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Section 4: Utility Attachments

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Overview

To every extent possible, do not attach utility lines to bridges and separation structures because the proliferation of such lines and their maintenance constitutes a hazard to traffic and complicates widening or repair. Attaching utility lines to a highway structure can materially affect the structure, the safe operation of traffic, the efficiency of maintenance, and the overall appearance.

Where other arrangements for a utility line to span an obstruction are not feasible, the department may consider the attachment of such line to a bridge structure. Any exceptions that are permitted will be handled in accordance with the conditions set forth in Title 43 TAC, Section 21.35 and 21.37 (relating to utility structures) and other pertinent requirements contained therein. Each such attachment will be considered on an individual basis and permission to attach will not be considered as establishing a precedent for granting of subsequent requests for attachment.

The Bridge Division is the Office of Primary Responsibility for all utility attachments. The executed attachment agreements will be housed in the Bridge Inspection Database under the corresponding structure number. TxDOT enters into agreements for utility attachments to on-system bridges only. Utility attachments to off-system bridges are handled by the owner of the bridge, usually a county or city government.

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Guidelines

The following guidelines govern attachment of utilities to bridges.

Communication Lines. When it is impractical to carry a self-supporting communication line across a stream or other obstruction, department policy permits the attachment of the line to its bridges. On existing bridges the State generally requires that the line be enclosed in conduits and located on structures such that it does not interfere with stream flow, traffic, or routine maintenance operations. When a request is made prior to construction of a bridge, suitable conduits will be provided in the structure if the utility company bears the cost of all additional work and materials involved.

When a line is attached to a bridge, the State will enter into an agreement with the utility company.

In urban areas where it is the State's responsibility to provide for the adjustment of communication lines or conduits to accommodate the construction of a highway and the adjustment provides for the placement of communication conduits in a highway grade separation structure, the department will allow a reasonable number of spare communication conduits in the structure provided the spares are placed at the time of construction and the communication company bears the cost of these spare conduits.

Where highway construction makes it necessary to relocate communication conduits and the proper adjustment, in the opinion of the department, provides for the placement of communication conduits in the highway grade separation structure, the department will permit the communications company to install replacement conduits and a reasonable number of spares in the structure provided such conduits are placed at the time of construction and provided the company bears any extra structure cost occasioned by the presence of the communication conduits.

Gas or Fuel Lines. No gas or liquid fuel lines may be attached to a bridge or grade separation structure without the specific approval of the TxDOT Executive Director.

Power Lines. Power lines are not permitted on bridges under any condition with the exception of low-voltage distribution lines where the cost of independent facilities to carry these lines would be prohibitive. For this requirement, low-voltage lines must carry 600 volts or less.

Utility Pipelines. When a municipality or utility company requests permission to attach a pipeline to a proposed bridge prior to construction, and the added load is sufficient to require an increase in the strength of the structure or use of more costly materials or type of construction, the utility owner is required to pay for the increase in cost.

When a utility company requests permission to attach a pipeline to an existing bridge, sufficient information should be furnished to allow a stress analysis to determine the effect of the added load on the structure. Other details of the proposed attachment as they affect safety and maintenance should also be presented. If the bridge structure is not of adequate strength to carry the increased weight or forces within a factor of safety, permission will not be granted.

Temporary Water Lines or Saltwater Pipelines. Temporary water lines are sometimes requested to be attached to bridges by companies in the oil and gas industry. When a company requests permission to attach a temporary water line to an existing bridge, sufficient information should be furnished to perform a stress analysis to determine the effect of the added load on the structure. Other details that affect safety and maintenance of the proposed attachment should also be presented. Details of the proposed attachment to the bridge should be signed and sealed by a Texas registered professional engineer. If the bridge structure is not of adequate strength to carry the increased weight or forces within a factor of safety, permission will not be granted.

Requests for Attachments. All requests for attachments to bridges or structures should originate from the utility company with an application to the appropriate district engineer.

For attachments to structures within active projects, the district engineer should forward requests for attachment along with recommendations to the Bridge Division project manager for review and concurrence. Adequate justification, including details and an estimate for an independent utility crossing, should accompany the submission. If the attachment is allowed, the Bridge Division project manager will prepare a suitable agreement and forward it to the district for partial execution with the utility company. Modification of the structural details to accommodate the utility and the responsibility of cost will be developed by the utility’s engineer. Where applicable, the Bridge Division project manager will coordinate the submission with the district. In addition, use and occupancy agreement forms will be required as cited in Title 43 TAC, Section 21.52 (relating to Forms–General) and Title 43 TAC, Section 21.54 (relating to Use and Occupancy Agreement Forms).

Attachment Locations. Recommended attachment locations are on the overhang, as close as possible to the outside beam, or behind the outside beam. Behind the outside beam is preferred. Hanging lines on the outside of the beams is not aesthetically pleasing and may be subject to vandalism. Attachments to water crossing structures should be placed on the downstream side where exposure to high water is less likely.

Bridge attachments should not be made to any bridge rail or rail hardware, including anchor bolts. This will eliminate the need to get the owner of the attachment involved when bridge rail repair is performed.

Do not hang lines from the bottom of beams. This decreases freeboard and increases the likelihood of damage.

It may be beneficial to carry lines across an obstruction using a utility structure rather than an attachment to a structure.

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Coordinating the Agreement

The district engineer can approve a utility attachment and submit the request, with district recommendation, directly to the Bridge Division project manager. The Bridge Division project manager coordinates the request with assistance from the Design Section and the Right of Way Division. The Design Section conducts a structural review and a review of the details. The Bridge Division project manager handles the negotiations and prepares the agreement.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has specified that on-system projects must adhere to the Utility Accommodation Policy (UAP) codified as Title 43 TAC Sections 21.31-21.56. Sometimes full compliance with the UAP is unattainable. In such cases an exception must be certified by the district director of Transportation Planning and Development and authorized by the Right of Way Division director using the form entitled Certification for Utility Accommodation. Requests for exceptions will be considered only when it is shown that extreme hardship or unusual conditions provide justification and when compensating or alternative measures can be taken in keeping with the intent of these sections. All exception requests made to the districts must be fully documented with design data, cost comparisons, and other pertinent information. Off-system projects should comply with the UAP when possible; however, off-system projects may utilize local codes, policies, and customary practices when representing the public’s best interests. If local codes, policies, or practices are used instead of the UAP, a Utility Accommodation Policy Declaration form must be completed and included with the utility agreement.

Although there is no initial fee or rental charge, attachments will be made at no cost to the state. All expenses will be the responsibility of the utilities. Any additional cost due to modification of the bridge structure to accommodate the attachment must be borne by the utility company. This cost or method of determining the cost will be established in advance and shown in the agreement.

Exhibits attached to the request should include drawings showing location, type, size, and weight of the line, attachment details, and safety features. Exposed portions of an attachment must be of non-corrosive material or must be protected from corrosion by an acceptable method such as hot-dipped galvanizing, if appropriate. Pipelines and conduits must not impede the flow of water through a structure or the movement of traffic, either pedestrian or vehicular, and must be located so as not to interfere with routine maintenance operations.

Maintenance of utility attachments to a bridge is the responsibility of the utilities. Installation and maintenance of utility attachments will be conducted so as not to inconvenience or interfere with highway traffic and will comply with governing laws and TxDOT regulations and policies. During attachment installation or maintenance, all traffic controls should comply with the Texas Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways.

Exhibits submitted by the district to the Bridge Division project manager should include the following:

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  • Details on how the line is attached to the bridge -- (Utility Attachment Exhibit A)
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    • Show proposed location of attachment on elevation view of bridge layout
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    • Show specific detail of attachment to bridge with appropriate notes to the contractor
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    • The Utility Attachment Exhibit A must be signed and sealed by a licensed professional engineer
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  • Identification of control, section, and original job number of the bridge if possible
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  • National Bridge Inventory (NBI) number of bridge
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  • Copies of bridge layout and pertinent details of existing bridge as-built plans (if available)
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  • Once the agreement has been executed by the utility company, the TxDOT district bridge engineer will forward the 2 signed copies including the request and attachment detail sheets to TxDOT’s Bridge Division project manager for processing. Both copies will be signed by the TxDOT Bridge Division director for full execution. The Bridge Division is the Office of Primary Responsibility for all utility attachments. The executed attachment agreements will be housed in the Bridge Inspection Database under the corresponding structure number.
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United States Geologic Survey -- Gauging Stations

The Bridge Division project manager must approve requests by the United States Geologic Survey or other public or private agencies for gauging stations to be located on or near highway stream crossing bridges. These requests are handled by permit after approval is received from the district. A stipulation of the agreement is that the gauging equipment will be removed upon 30 days’ notice when it is necessary to widen, repair, or reconstruct the bridge. Notify the bridge project manager of any proposed work that will require removal or relocation of a gauging station.

Accordingly, the only reasons that USGS would not be granted access would be special situations such as pending maintenance, widening, repair, or removal of the structure which would also negatively affect the gauging station. The proper procedure for requesting a location agreement is:

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  • USGS selects a gauge location and then determines whether or not the location is on TxDOT ROW. County, city, and private roads are not TxDOT controlled; USGS must contact the entity that owns the structure.
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  • USGS determines which TxDOT district is responsible for the structure by going to the TxDOT website (www.txdot.gov) or contacting the TxDOT Bridge Division’s project manager for assistance.
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  • USGS contacts the TxDOT district office with information identifying the structure. The contact at the TxDOT district office should be either the district bridge engineer or the district hydraulics engineer. The TxDOT engineer will contact the appropriate area engineer and maintenance supervisor for coordination.
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  • The TxDOT district office will provide USGS the as-built drawings of the respective bridge within 10 working days of USGS’s request at no charge.
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  • USGS supplies the details for attachment of a gauging station to the selected TxDOT structure. The detail sheets shall be signed and sealed by a Texas licensed professional engineer. Proof of insurance is neither required nor requested because USGS is a function of the U. S. Government Department of the Interior.
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  • The TxDOT district bridge engineer will forward the request and attachment detail sheets to the Bridge Division project manager for processing. A copy of the agreement, signed by the TxDOT Bridge Division director, will be forwarded to USGS for its files within 10 working days of receiving the respective district’s approval of the attachment details.
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  • The Bridge Division is the Office of Primary Responsibility for all USGS bridge attachments. The executed attachment agreements will be housed in the Bridge Inspection Database under the corresponding structure number.

These procedures apply to any attachment by USGS to any TxDOT structure or within its ROW, regardless of how minor the attachment may be. TxDOT must review and approve all attachment methods and designs to insure that they do not compromise the structural integrity of the bridge or the intended function of the guard fence, and are not located in such a manner as to interfere with the traveling public or cause a safety concern. TxDOT is responsible for the safe design, installation, and maintenance of everything located within state highway ROW.

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Texas Water Development Board

The Bridge Division project manager must review and approve requests by the Texas Water Development Board for water quality stations to be located on or near highway stream crossing bridges. These requests are handled by permit after approval is received from the district. A stipulation of the agreement is that the station will be removed upon 30 days’ notice when it is necessary to widen, repair, or reconstruct the bridge. Notify the Bridge Division project manager of any proposed work that will require removal or relocation of a Texas Water Development Board water quality station.

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Counties and Municipalities

When either the state or a local government wishes to place an attachment to a structure within the other’s right of way, the Bridge Division project manager will coordinate the agreement process with assistance from the Bridge Division Design Section and the Right of Way Division. A satisfactory agreement will set forth the financial responsibility and commitments, including maintenance and liability, of each party involved.

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