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What is Utility Coordination?

  • 1.  What is Utility Coordination?

    Posted 08-18-2019 11:10 AM
    Various entities have their own description and understanding of what Utility Coordination includes. This leads to confusion between agencies and designers/consultants/contractors about the details.

    We at the UESI are interested in clarifying the issue and developing a universally accepted description/definition/scope of what agencies expect when they specify Utility Coordination for their projects. What does your expectation include?

    Thank You!

    Al Field



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  • 2.  RE: What is Utility Coordination?

    Posted 08-19-2019 02:10 PM
    I was the Utility Coordinator for City of Fort Worth construction projects for several years.  First and foremost I expected Utility Companies to be able to identify the location of their facilities prior to beginning of design, hopefully to avoid the need to relocate in the first place.  Once preliminary design was firmed up,  to identify the extent of any relocation required, how long it would take, what other utilities would be impacted,  and impact on traffic and adjacent business operations.  This typically required monthly meetings with all Utility companies represented able to provide current status on all relocation projects underway.  Costs of utility relocation were not typically a consideration for the City but perhaps they should be as those costs will eventually get passed along to the Utility customer who are also city residents.   Utility companies frequently used required relocation for City projects to upgrade their facilities, PVC and Ductile Iron in lieu of Cast Iron, plastic gas lines in lieu of metal, PVC in lieu of clay for sewer, etc.

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    James Anderson, MASCE
    Principal
    Anderson Consulting
    North Richland Hills, TX
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  • 3.  RE: What is Utility Coordination?

    Posted 08-20-2019 11:27 AM
    Al,

    The Florida Utilities Coordinating Committee (FUCC) will be able to help you/ UESI. If you cant reach anyone let me know and i'll help set up a call.

    http://www.fucc.org/


    Best regards,

    Raymondjames U. Hicks
    SUE Division Leader
    SurvTech Solutions, Inc.
    10220 U.S. Highway 92 East
    Tampa, Florida 33610
    Office: 813-621-4929
    Direct O: 813-333-5030
    Fax: 813-621-7194



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    Raymondjames Hicks Aff.M.ASCE
    SUE Division Manager
    Survtech Solutions Inc.
    Tampa FL
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  • 4.  RE: What is Utility Coordination?

    Posted 11-21-2019 08:53 AM
    At it's most basic, utility coordination consists of two important functions:
    1. Ensuring that the modification of private or public utilities takes place prior to construction and does not interfere with a contractor's schedule.
    2. Protection and adjustments of the facilities is done to correspond with the schedule of the contractor.

    How this is done could be up to the discretion of the coordinating engineer but the fact is that it has to be done. The specifics could vary from state to state, so it may be useful to review Arizona laws.

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    Yance Marti P.E., M.ASCE
    Civil Engineer IV
    City of Milwaukee
    Milwaukee WI
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  • 5.  RE: What is Utility Coordination?

    Posted 01-21-2020 09:23 PM
    I work in transportation engineering consulting, and end up having a lot of at-grade subsurface conflicts on projects. It comes down to a few things:
    -Map/data requests
    -Utility base mapping, project design, and conflict identification
    -Potholing coordination (if applicable)
    -Pre-construction coordination
    -Construction coordination

    On the projects I have worked on, these activities have varied between agency-led, design consultant-led, and joint-effort. Another element to factor in with construction coordination is the project's construction manager.

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    Sam Potts EIT, A.M.ASCE
    Assistant Engineer
    Woodland Hills CA
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  • 6.  RE: What is Utility Coordination?

    Posted 01-30-2020 01:20 PM

    Here's a few tasks; I'm sure it's not a complete list.  Some are clerical; some are technologist level, and some are professional level (PE/PLS).  It might be necessary to split them out to different persons under someone's control.  If you want to be worth more money, you need to be able to do more…..  "Utility Coordinators" is a recognized term, and is not as highly paid as other technologist positions, so that's one reason for a potential change in name.  UESI / ASCE will be moving forward with a national credentialing program to attempt to raise the bar, get consistency, and raise the perceived value of the services.

     

    Utility relocation cost estimates, iterated throughout the project

    Conflict identification

    Timelines and schedules

    Meetings

    Easement requirements

    Obtaining and reviewing easements, temp and permanent

    Relocation routing concepts

    Relocation routing design

    Protect-in-place design

    Policy exception persuasion statements

    Redesign element suggestions

    Redesign element schematics

    Review of plans and estimates

    Approval of plans and estimates

    Prior rights investigations

    Cost justifications undergrounding versus overhead

    Develop agreements

    Geotechnical and environmental issue recommendations

    Joint use agreements



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    James H. Anspach, PG, Dist.M.ASCE
    Senior Technical Principal, T2UE
    UESI President 2018
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  • 7.  RE: What is Utility Coordination?

    Posted 01-29-2020 10:27 AM
    Al,

    I would recommend starting with state Department of Transportation requirements for "utility clearance." These are driven by federal law and policy, and all state DOTs have a pretty rigorous process for performing physical investigations, contacting and coordinating with utility owners, documenting the coordination activities, and certifying that the appropriate due diligence has been completed. Your state, Arizona, actually has a manual called the, "Utility Coordination Guide for Design Consultants," where you may be able to find some of the scope language you are seeking. It describes roles and responsibilities of each entity involved in utility coordination and provides info on each step in the utility coordination process. The AZ manual is here: https://azdot.gov/sites/default/files/2019/05/utility-coordination-guide.pdf, and the parent federal guidelines are here: https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/reports/utilguid/if03014.pdf.

    Hope this helps!


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    Melany Alliston-Brick, P.E., M.ASCE
    Civil Engineering Practice Director, North America
    Toole Design Group, LLC
    Silver Spring, MD
    (571) 830-4272
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  • 8.  RE: What is Utility Coordination?

    Posted 08-19-2019 03:02 PM
    Thank you for your response, James. I am looking for the wording of a specification or standard that can be inserted into a Request For Proposal telling a consultant or contractor what they are expected to do during the project development.

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    Al Field Aff.M.ASCE
    President
    Al Field & Associates
    Chair, APWA UPROW Committee
    Phoenix, AZ

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  • 9.  RE: What is Utility Coordination?

    Posted 01-16-2020 10:21 PM

    The below is written for a City-sponsored culvert replacement project under a major arterial with water, sewer, and gas. Assumptions include the following: relocating sewer will not be necessary, water may require relocation and design which will be addressed in the alternatives analysis and final plans, and gas main and telecommunications relocation will be designed by the utility purveyors.

    I welcome thoughts to improve for future use!

    Task 7
    The objective of this task is to confirm existing utilities locations and coordinate with utility companies. E.g. We could add clarification here of the purpose to facilitate utility relocation to prevent project delays.

    7.1 Coordinate Utility Markings. The Consultant will coordinate the location and extents of utility locates to be completed in Task 3 (Survey and Easements).
    7.2 Coordinate Potholing. After the preliminary survey base map with utility locations is completed in Task 3, the Consultant will help identify utility pothole locations to be provided by utility owners.
    7.3 Site Visit to Confirm Utility Locations: The Consultant will visit the site after preliminary survey base map with utility locations is completed in Task 3.
    7.4 Coordinate with Utility Purveyors. The Consultant has budgeted time to correspond and meet with utility purveyors regarding existing utilities, potential relocations and other requirements for the culvert crossing (e.g., casing pipes).



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    Stephanie Sullivan P.E., M.ASCE
    Associate Engineer - Stormwater
    Woodinville WA
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  • 10.  RE: What is Utility Coordination?

    Posted 08-20-2019 12:01 PM
    Thank you for your interest and suggestion, Raymondjames. I have contacted FUCC.

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    Al Field, Aff.M.ASCE
    President
    Al Field & Associates
    Chair, APWA UPROW Committee
    Phoenix, AZ
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  • 11.  RE: What is Utility Coordination?

    Posted 11-21-2019 12:57 PM

    Thank you for your comments, Vance!

     

    Al Field

    President

    (602) 616-3618

    www.AlField-Assoc.com

    Specializing in Utility Damage Prevention

     

    Al Field Assoc

     






  • 12.  RE: What is Utility Coordination?

    Posted 01-17-2020 08:15 AM
    Hi Stephanie, My first question is, why are the culverts being replaced? Are they not able to be rehabilitated?
    On Task 7 I would add ... "per ASCE Standard 38." You may also want to refer to the ASCE document, "Subsurface Utility Engineering: Guide for Municipalities". 
    I would also consider involvement in the ASCE Utility Engineering and Surveying Institute (UESI) and the APWA Utilities & Public Rights of Way Committee (UPROW). More info is available at the ASCE & APWA websites.
    7.2 Why are the utilities providing the potholes? The project should perform and pay for them as a part of the project.
    7.3 The information from the potholing should be provided to the consultant in a format so no field visit is necessary to confirm.
    7.4 Coordination with the utility owners' representatives throughout the project design process should be continuous via regularly scheduled meetings so the design team and all utility owners are aware of what's happening and what is planned. There should be no surprises.

    Thanks for your interest in the issue!!

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    Al Field, Aff.M.ASCE
    President
    Al Field & Associates
    Phoenix, AZ
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  • 13.  RE: What is Utility Coordination?

    Posted 01-22-2020 11:32 AM
    Thanks Al!

    I should have mentioned that the project purpose is for fish passage. I'll look into the standard and book you suggested!

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    Stephanie Sullivan P.E., M.ASCE
    Associate Engineer - Stormwater
    Woodinville WA
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  • 14.  RE: What is Utility Coordination?

    Posted 01-27-2020 08:00 AM
    If the utilities are owned by the city you are in they may require that your consultant prepare plans and obtain permits.  Also you should include measurements of pavement and base depth with your potholes so you can include this in the plans.  It will reduce unknowns for the contractor and reduce costs.  





  • 15.  RE: What is Utility Coordination?

    Posted 01-29-2020 11:20 AM

    Thank you for your comments, Sam!



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    Al Field, Aff.M.ASCE
    President
    Al Field & Associates
    Phoenix, AZ
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  • 16.  RE: What is Utility Coordination?

    Posted 01-29-2020 11:18 AM

    Thank you for your comments, Barbara!



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    Al Field Aff.M.ASCE
    President
    Al Field & Associates
    Phoenix, AZ
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  • 17.  RE: What is Utility Coordination?

    Posted 01-28-2020 01:20 PM
    To achieve optimal utility coordination results, which includes exploring progressive (too often unexploited) engineering options which can mitigate conflict and schedule impacting issues during design/pre-construction stages, a reliably qualified existing utility depiction developed through a professional utility investigation (QL B/QL A) in accordance with ASCE 38 standard guidelines should be obtained early in the project.  This is not "potholing" on 811 marks, but a careful investigative process that includes advanced geophysical methods and QMP by a qualified and competent professional firm with appropriate experience and applicable E&O insurances.  (Please note: Use of established but newer 3D geophysical technologies provide contiguous 3D QL B data on utility alignments and reduce vacuum excavation needs between 50% and 90%.)  Attempting to analyze for conflicts and make decisions based on records, 811 markings, "potholes", and topographic data is a leading cause for subsequent missteps, and missed opportunities to engineer the project in a manner that gets utilities off the project critical path and mitigates project risk.  A methodical conflict analysis and resolution process which "integrates" utility infrastructure (existing - per ASCE 38, and planned - e.g., 5G), removes project risk and optimizes the project delivery approach, enables contractors to significantly lower bids (often by 10% or more) and expedites construction schedules - this is where the pay dirt lies and the public is best served.  Effective Utility Coordination must include close collaboration with project design, facility owners, and construction managers and seek to exploit a host of value engineering strategies that can now be leveraged with emerging 3D virtual design and construction technologies.  The bar has been raised.  Utility Coordination is no longer an administrative effort to invoke low-tech and resource/schedule-taxing wholesale utility relocation tactics that are performed independently of the mainline project, and pushing risk and responsibility to the contractor; these are primitive, reactive practices and need to be retired and relegated to the museums next to the paleolithic cave dweller displays.

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    Philip Meis P.E., M.ASCE
    Principal Engineer / President
    Utility Mapping Services, Inc.
    Vice Chair - Utility Risk Management Division of the ASCE Utility Engineering and Surveying Institute
    Chair - ASCE UESI / CI Standard Guideline for Recording and Exchanging Utility Infrastructure Data
    Member - ASCE UESI / CI Standard Guidelines for the Collection and Depiction of Existing Subsurface Utility Data (ASCE 38)
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  • 18.  RE: What is Utility Coordination?

    Posted 01-29-2020 11:17 AM
    Thank you for your response, Phil! I especially like the comment. "Effective Utility Coordination must include close collaboration with project design, facility owners, and construction managers and seek to exploit a host of value engineering strategies that can now be leveraged with emerging 3D virtual design and construction technologies.  The bar has been raised."

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    Al Field Aff.M.ASCE
    President
    Al Field & Associates
    Phoenix, AZ
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  • 19.  RE: What is Utility Coordination?

    Posted 01-30-2020 08:47 PM
    In some agencies utility coordination is mostly contacting all utility agencies to determine what schedules they have for replacement and repair projects so you can coordinate timing of projects and get all work done before agencies complete pavement resurfacing/replacement or to coordinate construction timing and traffic control.    For example you would not want two contractors shutting down both sides of the street at the same time.  Some agencies may have pavement cut moretoriums or may charge a fee for reducing pavement life if you cut pavement under a pre determined age. Some agencies have meetings with all utilities to have all replacements or planed repairs to utilities and traffic control facilities done prior to pavement CIP work.  





  • 20.  RE: What is Utility Coordination?

    Posted 02-08-2020 08:31 AM
    Very insightful response Mr. Meis.  Thank you for sharing this on ASCE's Collaborative Forum.  The progressive method of exploration to identify subsurface features is the way of the future.  My expertise is in subsurface explorations and transportation infrastructure assessments, which parallels with the utility engineering field with this philosophy of progressive exploration methods that include NDE methods and GIS applications in the initial phases and then move to more detailed investigations and destructive methods at critical points to verify and confirm with the final product for the client a detailed  3 dimensional image available to all the stakeholders that is fixed in space for a current project and to build off of for future projects.

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    Mark Wolcott P.E., M.ASCE
    President
    Innovative Subsurface Eval & Eng (isee)
    Eldersburg MD
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  • 21.  RE: What is Utility Coordination?

    Posted 01-29-2020 11:19 AM
    Awesome response, Melany. Thank you for your input!!

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    Al Field, Aff.M.ASCE
    President
    Al Field & Associates
    Phoenix, AZ
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  • 22.  RE: What is Utility Coordination?

    Posted 01-29-2020 11:43 AM

    Another good reference is the Texas Administrative Code TITLE 43 PART 1 CHAPTER 21 SUBCHAPTER C 


    JUSTIN E. OBINNA, P.E. (TX, LA), M.ASCE
    SAFETY REST AREA MAINTENANCE PROGRAM LEAD,
    TEXAS DEPT. OF TRANSPORTATION

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  • 23.  RE: What is Utility Coordination?

    Posted 01-30-2020 11:24 AM
    Thank you, Barbara. Great suggestions.

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    Al Field, Aff.M.ASCE
    President
    Al Field & Associates
    Phoenix, AZ
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  • 24.  RE: What is Utility Coordination?

    Posted 02-09-2020 08:45 AM
    Hi Jim, Thank you for your insightful response! I agree that, "It might be necessary to split them (tasks) out to different persons under someone's (Project Manager's?) control." When you have time, would you mind assigning the tasks you listed to the discipline you believe should be assigned the task? For instance, "Obtaining and reviewing easements, temp and permanent" might be assigned to a Right-of-Way Agent. It's my understanding that the Utility Coordinator would be responsible for coordinating the listed tasks, ensuring they are scheduled and completed in a timely manner so as to ensure project timely conclusion, but I'm not sure the Coordinator should actually do the task. I'm also not sure the job title should be changed but agree that the function should be defined. Perhaps a grade level should be established listing the functions Entry Level, Junior, Mid-range and Senior Utility Coordinators must be able to achieve would serve the position well?

    I agree that, "Utility Coordinators is a recognized term, and is not as highly paid as other technologist positions", but I'm not sure that it's a reason for a name change. Again, I agree that "If you want to be worth more money, you need to be able to do more", but I would add that you also need to know more but not necessarily scholastically more but experience as well. I believe that it's much more valuable for a project team to include a person whose knowledge includes 'who to call', (a direct line to the correct person at a company/agency), not simply the knowledge that someone from that company/agency must be contacted. Much time can be wasted connected to switchboards (automated today) and websites trying to connect with/contact the right person.

    Does a Utility Coordinator need to be a PE, or does a PE want to become a Utility Coordinator? They are actually different positions and must be treated differently. While a PE may be able to function as a Utility Coordinator, they may not have the available utility-related and knowledge resources an experienced Utility Coordinator has. Similarly, a Utility Coordinator may be able to perform some Engineering tasks, even teaching Engineers valuable utility-related facts, however, a Utility Coordinator will never be able to act as the project team's PE.

    We all wish you the best, Jim. Thank you for all you do!!

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    Al Field, Aff.M.ASCE
    President
    Al Field & Associates
    Phoenix, AZ

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