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15 This chapter provides information on current utility coordination methodologies in use at STAs. It synthesizes the responses of the STAs and outside stakeholders and their outlook on utility coordination. The focus areas described for this research include the following: â¢ Identification of utility coordination processes â¢ Identification of the core elements that make utility coordination effective â¢ Applied research practices and results in utility coordination â¢ Training and certification available and/or required for utility stakeholders â¢ Stakeholder integration into the utility coordination processes. The initial focus of the chapter will be on the STA responses to the survey questionnaire. Then, the non-STA responses will be folded into the STA responses as applicable. Last, any remaining pertinent information from the non-STA stakeholders will be presented and conclusions from these results summarized. The categories of questioning are subdivided according to the subheading used within this chapter. STATE TRANSPORTATION AGENCY UTILITY COORDINATION SURVEY RESPONSES First, it is important to note the details of the origins of the STA responses. The survey questionnaire for STAs was distributed to the AASHTO Subcommittee on Right-of-Way, Utilities, and Outdoor Advertising Control. Because of turnover and the breadth of this group, additional contact was made to STAs to ensure the survey reached the proper personnel. Responses were collected from 42 states for an 84% response rate, exceeding the minimum NCHRP standard response rate of 80%. Figure 3 represents the geographic trends of the respondents. FIGURE 3 Geographic map of survey respondents. CHAPTER THREE RESULTS OF UTILITY COORDINATION SURVEYS
16 UTILITY COORDINATION PROCEDURES Timing and Influence One topic of interest from the STA survey responses relates to the use of procedures and standardization of practices. Also of inter- est is when particular aspects of the utility coordination process take place and when these aspects become integrated into the proj- ect design process. The timing of involvement of utility coordination holds importance in the ability of utility impacts or issues to influence design and vice versa. Construction industry sources report rapidly decreasing cost influence during the design phase of a project, as shown in Figure 4. This supports the assertion of the importance of utility involvement in the project as early as possible. Further, as recommended by the Arizona Public Improvement Project Model in Figure 5, utility involvement occurs through all phases of a project (Thorne et al. 1993). This theme is also presented elsewhere, for instance as a tenant of the NHI utility coordination training. Although Figure 5 is complex, it shows that the concept of utility coordination as a needed function throughout the project development process has existed for some time. The culmination of these graphics suggests that the earlier a utility owner and/or coordinator becomes involved in the project development process, the better. FIGURE 4 Cost influence curve adapted from Building on 25 Years (2008). FIGURE 5 Arizona Public Involvement Project Model (Thorne et al. 1993).
17 The STA survey results, Figure 6, indicate that while 49% of respondents abide by these recommendations, over 50% do not. This could be an easy area for improvement for the respondents who typically do not begin the utility coordination process until the project is 30% designed or later. FIGURE 6 Survey responses of initialization of utility coordination. Related to seeking early coordinated involvement of all stakeholders, Table 3 summarizes results of respondents who were asked about the utility coordination process, the parties involved, and when their involvement occurs. The results indicate that, in some cases, designers and design managers are not involved in the utility coordination process from the start. Additionally, right-of-way agents appear involved much later in the utility coordination process. The dark gray shaded cell indicates the highest response rate for a particular stakeholder and the medium gray shading indicates the second-highest response rate. These responses indicate that the utility owners and right-of-way personnel potentially should be involved earlier in the utility coordination process. In some STAs, project design managers could be involved earlier in the process as well. TABLE 3 INVOLVEMENT DURING UTILITY COORDINATION BY PARTY Stakeholders Utility Coordination Process Percent Complete (From identified conflicts through relocation) Total Response Count Start 10% 30% 60% 90% Utility Owners 19 36 24 21 0 42 Project Design Managers 66 5 22 7 0 41 Project Design Consultants 48 25 23 5 0 40 ROW Agents/Managers 28 10 31 23 8 39 Location Services 24 30 41 5 0 37 Utility Designers 8 19 32 38 3 37 Utility Contractors 3 6 14 25 53 36 In-House Designers 49 23 23 6 0 35 Construction Personnel 3 9 18 21 49 33 District Utilities* 100 0 0 0 0 1 Utility Leader/Coordinator* 100 0 0 0 0 1 SUE* 0 100 0 0 0 1 District Utility Coordinator* 0 0 100 0 0 1 *Other stakeholders entered by respondents. = Most popular responses per stakeholder = Second most popular responses per stakeholder Process and Standardization Another area of interest involves process standardization. One hundred percent of the respondents have documented procedures for utility coordination. Respondents were asked to rank the terms âinteractive,â âproactive,â and âreactiveâ in describing their utility
18 coordination processes. It is promising to note that âreactiveâ was the lowest-ranked term, although there is room for improvement because âinteractiveâ was the predominant descriptor but âproactiveâ would be optimal. These rankings are seen in Figure 7. FIGURE 7 Ranking of terms to self-describe STA utility coordination process. Beyond their processes, STAs were queried on their organizational structure. Figure 8 indicates the variation of how STAs manage utility coordination within differing business units. These results, coupled with the processes predominantly being termed âinteractive,â indicate that although organizational structures may vary, their approach to conducting utility coordination holds similarities. FIGURE 8 Utility coordination business unit location. In addition, business unit location can be indicative of manpower, influence, or even perceived importance as part of an overall process. While specific conclusions drawn from this figure about an STAâs view of the importance of utility coordina- tion as part of the project development process would be founded on opinion, it is clear there is a lack of consensus among states as to the optimal organizational structure to manage this process. Some of the areas within the âOtherâ category included construction and permitting divisions. Along similar lines, respondents report further variation within STAs. As seen in Figure 9, the majority of responding STAs operate differently at the local/regional/district level versus the statewide/central office level. This creates additional complexity and potential confusion for non-STA stakeholders, which leads to difficultly in implementing a previous recommendation as outlined in the SHRP 2 R15B Final Report for STAs and utility owners to understand one anotherâs business processes. However, 86% of respondents stated there was a single point of contact at the STA for utility coordination of a specific project. These responses indicate room for improvement if in fact a more âproactiveâ and standard approach to utility coordination is considered effective.
19 FIGURE 9 STA response on utility coordination being handled differently at local versus statewide levels. CORE ELEMENTS OF EFFECTIVE UTILITY COORDINATION Further delving into particular aspects of effective utility coordination, the survey asked respondents to rank their effective- ness on âTimely Utility Involvement on the Project,â âUtility Coordination Communication,â âUtility Relocation/Alignment Is Considered Within Design Decisions,â âMinimized Utility Relocation Cost,â and âTimely Utility Relocations.â These practices were collected through the literature review and summarized into a succinct generalized list. The responses are seen in Figure 10 and relay that communication, timely involvement, and utility consideration within design are areas where STAs are most effective. FIGURE 10 Effectiveness of selected utility coordination practices. When asked whether their STA measured utility coordination effectiveness, 53% responded they âDo Not Measure Utility Coordination Effectiveness,â as seen in Figure 11. While it is likely that many STAs use some anecdotal mea- sure, the survey results relay that many STAs do not have performance measures in place to track and improve utility coordination practices. During the case examples, more details were gathered that reveal how effectiveness in utility coordination is measured. This response does present a possible need for more formalized measures of utility coordina- tion effectiveness. Regardless of specific measures for effectiveness, STA respondents did describe what practices they considered effective by experience, as seen in Figure 12. It is important to note the respondents were only allowed to select the top eight choices from the practices they considered most effective. As can be seen from the definite break following âIdentify and Plan for Long-Lead Items,â there is consensus for the top eight effective practices.
20 FIGURE 11 Is there an STA measure of utility coordination effectiveness? FIGURE 12 Top effective utility coordination practices selected by STAs.
21 Figure 13 differs slightly from Figure 12 in that STAs were asked to indicate all the practices they use or could use within utility coordination. These responses indicate that some STAs have several more options at their disposal. The responses also potentially illustrate what research and technologies have been readily adopted and put into practice. For example, utility con- flict tracking (SHRP 2 R15B Utility Conflict Matrix) was listed frequently. In addition, these responses also correlate to those of Figure 12 in that if an STA does not use a particular practice, they likely would not consider it within their list of effective practices. For instance, the advanced location technologies, such as marker balls, do not appear to be readily adopted, so the low frequency of market balls being listed an effective practice is likely related to the freshness of the technology and not its ability to add value. FIGURE 13 Utility coordination practices used by STAs.
22 Setting Utility Coordination Scope The survey also sought to determine how STAs set the scope of utility coordination involvement for a project; that is, what project characteristics lead to increased utility coordination involvement. The STA respondents reported that 90% have a documented process for determining the utility coordination scope of a project. Table 4 highlights what factors STAs believe are important when determining scope. This information may also assist STAs in prioritizing a projectâs utility coordination. TABLE 4 IMPORTANT FACTORS FOR DETERMINING UTILITY COORDINATION SCOPE Overall Rank Item Average Rank by Respondents Total Response Count 1 Project Schedule 2.40 40 2 Type of Utilities Involved 3.56 39 3 Level of Utility Risk 4.17 41 4 Number of Utilities Involved 4.19 37 5 Level of Coordination Effort 4.87 38 6 Project Classification (new route, road widening, resurfacing, etc.) 5.67 39 7 Number of ROW Parcels Involved 6.26 39 8 ROW Parcels Type (residential, commercial, urban, rural, etc.) 6.72 39 9 Location Classification (urban versus rural) 6.92 38 Use of Consultant-Led Utility Coordination Related to project prioritization and resource allocation, the survey asked about STAsâ use of consultant-led utility coordination. This practice is gaining traction in the industry and the survey responses may indicate causes of its increased use. As seen in Figure 14, 71% of the respondents are using some form of consultant-led utility coordination. Figure 15 illustrates the contract arrange- ments in place for respondents using consultant-led utility coordination: if the utility coordination is a separate agreement with a consultant solely for utility coordination, if the utility coordination is part of the design consultantsâ agreement, or both. FIGURE 14 STAs and consultant-led utility coordination. While these figures illustrate the current level of use regarding consultant-led utility coordination, Figures 16 and 17 pres- ent the level of satisfaction in using consultant-led utility coordination. When comparing these figures, stand-alone consul- tant-led utility coordination achieves a higher rate of satisfaction than utility coordination as part of the design consultantâs agreement. This is further discussed as part of the case examples, and utility coordination experience appears to be a factor. Further responses about consultant-led utility coordination indicated that 57% of those who use it require some level of prequalification to manage the process and 67% of those who use it evaluate the utility coordination efforts. Figure 18 illus- trates how STAs typically manage their consultant-led utility coordination agreements.
23 FIGURE 15 Consultant-led utility coordination by contract type. FIGURE 16 Satisfaction with stand-alone consultant-led utility coordination. FIGURE 17 Satisfaction with consultant-led utility coordination as part of the design consultant agreement. Finally, one of the most important aspects of consultant-led utility coordination is why STAs choose to use it. Figure 19 pres- ents a reasoning breakdown; as expected, the predominant reason for choosing consultant-led utility coordination is resources.
24 FIGURE 18 STA management of consultant-led utility coordination. FIGURE 19 STA reasons for using consultant-led utility coordination. DESIGN-BUILD In a related subject, as design-build project delivery becomes more prevalent, consultant-led utility coordination may become more prevalent. This may further necessitate training and certification/prequalification to consultants. The survey asked respondents for their opinion of utility coordination on alternatively delivered projects (via design-build, public-private part- nerships, construction manager/general contractor, etc.), compared with traditional design-bid-build projects. Responses for STAs and utility owners are found in Figure 20 and Figure 21, respectively. When asked for additional details, several respondents indicated they maintain utility coordination responsibilities within these contracting methods. The responses indicated there were opportunities for improvement regarding utility coordination for alternatively delivered projects. EDUCATION, TRAINING, AND CERTIFICATION IN UTILITY COORDINATION Education, training, and certification are areas of need especially in regard to the use of consultant-led utility coordination. Respon- dents were asked about their knowledge of any educational opportunities in utility engineering or utility coordination at the trade,
25 technical, or university level. Eighty-eight percent did not believe those opportunities existed and the remaining 13% were unsure. Further investigation found that while some technical and trade related programs exist, very few are specific to utility coordination functions required by the STAs. As mentioned in chapter two, FHWA offers a resource website and NHI offers two related train- ings. Further resources may soon become available through the recently established ASCE-UESI, as also noted in chapter two. FIGURE 20 STA opinion of utility coordination on alternatively delivered projects compared with design-bid-build. FIGURE 21 Utility ownersâ opinion of utility coordination on alternatively delivered projects compared with design-bid-build. As previously noted, resource constraints and knowledge loss within the STA could lead to the increased use of consul- tants to conduct utility coordination. Although education opportunities are few, utility coordination training offered by STAs attempts to fill that void. The responses show that 20% of the STA respondents offer or require training or certification in utility coordination; however, 57% of the STAs that use consultant-led utility coordination require prequalification or certifi- cation to conduct such tasks. Stemming from these responses and the STA responses about those for whom they offer utility coordination training (Figure 22), STAs considering consultant-led utility coordination may need to first develop a utility coordination certification program or at least expand the availability of their utility coordination training to consultants. LEGISLATION, REGULATIONS, AND GUIDANCE Many utility coordination professionals are concerned about consistency within utility-related legislation, regulations, and guid- ance. Figure 23 and Figure 24, respectively, illustrate STA and non-STA responses about consistency within federal and local
26 FIGURE 22 Groups offered STA utility coordination training. FIGURE 23 STA responses to consistency in federal and local legislation and regulations. FIGURE 24 Non-STA responses to consistency in federal and local legislation and regulations.
27 legislation and regulations for utility coordination. Of note, the utility owners, who likely must operate across state boundaries, indicated a higher rate of inconsistency in legislation and regulations. Further investigation into legislation, regulations, and guid- ance does indicate a level of variance in utility coordination. According to the Program Guide: Utility Relocation and Accom- modation on Federal-Aid Highway Projects (2003), the STAs can define various criteria in their accommodation, relocation, and reimbursement policies. One example is what facilities are being defined as a utility. Some states view certain telecommunications as a âutilityâ while others do not (Program Guide: Utility Relocation and Accommodation on Federal-Aid Highway Projects 2003). This inconsistency also affects cellular towers, renewable energy facilities, and fiber optics. Consideration as a utility or not affects aspects of accommodation, relocation, and reimbursement regarding that facility. In addition, the NHI training workbook for the course Utility Coordination for Highway Projects relays that STAs have specific accommodation policies as approved by FHWA. These policies must be at least as stringent as federal guidelines; alterations may be allowed with local FHWA approval. States also determine their own relocation, reimbursement, and longitudinal access policies and legislation. Owing to the potential for 50 states to have 50 varying policies, justifiable concern exists about consistency within utility coordination. Follow-up survey responses indicated that the Buy America Act as it applies to utilities is a point of concern for multiple STAs. Questions about the Buy America Act were incorporated into the case examples, and further details can be found in chapter four of this report. Additional concerns included penalty and incentive use for timely utility relocations and federal restrictions on reimbursing engineering costs prior to agreements. These issues all vary by state. STAKEHOLDER INTEGRATION IN UTILITY COORDINATION Some lines of questions for the non-STAs did not manifest themselves for easy discussion into the STA responses previously reported. There were 29 non-STA stakeholder responses including 16 respondents who were utility owners/owners. The break- down of the 29 responses is seen in Figure 25. For the total group, the involvement of these stakeholders tends to begin prior to the 30% Project Design Complete milestone (from Figure 26). However, utility owners generally are involved later in the design pro- cess. This presents an area for concern. Figure 27 illustrates the utility owner involvement point from utility owner respondents. Similar to the STA line of questioning, non-STAs were asked to choose their top eight elements to include in utility coordi- nation practices. The results are summarized in Table 5 along with STA results. The responses indicate the top four elements are well aligned across the groups. The shaded elements have variation across the groups of more than 30%. As before, the same list of elements was provided for the respondents to indicate which practices they had the capability to use or had witnessed being used. The results are summarized in Table 6 along with STA results. The shaded elements again have more than 30% variation across the groups. Notably, in comparing these tables, the highest-rated practice as well as the practice most commonly available to STAs is Early Utility Involvement in Design (30% or earlier). FIGURE 25 Non-STA survey respondent groups.
28 FIGURE 26 Non-STA stakeholder utility coordination involvement point. FIGURE 27 Utility owner utility coordination involvement point. TABLE 5 COMPARISON OF TOP SELECTED CORE ELEMENTS FOR EFFECTIVE UTILITY COORDINATION PROCESS Element Percent of STA Respondents Selected (n = 42) Number of Non-STA Respondents Selected (n = 29) Number of Utility Owners Selected (n = 16) Early Utility Involvement in Design (30% or earlier) 88 â¦ 26 â¦ 15 â¦ Utility Preconstruction Meetings 67 â© 20 â¦ 12 â¦ Defined Procedures (i.e., Utility Coordination Guidance Manual) 67 â¦ 17 â¦ 8 â© Consideration of Utilities Relocation Schedules in Relation to Project Schedules 74 â¦ 15 â© 10 â¦ Use of SUE (Subsurface Utility Engineering) 57 â© 13 â© 2 Regularly Scheduled Meetings with Utility Owners 57 â© 12 â© 5 Communication of Short-Range Transportation Plan 21 12 â© 9 â© Use of Utility Corridors 14 12 â© 8 â© Use of Standardized Utility Agreements 60 â© 8 6 Identify and Plan for Long-Lead Items 50 â© 4 0 Utility Mapping System (utility location information entered into a GIS-based system) 26 10 7 â© Communication of Long-Range Transportation Plan 24 10 7 â© â¦ = Top three elements selected by respondents. â© = Top eight elements selected by respondents.
29 TABLE 6 COMPARISON OF TOP SELECTED ELEMENTS AVAILABLE FOR UTILITY COORDINATION Element Percent of STA Respondents Selected (n = 42) Number of Non-STA Respondents Selected (n = 29) Number of Utility Owners Selected (n = 16) Early Utility Involvement in Design (30% or earlier) 91 â¦ 25 â¦ 14 â¦ Utility Preconstruction Meetings 83 â© 25 â¦ 14 â¦ Use of Utility Corridors 41 20 â¦ 12 â¦ Regularly Scheduled Meetings with Utility Owners 64 â© 17 â© 8 â© Communication of Short-Range Transportation Plan 57 17 â© 10 â© Defined Procedures (i.e., Utility Coordination Guidance Manual) 88 â¦ 15 â© 7 â© Use of SUE (Subsurface Utility Engineering) 74 â© 15 â© 4 Use of Standardized Utility Agreements 86 â¦ 14 â© 8 â© Considerations of Costs & Reimbursements for Design/Construction versus Utility Relocations 64 â© 12 4 Consideration of Utilities Relocation Schedules in Relation to Project Schedules 76 â© 11 6 Future Use ROW Acquisition 21 14 10 â© Communication of Long-Range Transportation Plan 60 13 7 â© â¦ = Top three elements selected by respondents. â© = Top eight elements selected by respondents. FIGURE 28 Non-STA effective utility coordination practices (limited to choosing top eight).
30 The results of which effective practices non-STA respondents have witnessed on projects is found in Figure 29, while Fig- ure 28 relays the non-STA responses when limited to selecting the top eight practices. Of note, Training Program for Design Engineers on Utility Coordination is considered important but is not commonly used. Table 4, Table 5, Figure 28, and Figure 29 (especially when compared with Figures 12 and 13) communicate very valuable information about STA and utility com- pany perceptions and their alignment. Some of these points are noted within the conclusions, though the shaded elements of Tables 4 and 5 illustrate areas where utility companies and STAs should discuss strategies for improving utility coordination. FIGURE 29 Non-STA utility coordination practices witnessed on projects.
31 APPLIED RESEARCH AND RESULTS IN UTILITY COORDINATION Implementation of various utility coordination research has previously been presented; however, there was particular interest in the SHRP 2 utility coordination products. Table 7 notes the respondentsâ use of those products, and indicates that the STAs are making substantially more use of SHRP 2 R01B and SHRP 2 R15B than SHRP 2 R01A. This seems to align with the information previously presented and the conclusions of the case examples presented later. TABLE 7 STA IMPLEMENTATION OF THE SHRP 2 UTILITY PRODUCTS None Little Some Complete Unsure Total Response SHRP 2 R01A: 3D Utility Location Data Repositoryâtechnologies that support, store, retrieve, and use 3D utility location data 60% 25 14% 6 19% 8 2% 1 5% 2 42 SHRP 2 R01B: 3D Utility Investigation Technologiesâthe advanced application of SUE through combining multiple technologies (multi-channel ground-penetrating radar, time domain electromagnetic induction, etc.) based on soil type, utility material, terrain type, and other features 29% 12 12% 5 45% 19 5% 2 10% 4 42 SHRP 2 R15B: Identifying and Managing Utility Conflictsâthe development and use of a utility conflict matrix and database sys- tem to manage utility conflicts throughout the design and construction 31% 13 10% 4 36% 15 17% 7 7% 3 42 With regard to the topics in need of research within utility coordination, Figures 30 and 31 present the needs of the STA and non-STA respondents, respectively. Respondents were asked to select their top three choices. The results show consistency between the STA and non-STA responses and indicate an interest in advancing SUE, location technologies, and standardiza- tion of utility coordination procedures. FIGURE 30 STA-indicated areas of need for utility coordination research (limited to choosing top three).
32 FIGURE 31 Non-STA-indicated areas of need for utility coordination research (n = 26; limited to choosing top three). Key issues presented above are further investigated in the case example interviews discussed in the following chapter.