Section 2: Inspection Activities

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Maintaining Utility Construction Records

Construction records must be maintained by the TxDOT utility inspector to assure that work proposed in a utility agreement is accomplished according to the agreement assembly. In addition, records must be maintained to support the payment request submitted at the conclusion of the work, to verify satisfactory performance, and to recommend payment to the utility.

There are three basic types of construction records required:

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  • Actual Cost Adjustment Performed by Utility Force Account
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    • A daily record, maintained by the TxDOT Inspector, of the number and classes of employees used on the project and, if possible, the hours worked.
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    • A record in the construction diary of the utility’s major items of equipment, so that billing charges may be verified.
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    • Date records of any field changes or deviations from the agreement assembly and the reasons for these changes.
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  • Actual Cost Adjustment Performed by a Utility Contractor
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    • The TxDOT Inspector should be certain that units of work, as provided in the bid proposal, are measured and recorded to form a basis for checking payment to the utility contractor.
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    • Diary recordings should list the station numbers of daily operations and the units of work accomplished for that period, as shown in the agreement.
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    • If contract labor is used by a utility based on a bid per hour, per day, etc., the inspector should maintain records on this type of labor in the same way as for labor by the utility's personnel.
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    • Records of materials used and removed from the job site and returned to stock, or scrapped should be maintained.
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  • Lump Sum Method

    TxDOT Inspectors on these types of utility adjustment work are not required to keep records of man hours, material items, or equipment time, but must be able to confirm that the work is accomplished according to the plans and specifications agreed to in the adjustment agreement assembly.

A sample letter, ROW-U-13 Reimbursable Authorization Letter, requesting billing information is available.

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Project Documentation

Regardless of the type of arrangement under which the utility is adjusting the facility, the TxDOT Inspector must keep diary entries. The inspectors should realize that their diary records afford support for reimbursement to the utility. These diaries should:

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Safety Precautions

Safety precautions apply to utility construction as well as to the transportation project contractor’s operations, since they affect the safety and convenience of the transportation project users, and the property owners abutting the transportation project. Safety precautions begin in the planning stages of both transportation projects and utility adjustments, since the design of both types of work must take into consideration the method and timing of the work.

Check for compliance with TMUTCD.

Instructions and visual checks by TxDOT personnel should stress to utility representatives that flares, barricades, warning signs, and flaggers should be provided throughout the time of the adjustment operations if any hazard exists to the public or to construction and TxDOT personnel.

The TxDOT Area Engineer must approve the utility traffic control plan before commencement of operations.

Notify TxDOT’s District Public Information Office at least 48 hours before proposed lane closures.

Give attention to boring or tunneling pits, trenches near shoulders, manhole excavation, and boring of holes for communication or power poles, etc., to assure a safe working and traveling area.

Insure proper safety clear zone distances are identified and appropriate traffic barriers are installed.

Safety to TxDOT and contractor personnel is as important as safety to the public. Give careful attention to any special condition that may present a hazard, such as:

See Utilities Code, Section 251.153 for more regulations regarding safety.

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Required Inspection of the Work

The degree of inspection of utility construction may vary with the nature and location of the work, as it affects the completed transportation project facility. Certain phases of the work may require a close check to ensure that the transportation project facility will not be adversely affected. The degree of inspection may vary from spot-checking of the overhead installations to continuous and close observation of the installation and backfilling of underground facilities.

The TxDOT Inspector should be careful to ensure that the construction operations are compatible, proceed according to the agreement assembly, and adhere to specifications mandated by appropriate District utility specifications and the appropriate sections of TxDOT’s Standard Specifications for Construction of Transportation Projects, Streets and Bridges or Standard Specifications for Construction and Maintenance of Highways, Streets & Bridges (Metric). Lack of coordination and attention to approved construction methods may result in additional charges, delay in transportation project construction, and possible damage to equipment and injury to personnel.

The following is a partial listing of inspection items to be checked, including, but not limited to:

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Changes in Approved Work

Minor Changes Minor changes are those that are less than $100,000.00 or 25% or less of the approved agreement, can be easily explained, and result in minimal changes of quantities or locations from the approved agreement. The TxDOT Utility Liaison may authorize utilities to do work not included in the approved estimate but necessary to accomplish the intent of the agreement, such as changes in:

This authorization may be taken without formal approval by the ROW Division, but with the specific understanding that adequate documentation will be established and submitted to the ROW Division with, or before, the final billing. Valid justification must accompany any changes and must not conflict with either the UAR or CFR. Notations regarding minor changes should be documented in the diary to support submissions for payment.

Unless a safety hazard is created, the District may approve a change of less than $100,000.00 or 25% of the approved estimate, submitting valid justification to the ROW Program Office. These changes may, if necessary, be reviewed in the field.

Minor changes in location or estimated quantities should be shown in “as built” plans. They may also be shown on a revised copy of the agreement assembly.

Major Changes Major changes are when cost of the adjustment changes is greater than/less than $100,000.00 or if the percentage of cost change is greater than/less than 25% of the approved agreement, changes in the scope of work, as approved, and any new additions or major deletions to the approved agreement assembly.

Major changes in the scope of work covered by the approved utility agreement, as well as substantial changes in location, must be submitted in writing for prior approval by the District. Upon receipt of such authorization, the utility may proceed with the work. The utility should be furnished a copy of the authorization. All verbal authorizations to supplemental agreements should be evidenced in a supplemental agreement within 30 days of verbal authorization.

In the event construction requirements do not permit the delay necessary to secure advance approval in writing, approval by telephone, facsimile or electronic mail may be obtained, and thereafter followed by written confirmation.

TxDOT approval of changes will be considered as approval of a revised estimate, which must be submitted.

Prior to or at the time of final billing, revisions to "as built plans" will be required so that TxDOT files can reflect the true location of the adjusted facility. In addition to revisions regarding location, any addition or deletion to the original design of the adjusted facility should be reflected in the submission of revised plans.

Betterment Percentage Revisions Adjustments containing betterment credit require revisions when any changes are involved. Any changes in work may require a revision of the betterment percentage established in the approved agreement assembly. These revisions must be applicable to the final billing.

Any changes, minor or major, require execution of form ROW-U-COA Standard Utility Agreement – Supplemental Agreement.

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Inspection of Recovered Materials

The purpose of this inspection is to identify the final disposition of recovered materials, whether salvaged or scrapped, for the allowance of appropriate credits. To prevent any possibility that the utility may be cited for the full value of the materials when the audit is performed, the District must retain either:

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  • a letter from the utility company notifying the District Utility Liaison of the time and place that the recovered materials to be salvaged or scrapped will be available for inspection, or
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  • a memorandum from the TxDOT Project Construction Engineer or the TxDOT utility inspector verifying inspection of such materials.

The TxDOT Project Construction Engineer or the TxDOT Utility Inspector should not be concerned with placing a dollar value on the materials, but rather should ensure that proper classification and disposition is made.

The District’s letter authorizing work under the approved agreement should include a request that TxDOT be notified of the time and place recovered materials will be available for inspection, before salvage or scrap. Upon receipt of such information, retain in District files. When a credit is allowed for salvaged material, a statement is required that all material from the original facility was covered in the credit, or that the items recovered were available for inspection and proper notice given. This statement should accompany the final billing for the project.

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