Chapter 2: TxDOT-Utility Cooperative Management Process and Subprocess

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Section 1: TxDOT Utility Cooperative Management Process - “The Process”

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Overview

The TXDOT-Utility Cooperative Management Process (“The Process”) is a system of cooperative planning, design and construction coordination associated with the accommodation of highway-utility joint occupancy. This method will minimize conflicts and construction delays, thereby eliminating or reducing contractor claims

The major procedures used to accomplish the adjustment and accommodation of reimbursable utility facilities on TxDOT projects are listed below. The first three are available as flowcharts in PDF format.

For detailed information about procedures, refer to:

The Overview of Utility Adjustment flowchart shows an overview of utility and engineering tasks and may be viewed and/or downloaded in PDF format.

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Exchange of Preliminary Information: Annual Meeting - Process Activity I

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  1. Responsible Party
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  3. Necessary Parties
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  5. Interested Parties
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  • Objectives
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    1. Cooperative TxDOT-Utility Industry discussion of Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP).
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    3. Provide STIP project listing with information presented in a utility friendly format.
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    5. Discussion of projects from utility perspective to identify potential utility conflicts and impacts.
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  • Activity Narrative

    This meeting is held each year following approval of the TxDOT STIP. Prior to the meeting, a “utility friendly” chronological listing of the upcoming year’s proposed construction letting schedule should be prepared for general distribution to local utility industry representatives. This “utility friendly” project listing is prepared with focus on TxDOT projects and project information of particular interest to utilities and in a format that is clear and understandable to the public. In order to insure clarity, it is recommended that the project listing be prepared as a cooperative TxDOT-Utility effort. Projects should be listed in chronological order by proposed letting. Project categories without utility impacts should be eliminated from this customized listing (i.e., overlays, pavement markings, and maintenance contracts). The Annual Meeting is conducted by TxDOT and is intended to provide a forum for discussion of the TxDOT construction schedule with local utilities. Particular emphasis is placed on early awareness of the major utility concerns associated with accommodating TxDOT construction. Early communication of this type provides utilities with the opportunity to do fiscal planning for upcoming construction with consideration given to utility budget cycles, construction schedules, and consumer service requirements.

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Exchange of Project Specific Information: Initial Project Notification - Process Activity II

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  1. Responsible Party
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  3. Necessary Parties
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  5. Interested Parties
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  1. Provide preliminary project description, scope, and letting schedule to utilities.
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  3. Set date for preliminary design meeting.
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  5. Identify TxDOT Project Design Engineer & TxDOT Design Consultant if appropriate.
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  7. Request identities of utility contacts to be assigned to the TxDOT project.
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  9. Request block maps/mark ups from utilities.
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  • Activity Narrative

    Prerequisites to the Initial Project Notification include completion of a preliminary schematic or other general representation of the proposed project layout. The TxDOT Project Design Engineer has been appointed and, if applicable, a TxDOT Design Consultant has been retained. A list of potentially impacted utilities is compiled, right of way mapping has begun, and TxDOT is ready to begin design of the facility. This activity in “The Process” will typically take the form of a project specific letter of information prepared for distribution to all known utilities and other concerned parties. The purpose of the Initial Project Notification is to advise utilities of the general characteristics of an upcoming TxDOT project and to provide an illustration of the project footprint for mark-up of utility facility locations, which occupy the project area. The notification will also introduce the Responsible Party and other TxDOT contacts for the project and request the submittal of utility block maps, as-built plans or system drawings to indicate utility facility locations and other features. The Initial Project Notification will announce the time and location of the Preliminary Design Meeting (Process Activity III) below and should be sent out no less than two weeks before to insure full attendance and to allow adequate time for compiling requested information by the utilities.

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Exchange of Project Specific Information: Preliminary Design Meeting - Process Activity III

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  1. Responsible Party
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  3. Necessary Parties
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  5. Interested Parties
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  1. Discuss TxDOT preliminary design and schedule.
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  3. Introduce TxDOT and Utility Representatives.
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  5. Discussion of TxDOT Utility concerns:
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  7. Action plan for accurate utility locations:
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  9. Establish the level of utility involvement for each utility.
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  11. Set date or identify milestone for Design conference ( Process Activity V).
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  1. The Preliminary Design Meeting is held within approximately two weeks of the Initial Project Notification ( Process Activity II). This meeting is different from the Design Conference. At this meeting, TxDOT and Utility Design Representatives will be introduced, including any consultants that they may use in the design process. TxDOT will describe the proposed improvements, the anticipated schedule and potential impact on utilities. The discussion of TxDOT design will include those items of particular interest to utilities, such as drainage facilities, typical sections, structures, and other roadside features. TxDOT’s UAR and reimbursement eligibility criteria will be explained at this time. It is important to identify conditions that would prevent compliance with the UAR and propose potential solutions.
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  3. An action plan for locating affected utility facilities can be developed after a determination has been made whether the field verification is to be accomplished jointly or independently. Concerns to be addressed in the action plan are as follows:
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    • The immediate need for horizontal and vertical alignment information
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    • Physical constraints affecting the methods and equipment to be used in the locating process
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    • Anticipated schedule and response time of the information provider(s)
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  5. During the Preliminary Design Meeting, a determination will be made regarding the level of utility involvement for each utility. Those identified as being Level 3 require no further involvement. Those identified as being Level 2 or Level 1 will continue as active participants in “The Process.”
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  7. Because of the above discussion, a milestone will be identified or a date set for the Design Conference ( Process Activity V). An appropriate milestone is a project related activity that triggers the need to start detailed design coordination (i.e., completion of drainage design or availability of field verification information).
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Exchange of Project Specific Information: Field Verification - Process Activity IV

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  1. Responsible Party
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  3. Necessary Parties
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  5. Interested Parties
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  1. Identify ownership of utility facilities.
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  3. Determine accurate horizontal and vertical locations.
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  5. Utility locations identified in terms of TxDOT Control Datum.
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  1. Accurate Field Verification of some utility facilities on complex projects will be required to design TxDOT features to avoid conflicts, to relocate the utility or to conclude that neither is necessary. The extent of information needed, and the information provider for each facility, will have been decided by mutual agreement between the TxDOT Project Design Engineer and the Utility Design Representative at the Preliminary Design Meeting ( Process Activity III). It should be noted that in some situations, this information would not be warranted. For instance, if it is obvious that relocation is imperative, such as an existing overhead pole line located in the proposed pavement, additional verification is an unnecessary expense.
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  3. Field Verification information can be obtained from a number of sources: the utility's forces, a utility design consultant, TxDOT survey or maintenance crews, a One-Call locator service, or a SUE provider. In order for a utility to incur reimbursable costs or for TxDOT to retain a SUE provider, it is imperative that a right of way release be in place. If the foregoing has not occurred, the information must be obtained at no expense to TxDOT.
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  5. The Field Verification information should be supplied in TxDOT control datum to accurately apply the locations to TxDOT drawings. This will help to resolve any identified conflicts.
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Design and Utility Construction Phase: Design Conference - Process Activity V

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  1. Responsible Party
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  3. Necessary Parties
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  5. Interested Parties
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  1. Cooperative discussion of TxDOT and utility design concepts and criteria.
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  3. Discussion of right of way issues.
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  5. Discussion of utility adjustment issues.
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  7. Discussion of utility bid process and contracting options.
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  9. Discussion of design schedules and construction time line for all entities.
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  11. Set date or schedule for Progress Tracking Meeting(s).
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  1. The Design Conference provides a forum to discuss potential utility impacts and promote cooperative solutions before the development of more detailed preliminary design. The participants will exchange the field verification results, investigate alternatives, and propose recommendations to minimize impacts. To facilitate this discussion, the TxDOT Project Design Engineer should present at this meeting anticipated location and type of drainage facilities, structures, and other roadside features.
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  3. Right of way issues to be discussed may include adequacy of the proposed right of way, sequencing of parcel acquisition critical to anticipated construction phasing, utility accommodations, environmental concerns and obstacles (e.g., petroleum storage tank systems (PSTS), hazardous materials).
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  5. Utility issues to be discussed may include necessity, justification, and scope of work for any proposed utility adjustment, UAR compliance, and possible TxDOT design modifications to minimize utility conflicts. Contracting options for utility adjustments to be considered are work to be performed by the utility, joint bids between utilities and incorporation of the utility work in the transportation project contract. Other issues that may be applicable are escrow agreements for non-reimbursable utility work included in the TxDOT Plans, Specifications, and Estimate (PS&E).
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  7. The Design Conference will provide an initial opportunity to integrate the projected construction time lines of all parties with the TxDOT design schedule. Consideration should also be given to setting the schedule for the first Intermediate Design Meeting ( Process Activity VI).
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Design and Utility Construction Phase: Intermediate Design Meeting(s) - Process Activity VI

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  1. Responsible Party
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  3. Necessary Parties
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  5. Interested Parties
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  1. Clarify highway-utility design concepts from previous meetings.
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  3. Incorporate highway-utility design changes as appropriate to avoid or minimize conflicts.
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  5. Establish sequence of work schedules.
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  7. Track design progress of all parties.
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  9. Report on status of right of way acquisition.
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  11. Report on status of TxDOT letting schedule.
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  13. Begin document preparation for reimbursable adjustments and escrow agreements.
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  15. Determine frequency of Intermediate Design Meetings.
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  1. At the discretion of the TxDOT Project Design Engineer the frequency of the Intermediate Design Meetings will be commensurate with the complexity of the TxDOT-Utility collective design effort. The meetings are intended to track the progress of ongoing design processes, further develop design concepts from previous meetings, identify design conflicts, and investigate solution alternatives. The first meeting in this series must begin before the design plan is one-third completed.
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  3. Adequate design progress of features relevant to utility facilities must have occurred at this point in “The Process.” During this phase of project development, utilities may begin actual physical adjustment of facilities. Should it be anticipated that the work would be eligible for reimbursement, the utility must initiate required documentation in accordance with the Right of Way Subprocess Activity IX (Prepare Utility Agreement Assembly) before beginning work.
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  5. Right of way parcel acquisition is ongoing; therefore, the right of way map and full project release for right of way acquisition must have been secured before the Intermediate Design Meetings. These meetings provide an opportunity to reconfirm or adjust right of way acquisition priorities in recognition of design/construction phasing. Consideration should be given to any required hazardous materials remediation. If design moves forward without consideration of the right of way acquisition process, a flaw to effective TxDOT-Utility project coordination results.
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  7. Utilities with Level II involvement will typically resolve conflicts and discontinue participation in “The Process” during the Intermediate Design Meetings.
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Design and Utility Construction Phase: Final Design & Initial Construction Coordination Meeting - Process Activity VII

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  1. Responsible Party
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  3. Necessary Parties
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  5. Interested Parties
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  1. Establish priorities for remaining/outstanding right of way acquisition.
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  3. Establish schedule for utility clearance, set dates with consideration of ongoing operations, other non-TxDOT commitments, and seasonal considerations (budget cycle, service demand obligations).
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  5. Finalize Plans, Specifications and Estimate (PS&E) Submission:
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  7. Finalize details for preparation of escrow agreements.
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  9. Set dates for pre-letting utility conference and preconstruction conference.
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  1. The Final Design & Initial Construction Coordination Meeting is the last meeting before submittal of the PS&E to Austin for approval. The TxDOT Project Design Engineer is responsible for preparation of the utility Special Provisions and special specifications. The sequencing of TxDOT construction and utility work will be coordinated for inclusion into the PS&E submission. Overall utility workload must be considered in order to insure that personnel and equipment will be available at the time of proposed construction.
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  3. The TxDOT Utility Liaison should be included in the development of utility special specifications for utility construction to be included in the TxDOT construction project to insure compliance with the TxDOT UAR. Utility bid items must be separated from the TxDOT items for the transportation project. If the utility adjustment is reimbursable, the utility bid items must be charged to a separate ROW CSJ number. Finalize details of escrow agreements and obtain mutual agreement among local parties before submission of PS&E.
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  5. The TxDOT Right of Way Representative will be responsible for compiling current right of way acquisition and relocation assistance information for preparation of the corresponding special provisions and certifications. Priorities are established for the acquisition of outstanding right of way parcels.
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Design and Utility Construction Phase: Pre-letting Utility Meeting - Process Activity VIII

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  1. Responsible Party
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  3. Necessary Parties
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  5. Interested Parties
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  1. Declare specific status of:
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  3. Update construction schedules for TxDOT and Utility construction.
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  5. Announce Special Provision/Certification dates and identify recent revisions.
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  7. Finalize remaining utility designs.
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  1. The Pre-letting Utility Meeting is held due to the lapse of time and likelihood of design modifications that may affect utility adjustments after PS&E submittal. This meeting will be conducted before the TxDOT Pre-bid Conference to identify utility concerns for prospective bidders. The purpose of the Pre-letting Utility Meeting may be served by including local utilities in the TxDOT Pre-bid Conference, if held locally. In this instance, the Responsible Party becomes the TxDOT Project Construction Engineer
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  3. When a separate Pre-letting Utility Meeting is held, it is the TxDOT Project Design Engineer’s responsibility to insure that pertinent information is conveyed at the Pre-bid Conference. This meeting will provide a final opportunity to refine special provisions before receipt of bids.
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  5. Particular attention should be given to the coordination of outstanding utility adjustments with the TxDOT sequence of work. Effective coordination will maximize mutual benefits to be realized by all parties to the cooperative effort.
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Construction Phase: Utility Meeting After Award - Process Activity IX

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  1. Responsible Party
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  3. Necessary Parties
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  5. Interested Parties
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  1. Identify Utility Construction Representatives.
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  3. Establish:
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  5. Update specific status of:
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  7. Discuss schedule of work and coordination of utility adjustments.
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  1. The primary purpose of the Utility Meeting After Award is to transfer responsibility for the project from the TxDOT Project Design Engineer to the TxDOT Project Construction Engineer. This utility coordination meeting will occur after the contract award and before the start of construction. It may be combined with the normal TxDOT Preconstruction Conference on less complex jobs as determined by the TxDOT Project Construction Engineer.
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  3. The Utility Meeting After Award provides the opportunity to identify and discuss the status of outstanding acquisition of parcels identified in the Special Provisions.
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  5. It is also appropriate at this meeting to identify the various methods by which utility adjustments will be coordinated with the TxDOT project. It is important to distinguish those adjustments that are included as bid items accomplished in the TxDOT contract from those to be accomplished by the utility and coordinated with TxDOT construction. For those utilities to be adjusted outside of the TxDOT contract, discussion should focus on current status of adjustments in reference to clearance dates identified in the Special Provisions and TxDOT project sequencing necessary to accommodate the schedule. If the contractor elects to resequence construction activities, the TxDOT Project Construction Engineer is responsible for assuring that utility concerns are incorporated in the revised sequence of work.
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  7. Discussion of utility work to be accomplished in the TxDOT contract will include coordination of inspection responsibilities with affected parties.
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Construction Phase: Utility Coordination Meeting During Project Construction - Process Activity X

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  1. Responsible Party
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  3. Necessary Parties
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  5. Interested Parties
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  1. Continuous coordination of utility adjustments.
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  3. Claim-free and delay-free project progression and completion.
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  5. Comprehensive inspection and documentation of utility installations.
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  1. This series of coordination meetings may be conducted in conjunction with regularly scheduled partnering sessions. The frequency and format of meetings for this phase of coordination will be established as needed at the discretion of the TxDOT Project Construction Engineer.
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  3. Continuous utility coordination during project construction is essential to minimize delays and reduce contractor claims. By establishing a forum for the regular exchange of information as the construction of the project progresses, the TxDOT Project Construction Engineer can track and thus insure that schedules established in the Special Provisions of the contract are maintained.
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  5. In the case of reimbursable adjustments, coordination with the utilities is invaluable for clarifying inspection requirements and insuring that complete information on utility personnel, materials and equipment employed in the adjustment are recorded.
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