About the research
Utility relocation is frequently cited as a cause for delaying the construction of highway projects. It has been commonplace to dictate required relocations to utility companies late in the highway design process, which is at least partly the cause for these delays. Research and practice suggest early coordination, partnership, and enhanced communication can help alleviate these delays.
Since utility facilities are largely permitted to occupy road rights of way and are essential to the communities we serve, national perceptions are changing in how we should work with those facilities that have historically been seen simply viewed as obstructions to road improvements. This philosophical change is leading many state DOTs to redefine utility companies from obstructions to partners in the road project development process. The Indiana Department of Transportation serves as a benchmark for illustrating how careful integration of these project partners can move projects forward at a faster pace and with reduced risk. Strategic integration of utility coordination and roadway design can provide the synergy necessary to expedite delivery of highway projects. The mantra of “everyone knows where everyone goes” may seem simplistic, but it is a change in mindset that allows for collaborative cradle to grave project delivery between transportation project teams and utility companies.
The primary deliverable of this project is an Integrated Project Development Guidance Document that includes the integration of utility coordination with all phases of project development, such as planning, design, ROW, environmental, and construction. The document will define specific responsibilities, actions, and optimum stages to implement steps and will be used by all personnel who are engaged in the design and delivery of transportation projects. The primary message is to minimize utility related project risk during development by identifying, avoiding, minimizing, and then mitigating all utility conflicts within highway design projects and viewing utility coordination as a series of collaborative steps within the road project development and delivery processes.