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Section 4: Utility Adjustments

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Overview

Public utility owners (companies) legally share State right of way, so when major changes are made to roadways, they very likely affect utilities. It is TxDOT’s responsibility to formally notify all affected utility owners of proposed work as early as possible and to coordinate utility adjustments with the utility owners. Utility clearance certifications must be submitted by the district to Design Division with the PS&E.

Typically, utility owners are responsible for moving their own facilities, including budgeting, locating existing lines, preparing plans, specifications and estimates, and letting contracts. Under some circumstances, TxDOT may fund utility adjustments. Furthermore, utility adjustment plans may be made part of the TxDOT project construction plans. This is known as Combined Transportation Utility Construction (CTUC).

This section includes the following tasks. The tasks are listed in approximate chronological order.

4610. Coordinate utility adjustment plans

4620. Prepare and execute utility adjustment agreements

4630. Utility owners adjust facilities

4640. Prepare utility clearance certifications

4650. Reimburse utility owners for eligible adjustment costs

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4610: Coordinate utility adjustment plans

Description. After receiving TxDOT’s plans or schematics, the utility owner should prepare their utility adjustment plans (adjustment may include relocation). Utility adjustment plans:

  • should show existing and proposed utilities; key TxDOT project features; and, temporary and permanent relocations - since even temporary relocations may pose construction conflicts.
  • help resolve potential conflicts between utilities and construction activities.
  • may be incorporated into TxDOT PS&E if the utility adjustment is included in the TxDOT construction contract (CTUC).

TxDOT may participate in the cost of eligible utility adjustments. When TxDOT acquires new right of way (ROW) containing utilities, TxDOT typically participates in the cost of adjusting the utilities. When utilities are located in existing ROW and need adjusting, TxDOT does not typically participate in the cost of adjusting the utilities.

Pertinent Project Types. Projects involving potential conflict between utilities and construction activities.

Responsible Party. Roadway design engineer

Sub-tasks.

  • When design of proposed underground features is substantially complete (approximately 60% complete), send project construction plans to all utility owners so they may begin designing required adjustments. This should be documented to show good faith coordination.
  • Determine if additional work is needed to precisely locate existing utilities (see 4200: locate existing utilities). This may be needed if adjusting the utility would be very expensive or a roadway feature needs to be built very close to the utility.

Helpful Suggestions.

  • Utility Coordination Contracts may supplement state efforts and speed up the coordination process, ensuring good coordination in regard to designing, funding and scheduling issues.
  • Continuous coordination and involvement of the utility owners throughout project development is essential to maintain the project schedule.
  • Utility owners should be advised of potential conflicts as soon as possible. One to two years may be needed to budget, design, and complete required adjustments.
  • Fabrication of major utility equipment (e.g., transmission towers, greater than 18” diameter water pipe) may add 8 to 12 months to the time required to complete the utility adjustment.
  • If TxDOT will participate in adjustment cost, TxDOT’s share must be included in the ROW project cost estimate.
  • TxDOT may determine that it is preferable to design around a utility in accordance with the Utility Accommodation Rules, rather than require the owner to adjust the utility.

Critical Sequencing. Utility adjustments should be completed before the project is let to contract.

Authority Requirements.

Resource Material.

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4620: Prepare and execute utility adjustment agreements

Description. All required utility adjustments eligible for State cost participation must be performed in accordance with an executed “Utility Agreement.” The agreement specifies each party’s rights and responsibilities with regard to the highway/utility interface. Assignment of agreement approval authority, by the district or Right of Way Division, depends on the agreement type and other conditions. An agreement is required even if the utility adjustment is incorporated in a TxDOT construction contract.

The Utility Agreement includes:

  • standard utility agreement form
  • plans, specifications, and detailed cost estimates (see 4610: Coordinate utility adjustment plans)
  • evidence of reimbursable interest
  • the utility joint-use agreement.

The Map, Survey, Utility Section of the Right of Way Division is available for consultation and review of non-typical agreements.

Pertinent Project Types. Projects requiring utility adjustments

Responsible Party. District Right of Way Administrator

Sub-tasks.

  • Coordinate work with the project manager and district utility coordinator.
  • Prepare (with input from the Right of Way Division as needed) and submit the draft agreement assembly to utility owners.
  • Any requested modifications to the agreement are negotiated and the agreement is revised as necessary.
  • Ensure that both parties execute the agreement.

Helpful Suggestions. The TxDOT Utility Manual contains typical agreements that have been used successfully between TxDOT and utility owners. If a utility is uncooperative, contact the ROW Division for assistance.

Critical Sequencing. After coordination with the Right of Way Division, submit the agreement to the utility owners for execution.

Authority Requirements.

  • TxDOT Utility Accommodation Rules, 43 TAC §§ 21.21 - 21.56
  • TxDOT memo; 09/22/97; “Utility Adjustment Guidelines in Transportation Projects”; from Robert Cuellar; to all Area Engineers
  • For assignments of agreement approval authority: Planning & Construction Management of Utility Conflicts in Transportation Projects, Appendix C: District Approval of Utility Agreements; by TxDOT and TEEX; 10/97.

Resource Material.

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4630: Utility owners adjust facilities

Description. Once utility adjustment agreements are executed, utility owners can begin adjusting their utilities. Throughout the adjustment period, continuous coordination should be maintained between TxDOT and utility owners. Changes in adjustment schedules and changes in field conditions can affect the overall construction schedule. Periodic inspection by TxDOT of the following items is essential during adjustment of the utility:

  • conformance with the TxDOT Utility Accommodation Rules
  • conformance with plan requirements
  • traffic control in accordance with the TMUTCD.

Utility owners are responsible for utility adjustments. The project manager, through the district right of way utility coordinator, is responsible for notifying utility owners that agreements are executed and utility adjustments can begin.

Pertinent Project Types. Projects requiring utility adjustments by the utility owner.

Responsible Party. Project manager

Sub-tasks.

  • Notify utility owners, through the district right of way utility agent, that the agreements are executed and utility adjustments may begin.
  • District inspector maintains utility adjustment construction records to relate billing with work accomplished and to ensure proper location.

Helpful Suggestions.

  • Ensure good communication between utility owners to prevent delays. The project manager should follow up with utility owners on coordinating adjustments. One owner’s facilities may not be able to be adjusted until another owner’s facilities are adjusted.
  • Utility owners have legal rights to use highway rights of way in accordance with TxDOT policy, and they should be regarded as partners in the transportation business.
  • Utility adjustments often require specialized equipment, trained crews, and expertise (e.g., fiber optic cables, electric transmission lines). They are often performed in advance of, and independently of, the transportation construction project. However, in some cases, the adjustment of a utility (e.g., water lines, drainage pipes) may be incorporated into the highway construction plans to be executed by the contractor.

Critical Sequencing. To avoid affecting proposed construction, start utility adjustments as soon as environmental clearance is obtained, necessary right of way is available, agreements are executed, and Priority 1 authority for the project is received.

Authority Requirements. TxDOT Utility Accommodation Rules, 43 TAC §§ 21.21 - 21.56

Resource Material. TxDOT Right of Way Collection.

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4640: Prepare utility clearance certifications

Description. The district shall prepare a utility clearance certification (see the PS&E Preparation Manual, Chapter 5, Section 3, Utility Clearance Certification) and submit it with the PS&E to the Design Division. The certification is form submitted with the PS&E transmittal stating whether any utility adjustments remain to be completed.

Pertinent Project Types. All projects.

Responsible Party. Project manager

Sub-tasks.

  • Review status of required utility adjustments.
  • If adjustments will not be complete before letting, a Utility Adjustment Status Form (see the PS&E Preparation Manual, Chapter 5, Section 3, Utility Clearance Certification) should be completed and attached to the PS&E transmittal letter. The Form requires obtaining estimated adjustment completion dates. In completing the Form, coordinate with utility owners on adjustment completion date commitments. It is recommended to obtain letters from them stating dates when adjustments will begin and be complete.
  • District engineer reviews and signs the certification and, if needed, the Utility Adjustment Status Form, and transmits these with the PS&E to the Design Division.
  • District must update the Utility Adjustment Status Form before the letter of authority can be issued.

Helpful Suggestions.

  • Full clearance of utility conflicts prior to letting is strongly encouraged.
  • When determining completion dates for adjustments after letting, be as accurate as possible. Coordination with utility owners should be current. Dates should be realistic and attainable. This information will go into the bid proposal and construction agreement with the highway contractor. Inaccurate utility adjustment dates can cause contractor change orders and contractor claims.
  • Completion of the Utility Adjustment Status form is required for all Federal-aid projects and suggested for State-funded projects.

Critical Sequencing. Prepare the utility clearance certification after TxDOT has inspected the adjustments.

Authority Requirements.

  • TxDOT Utility Accommodation Rules, 43 TAC §§ 21.21 - 21.56
  • TxDOT Memo; 08/17/98; “Unacquired ROW and Unadjusted Utilities”; from Robert L. Wilson; to District Engineers.

Resource Material.

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4650: Reimburse utility owners for eligible adjustment costs

Description. Some utility adjustments are eligible for state or federal reimbursement. Typically, these are utility adjustments that: (1) are caused by highway construction and located within the utility owner’s right of way, or (2) are within interstate highway system right of way. The determination of eligibility is documented in the Standard Utility Agreement.

After utility relocation is complete, utility owners should submit a final billing statement to the district. The district will review, approve, and forward the statement to the Right of Way Division along with its recommendation on reimbursement. By statute, eligible utility adjustment costs are a cost of right of way acquisition.

Pertinent Project Types. Projects requiring utility adjustments eligible for reimbursement.

Responsible Party. District Right of Way Administrator

Critical Sequencing. This task can be started after utility adjustment is complete.

Authority Requirements.

Resource Material. TxDOT Utility Manual

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