The National Academies

NCHRP Synthesis 20-05/Topic 14-03 [Final (Synthesis)]

Reducing Construction Conflicts Between Highway and Utilities
[ NCHRP 20-05 (Synthesis of Information Related to Highway Practices) ]

  Project Data

As highways are constructed, widened, and rebuilt to meet the needs of the public and as utilities are installed, maintained, and improved to meet customer demand, it is inevitable that there will be conflicts between the highway agency and the utility companies. Most of these conflicts are resolved before construciton begins but it is estimated that as much as $120 million per year of highway contract claims results from utility conflicts. Construction problems caused by utility conflicts result when utility locations are unknown or when utility removal is late. Both interfere with contractors' schedules and cause delays, and thus may result in a claim. In general, utility companies report good relations with highway agencies although the relationship varies from state to state. Both highway agencies and utilities believe that the better the relationship, the fewer conflicts and claims. Agencies with effective coordination usually have a manual that sets out in detail the responsibilities and procedures for coordination. Many agencies also participate in liaison committees that foster coordination between these two groups. Another method of coordinationis involvement of utilities in pre-bid meetings witth contractors. This allows all parties to understand what has to be done, when it needs to be done, and who is to do it. There is a need for effective delineation of the locations of buried facilities. This would prevent accidental damage during construction. The best method of avoiding conflicts is good communication between highway agencies and utility companies. Communication is helped where each organization has only one office that is responsible for coordination regardless of whether the highway agency or the utility company initiates an action.   The report for this topic can be purchased at http://www.trb.org/news/blurb_detail.asp?id=3442

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