be included into construction projects. Therefore City utility
alignment assignments may be based on ease of construction.
Utility Coordinator
Potential for conflict increases proportionately with population and traffic
densities. Consequently, QLB and QLA may be required more often and
sooner in the process to allow more time for the often intricate
coordination among several utilities needing to adjust.
Transportation Specialist
Urban usually more critical for underground as storm sewer usually
employed in new road design.
Engineering Specialist
Urban more congested utilities. Need higher level investigation.
Project Manager
There are typically more utilities to be in conflict in the urban locations
and less right-of-way to install the utilities or roadways.
Director of TPD
Rural typically only require C & D. Urban usually need B and then A.
May have monthly coordination meetings in urban areas.
Engineer Supervisor
There are generally fewer utilities to contend with on the rural projects.
Often times the rural utilities provide better information.
District Design Eng.
Utility density in urban areas is usually higher and more problematic than
it is in rural areas. The chances for conflicts with the proposed work are
greater.
District Design Eng.
Because there are always more utilities (water, sewer, gas) located within
town sections than there are in rural areas.
Utility Coordinator
In urban projects have additional a more complex communication system,
sanitary sewer systems, potable water systems, and natural gas systems.
Transportation Engineer
Supervisor
Urban project tend to have more utilities, closely spaced in a small amount
of right-of-way.
271
Title
Urban vs. rural projects?
Design Technician
In the past, when we had money for SUE contracts, we performed SUE on
the large, complicated, urban projects. On the rural projects, they are
usually less involved and are handled in house.
Transportation Engineer
Urban areas are more restricted and more crowded with utilities
Plan Reviewer
Complex projects with proposed storm sewers and many existing utilities
can use SUE investigations.
Utility Coordinator
To look for monuments and Iron steel markers makes it difficult in the
urban area.
Transportation Engineer
Urban areas are congested and require additional attention to utilities
Area Engineer
Differences in roadway designs.
Design Engineer
ROW is usually more crowded in urban.
Project Manager
Greater utility congestion in urban areas result in significant design
constraints, plus scope of urban projects typically involve more complex
design issues and hard roadside improvements, that increase potential for
utility conflicts, e.g., multiple intersecting drives & roads, storm drain
systems, retaining walls, curb & gutter, sidewalks, railings, luminaries.
District Utility Coordinator
APPROVAL
Urban will be more impacted with utilities
District Utility Coordinator
Urban areas will generally be congested and traffic control requirements
must be applied for an urban environment, sidewalks, driveways,
congested utilities in row.
Transportation Eng.
Supervisor
Municipalities do not participate in 811 “One Call” system. There are
often fewer options available in urban projects if design features (concrete
foundations, etc.) must be moved due to utilities.
District Design Engineer
There are more utilities within an urban area and the ROW is more
constrained.
Trans Engineer Supervisor
Rural utility companies are easier to work with.
Utility Coordinator
Complexity of projects.
Advanced Project
Development
On urban major freeway projects we go to a level A due to the amount of
utilities expected to be in conflict.
Bridge Engineer
One-call or 811 contacts are made on all projects, but some of the smaller
rural utilities are not part of the 811 system. These utilities must be
contacted through local contacts.
Director /Head
More conflicts in the urban setting.
Supervisor, Design Utility
Coordination Section
Less use of contract SUE work for rural projects. But the method to
request SUE is the same.
Engineer
Usually more importance for utility relocations on urban projects.
Director/Head
Utility investigations are typically not needed for the preliminary design
work on rural projects.
272
Title
Utility Coordinator
Urban vs. rural projects?
Utilities serve concentrations of people and this favors investigating urban
settings. Rural areas have pipeline corridors, but they are well marked and
easily investigated with bent-pipe data.
Question 11. Please select if procedures for utility investigations are different for the
following: Projects on new right-of-way vs. projects entirely on existing right-of-way?
Briefly explain why.
36%
36%
Yes
No
No Answer
27%
Figure 2. Responses to Question 11: Yes: 47, No: 35, No Answer: 47.
Table 66. Responses to Question 11.
Title
Projects on new right-of-way vs. projects entirely on
existing right-of-way?
Transportation Engineer
Supervisor
ROW personnel start the process of identifying utilities on new location
projects.
Transportation Engineer
New ROW is more difficult because you have to get permission to be on
property that has not been required yet.
Transportation Engineer
Projects requiring New ROW often contain utilities in the proposed ROW
that need to be identified and relocated.
Utility Coordinator
New right-of-way will have nearly all compensable interests.
Design Engineer
TxDOT typically has a better knowledge of existing underground utilities
on existing ROW. New ROW requires more project wide investigation.
Engineering Technician
District has no records of utilities on new ROW; but new ROW usually
only has crossings which are less of a conflict.
273
Title
Projects on new right-of-way vs. projects entirely on
existing right-of-way?
Transportation Engineer
New ROW project tends to have more because nobody planned for the
road.
Design Engineer
New projects typically intersect existing utilities, such as pipelines.
Parallel utilities are assigned alignments with limited tolerance for
variation.
Utility Coordinator
Greater administrative paperwork involved if the condemnation process
has to be used, and matched funding for adjusting utilities requires more
lead time prior to letting.
Transportation Specialist
New ROW projects can get by with less in areas that you know will be
under new road footprint and will need to be relocated regardless of exact
position.
Engineering Specialist
Within existing right-of-way, usually have existing permits where new
right-of-way does not.
Project Manager
With projects in new right-of-way the utilities can generally be relocated
to accommodate the proposed construction in the new right-of-way, some
crossings may remain in place. Whereas projects in existing right-of-way,
the utilities could remain in place if not in conflict with the alignment of
the new roadway, structures, or be relocated, or modified where in conflict
with drainage structures, street crossings, the existing utilities may need to
be relocated at drainage crossing, intersections, and adjusted to
accommodate the new construction.
Engineer Supervisor
There are not usually utilities that are in conflict for projects on new rightof-way. If there are they are usually in easements and good data on
location is available.
Utility Coordinator
Since our office does not have records of utilities outside of our ROW.
We rely more on utility providers for their information.
District Design Eng.
Utility density in existing right-of-way is usually higher and more
problematic than it is on projects built on new location. The chances for
conflicts with the proposed work in the existing right-of-way are greater.
Director of TPD
Utility adjustments where utilities have a prior property right (i.e.
easement) are eligible for reimbursement of their costs.
Utility Coordinator
There are no known records available to identify and help locate any and
all utilities including abandoned oil/gas well production lines.
Transportation Engineer
Supervisor.
There is more flexibility to design on new right-of-way. The designer can
space structures to miss the utilities or purchase right-of-way that has
minimal utilities. Also, utilities sometimes have an easier time to relocate
utilities to a new facility on new right-of-way. Some times on there is no
place to relocate utilities on projects entirely on existing right-of-way.
Design Technician
In the past, when we had money for SUE contracts, we would use SUE
consultants on the larger, new location projects and the urban projects on
existing facilities. We usually do the smaller projects in-house.
274
Title
Projects on new right-of-way vs. projects entirely on
existing right-of-way?
Transportation Engineer
Utility owners tend to be more helpful when relocations are compensable
with ROW acquisition.
Transportation Engineer
Yes. I once had a new location freeway that went through an old oil field
that still had a few operating wells. There were over a hundred pipes
buried underground going in various directions. Some were abandoned
some were not and due to the age it was very difficult to tell which ones
were active.
Plan Reviewer
Depends what major utilities a new location project crosses.
Director of Advance Project
Development
More field work needed since we will not have records.
Utility Coordinator
Sometimes in the existing ROW is difficult due to other objects blocking
the signs.
Transportation Engineer
When you expand a highway most of the time you are going to find
utilities on easements that will trigger a different level of work.
Area Engineer
Existing ROW corridors may already be crowded with utilities.
Design Engineer
Existing easements are considered.
Project Manager
Reimbursable verse non-reimbursable.
Transportation Engineering
Supervisor
I am not involved with this directly, but it only makes sense that a new
location would require more investigation just due to lack of prior
information.
District Utility Coordinator
APPROVAL
Property owners are impacted which can slow up the relocation process.
District Utility Coordinator
For the most part on a new right-of-way project all existing utilizes on
project have been encumbered and will require relocation. It is not cost
efficient for a utility to obtain positive ties if all has to be relocated. They
will generally design for relocations based on ROW acquisition and
project scope.
Trans Engineer Supervisor
For projects on new ROW, determinations have to be made if the utility
lines currently reside in easements, if so, then these adjustments would be
reimbursable, etc.
Utility Coordinator
Usually no existing records on hand.
Trans Engineer Supervisor
Anything within new ROW is open to utilities that aren't mapped
anywhere. If anything is within the ROW, there has to be record of them
somewhere
Engineering Specialist
New ROW requires more detailed search because of oil/gas lines.
Engineer
Usually more importance is placed on new projects. Existing projects
seemed to be passed on to the construction phase which in my opinion is
not good practice.
275
Title
Projects on new right-of-way vs. projects entirely on
existing right-of-way?
Director/Head
It is much more likely that utilities will need to be relocated when new
right-of-way is needed.
Utility Coordinator
Utilities have to apply for permits to occupy existing state ROW, so data
exists to determine the inventory of utilities. New ROW has no such
repository of data that runs through official channels.
Question 12. Please select if procedures for utility investigations are different for the
following: Added capacity vs. non-added capacity projects? Briefly explain why:
27%
36%
Yes
No
No Answer
36%
Figure 3. Responses to Question 12: Yes: 35, No: 47, No Answer: 47.
Table 67. Responses to Question 12.
Title
Added capacity vs. non-added capacity projects?
Design Engineer
Added capacity projects frequently encroach in established “utility
corridors,” so there is a greater chance of utility conflicts.
Design Engineer
Added capacity projects typically reduce the amount of available ROW.
Therefore, stricter tolerances to assignments are needed. Non-added
capacity projects typically have minimal conflicts.
Utility Coordinator
Potential for conflict increases proportionately with planned increase in
traffic densities and the attendant “facility crowding.” Consequently, QLB
and QLA may be required more often and sooner in the process to allow
more time for the often intricate coordination among several utilities
needing to adjust.
Engineering Specialist
Added capacity is usually a larger job, affecting more land and utilities.
276
Title
Added capacity vs. non-added capacity projects?
Project Manager
Utilities are generally located near right-of-way.
Engineer Supervisor
Usually added capacity projects add pavement and create conflicts. Some
non-added capacity can create conflicts as well.
District Design Engineer
Added capacity project normally require widening of the roadbed with the
likelihood that adjacent parallel utilities will be impacted. Non-added
capacity projects (rehabilitation, restoration, preventive maintenance) most
often work inside the existing ditch line, which does impact the utilities
along the back slope and right-of-way line.
Director of TPD
Same as previous if additional ROW required.
Utility Coordinator
It usually means the ditch flow line is moving closed to the right-of-way
and in most cases the communication lines, water lines, sanitary sewer
lines are in some cases below the existing flow line of the existing ditch
which may have to be adjusted.
Transportation Engineer
Supervisor
Add capacity projects, widened to the outside usually causes problems.
Widened to the inside, usually little to no utility conflicts.
Design Technician
Once again, it depends on the type of project and the amount of utilities
present. Usually, unless we are adding width to a facility, we don’t
encounter many conflicts.
Transportation Engineer
Non-added capacity projects may not acquire ROW and require relocation
of utilities; therefore the actual location is not as important. Just knowing
generally where a utility is may allow us to design around it.
Director of Advance Project
Development
Roadway footprint changes.
Transportation Engineer
Projects of this nature will impact existing facilities and therefore need a
higher level of study.
Area Engineer
Existing ROW may already have utilities.
Transportation Engineering
Supervisor
Same as above, anything that is outside the current pavement structure
could encounter new utilities, therefore requiring more investigation.
Project Manager
Added capacity projects usually involve widening, which impacts parallel
utilities located near the existing right-of-way line. Adjacent property
acquisition adds the right-of-entry process, reimbursable utility adjustment
procedures and need for higher QL for utility data collection
District Utility Coordinator
APPROVAL
Can impact the back slope and grade elevations more than just working
what is there.
District Utility Coordinator
Added width vs. rehab.
District Design Engineer
Added capacity usually means reconstruction and widening, which may
mean more conflicts with utilities if the vertical profile of the roadway
changes, culverts are replaced or extended, storm drain is relocated or
added, retaining walls are required, drill shafts for bridges are required, the
pavement is widened, and any excavation for roadway construction.
277
Title
Added capacity vs. non-added capacity projects?
Utility Coordinator
Greater potential for impact to utilities on added capacity.
Engineering Specialist
Widenings affect utilities more.
Advanced Project
Development
If not pavement widening or drainage work is done; no utility investigation
is normally done.
Supervisor, Design Utility
Coordination Section
Less use of contract SUE work for non-added capacity projects. But the
method to request SUE is the same.
Director/Head
Non-added capacity project typically do not require utility relocation.
Utility Coordinator
Non-added capacity translates to ‘no new ROW’ which means utility
involvement is negligible – generally.
Question 13. What factors influence your decision to use or request QLB data collections
for a project? (68 Responded, 61 Skipped.)
Table 68. Responses to Question 13.
Title
Factors that Influence Decision to Use QLB
Transportation Engineering
Supervisor
If excavation will take place, a call to 811 will be placed.
Transportation Engineer
I would say TxDOT does not itself collect this type of data. We rely on
Dig Tess Markings and willingness of utility companies to pothole their
lines. On large projects where funding is available, SUE contracts are set
up. And I would think that our SUE contracts are somewhat standardized;
contact the Lubbock regional ROW group for assistance.
Director of TP&D
All decisions are based on no prior knowledge and the type of work being
performed.
Utility Coordinator
Unknown ownership, unknown type of utility, utility congestion, critical
grade change and effect, costs to adjust.
Design Engineer
We identify the risk and determine the location and scope of the
identification efforts that we will utilize.
Engineering Technician
Requested on all projects.
Transportation Engineer
Type of work planned. If we are surveying a project then we
automatically call and get locates during the surveying process or if there
is a potential conflict.
Design Engineer
Prefer not to use QLB data collection on a project due to tolerances.
Prefer to pothole utilities to establish exact locations. Use Trimble
equipment to gather data.
Utility Coordinator
Use of QLB for verification in the absence of any visible utility markers
within project limits and refinement of data near cross-drainage structures,
major cuts (and fills), and identification of older, unmarked utility roadway
crossings.
278
Title
Factors that Influence Decision to Use QLB
Transportation Specialist
Level B usually gets used to identify specific conflict points between
design elements and known utility to see if it can be designed around or
will need relocation.
Engineering Specialist
Type of construction, amount of right-of-way and number of utilities
within the project.
Project Manager
Location of existing utilities; when the existing utilities are in close
proximity to the proposed construction or a potential conflict.
Director of TPD
Dependent upon information that comes from C & D surveys and where
construction is occurring.
Engineer Supervisor
Likelihood of conflicts and availability of data from the utilities.
Head of Traffic
If there will be any construction activity in the area.
Design Engineer
Not previously used in this district.
Utility Coordinator
First and foremost is the scope of our design, then whether funds are
available or not.
District Design Eng.
The information from the field survey (QLC) and the potential for
conflicts with existing utilities and the proposed work.
Director of TPD
These methods are not available in-house. The decision to request a SUE
contract would be based upon the complexity of utility installations and
accommodations for the project indicated by QLD and C investigation.
Utility Coordinator
Safety of the construction crew, possible delays which means more cost
for the project.
Transportation Engineer
Supervisor.
Type of project, urban, limited right-of-way, large number of utilities.
Engineering Specialist
Within project proposed designs area/limit.
Transportation Engineer
Supervisor.
When a utility is hard to relocate and should work around it.
Design Technician
The amount of utilities present on the project, the right-of-way width and
whether we are acquiring new right-of-way, or squeezing a larger facility
into an existing right-of-way. Also, if there is money for SUE.
Advance Project
Development Director
Widening facility.
Utility Supervisor
The as-builts that the utilities have in their records. The size, time to
adjust, the utilities. The amount of right-of-way left that the utilities may
use.
Transportation Engineer
If initial investigations indicate a potential conflict, QLB becomes
necessary to determine if relocation or design modifications are required.
Transportation Engineer
Incomplete records, location of new roadway facilities in relation to the
existing utility.
Plan Reviewer
Complexity of proposed underground work and exiting utilities.
279
Title
Factors that Influence Decision to Use QLB
Transportation Engineer
Supervisor
Complex utility from QLD and QLC.
Transportation Engineer
Costly (expensive to replace) existing utility in conflict with the design.
Design Project Supervisor
Larger number of utilities in the area.
Transportation Engineer
If we see potential conflicts, we ask for a QLB. We use a lot of storm
sewers in Houston.
Utility Coordinator
It is critical to know the depth of all utilities and it makes our decision easy
to request this type of information.
ROW Utility Coordinator
The factors that determine the use/request is the type of highway
improvements.
Engineering Specialist
Accuracy of data provided by the utility entity, plans and field
investigation might be different.
Transportation Engineer
Location type of project, availability of information.
Area Engineer
Number of lines type of lines.
Project Manager
Complexity of utilities on project.
Design Engineer
Utility location, conflict.
District Design Engineer
Don’t use it.
Transportation Engineering
Supervisor
I don’t know.
Staff Support
Sorry, I can't remember what QLB stands for.
Project Manager
Primarily, when a potential for utility conflicts are anticipated based on
project scope or route studies are performed and avoidance of conflicts is a
design parameter.
Director of TPD
Amount of utilities, area of the project, impact of the project.
District Utility Coordinator
Approval
We have only used when we have a SUE contract.
back-up utility coordinator
Usually the utility contractor’s choice.
District Utility Coordinator
Project specific, all projects are different.
Transportation Engineer
Supervisor
Time, cost, number of utilities, complexity of project.
District Design Engineer
The scope or complexity of the roadway project, the location of the
project, and the amount of utilities.
Transportation Engineer
Supervisor
The type of utility, and the proximity of the potential conflicts.
Utility Coordinator
Type and complexity of project.
Trans Engineer Supervisor
Knowing there are utilities there, but not having any record of depths and
knowing you have potential conflicts.
280
Title
Factors that Influence Decision to Use QLB
Engineering Specialist
Any widening project, installing drainage features or a change in ditch
flow line.
Engineering Specialist
Use whatever type collection that will get the job done.
Design Engineer
Not used.
Advanced Project
Development
Need to know what utilities will be impacted by the project so
coordination can take place.
Utility Coordinator
None, really do not prefer to use level B, it is not as accurate as going out
and exposing, surveying and obtaining real data.
ROW Program Specialist
The need to know where the utilities are located.
District Utility Coordinator
We call for locates on every project. The utility responds and flags their
facilities so that there is no doubt as to their location.
Bridge Engineer
During the design phase we request that the utility company mark their
lines in the proposed work area. Generally they choose QLB methods. If
we have a critical underground facility we discuss the project with the
company and determine if a more accurate locate is necessary.
Director /Head
If it is a known, the utility will have to be relocated, and then the existing
facility’s QLB data is of little value.
Supervisor, Design Utility
Coordination Section
Level of perceived utility complexity. Size of project - We typically use
contract SUE providers on Interstate widening projects. New location
projects. Proposed drill shafts. Proposed storm sewers/drainage facilities.
Engineer
Allocated time for completion of a project, urban vs. rural, new vs.
existing ROW, time allowed for designers. The design phase seems to be
rushed these days, therefore utility relocation are missed and passed on to
be handled during construction.
Director/Head
Usually N/A during preliminary design stage.
Utility Coordinator
High probability of unknown utility companies, locations, and depth in a
congested area - even after Levels C and D research.
Staff Support
None: it must be exposed and an elevation taken or it could be a change
order during construction.
Question 15. What other factors influence your decision to use or request QLA data
collections for a project? (34 Responded, 95 Skipped.)
Table 69. Responses to Question 15.
Title
Other Factors that Influence Decision to Use QLA
ROW Utility Coordinator
Potential of redesigning of highway improvements to clear utility conflicts.
Transportation Engineer
Supervisor
None.
281
Title
Other Factors that Influence Decision to Use QLA
District Design Engineer
Potential for conflict with roadway construction. Risk for construction
delay.
Project Manager
Safety to prevent incidents, determining the location of the utility.
District Design Engineer
Those listed in 14 are a good list of the factors.
Engineering Specialist
Culvert designs.
Design Engineer
Ability to get utility owner to conduct potholing operations.
District Utility Coordinator
APPROVAL
Importance and time constraint.
Design Engineer
Utility provider’s willingness to adjusting facility. Speed at which facility
could be adjusted if conflict arises during construction and would conflict
delay construction.
Design Engineer
Generally, utilities that cross under a roadway or culvert need the depths
identified and are potholed/surveyed.
Transportation Engineer
Supervisor
No money available for SUE contracts. Utility companies are normally
responsible to clearing utilities. If they feel a line is questionable, they
will uncover line to verify.
Director of TP&D
Conflict minimization.
Transportation Engineer
Design accuracy, minimize change orders.
Transportation Engineer
None.
Engineer
Time allowed for design phase.
Supervisor, Design Utility
Coordination Section
Our decision to use QLA is mainly based on the type of construction to
complete the project. We use QLA mostly when we are installing drill
shafts and drainage facilities.
Utility Coordinator
Past experience from work in the same or nearby control sections. Do we
have a handle on the usual suspects?
Director/Head
Usually QLA data is not needed for preliminary design work.
Utility Coordinator
Type of construction.
Trans Engineer Supervisor
Known conflicts.
Plan Reviewer
None.
Project Manager
When vertical location data impacts selection of design alternative or
determination of construction cost (where alternative design is not
available).
ROW Program Specialist
May be able to design around utility and not need to adjust.
Utility Coordinator
Scope of project: on bridge projects, whether items like a detour road or
temporary provision for cross drainage are required.
Design Technician
Whether or not there is money available for SUE. If not, then it is a moot
point.
282
Title
Other Factors that Influence Decision to Use QLA
Transportation Engineering
Supervisor
Widening projects, bridge project super structure.
Utility Coordinator
Unknown depth/location.
District Utility Coordinator
Project scope.
Engineering Technician
When utilities are borderline between no conflict and conflict. When a
possible design change may be able to avoid the cost of moving utilities.
Staff Support
I have been instructed to always use the same procedures.
Staff Support
The size of line and the type of line.
Design Project Supervisor
Size of the project and number of impacts.
Transportation Engineer
Time availability and schedule.
Question 17. Briefly describe the type of checklist, flowchart, or other procedure you use
to determine what type of utility investigation data to collect and when. (12 Responses, 117
Skipped.)
Table 70. Responses to Question 17.
Title
Checklist, Flowchart, or Other Procedure Used to Determine Type of
Utility Investigation
Design Engineer
District procedure for reimbursable vs. non-reimbursable utilities.
Utility Coordinator
District ROW has developed a procedures statement for all involved in the
process. It is a checklist organized in step-by-step project chronology,
with description and assignment of primary responsibility at each step.
Project Manager
From planning to preliminary design, design, and then construction of the
project.
Engineering Specialist
Review plan and profile, drainage profile, signal foundation and locations
especially on the widen projects.
Utility Supervisor
Notice of proposed construction letters.
Utility Coordinator
Type, depth, material.
Engineering Specialist
I resort to the FHWA website or other states.
Transportation Engineer
The TxDOT Utility Manual has an overview flowchart of the utility
process. It includes a step to do utility investigation, however it does not
provide information on what type of utility investigation is needed.
Director of TPD
Just use list of utilities and status.
District Utility Coordinator
APPROVAL
We use a checklist that was developed in our district.
Transportation Engineer
Supervisor
Project development process for TxDOT.
283
Title
Staff Support
Checklist, Flowchart, or Other Procedure Used to Determine Type of
Utility Investigation
An overview is in the Design Manual but with limited schedules it’s hard
to follow any type of flowchart or procedures.
Question 22. Briefly describe challenges and recommendations for managing SUE contract
task orders. (16 Responses, 113 Skipped.)
Table 71. Responses to Question 22.
Title
Challenges and Recommendations for Managing
SUE Contract Task Orders
Director of TP&D
It all depends on how much you are willing to pay for the service. The
more accurate, the more expense.
Transportation Engineer
SUE was a great tool for high-cost, limited-time projects. No challenges.
Design Technician
The SUE firm(s) should be vetted well to make sure they are capable of
the work. They should also be evaluated accurately based on the quality
and accuracy of work that we receive. Progress payments should only be
made when a like percentage of work has been achieved.
Utility Supervisor
Same as project manager.
Transportation Engineer
Coordination with contractor (SUE) doing the work, assistance from local
area offices in some cases, traffic control plans, coordination with utility
companies when they do not have the resources to uncover their lines,
guidance/oversight to SUE contractor when performing the work, and
reporting of results.
Transportation Engineering
Supervisor
It has been so long ago that I was involved with this, I am sure things have
changed.
Director of TPD
SUE Consultant Project Manager keeps quitting, lots of turnover in the
industry.
District Utility Coordinator
APPROVAL
It has been a few years since managing a SUE contract and I believe the
deliverables are different.
District Design Engineer
Negotiating hours and linear feet of utilities because of the unknowns.
The time to get a SUE work authorization or contract approved by
Division is too long.
Engineering Specialist
The effectiveness of the SUE contractor, the time it took to coordinate. I
ended up doing most of the leg work. Most of the problems are caused by
the utility companies not meeting there deadlines.
Utility Coordinator
Need to set defined scope of work activities and timelines for consultants,
schedule monthly/weekly status report meetings to monitor progress and
ensure that work is being accomplished on time, ensuring all activities are
being met by the consultant, maintain good working relationship between
all parties involved.
284
Title
Challenges and Recommendations for Managing
SUE Contract Task Orders
ROW Program Specialist
Don’t let the SUE provider dictate to you what they think you need. I will
listen, but I do not let them make the final decision.
District Utility Coordinator
Making sure the contract outlines specific tasks the consultant is to
perform but still having the ability to add to or amend the contract if
something unforeseen comes up.
Director /Head
Verification of locating unknown utilities/use of sweeps and not just
locating known or record lines. Holding SUE providers accountable for
work as errors are normally discovered a year or several years later during
construction after contract has expired.
Supervisor, Design Utility
Coordination Section
Staying within time schedule and budget. Quality of the SUE survey
varies from one provider to the next. Invoices usually need careful review.
Staff Support
The challenge is getting the most bang for the buck. Limited amounts of
money make it hard to get all the information you need.
Question 27. Briefly describe the process you have in place for reviewing SUE deliverables.
(13 Responses, 116 Skipped).
Table 72. Responses to Question 27.
Title
Process for Reviewing SUE Deliverables
Director of TP&D
Normal consultant review process.
Project Manager
Review and compare the vertical and horizontal data for potential
conflicts.
Engineering Specialist
Look at each line and see where they are on each project. This info will
then use to apply for special provision for 6 months delay.
Advance Project
Development Director
It is included in our PS&E review process.
Utility Supervisor
TxDOT review, utility review.
Plan Reviewer
Review what is on scope of work.
Utility Coordinator
I am not in charge of this process. I know they advertise it in the
newspaper for bid.
District Utility Coordinator
APPROVAL
I was the only one reviewing. I would work with the designers and try to
limit conflicts
Advanced Project
Development
Check the deliverables against what is in the contract scope.
Utility Coordinator
Review and confirm deliverables between utility coordinator and project
manager while also including utility company’s input.
285
Title
Process for Reviewing SUE Deliverables
District Utility Coordinator
We compare the deliverables with what was outlined in the contract. We
also assess the quality of the work and whether or not the consultant
provided more than was asked. We also determine if the deliverables were
timely, clearly presented, and organized.
Supervisor, Design Utility
Coordination Section
The SUE survey is reviewed by the Design Engineer/Project Manager
before the survey is accepted by District. If the Design Engineer/Project
Manager is not satisfied with the survey, additional survey work may be
requested from the SUE provider.
Utility Coordinator
We have a process (three-member team). I have not served on one of
those teams.
Question 28. Can you give a reason why QLB and QLA SUE are not frequently used on
TxDOT projects? (67 Responses, 62 Skipped.)
Table 73. Responses to Question 28.
Title
Reason Why QLB and QLA SUE Are Not Frequently Used
on TxDOT Projects
Transportation Engineer
Supervisor
Cost.
Transportation Engineer
Calling Dig TESS and requesting pothole depth from the utilities is
cheaper than paying for a SUE contract. On large projects where
manpower is low and funding is high, SUE contracts are more seriously
considered. In our district, I do not like the way that utility location and
adjustment issues are left to the project manager to handle.
Director of TP&D
Cost.
Utility Coordinator
Most rural projects we and Utility company are able to obtain good locates
on utilities.
Engineering Technician
We use at least QLB on all projects. I'm not sure why others don’t.
Transportation Engineer
We don’t have the equipment. If we need it, then we call DigTESS or the
utility companies to do it. QLA is done by the utility companies to
determine if they have to move it. It is usually cheaper for them to spend
some time locating their line than to move it.
286
Title
Reason Why QLB and QLA SUE Are Not Frequently Used
on TxDOT Projects
Utility Coordinator
My personal assessment based on what I have seen of the services
provided by SUE contractors is that there is a great deal of variability in
the quality delivered, most generally on the poor side, reflected in my
responses to question 22. Consequently, as conditions warrant, I depend
more on the utilities themselves, or their selected location / adjustment
contractors (for both QLB & QLA), for I have found them more reliable as
they have an investment to protect. In contrast, I have used my responses
to question 23 as the vehicle to indicate my evaluations for utilities'
response where these two data sources are concerned. In addition, this is
both a natural and logical response to law, in which there is an
understanding of the right of utility ownership – a different sense of
stewardship, in spite of the overused concept of eminent domain –
compared to TxDOT’s limited management of commonly held property.
Transportation Specialist
No. We use as we feel justified by the cost.
Engineering Specialist
High expense for SUE work, minimal to low accuracy.
Project Manager
QLA SUE is more costly. QLB is not as accurate to extent of within 2 feet
left or right of location. May not fit design criteria.
Director of TPD
We use A and B where necessary so don’t agree with that statement for
our district. I assume cost might be an issue for some.
Engineer Supervisor
I believe that the cost deters some project managers even though it can
actually lower project costs.
Head of Traffic
I think of no good reason TxDOT would want anything but A or B. The
criteria should be Start with A then work down to B or C as the project
specifics warrant.
Design Engineer
Cost. Primarily due to this work being considered a professional service
and the lack of a competitive bidding process for these services.
Utility Coordinator
Funding.
District Design Engineer
A lack of an active contract with a SUE consultant or the lack of
consultant funds to pay for this work.
Director of TPD
Shortage of resources, funds, and time.
Utility Coordinator
Current budget constraints and cost.
Transportation Engineer
Supervisor
Cost.
Engineering Specialist
Budget.
Transportation Engineer
Supervisor.
Possible cost.
Design Technician
I have been told that we currently don’t have money budgeted for SUE.
I’m also not sure if some project managers understand when it is useful
and when it isn’t. It isn’t always a benefit, but sometimes is quite
necessary.
287
Title
Reason Why QLB and QLA SUE Are Not Frequently Used
on TxDOT Projects
Advance Project
Development Director
Budgetary and schedule constraints.
Utility Supervisor
We use on all large projects.
Transportation Engineer
Additional funds are not available.
Transportation Engineer
Cost is the main reason and lack of in-house capability. Time is also a
factor. It is difficult to meet PS&E deadlines while waiting on SUE data.
Plan Reviewer
The only explanation I have is that projects that use QLC and D may be
rural projects. I think QLA and B should be used on all urban projects
with cost over 5 Million.
Transportation Engineer
Supervisor
Higher cost.
Director of Advance Project
Development
Cost and time.
Design Project Supervisor
It is my experience that TxDOT only uses B and A for larger projects with
major adjustment. Most of my projects are smaller with documented
utilities.
Transportation Engineer
The upper management does not want to spend the money. However, it is
the designers who are blamed when there are construction problems due to
utility conflicts. Also, I learned that when the adjustments are done on a
project, the final data is not sent to the original designers to recheck and
this has caused some problems.
Utility Coordinator
I think due to the fact most pipelines in this level are no threat to the
proposed project and also because they are deep in the earth.
ROW Utility Coordinator
Cost is the reason why QLB and QLA SUE are not used frequently.
Engineering Specialist
1) Special project not initially programmed 10% of the time. 2) Financial
constrains 30% of the time. 3) Design plans not complete in time to allow
additional investigation.
Transportation Engineer
Funding is mainly the main reason.
Area Engineer
SUE consultant cost.
Design Engineer
Expensive.
Design Engineer
Not needed.
District Design Engineer
Budget.
Transportation Engineering
Supervisor
I would think they reason in this district is merely the types of projects we
do. We do not get a lot of new location projects. Most of what we do is
within the existing pavement bed and the depth does not change much, if
at all.
Area Engineer
Extra cost, utility companies place the lines pretty much where the permit
says.
288
Title
Reason Why QLB and QLA SUE Are Not Frequently Used
on TxDOT Projects
Staff Support
I have been instructed to always use the same procedures.
Project Manager
Probabilistically they may lower cost, but if the need for an SUE on each
project can be accurately determined in advance, then we have very few
projects that justify this expenditure. Additionally, the value of this
service is considered to be poor by many in-house designers and PMs; we
can do a better job in-house if resources are available.
Director of TPD
Time frame to get the data collected often does not fit the work schedule.
District Utility Coordinator
Approval
Not enough SUE contracts available. I also believe you do not always get
the bang for the buck.
Back-Up Utility
Coordinator
District decision.
District Utility Coordinator
No ($).
District Design Engineer
The use of consultants for QLB and QLA SUE is required because TxDOT
does not have the expertise or equipment. The cost for QLB and QLA
SUE is expensive. Sometimes there is not enough time in the project
schedule to allow for QLB and QLA SUE.
Transportation Engineer
Supervisor
Time and cost.
Utility Coordinator
Attempt to cut or hold down cost early in project development.
Transportation Engineer
Supervisor
I don’t know. I suspect the cost of hiring a consultant to do the work. I
think QLB and QLA should be used on all TxDOT projects.
Engineering Specialist
Cost. SUE charges for their services. It doesn’t cost anything but my time
to call locates into Dig-Tess or the utility to get horizontal positions and I
can also pick those up on the survey. I can call the utility company to
expose the underground utility. Most of the time, there is a breakdown in
communication between TxDOT designers and the SUE contractor. SUE
contractors are not involved enough in the design phase to know what is
expected from them.
Engineering Specialist
Money.
Design Engineer
Do not have current SUE contract. Have not used QLB (radar) method.
QLA investigations are generally done with TxDOT forces or contracted
surveyor.
Advanced Project
Development
QLA may not be used normally due to lack of funding. QLB may not be
used due to funding also.
Utility Coordinator
It is expensive and normally is not provided in a timely manner, it can be
accomplished with in house staff and utility staff along as you have a good
working relationship with both parties.
ROW Program Specialist
Not used.
289
Title
Reason Why QLB and QLA SUE Are Not Frequently Used
on TxDOT Projects
District Utility Coordinator
Due to the type of projects our district has been involved within the last
several years, we have not needed much B or A SUE.
Bridge Engineer
It may improve the survey if you explained SUE.
Supervising Design
Engineer
Too expensive for projects in our district
Director/Head
Perceived belief the risk is minimal and the services needed can be
performed by DOT staff.
Supervisor, Design Utility
Coordination Section
As a whole I would say most TxDOT projects (includes maintenance) do
not involve the potential to disturb a UG utility. Probably less than 25% of
[district] projects require SUE survey.
Engineer
Lack of funds and lack of importance stressed.
Director/Head
This level of detail is typically not needed for preliminary design work.
Utility Coordinator
SUE use is not a staple of our past history. TxDOT engineers don’t
typically consider utilities or utility impacts to the degree that they should.
The crux is that utility adjustments don’t hit their bottom line whereas
invoking SUE contracts does. Blame it on short-sightedness.
Staff Support
Lack of money or an accelerated time line for the project.
Question 31. To what degree is the management of confidentiality and/or security of utility
data an issue in your district/region? (70 Response, 59 Skipped.)
Table 74. Responses to Question 31.
Title
Management of Confidentiality and/or Security of Utility Data
Transportation Engineer
Supervisor
Not an Issue
I do not give out utility information to the public. I
cannot speak for others.
Transportation Engineer
Not an Issue
I don’t understand the question. I don’t think TxDOT is
worried about confidentiality of utility data. Utility
companies are paranoid about sharing their utility maps or
GIS shape files.
Plan Reviewer
Not an Issue
We give them to utility companies.
Design Engineer
Not an Issue
Hasn’t been as issue.
Engineering Technician
Low Concern
The utilities we work with haven’t expressed concern
about this.
Transportation Specialist
Low Concern
AT&T has been the only firm to try and claim security
reasons. It’s BS.
Advance Project
Development Director
Low Concern
I have not seen this become a concern.
290
Title
Management of Confidentiality and/or Security of Utility Data
ROW Utility Coordinator
Low Concern
Most of the utility data that are provided to the department
do not have any confidentiality/security issue.
Transportation Engineer
Supervisor
Low Concern
I wish utility companies would give us exact locations of
their facilities. We never get clear or precise information.
This makes it hard to design accurately. We never get full
cooperation from utility companies.
Supervisor, Design Utility
Coordination Section
Low Concern
The electrical utility (Center Point) does not usually share
the exact location of their UG electrical transmission
lines, due to national security issues. Not too much of a
problem with other utilities.
Staff Support
Low Concern
I haven’t seen any concern from utility companies. Lines
may be out of compliance from UIR.
Utility Coordinator
Medium
Concern
In our district and among area utilities in general, the
threats of terrorism and industrial espionage are of low- to
very low concern. However, I work with purpose to
cultivate a high level of trust with all our utilities for the
good of the Department and for effectiveness in
coordination, always keeping in mind the potential for
sensitivity to these issues. Since 9/11, the level of alert
has subsided, but I believe TxDOT and public utilities
should still regularly be reminded of the specific dangers
of attack.
Project Manager
Medium
Concern
The public should have the right to know what is within
TxDOT right-of-way.
Head of Traffic
Medium
Concern
Proprietary technologies.
Design Technician
Medium
Concern
Some utility companies do ask us not to share the
information they give to us for reasons of the information
being proprietary and in some instances, a security issue.
Some utilities are regulated by other governmental
agencies for security reasons.
Transportation Engineer
Medium
Concern
We must share data amongst all utilities involved in
relocations; however, we only share location and type of
facility which is of a general nature.
Design Project Supervisor
Medium
Concern
I have not seen this.
Engineering Specialist
Medium
Concern
Some communication lines (telephones).
District Design Engineer
Medium
Concern
The communication utility business has become very
competitive and they have been reluctant to share a lot of
their information for this reason.
291
Title
Management of Confidentiality and/or Security of Utility Data
Utility Coordinator
Medium
Concern
Security/confidentiality is growing quickly, year by year.
District Utility Coordinator
High Concern
All utility information provided by utility companies is
kept confidential.
Transportation Engineer
Supervisor
High Concern
We are not given electronic files from the
telecommunications companies, so the drawings we have
are inaccurate.
Advanced Project
Development
High Concern
TxDOT puts high priority on confidentiality of data.
Utility Coordinator
High Concern
Agree with the statement above.
ROW Program Specialist
High Concern
Utility companies are being more particular concerning
this issue due to TxDOT’s records being subject to open
records request.
Question 33. Briefly describe best practice(s) for utility investigations. (27 Responded, 102
Skipped.)
Table 75. Responses to Question 33.
Title
Best Practice for Utility Investigations
Transportation Engineer
Be in contact with the utility companies from the very beginning.
Design Engineer
Do not accept the responsibility of the utility. Utilities have a right to be
on the ROW. However, that does not mean that the state has to accept
costs that are the responsibility of the utility. Pothole to determine exact
locations to minimized liability.
Utility Coordinator
1) One suggestion I have made to address a need in our recently launched
online UIR is to include CSJ numbers in the online form so utility
adjustments necessitated by construction projects can be distinguished
from utility-generated rehab and expansion projects, yet the records still
maintained in the UIR system. 2) Though related only indirectly to data
collection, one other suggestion I have made to reduce survey staking for
utility reference during multi-utility adjustments is to use studded steel
T-posts for ROW marking, rather than wood stakes or laths. On rural
projects in particular (where new low-profile ROW monuments are hard to
find in brush, tall grass, leaf cover, etc.), this is a more durable solution to
marking where “cows and contractors” might otherwise take their toll on
wood staking.
Transportation Specialist
Design your utility locate needs to the specific type project being
developed. Don’t just request the world when it may not be needed and
the levels B and A are very expensive.
Project Manager
Probably One Call verification, communication, cooperation, and
coordination.
292
Title
Best Practice for Utility Investigations
Head of Traffic
Level A.
Utility Coordinator
1) Search Local records. 2) Discuss with Local Utility Providers.
3) Survey potential conflicts. 4) Provide information with Local Utility
Providers.
Engineering Specialist
SUE plans, and coordinate with all utilities within the project in the utility
coordination meetings.
Design Technician
I perceive that there is a possible conflict of interest between reviewing
and oversight of SUE contracts, due to the fact that some people tend to
review SUE consultants leniently whether we receive the desired result or
not, so as not to burn a possible bridge to future employment.
Advance Project
Development Director
In preliminary design, coordinate utility locations with local government
staff and avoid any major utility when possible.
Utility Supervisor
Get a SUE done.
Utility Coordinator
Work with utilities to locate their exact location and depth of cover.
ROW Utility Coordinator
My best practices are to have a point of contact among utility
representatives in establishing a good working relationship that provides
the exchange of ideas and concerns.
Engineering Specialist
Follow the guide lines provided by FHWA.
Area Engineer
Go out to the project and actually plot what you see and not rely on utility
company’s giving you the information. The designer needs to do the work
himself. He is putting his name on it.
Project Manager
1) Conduct QLD on all applicable projects. 2) Based on initial findings
and other preliminary design info, determine need for further investigation.
3) Plan services needed from surveying consultant; prepare records
research data for consultant use including plot plan of utilities and
highway improvements, if appropriate. 4) Coordinate QLB and QLC data
collection with surveyor; review deliverables and request supplemental
information, including QLA data, if needed.
District Utility Coordinator
Approval
We work with all parties as early as possible but sometimes due to letting
schedules we do not get enough done before construction begins and this
impacts the construction schedule.
District Utility Coordinator
Communication, cooperation, coordination.
Transportation Engineer
Supervisor
100% cooperation on both sides. TxDOT frequently requests information
from utility companies. Utility companies are not good with responding
and giving good information. They make it hard for TxDOT to do their
job well. TxDOT has no jurisdiction over utility companies, so we never
get full cooperation from them. This leads to a bad product on our end and
bad relationships as well.
Design Engineer
Start investigation early and try to design around possible conflicts. If
conflicts exist, get accurate information and coordinate with utilities as
early as possible.
293
Title
Best Practice for Utility Investigations
Utility Coordinator
Collect existing utility data, notify utility owners, identify potential
conflicts, request Level A SUE if needed, confirm conflicts.
ROW Program Specialist
Communicate with the utility company. Explain need for cooperation.
Let them know that you may be able to design around the facility.
District Utility Coordinator
Establish and maintain good professional relationships with the local
utility companies. Visit the project site with the utility company. I get
more done in 1 hour on site than with three week’ worth of emails and
phone calls.
Director /Head
Preplanning the need and scope of the utility investigations is the most
overlooked area. Coordination with design and right-of-way staff.
Supervisor, Design Utility
Coordination Section
All utility investigations should start in the preliminary design phase and
supplemented prior to the 30% design complete phase. On smaller
projects, the TxDOT designer should exhaust in-house resources to
discover utilities and their location within project limits before requesting
SUE provider services. On smaller projects, we may limit the SUE
provider to only QLB and QLA. On larger projects, it is usually more
feasible for a SUE provider to conduct QLD through QLA.
Utility Coordinator
Time spent doing a thorough utility investigation during the design phase
can reap huge benefits when the project undergoes construction; lack of
utility considerations can adversely affect project construction immensely.
Staff Support
Early notification and investigation, followed by conflict review.
Question 35. Briefly describe what challenges you have experienced with the use of utility
investigations/SUE technology, if any. (18 Responses, 111 Skipped.)
Table 76. Responses to Question 35.
Title
Challenges with the Use of Utility Investigations/SUE Technology
Design Engineer
Quality and completeness of survey.
Utility Coordinator
Accuracy of data, timely response, lost time, irritation, etc. If I can avoid
it, I do; otherwise I “re-do,” using the utility(ies) “of interest.”
Transportation Specialist
Accuracy of the information in the areas of specific need.
Project Manager
I think the process is working fairly well. Maintain 100% communication,
coordination, cooperation.
Director of TPD
Information provided is not always accurate
Engineer Supervisor
We have had questionable data if we receive anything less than Level A.
Also, utilities don’t seem to know (or won’t tell us) where their own lines
are.
294
Title
Challenges with the Use of Utility Investigations/SUE Technology
Utility Coordinator
In the oil/gas industry it common practice to abandoned their facilities
without notifying TxDOT and that is creating a massive problem. I think
the laws/rules need to be enforced. No one notifies TxDOT when
abandoning a utility and that needs to change
Transportation Engineer
Supervisor.
Two challenges have been the level, (got C, should have been B or A) and
dealing with some of the consultant utility coordinators.
Engineering Specialist
Not all of SUE plans are correct in the SUE plan.
Design Technician
I didn’t answer questions 23 and 24 because I have observed quality from
excellent to poor across the board on SUE contracts. I think this relates to
the failure to give poor evaluations to poorly performing consultants,
thereby causing us to continue to use them. SUE is a tremendous benefit
on some projects if the work is done to a satisfactory level.
Utility Supervisor
More data = more work.
Transportation Engineer
Coordination with utility owners and receiving SUE data in a timely
manner from SUE consultants.
Transportation Engineer
A new location freeway through an oil field. Our usual SUE providers
were unable to handle the complexity of the oil field piping system. It was
necessary to get help from a contractor that specialized in the oil and gas
business to help us sort out what lines were abandoned and which ones
were needed for well operation.
Project Manager
Going through the process of obtaining this information with in-house
resources increases 1) familiarity with data, thus decreasing design effort,
and 2) opportunity to discover related issues and further develop the
investigation, ensuring completeness and reliability of data, which
contracted SUE does not provide.
Director of TPD
Contractor’s loss of experienced personnel. Contractor had equipment
failures.
District Design Engineer
Getting the SUE information in a timely manner due to short project
schedules. Some unknown utilities show up during the investigation.
Transportation Engineer
Supervisor
Identifying the locations you need verified in the field based off of
inaccurate information.
Design Engineer
Sometimes the utility locates/line markings are slow to occur and/or
inaccurately marked thru the Texas One Call/Dig TESS requests.
ROW Program Specialist
Allowed a provider to sell me level A services and not needed that. Now I
tell them what I need and when I need it.
Supervisor, Design Utility
Coordination Section
Some technologies, such as GPR, have limited capabilities in soils with a
high clay content. Also, standing water can limit the effectiveness of SUE
technology.
Engineer
Accuracy of locations in tight urban areas.
Utility Coordinator
Lack of utilizing appropriate SUE has generally made utility coordination
twice as difficult.
295
Question 37. Briefly describe current utility investigation practices in your district/ region
that could be improved. (67 Responses, 62 Skipped).
Table 77. Responses to Question 37.
Title
Utility Investigation Practice that Could be Improved
Director of TP&D
Need several ongoing contracts available within the region.
Utility Coordinator
Already addressed specifically in previous responses.
Engineering Specialist
Make the consultant to be reliable to continue investigation when
coordinator/designer asks for further survey, pot holes, etc.
Design Technician
To my understanding, we have no money available for SUE work at this
time. However, I think that the requestor should have a right of refusal for
a particular firm that they have received poor work from in the past.
Advance Project
Development Director
Avoidance of major utilities should be stressed more in preliminary design
stage.
Transportation Engineer
It is the decisions to protect or relocate reimbursable utilities that become
an issue. TxDOT is trying to do everything as cheaply as possible in the
short run. For utility conflicts that are reimbursable by TxDOT, the
District Utility Coordinator and the upper management do not want to
spend the money to do the best solution (pay for adjustment of utilities).
They stretch the rules (shown on the Texas Administrative Code). The
District Utility Coordinator, who is not an engineer, then wants the Project
Manager to do some protection which is cheaper than relocation and
assume all the liability. I have a high pressure gas line in my project right
now where the solution my bosses and especially the District Utility
Coordinator are proposing is probably not the best solution. I will not be
signing and sealing any sheet, but they will get it done. This is driven by
lack of time, lack of resources, and a desire to save money in the short run.
However, stretching the rules and taking chances could end up costing
TxDOT much more if something goes wrong. Also, our district utility
section has downsized (every section has) and they don’t have enough
resources to get everything done. They are also not paid well and are not
engineers. It is my opinion, but I don’t think it is ethical to have the
decision makers to be non-engineers when it involves public safety and
liability, etc.
Utility Coordinator
More funding for SUE investigation.
Engineering Specialist
Follow the utility investigation provided by FHWA, review passed
performance of other states, and research past performance by the
department.
Project Manager
We are in the process of hiring a utility coordinator. Hopefully this will
centralize the process. Currently the designers have to complete the entire
process, which tends to not be very efficient.
296
Title
Utility Investigation Practice that Could be Improved
Project Manager
Personal communication with utility owners is underutilized. More useful
and detailed data could be obtained from utility appurtenance surveys, if
survey crews and consultant contract administrators received adequate
training on utility investigation techniques.
Transportation Engineer
Supervisor
The entire process needs to be standardized.
Utility Coordinator
Need to place more of a focus on SUE.
Transportation Engineer
Supervisor
We should have full-time utility coordinators for each design section that
only focuses on utility coordination for assigned projects.
Engineering Specialist
Need money for consultants to do the investigations.
ROW Program Specialist
Bring the utility companies to the table earlier. Let the projects for
construction that you say are going to let. Be proactive by asking the
utility companies about their facility upgrades or new construction.
Supervisor, Design Utility
Coordination Section
TxDOT needs to commit to funding SUE provider contracts. The inability
of a district to secure SUE provider services is a hindrance to designing
certain projects, as well as increasing the cost of the overall project when
an engineering solution could have been used to avoid a utility conflict,
but SUE data was not available.
Engineer
Utilities that are actually identified during the design phase.
Utility Coordinator
Our approach to utility investigation is inconsistent throughout our design
sections. Some are very good and some are very poor.
Question 39. Briefly describe the policy and/ or regulations that constrain or obstruct the
use of utility investigations in the project development process. (11 Responses, 118
Skipped.)
Table 78. Responses to Question 39.
Title
Policy and/or Regulations that Constrain or Obstruct the Use of
Utility Investigations in the Project Development Process
Transportation Engineer
Usually there seems to be little or no money for SUE contracts. That is
what I have heard.
Utility Coordinator
Old, outdated policies reflecting an attitude of bureaucratic arrogance for
many years hindered 1) our cooperative relationships with public utilities,
2) new, innovative approaches to obtaining data, and even
3) intra-departmental communication.
Design Technician
A lack of contract money for SUE contracts. Also, a lack of understanding
by some project managers of when SUE is beneficial and when it isn’t.
Design Project Supervisor
This is handled by the District Utility Coordinator.
297
Title
Policy and/or Regulations that Constrain or Obstruct the Use of
Utility Investigations in the Project Development Process
Transportation Engineer
Again, TxDOT is trying to do everything cheaper and with less people.
The resources of people to handle the utility agreements and relocations
are not there. Everything is about saving money and justifying stretching
what is allowable. The final decisions about relocations versus protection
usually come from the District Utility Coordinator and not the Project
Engineer. However, it is the Project Engineer who is always blamed if
there is a problem in the field. Also, the data about adjustments made is
not sent back to the Project Manager once an adjustment is done. There is
too much separation between design and construction tasks.
Utility Coordinator
Unfortunately funding is always an issue.
Area Engineer
Companies not wanting to expose lines when requested.
Engineering Specialist
TxDOT’s policy of doing more with less means having less or no money
for consultants to do the investigations. Bad policy.
Director of Construction
Takes too long to adjust.
Engineer
Lack of funding.
Utility Coordinator
The policies that obstruct are unwritten: inconsistency and cheapness.
Question 41. What other information would help you decide when and how to use utility
investigation or SUE technology in the project development process? (37 Responses, 97
Skipped.)
Table 79. Responses to Question 41.
Title
Other Information to Decide When and How to Use
Utility Investigations or SUE Technology
Transportation Engineer
Supervisor
I have always been able to acquire utility information without a SUE
contract. The SUE process is only a time saver for TxDOT personnel in
our district. Because of this, and because money is not available for SUE
contracts, we have not used a SUE contract in years.
Transportation Engineer
A clear policy manual, explaining existing laws and requirements. A
policy manual, that explains what authority TxDOT has to require utility
companies to provide location information, or when the location services
should be paid by TxDOT.
Engineering Technician
Field guide, best practices handbook.
Utility Coordinator
TMI: TxDOT has spewed out much info for which there is little effective
use. Reduce, organize, and probably index, for greater usefulness.
Transportation Specialist
Experience of the designer.
Director of TPD
Historical data on potential for cost savings.
298
Title
Other Information to Decide When and How to Use
Utility Investigations or SUE Technology
Engineer Supervisor
It’s all project specific. If it is likely that we will encounter utilities and
we can design around the conflicts we will try to get SUE early in the
project so that we don’t have to go back and redesign.
District Design Eng.
Project scope and location; utility density; availability of a SUE consultant
contract; availability of consultant funds to pay for a SUE investigation.
Transportation Engineer
Supervisor.
None.
Engineering Specialist
Ask the utilities to see if the SUE plan is up to date with their lines.
Design Technician
The complexity of the project, the amount of utilities present and the
remaining right-of-way space left for relocations.
Transportation Engineer
As-built plans.
Plan Reviewer
Complexity of proposed underground work and estimated major existing
utilities such as pipelines.
Transportation Engineer
Supervisor
Funding availability.
Design Project Supervisor
If unknown utilities are in the area.
Transportation Engineer
In my case, the consultants we hire make many of the decisions.
However, our district has eliminated construction services for consultants
who design the projects. So when there is a field problem, it is harder to
have the consultant help solve the problem, especially when it is not a
design error. I anticipate this will become a continuing problem and could
become severe. The people making these decisions are upper management
and do not have to handle the problems as they arise. They also do not get
involved with the engineers (in the trenches and doing the work).
ROW Utility Coordinator
Project site visit and the scope of work of the highway improvements.
Engineering Specialist
The FHWA provide an excellent guide when to use or not couple with
other state information. The area that needs major improvements is
overhead lines be part of the SUE technology. Ninety-eight percent of the
time, the aerial lines such as telecommunication, television are mounted
on power poles. The One Call dig does not provide any information
regard multiple users on aerial lines. The issue becomes a concern when
certain utilities are not required to be register with One Call before you
dig, call for preliminary marking. Be registered with One Call: Not all
utilities are registered with one call before digging like water lines, sewer
lines, and TxDOT department communication lines like fiber optic. Also,
it will be a huge help if local city, county and TxDOT fiber optic be
mandatory to register with One Call to assist perform level, D, C, B & A.
Design Engineer
Project complexity.
Staff Support
None.
299
Title
Other Information to Decide When and How to Use
Utility Investigations or SUE Technology
District Utility Coordinator
Complexity of project, safety of employees (state, utility) and traveling
public.
Advanced Project
Development
Good QLD/C data to help determine the need of QLA.
Utility Coordinator
Unknown depths/locations.
ROW Program Specialist
Timing and budget.
Director /Head
Chart – Utility Focused Right of Way Coordination in the Project
Development Process Research Project 5475.
Supervisor, Design Utility
Coordination Section
Determining the complexity of utilities early in the process is helpful.
Utility Coordinator
Past experience.
Staff Support
Knowing design time lines and changes in design. Reaction time is
critical to SUE investigations.
300
APPENDIX C. STATE DOT INTERVIEW GUIDELINE AND
QUESTIONNAIRE
Overview
The purpose of the interviews is to identify best practices for utility investigations that are used
at State Departments of Transportation (DOTs) outside of Texas. This will help the research
team identify potential strategies to integrate such best practices into the TxDOT project
development process. Prior to conducting interviews, the researchers will identify and review
current best practices and use of utility investigation practices by gathering information, sample
documentation, and other available data at state DOT websites. The researchers will then
conduct a series of interviews with a number of DOT officials that will focus on the following:
•
•
Request internal DOT documents that detail recommended practice for use of utility
investigations in that state that may indicate when, how, and at what stages of the project
development process the state uses utility investigation techniques, and for what type of
projects and project sizes.
Ask questions that will help the research team identify and document the following with
respect to utility investigation techniques and technologies:
o How do states overcome and/or manage institutional barriers for use of these
technologies?
o How do states manage design changes?
o How do states manage relevant liability and security issues?
o How do states deal with training and capacity building issues?
o What successful information management systems are in use?
•
Request undocumented expert advice on the subject of utility investigations.
Communications with the selected state DOTs will be by phone and email.
General Interview Guidelines
•
•
•
Schedule interviews at least one week in advance. Make sure to send a copy of the
questionnaire to use as reference during the interview. Although the effective duration of
individual interviews could vary, indicate that interviews should last no more than one hour.
Conduct interview. The topics to discuss during the interview will focus on innovative
practices, procedures, and lessons learned, as included in section “Topics for Discussion.”
Read the following interview script and make sure that the interviewee is familiar with the
details of the interview and terminology related to project development process and
subsurface utility engineering.
Compile and send interview notes to Edgar Kraus no later than one week after the interview
(see template on page 6). The notes should include the following:
o Description of innovative/best practices.
o Recommendations for implementation.
o Lessons learned.
301
o Other issues, recommendations, or comments.
o Description of sample documentation gathered (if applicable).
o Additional contact names.
•
•
•
If applicable, destroy the recording after completing the interview notes but no later than two
weeks after the interview.
If applicable, follow up with other contacts regarding sample documentation and
recommendations for best practices, and forward that material to Edgar Kraus.
Complete all assigned interviews and forward interview notes to Edgar Kraus by 12/17/2010.
Email to Potential State DOT Survey Participants
From: Edgar Kraus
To:
Potential participants at state departments of transportation
Subject: TxDOT Study “Best Practices for Use of Utility Investigation Techniques
and Technologies”
The Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) is conducting research for the Texas Department of
Transportation (TxDOT) and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to gather information
about techniques and technologies used for utility investigations in the project development
process. The primary focus of the study is to review nationwide trends and identify best
practices that may be applicable to the TxDOT project development process.
To achieve this objective, we would like to ask a few questions about the use of utility
investigation techniques and technologies used in [name of state].
Your input is critical to the research. There is a need for state departments of transportation to
optimize the use of funding that is available for utility investigations. We are relying on
practitioners like you to help us identify best practices. The outcome of this research will be a
report and companion documents that will contribute to more effective use of utility
investigation techniques and technologies.
Interview details:
•
•
•
•
Participation in this interview is voluntary.
At any time during the interview, you may discontinue the interview.
With your permission, we will record the interview to facilitate transcribing the interview.
Once the interview is transcribed, we will delete the recording, and we will keep the
recording no longer than 14 days after the interview.
Responses to questions are confidential, and the final report will not identify individuals or
link responses to individuals.
For additional information, please contact Edgar Kraus (210-979-9411, [email protected]).
Your input is critical to the research. Thank you for participating.
Sincerely,
302
Edgar Kraus
______________________________
Edgar Kraus, P.E.
Associate Research Engineer
Texas Transportation Institute, Texas A&M University System
1100 NW Loop 410, Suite 400, San Antonio, TX 78213
Phone: (210) 979-9411, Ext. 17202 Fax: (210) 979-9694 Email: [email protected]
Questionnaire/Topics for Discussion with DOT Representatives
The following are a list of questions that the researchers will ask the interview participants. For
questions related to satisfaction, please use a scale from 1 (completely unsatisfied) to 10
(completely satisfied).
Utility Investigation Techniques and Technologies
1. What methods, techniques, or technologies does the DOT use to perform utility
investigations?
2. What methods, techniques, or technologies does the DOT use at the following stages of
the project development and design? (It may be helpful to use quality levels of
subsurface utility engineering to indicate technologies.)
a. Planning phase
b. Preliminary design phase
c. 0–30% detailed design phase
d. 30–60% detailed design phase
e. 60–100% detailed design phase
f. Construction phase
3. How are procedures for utility investigation different for the following:
a. Urban vs. rural projects?
b. Project location (new/existing)?
c. Project type (added capacity/non-added capacity)?
4. Can you describe the decision and approval process for use of the following utility
investigation technologies?
a. QLD
b. QLC
c. QLB
d. QLA
5. Who makes the final decision to use utility investigation technologies, and what does the
decision depend on?
6. Are there differences in the decision and approval process for use of utility investigation
technologies (QLD, QLC, QLB, QLA) with respect to the following?
a. Urban vs. rural projects?
b. Project location (new/existing)?
c. Project type (added capacity/non-added capacity)?
7. How do design changes affect utility identification in the project development process?
303
Utility Investigation Contracts and Procurement
8. What kind of utility investigation services does the DOT procure and what kind does the
DOT perform using in-house staff?
a. Does the decision depend on the project type (i.e., new versus existing location, urban
versus rural, added capacity versus non-added capacity)?
9. How does the DOT procure utility investigation services?
a. Does the DOT use “stand-by” or “evergreen” contracts? How effective are they?
Are there any drawbacks? (If available, ask for copies.)
10. Do consultant contracts include a requirement that prescribes a minimum positional
accuracy for the data collected?
11. Are you aware of issues with regard to utility data liability?
a. Have you experienced data liability issues in the past?
b. How does the DOT manage liability issues?
c. Is it important that deliverables from SUE providers be sealed by an engineer or
surveyor?
12. Are you aware of issues with regard to utility data access and security?
a. Have you experienced data access and security issues in the past?
b. How does the DOT manage data access and security issues?
13. How satisfied are you with QLA and QLB SUE deliverables from consultants in terms of
the following:
a. Quality and accuracy
b. Completeness
c. Reliability
Documentation and Regulations
14. What types of manuals or other relevant documents does the DOT have to support utility
investigations? (If available, ask for copies.)
a. Is there a guideline for the use of SUE/utility investigations?
b. Is there a manual, Standard Operation Procedure (SOP), or field guide?
c. Does the DOT have Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with utility companies or
SUE providers?
15. Are there state laws or rules that affect the ability of the DOT to use utility investigations
technology?
a. Which rules?
b. What is the effect? (e.g., enable/prescribe vs. prohibit/restrict use)
Institutional and Regulatory Issues
16. What kind of barriers or hurdles does the DOT encounter when attempting to use utility
investigation technologies (Examples)?
a. Are there institutional, regulatory, or legislative barriers?
b. Are there barriers related to business process, coordination, familiarity, and
knowledge of the technologies?
c. Are there financial limitations that prevent use of utility investigation services?
17. What barrier or hurdle is the most difficult to overcome?
304
18. How does your state deal with training and capacity building issues?
19. What types of information management systems are used to record, identify, and manage
utility investigation data?
Best Practices for Utility Investigations
20. What best practices does the DOT use when collecting utility data?
21. What practice does the DOT currently use that could be improved?
22. What best practice would you recommend that is not currently used?
23. What practice or procedure would warrant further evaluation to determine if it is a best
practice?
24. Can you recommend a contact that could provide further insight into these issues?
305
APPENDIX D. DATA ANALYSIS TABLES AND FIGURES
Project Design Cost
Area Type
$2,500,000
$2,000,000
$1,500,000
SUE Projects
$1,000,000
Control Projects
$500,000
$0
Rural
Urban
Figure 50. Mean Total Design Cost (2011 Dollars) by Area Type.
Project Class
$4,000,000
$3,000,000
$2,000,000
SUE Projects
Control Projects
$1,000,000
$0
Bridge
New
Location
Upgrade
Other
Figure 51. Mean Total Design Cost (2011 Dollars) by Project Class.
307
Design Standard
$3,000,000
$2,500,000
$2,000,000
SUE Projects
$1,500,000
Control Projects
$1,000,000
$500,000
$0
3R
4R
Other
Figure 52. Mean Total Design Cost (2011 Dollars) by Design Standard.
Area Type
$350,000
$300,000
$250,000
$200,000
SUE Projects
$150,000
Control Projects
$100,000
$50,000
$0
Rural
Urban
Figure 53. Mean Design Cost per Lane-Mile (2011 Dollars) by Area Type.
308
Project Class
$800,000
$700,000
$600,000
$500,000
$400,000
SUE Projects
$300,000
Control Projects
$200,000
$100,000
$0
Bridge
New
Location
Upgrade
Other
Figure 54. Mean Design Cost per Lane-Mile (2011 Dollars) by Project Class.
Design Standard
$450,000
$400,000
$350,000
$300,000
$250,000
SUE Projects
$200,000
Control Projects
$150,000
$100,000
$50,000
$0
3R
4R
Other
Figure 55. Mean Design Cost per Lane-Mile (2011 Dollars) by Design Standard.
309
Table 80. T-Test Results for Mean Total Design Cost.
Project Category
Effective Sample
Size
SUE
Area Type
Project Class
Design
Standard
All Projects
Equity of Variances
Control
p-Value
T-Test p-Values
Reject H0?
Equal
Unequal
Rural
3
219
0.0944
Yes
0.0053
0.245
Urban
23
345
<.0001
Yes
<.0001
0.0059
Total
26
564
Bridge
7
110
<.0001
Yes
<.0001
0.2487
New location
2
26
0.0088
Yes
0.0054
0.4504
Upgrade
8
94
<.0001
Yes
<.0001
0.0207
Other
8
84
0.0003
Yes
<.0001
0.0516
Total
25
314
3R
4
194
1
No
0.1302
0.2205
4R
19
236
<.0001
Yes
<.0001
0.0131
Other
3
369
<.0001
Yes
<.0001
0.1037
Total
26
799
26
820
<.0001
Yes
<.0001
0.0031
Note:
Null hypothesis for test of equity of variance: H0: the variances of the two samples are equal;
Null hypothesis for T-Test: H0: the two means of the two samples are equal;
Level of significance used: 0.1;
Underscored p-Values should be used based on test of variance equality;
Bolded values are groups for which t-test suggested a significant difference in mean.
310
Table 81. T-Test Results for Mean Design Cost per Lane-Mile.
Project Category
Effective Sample
Size
SUE
Area Type
Project Class
Design
Standard
Equity of Variances
Control
p-Value
Reject H0?
Equal
Unequal
-
-
Rural
1
91
-
Urban
16
139
<.0001
Yes
0.8294
0.6376
Total
17
230
Bridge
3
78
0.1802
No
0.4144
0.0871
New location
1
15
-
-
-
Upgrade
8
76
0.6005
No
0.1775
0.2449
Other
4
28
<.0001
Yes
0.0023
0.277
Total
16
197
3R
4
50
0.8571
No
0.7162
0.6887
4R
13
153
0.0001
Yes
0.4719
0.1075
Other
0
34
-
-
-
Total
17
237
17
246
0.6876
0.3723
As One Category
<.0001
-
T-Test p-Values
-
Yes
Note:
Null hypothesis for test of equity of variance: H0: the variances of the two samples are equal;
Null hypothesis for T-Test: H0: the two means of the two samples are equal;
Level of significance used: 0.1;
Underscored p-Values should be used based on test of variance equality;
Bolded values are groups for which t-test suggested a significant difference in mean.
311
Project Design Effort
Area Type
16,000
14,000
12,000
10,000
8,000
SUE Projects
6,000
Control Projects
4,000
2,000
0
Rural
Urban
Figure 56. Mean Project Total Design Man-Hours by Area Type.
Project Class
35,000
30,000
25,000
20,000
SUE Projects
15,000
Control Projects
10,000
5,000
0
Bridge
New
Location
Upgrade
Other
Figure 57. Mean Project Total Design Man-Hours by Project Class.
312
Design Standard
18,000
16,000
14,000
12,000
10,000
SUE Projects
8,000
Control Projects
6,000
4,000
2,000
0
3R
4R
Other
Figure 58. Mean Project Total Design Man-Hours by Design Standard.
Area Type
2,500
2,000
1,500
SUE Projects
1,000
Control Projects
500
0
Rural
Urban
Figure 59. Mean Design Man-Hours per Lane-Mile by Area Type.
313
Project Class
5,000
4,500
4,000
3,500
3,000
2,500
2,000
1,500
1,000
500
0
SUE Projects
Control Projects
Bridge
New
Location
Upgrade
Other
Figure 60. Mean Design Man-Hours per Lane-Mile Project Class.
Design Standard
3,000
2,500
2,000
SUE Projects
1,500
Control Projects
1,000
500
0
3R
4R
Other
Figure 61. Mean Design Man-Hours per Lane-Mile by Design Standard.
314
Table 82. T-Test Results for Mean Total Design Man-Hours.
Project Category
Effective Sample
Size
SUE
Area Type
Project Class
Design
Standard
All Projects
Equity of Variances
T-Test p-Values
Control
p-Value
Reject H0?
Equal
Unequal
0.8405
Rural
3
218
0.0855
Yes
0.9587
Urban
23
345
<.0001
Yes
<.0001 0.0131
Total
26
563
Bridge
7
110
0.2171
No
0.358
0.1959
New location
2
26
0.2867
No
0.0859
0.0004
Upgrade
8
94
<.0001
Yes
<.0001 0.0602
Other
8
84
0.9862
No
0.1903
0.2038
Total
25
314
3R
4
192
0.7243
No
0.4043
0.4761
4R
19
236
<.0001
Yes
<.0001 0.0247
Other
3
367
0.8695
No
<.0001 0.0107
Total
26
795
26
816
<.0001
Yes
<.0001 0.0071
Note:
Null hypothesis for test of equity of variance: H0: the variances of the two samples are equal;
Null hypothesis for T-Test: H0: the two means of the two samples are equal;
Level of significance used: 0.1;
Underscored p-Values should be used based on test of variance equality;
Bolded values are groups for which t-test suggested a significant difference in mean.
315
Table 83. T-Test Results for Mean Design Man-Hours per Lane-Mile.
Project Category
Effective Sample
Size
SUE
Area Type
Project Class
Design
Standard
All Projects
Equity of Variances
Control
p-Value
Reject H0?
Equal
Unequal
-
-
Rural
1
91
-
Urban
16
139
<.0001
Yes
0.6488
0.297
Total
17
230
Bridge
3
78
0.0904
Yes
0.5956
0.1105
New location
1
15
-
-
-
Upgrade
8
76
0.5639
No
0.8943
0.8767
Other
4
28
0.0224
Yes
0.1438
0.4464
Total
19
197
3R
4
50
0.5832
No
0.949
0.9331
4R
13
153
<.0001
Yes
0.3952
0.0308
Other
0
34
-
-
-
Total
17
237
17
246
0.5438
0.1346
<.0001
-
T-Test p-Values
-
Yes
Note:
Null hypothesis for test of equity of variance: H0: the variances of the two samples are equal;
Null hypothesis for T-Test: H0: the two means of the two samples are equal;
Level of significance used: 0.1;
Underscored p-Values should be used based on test of variance equality;
Bolded values are groups for which t-test suggested a significant difference in mean.
316
Project Construction Cost Increase
Area Type
6%
5%
4%
SUE Projects
3%
Control Projects
2%
1%
0%
Rural
Urban
Figure 62. Mean Percent of Construction Cost Increase by Area Type.
Project Class
8%
6%
4%
2%
SUE Projects
0%
Control Projects
-2%
-4%
-6%
Bridge
New
Rehab
Location
Upgrade
Other
Figure 63. Mean Percent of Construction Cost Increase by Project Class.
317
Design Standard
8%
6%
4%
2%
SUE Projects
0%
Control Projects
-2%
-4%
-6%
2R
3R
4R
Other
Figure 64. Mean Percent of Construction Cost Increase by Design Standard.
Area Type
$400,000
$350,000
$300,000
$250,000
$200,000
SUE Projects
$150,000
Control Projects
$100,000
$50,000
$0
Rural
Urban
Figure 65. Mean Construction Cost Increase per Lane-Mile by Area Type.
318
Project Class
$600,000
$500,000
$400,000
$300,000
$200,000
SUE Projects
$100,000
Control Projects
$0
-$100,000
-$200,000
Bridge
New
Rehab Upgrade Other
Location
Figure 66. Mean Construction Cost Increase per Lane-Mile by Project Class.
Design Standard
$1,000,000
$800,000
$600,000
$400,000
SUE Projects
$200,000
Control Projects
$0
-$200,000
2R
3R
4R
Other
Figure 67. Mean Construction Cost Increase per Lane-Mile by Design Standard.
319
Table 84. T-Test Results for Mean Percent Construction Cost Increase.
Project Category
Effective Sample
Size
SUE
Area Type
Project Class
Design
Standard
All Projects
Equity of Variances
Control
p-Value
T-Test p-Values
Reject H0?
Equal
Unequal
Rural
3
443
0.0088
Yes
0.8426
0.0834
Urban
11
420
0.0144
Yes
0.8277
0.6757
Total
14
863
Bridge
3
196
0.3301
No
0.4244
0.6096
New location
3
99
0.3223
No
0.9232
0.8453
Upgrade
4
86
0.7404
No
0.8534
0.8675
Other
4
335
0.1072
No
0.814
0.5594
Total
14
716
3R
3
292
0.6132
No
0.7261
0.6218
4R
7
318
0.2189
No
0.8716
0.8057
Other
4
504
0.2826
No
0.762
0.5924
Total
14
1114
14
1175
0.0025
Yes
0.7657
0.5353
Note:
Null hypothesis for test of equity of variance: H0: the variances of the two samples are equal;
Null hypothesis for T-Test: H0: the two means of the two samples are equal;
Level of significance used: 0.1;
Underscored p-Values should be used based on test of variance equality;
Bolded values are groups for which t-test suggested a significant difference in mean.
320
Table 85. T-Test Results for Mean Construction Cost Increase per Lane-Mile.
Project Category
Effective Sample
Size
SUE
Area Type
Project Class
Design
Standard
All Projects
Equity of Variances
Control
p-Value
T-Test p-Values
Reject H0?
Equal
Unequal
Rural
2
212
0.2287
No
0.9586
0.7912
Urban
5
144
0.1425
No
0.0463
0.2355
Total
7
356
Bridge
2
143
0.5063
No
0.3297
0.5473
New location
3
42
0.0014
Yes
0.8281
0.4157
Upgrade
2
64
0.5857
No
0.4082
0.5698
Other
0
23
-
-
-
-
Total
7
272
3R
2
77
1
No
0.3799
0.458
4R
4
207
0.0026
Yes
0.7338
0.0559
Other
1
79
-
-
-
Total
7
363
7
385
0.284
0.2433
0.6786
No
Note:
Null hypothesis for test of equity of variance: H0: the variances of the two samples are equal;
Null hypothesis for T-Test: H0: the two means of the two samples are equal;
Level of significance used: 0.1;
Underscored p-Values should be used based on test of variance equality;
Bolded values are groups for which t-test suggested a significant difference in mean.
321
Project Construction Duration
Area Type
450
400
350
300
250
SUE Projects
200
Control Projects
150
100
50
0
Rural
Urban
Figure 68. Mean Project Construction Duration (Days) by Area Type.
Project Class
700
600
500
400
SUE Projects
300
Control Projects
200
100
0
Bridge
New
Location
Rehab
Upgrade
Other
Figure 69. Mean Project Construction Duration (Days) by Project Class.
322
Design Standard
500
450
400
350
300
250
200
150
100
50
0
SUE Projects
Control Projects
2R
3R
4R
Other
Figure 70. Mean Project Construction Duration (Days) by Design Standard.
Area Type
450
400
350
300
250
SUE Projects
200
Control Projects
150
100
50
0
Rural
Urban
Figure 71. Mean Per-Lane-Mile Construction Duration (Days) by Area Type.
323
Project Class
700
600
500
400
SUE Projects
300
Control Projects
200
100
0
Bridge
New
Location
Rehab
Upgrade
Other
Figure 72. Mean Per-Lane-Mile Construction Duration (Days) by Project Class.
Design Standard
500
450
400
350
300
250
200
150
100
50
0
SUE Projects
Control Projects
2R
3R
4R
Other
Figure 73. Mean Per-Lane-Mile Construction Duration (Days) by Design Standard.
324
Table 86. T-Test Results for Mean Project Construction Duration.
Project Category
Effective Sample
Size
SUE
Area Type
Project Class
Design
Standard
All Projects
Equity of Variances
T-Test p-Values
Control
p-Value
Reject H0?
Equal
Unequal
Rural
4
454
0.0835
Yes
0.246
0.5313
Urban
19
449
0.0625
Yes
0.0159
0.0757
Total
23
903
Bridge
7
207
0.7277
No
0.0222
0.0671
New location
5
103
1
No
0.671
0.6778
Upgrade
8
105
0.0195
Yes
0.492
0.6703
Other
3
344
0.9018
No
0.5082
0.4821
Total
23
759
3R
4
310
0.0228
Yes
0.0936
0.4413
4R
17
351
0.0613
Yes
0.1404
0.2726
Other
4
508
0.0018
Yes
0.0101
0.3476
Total
25
1169
25
1230
0.0008
Yes <.0001
0.0073
Note:
Null hypothesis for test of equity of variance: H0: the variances of the two samples are equal;
Null hypothesis for T-Test: H0: the two means of the two samples are equal;
Level of significance used: 0.1;
Underscored p-Values should be used based on test of variance equality;
Bolded values are groups for which t-test suggested a significant difference in mean.
325
Table 87. T-Test Results for Mean Project Construction Duration per Lane-Mile.
Project Category
Effective Sample
Size
SUE
Area Type
Project Class
Design
Standard
All Projects
Equity of Variances
Control
p-Value
T-Test p-Values
Reject H0?
Equal
Unequal
Rural
2
212
0.5381
No
0.8791
0.9127
Urban
5
144
0.0426
Yes
0.5245
0.137
Total
7
356
Bridge
2
143
1
No
0.717
0.6963
New location
3
42
0.3631
No
0.9439
0.8978
Upgrade
2
64
0.0259
Yes
0.5428
0.0009
Other
0
23
-
-
-
Total
7
272
3R
2
77
<.0001
Yes
0.5938
0.0013
4R
4
207
0.6583
No
0.395
0.3208
Other
1
79
-
-
-
Total
7
363
7
385
0.5692
0.4028
0.2308
-
No
Note:
Null hypothesis for test of equity of variance: H0: the variances of the two samples are equal;
Null hypothesis for T-Test: H0: the two means of the two samples are equal;
Level of significance used: 0.1;
Underscored p-Values should be used based on test of variance equality;
Bolded values are groups for which t-test suggested a significant difference in mean.
326
Additional Project Construction Days
Area Type
25
20
15
SUE Projects
10
Control Projects
5
0
Rural
Urban
Figure 74. Mean Additional Construction Days per Lane-Mile (Days) by Area Type.
Project Class
70
60
50
40
SUE Projects
30
Control Projects
20
10
0
Bridge
New
Location
Rehab
Upgrade
Other
Figure 75. Mean Additional Construction Days per Lane-Mile (Days) by Project Class.
327
Design Standard
50
45
40
35
30
25
20
15
10
5
0
SUE Projects
Control Projects
2R
3R
4R
Other
Figure 76. Mean Additional Construction Days per Lane-Mile (Days) by Design Standard.
Area Type
25%
20%
15%
SUE Projects
10%
Control Projects
5%
0%
Rural
Urban
Figure 77. Mean Percent of Additional Construction Days (Days) by Area Type.
328
Project Class
25%
20%
15%
SUE Projects
10%
Control Projects
5%
0%
Bridge
New
Location
Rehab
Upgrade
Other
Figure 78. Mean Percent of Additional Construction Days (Days) Project Class.
Design Standard
25%
20%
15%
SUE Projects
10%
Control Projects
5%
0%
2R
3R
4R
Other
Figure 79. Mean Percent of Additional Construction Days (Days) by Design Standard.
329
Table 88. T-Test Results for Mean Additional Construction Days per Lane-Mile.
Project Category
Effective Sample
Size
SUE
Area Type
Project Class
Design
Standard
All Projects
Equity of Variances
Control
p-Value
T-Test p-Values
Reject H0?
Equal
Unequal
Rural
4
343
<.0001
Yes
0.6255
<.0001
Urban
22
294
0.0005
Yes
0.6274
0.3974
Total
26
637
Bridge
8
175
0.0035
Yes
0.4927
0.0909
New location
6
70
<.0001
Yes
0.6935
0.2019
Upgrade
9
88
<.0001
Yes
0.428
0.0145
Other
3
206
<.0001
Yes
0.833
0.0811
Total
26
539
3R
5
218
0.002
Yes
0.7512
0.1563
4R
18
274
<.0001
Yes
0.204
0.0005
Other
5
343
0.5813
No
0.2669
0.3734
Total
28
835
28
873
<.0001
Yes
0.5701
0.1553
Note:
Null hypothesis for test of equity of variance: H0: the variances of the two samples are equal;
Null hypothesis for T-Test: H0: the two means of the two samples are equal;
Level of significance used: 0.1;
Underscored p-Values should be used based on test of variance equality;
Bolded values are groups for which t-test suggested a significant difference in mean.
330
Table 89. T-Test Results for Mean Percent Additional Construction Days.
Project Category
Effective Sample
Size
SUE
Area Type
Project Class
Design
Standard
All Projects
Equity of Variances
Control
p-Value
T-Test p-Values
Reject H0?
Equal
Unequal
Rural
5
455
0.0014
Yes
0.2212
<.0001
Urban
24
450
<.0001
Yes
0.112
0.001
Total
29
905
Bridge
9
207
0.1733
No
0.4773
0.3118
New location
6
103
0.1694
No
0.334
0.1411
10
106
0.0456
Yes
0.1279
0.0226
Other
4
345
0.004
Yes
0.4497
0.0005
Total
29
761
3R
5
312
0.3475
No
0.7
0.5668
4R
21
353
<.0001
Yes
0.0718
<.0001
Other
6
508
0.4745
No
0.8171
0.7621
Total
32
1173
32
1234
<.0001
Yes
0.1006
0.0011
Upgrade
Note:
Null hypothesis for test of equity of variance: H0: the variances of the two samples are equal;
Null hypothesis for T-Test: H0: the two means of the two samples are equal;
Level of significance used: 0.1;
Underscored p-Values should be used based on test of variance equality;
Bolded values are groups for which t-test suggested a significant difference in mean.
331
Utility-Related Change Order Cost
Area Type
$7,000
$6,000
$5,000
$4,000
SUE Projects
$3,000
Control Projects
$2,000
$1,000
$0
Rural
Urban
Figure 80. Mean Utility-Related Change Order Cost per Project by Area Type.
Project Class
$25,000
$20,000
$15,000
SUE Projects
$10,000
Control Projects
$5,000
$0
Bridge
New
Rehab Upgrade
Location
Other
Figure 81. Mean Utility-Related Change Order Cost per Project by Project Class.
332
Design Standard
$12,000
$10,000
$8,000
SUE Projects
$6,000
Control Projects
$4,000
$2,000
$0
2R
3R
4R
Other
Figure 82. Mean Utility-Related Change Order Cost per Project by Design Standard.
Area Type
$4,500
$4,000
$3,500
$3,000
$2,500
SUE Projects
$2,000
Control Projects
$1,500
$1,000
$500
$0
Rural
Urban
Figure 83. Mean Utility-Related Change Order Cost per Lane-Mile by Area Type.
333
Project Class
$14,000
$12,000
$10,000
$8,000
SUE Projects
$6,000
Control Projects
$4,000
$2,000
$0
Bridge
New
Rehab Upgrade
Location
Other
Figure 84. Mean Utility-Related Change Order Cost per Lane-Mile by Project Class.
Design Standard
$6,000
$5,000
$4,000
SUE Projects
$3,000
Control Projects
$2,000
$1,000
$0
2R
3R
4R
Other
Figure 85. Mean Utility-Related Change Order Cost per Lane-Mile by Design Standard.
334
Area Type
0.14%
0.12%
0.10%
0.08%
SUE Projects
0.06%
Control Projects
0.04%
0.02%
0.00%
Rural
Urban
Figure 86. Mean Percent of Change Order Amount in Construction Cost by Area Type.
Project Class
0.20%
0.18%
0.16%
0.14%
0.12%
0.10%
0.08%
0.06%
0.04%
0.02%
0.00%
SUE Projects
Control Projects
Bridge
New
Location
Rehab
Upgrade
Other
Figure 87. Mean Percent of Change Order Amount in Construction Cost by Project Class.
335
Design Standard
0.12%
0.10%
0.08%
SUE Projects
0.06%
Control Projects
0.04%
0.02%
0.00%
2R
3R
4R
Other
Figure 88. Mean Percent of Change Order Amount in Construction Cost by Design
Standard.
336
Table 90. T-Test Results for Mean Utility-Related Change Order Amounts.
Project Category
Area Type
Project
Class
Design
Standard
All Projects
Effective Sample
Size
Equity of Variances
T-Test p-Values
SUE
p-Value
Equal
Control
Reject H0?
Unequal
Rural
3
443
0.0029
Yes
0.9302
0.3379
Urban
11
420
0.0006
Yes
0.9821
0.9526
Total
14
863
Bridge
3
196
<.0001
Yes
0.8143
0.0582
New location
3
99
0.1544
No
0.9842
0.9553
Upgrade
4
86
0.0493
Yes
0.9365
0.8202
Other
4
335
<.0001
Yes
0.9238
0.3808
Total
14
716
3R
3
292
0.0319
Yes
0.9136
0.5306
4R
7
318
0.022
Yes
0.945
0.8715
Other
4
508
<.0001
Yes
<.0001
0.3212
Total
14
1118
14
1175
0.001
Yes
0.8622
0.695
Note:
Null hypothesis for test of equity of variance: H0: the variances of the two samples are equal;
Null hypothesis for T-Test: H0: the two means of the two samples are equal;
Level of significance used: 0.1;
Underscored p-Values should be used based on test of variance equality;
Bolded values are groups for which t-test suggested a significant difference in mean.
337
Table 91. T-Test Results for Mean Utility-Related Change Order Amounts per Lane-Mile.
Project Category
Effective Sample
Size
SUE
Area Type
Project Class
Design
Standard
All Projects
Equity of Variances
Control
p-Value
T-Test p-Values
Reject H0?
Equal
Unequal
Rural
2
212
0.0314
Yes
0.8439
0.0478
Urban
5
144
<.0001
Yes
0.7752
0.1268
Total
7
356
Bridge
2
143
<.0001
Yes
0.8091
0.0419
New location
3
42
0.0045
Yes
0.7065
0.1654
Upgrade
2
64
<.0001
Yes
0.9
0.4749
Other
0
23
-
-
-
Total
7
272
3R
2
77
0.0267
Yes
0.8827
0.3609
4R
4
207
<.0001
Yes
0.7013
0.0062
Other
1
79
-
-
-
Total
7
363
7
385
0.7486
0.0186
<.0001
-
Yes
Note:
Null hypothesis for test of equity of variance: H0: the variances of the two samples are equal;
Null hypothesis for T-Test: H0: the two means of the two samples are equal;
Level of significance used: 0.1;
Underscored p-Values should be used based on test of variance equality;
Bolded values are groups for which t-test suggested a significant difference in mean.
338
Table 92. T-Test Results for Mean Utility-Related Change Order Amounts per
Construction Cost.
Project Category
Effective Sample
Size
SUE
Area Type
Project Class
Design
Standard
All Projects
Equity of Variances
Control
p-Value
T-Test p-Values
Reject H0?
Equal
Unequal
Rural
3
443
0.0071
Yes
0.9725
0.7387
Urban
11
420
<.0001
Yes
0.8235
0.242
Total
14
863
Bridge
3
196
<.0001
Yes
0.7911
0.0329
New location
3
99
0.1428
No
0.9911
0.9739
Upgrade
4
86
0.001
Yes
0.9174
0.6466
Other
4
335
<.0001
Yes
0.8575
0.1006
Total
14
716
3R
3
292
0.0274
Yes
0.9827
0.8934
4R
7
318
0.0002
Yes
0.7512
0.1701
Other
4
504
<.0001
Yes
0.9022
0.1678
Total
14
1114
14
1175
<.0001
Yes
0.851
0.1621
Note:
Null hypothesis for test of equity of variance: H0: the variances of the two samples are equal;
Null hypothesis for T-Test: H0: the two means of the two samples are equal;
Level of significance used: 0.1;
Underscored p-Values should be used based on test of variance equality;
Bolded values are groups for which t-test suggested a significant difference in mean.
339
Project Utility Agreement Amount
Area Type
$1,200,000
$1,000,000
$800,000
SUE Projects
$600,000
Control Projects
$400,000
$200,000
$0
Rural
Urban
Figure 89. Mean Total Agreement Amount per Project (2011 Dollars) by Area Type.
Project Class
$2,500,000
$2,000,000
$1,500,000
SUE Projects
$1,000,000
Control Projects
$500,000
$0
Bridge
New
Rehab Upgrade Other
Location
Figure 90. Mean Total Agreement Amount per Project (2011 Dollars) by Project Class.
340
Design Standard
$1,800,000
$1,600,000
$1,400,000
$1,200,000
$1,000,000
SUE Projects
$800,000
Control Projects
$600,000
$400,000
$200,000
$0
3R
4R
Other
Figure 91. Mean Total Agreement Amount per Project (2011 Dollars) by Design Standard.
Area Type
$140,000
$120,000
$100,000
$80,000
SUE Projects
$60,000
Control Projects
$40,000
$20,000
$0
Rural
Urban
Figure 92. Mean Agreement Amount per Lane-Mile (2011 Dollars) by Area Type.
341
Project Class
$500,000
$450,000
$400,000
$350,000
$300,000
$250,000
$200,000
$150,000
$100,000
$50,000
$0
SUE Projects
Control Projects
Bridge
New
Rehab Upgrade Other
Location
Figure 93. Mean Agreement Amount per Lane-Mile (2011 Dollars) by Project Class.
Design Standard
$180,000
$160,000
$140,000
$120,000
$100,000
SUE Projects
$80,000
Control Projects
$60,000
$40,000
$20,000
$0
3R
4R
Other
Figure 94. Mean Agreement Amount per Lane-Mile (2011 Dollars) by Design Standard.
342
Table 93. T-Test Results for Mean Agreement Amount per Project.
Project Category
Effective Sample
Size
SUE
Area Type
Project Class
All Projects
Control
p-Value
T-Test p-Values
Reject H0?
Equal
Unequal
Rural
4
507
<.0001
Yes
0.0005
0.4127
Urban
27
650
<.0001
Yes
<.0001
0.0379
Total
31
1157
Bridge
7
211
<.0001
Yes
<.0001
0.1
New location
2
39
0.4157
No
0.1431
0.4365
Rehabilitate
6
118
<.0001
Yes
0.0003
0.3872
12
136
<.0001
Yes
0.0341
0.298
Other
4
628
<.0001
Yes
0.9071
0.1438
Total
31
504
3R
5
450
<.0001
Yes
0.8534
0.1006
4R
18
365
<.0001
Yes
<.0001
0.0438
Other
8
1101
<.0001
Yes
<.0001
0.2687
Total
31
1916
31
1969
<.0001
No
<.0001
0.0286
Upgrade
Design
Standard
Equity of Variances
Note:
Null hypothesis for test of equity of variance: H0: the variances of the two samples are equal;
Null hypothesis for T-Test: H0: the two means of the two samples are equal;
Level of significance used: 0.1;
Underscored p-Values should be used based on test of variance equality;
Bolded values are groups for which t-test suggested a significant difference in mean.
343
Table 94. T-Test Results for Mean Agreement Amount per Project Lane-Mile.
Project Category
Effective Sample
Size
SUE
Area Type
Project Class
Design
Standard
All Projects
Equity of Variances
Control
p-Value
T-Test p-Values
Reject H0?
Equal
Unequal
Rural
3
206
0.003
Yes
0.8618
0.1704
Urban
17
208
<.0001
Yes
0.0007
0.3093
Total
20
414
Bridge
4
151
<.0001
Yes
<.0001
0.4003
New location
2
17
<.0001
Yes
0.002
0.4769
Rehabilitate
6
50
0.0007
Yes
0.7872
0.4767
Upgrade
8
103
0.0026
Yes
0.8931
0.7442
Other
0
25
-
-
-
Total
20
346
3R
4
76
0.0003
Yes
0.6089
0.0304
4R
12
233
<.0001
Yes
0.0007
0.3565
Other
4
116
<.0001
Yes
0.0002
0.385
Total
20
425
20
442
<.0001
Yes
0.0001
0.3177
-
Note:
Null hypothesis for test of equity of variance: H0: the variances of the two samples are equal;
Null hypothesis for T-Test: H0: the two means of the two samples are equal;
Level of significance used: 0.1;
Underscored p-Values should be used based on test of variance equality;
Bolded values are groups for which t-test suggested a significant difference in mean.
344
Project Utility Agreements
Area Type
2.0
1.8
1.6
1.4
1.2
1.0
0.8
0.6
0.4
0.2
0.0
SUE Projects
Control Projects
Rural
Urban
Figure 95. Mean Number of Reimbursable Utility Agreements per Project by Area Type.
Project Class
6.0
5.0
4.0
3.0
SUE Projects
2.0
Control Projects
1.0
0.0
Bridge
New
Location
Rehab
Upgrade
Other
Figure 96. Mean Number of Reimbursable Utility Agreements per Project by Project
Class.
345
Design Standard
3.0
2.5
2.0
SUE Projects
1.5
Control Projects
1.0
0.5
0.0
3R
4R
Other
Figure 97. Mean Number of Reimbursable Utility Agreements per Project by Design
Standard.
Area Type
0.3
0.2
SUE Projects
Control Projects
0.1
0.0
Rural
Urban
Figure 98. Mean Number of Reimbursable Utility Agreements per Lane-Mile by Area
Type.
346
Project Class
0.8
0.7
0.6
0.5
0.4
SUE Projects
0.3
Control Projects
0.2
0.1
0.0
Bridge
New
Location
Rehab
Upgrade
Other
Figure 99. Mean Number of Reimbursable Utility Agreements per Lane-Mile by Project
Class.
Design Standard
0.3
0.2
SUE Projects
Control Projects
0.1
0.0
3R
4R
Other
Figure 100. Mean Number of Reimbursable Utility Agreements per Lane-Mile by Design
Standard.
347
Area Type
80%
70%
60%
50%
40%
SUE Projects
30%
Control Projects
20%
10%
0%
Rural
Urban
Figure 101. Mean Percent of Agreement Not Needed by Number by Area Type.
Project Class
70%
60%
50%
40%
SUE Projects
30%
Control Projects
20%
10%
0%
Bridge
New
Location
Rehab
Upgrade
Other
Figure 102. Mean Percent of Agreement Not Needed by Number by Project Class.
348
Design Standard
70%
60%
50%
40%
SUE Projects
30%
Control Projects
20%
10%
0%
3R
4R
Other
Figure 103. Mean Percent of Agreement Not Needed by Number by Design Standard.
349
Table 95. T-Test Results for Mean Number of Agreements per Project.
Project Category
Effective Sample
Size
SUE
Area Type
Project Class
All Projects
Control
p-Value
T-Test p-Values
Reject H0?
Equal
Unequal
Rural
4
507
<.0001
Yes
<.0001
0.2329
Urban
27
650
<.0001
Yes
<.0001
0.0108
Total
31
1157
Bridge
7
211
<.0001
Yes
<.0001
0.0449
New location
2
39
0.0042
Yes
0.0042
0.4818
Rehabilitate
6
118
<.0001
Yes
<.0001
0.3804
12
136
0.3905
No
0.4887
0.412
Other
4
628
<.0001
Yes
0.89
0.0833
Total
31
1132
3R
5
450
0.2594
No
0.7338
0.5785
4R
18
365
<.0001
Yes
<.0001
0.0203
Other
8
1101
<.0001
Yes
<.0001
0.0599
Total
31
1916
31
1969
<.0001
Yes
<.0001
0.0032
Upgrade
Design
Standard
Equity of Variances
Note:
Null hypothesis for test of equity of variance: H0: the variances of the two samples are equal;
Null hypothesis for T-Test: H0: the two means of the two samples are equal;
Level of significance used: 0.1;
Underscored p-Values should be used based on test of variance equality;
Bolded values are groups for which t-test suggested a significant difference in mean.
350
Table 96. T-Test Results for Mean Number of Agreements per Project Lane-Mile.
Project Category
Effective Sample
Size
SUE
Area Type
Project Class
Design
Standard
All Projects
Equity of Variances
Control
p-Value
T-Test p-Values
Reject H0?
Equal
Unequal
Rural
3
206
0.001
Yes
0.8388
0.0979
Urban
17
208
0.1505
No
0.5412
0.4354
Total
20
414
Bridge
4
151
0.0016
Yes
0.0103
0.3381
New location
2
17
<.0001
Yes
0.0004
0.4196
Rehabilitate
6
50
0.0008
Yes
0.7913
0.4888
Upgrade
8
103
<.0001
Yes
0.7778
0.3123
Other
0
25
-
-
-
Total
20
346
3R
4
76
0.4649
No
0.9577
0.9387
4R
12
233
0.5237
No
0.6582
0.6117
Other
4
116
<.0001
Yes
<.0001
0.2008
Total
20
425
20
442
0.596
No
0.4283
0.391
-
Note:
Null hypothesis for test of equity of variance: H0: the variances of the two samples are equal;
Null hypothesis for T-Test: H0: the two means of the two samples are equal;
Level of significance used: 0.1;
Underscored p-Values should be used based on test of variance equality;
Bolded values are groups for which t-test suggested a significant difference in mean.
351
Table 97. T-Test Results for Mean Percent of Agreements Not Needed.
Project Category
Effective Sample
Size
SUE
Area Type
Project Class
Design
Standard
All Projects
Equity of Variances
Control
p-Value
T-Test p-Values
Reject H0?
Equal
Unequal
Rural
2
19
1
No
0.112
0.2594
Urban
13
39
0.1134
No
0.0452
0.1013
Total
15
58
Bridge
6
11
0.0761
Yes
0.0407
0.1076
New location
2
6
1
No
0.8407
0.852
Rehabilitate
1
3
-
-
-
-
Upgrade
6
32
0.2546
0.0479
0.1506
Other
0
3
-
-
-
-
Total
15
55
3R
1
8
-
-
-
-
4R
9
39
0.6969
No
0.0226
0.045
Other
5
18
0.2733
No
0.1384
0.2635
Total
15
65
15
65
0.2498
No
0.0096
0.0319
No
Note:
Null hypothesis for test of equity of variance: H0: the variances of the two samples are equal;
Null hypothesis for T-Test: H0: the two means of the two samples are equal;
Level of significance used: 0.1;
Underscored p-Values should be used based on test of variance equality;
Bolded values are groups for which t-test suggested a significant difference in mean.
352
Project EWA Utility Agreements
Area Type
6
5
4
SUE Projects
3
Control Projects
2
1
0
Rural
Urban
Figure 104. Mean Number of Reimbursable EWA Utility Agreements per Project by Area
Type.
Project Class
18
16
14
12
10
8
6
4
2
0
SUE Projects
Control Projects
Bridge
New
Location
Rehab
Upgrade
Other
Figure 105. Mean Number of Reimbursable EWA Utility Agreements per Project by
Project Class.
353
Design Standard
7
6
5
4
SUE Projects
3
Control Projects
2
1
0
3R
4R
Other
Figure 106. Mean Number of Reimbursable EWA Utility Agreements per Project by
Design Standard.
Area Type
2.0
1.5
SUE Projects
1.0
Control Projects
0.5
0.0
Rural
Urban
Figure 107. Mean Number of Reimbursable EWA Utility Agreements per Lane-Mile by
Area Type.
354
Project Class
4
3
2
SUE Projects
Control Projects
1
0
Bridge
New
Location
Rehab
Upgrade
Other
Figure 108. Mean Number of Reimbursable EWA Utility Agreements per Lane-Mile by
Project Class.
Design Standard
1.5
1.0
SUE Projects
Control Projects
0.5
0.0
3R
4R
Other
Figure 109. Mean Number of Reimbursable EWA Utility Agreements per Lane-Mile by
Design Standard.
355
Table 98. T-Test Results for Mean Number of Reimbursable EWA Utility Agreements per
Project.
Project Category
Effective Sample
Size
SUE
Area Type
Project Class
All Projects
Control
p-Value
T-Test p-Values
Reject H0?
Equal
Unequal
Rural
4
507
<.0001
Yes
<.0001
0.1732
Urban
27
650
<.0001
Yes
<.0001
0.0045
Total
31
1157
Bridge
7
211
<.0001
Yes
<.0001
0.0144
New location
2
39
<.0001
Yes
0.0002
0.5113
Rehabilitate
6
118
<.0001
Yes
<.0001
0.222
12
136
0.0002
Yes
0.0281
0.2198
Other
4
628
<.0001
Yes
0.8309
0.0076
Total
31
1132
3R
5
450
<.0001
Yes
0.0001
0.3017
4R
18
365
<.0001
Yes
<.0001
0.0129
Other
8
1101
<.0001
Yes
<.0001
0.1291
Total
31
1916
31
1969
<.0001
Yes
<.0001
0.001
Upgrade
Design
Standard
Equity of Variances
Note:
Null hypothesis for test of equity of variance: H0: the variances of the two samples are equal;
Null hypothesis for T-Test: H0: the two means of the two samples are equal;
Level of significance used: 0.1;
Underscored p-Values should be used based on test of variance equality;
Bolded values are groups for which t-test suggested a significant difference in mean.
356
Table 99. T-Test Results for Mean Number of Reimbursable EWA Utility Agreements per
Project Lane-Mile.
Project Category
Effective Sample
Size
SUE
Area Type
Project Class
Design
Standard
All Projects
Equity of Variances
Control
p-Value
T-Test p-Values
Reject H0?
Equal
Unequal
Rural
3
206
<.0001
Yes
0.001
0.4538
Urban
17
208
0.231
No
0.3164
0.4045
Total
20
414
Bridge
4
151
<.0001
Yes
<.0001
0.2143
New location
2
17
1
No
0.1093
0.2725
Rehabilitate
6
50
0.0105
Yes
0.2318
0.4999
Upgrade
8
103
<.0001
Yes
0.815
0.41
Other
0
25
-
-
-
-
Total
20
346
3R
4
76
1
No
0.572
0.581
4R
12
233
0.0122
Yes
0.0809
0.2661
Other
4
116
0.2449
No
0.531
0.2838
Total
20
425
20
442
0.0002
Yes
0.044
0.2178
Note:
Null hypothesis for test of equity of variance: H0: the variances of the two samples are equal;
Null hypothesis for T-Test: H0: the two means of the two samples are equal;
Level of significance used: 0.1;
Underscored p-Values should be used based on test of variance equality;
Bolded values are groups for which t-test suggested a significant difference in mean.
357
APPENDIX E. SUE UTILITY IMPACT FORM
Located in the back pocket of the report on a CD
359

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