The National Academies

NCHRP 15-70 [RFP]

Valuation and Compensation for Accommodating Utility and Communications Installations in Public Rights of Way

Posted Date: 12/30/2019

  Project Data
Funds: $350,000
Contract Time: 24 months
(Includes 1 month for NCHRP review and approval of each interim report; and 3 months for NCHRP review and for contractor revision of the final report)
Authorization to Begin Work: 7/1/2020 -- estimated
Staff Responsibility: David Jared, P.E.
   Phone: (202) 334-2358
   Email: djared@nas.edu
RFP Close Date: 2/13/2020
Fiscal Year: 2020

State departments of transportation (DOTs) permit the use of highway right-of-way (ROW) for the installation of utility and communication facilities with varying approaches to the accommodation. For example, ROW along roadways without access control may provide for utility and communications accommodation at no cost while accommodation along limited access routes may be more complex. These complex accommodations may involve numerous agreement structures, ranges of applicable fees (or potentially other means of compensation), and varying state and/or local government legislation addressing these arrangements. The details of these accommodations can be difficult to understand, and they vary from state to state.
Accommodating communications facilities can be particularly complex. In these instances, the owner of dark fiber optic facilities may be charging or leasing carrier companies for the use of their facility. In this arrangement, the facility owner, who may have been located on public ROW at no cost, is in essence profiting from the lease of their facility to telecommunications providers as third parties. While the accommodation of utilities and communications facilities in public ROW is generally considered a public benefit, there may be instances where state DOTs could be compensated.
Some state DOTs have legal authority to assess fees or enter into lease agreements for communications and other utility accommodations on ROW. Approaches vary and may involve fee schedules that may or may not result in net revenue to the state DOT. With the rapidly expanding networks of broadband fiber optic networks and microcellular technology, investigating these approaches is necessary for determining effective practices and guidance in these accommodations.
There is a need to capture the approaches used by state DOTs to evaluate and potentially charge for the permitted use or accommodation on ROW. As mentioned, these charges may include fees, leasing, in-kind trading (such as allowing state DOTs to use or share facilities), or other compensation means. A comparison of these approaches, the associated agreements, the fee structures, and related legislation is needed along various variables and scenarios. These varying characteristics include the types of utilities or communications facilities accommodated, the location of these accommodations (urban or rural), and the access control of the roadways where these accommodations occur.
Currently state DOTs are dealing with an abundance of accommodation requests for multiple utilities but specifically relating to microcellular and broadband fiber optic facilities. Research is needed to identify successful valuation approaches. 
The objective of this research is to identify best practices and prepare guidelines for state DOTs on how to evaluate and charge for the accommodation of utility and communication installations on public ROW. The guidelines shall at least include a comparison of fees, leasing, and in-kind trading used by a majority of state DOTs. Reasons for the variance in fees, valuation methods, and other factors will be analyzed to explain the variation in approaches taken by state DOTs, and will be standardized and normalized so that the comparisons are evaluated in like terms. The guidance should provide state DOTs the means and approaches necessary to execute a fee or leasing schedule for occupancy both for general utilities and for telecommunications facilities.
Accomplishment of the project objective(s) will require at least the following tasks.
Task descriptions are intended to provide a framework for conducting the research. The NCHRP is seeking the insights of proposers on how best to achieve the research objective. Proposers are expected to describe research plans that can realistically be accomplished within the constraints of available funds and contract time. Proposals must present the proposers’ current thinking in sufficient detail to demonstrate their understanding of the issues and the soundness of their approach to meeting the research objective.
Task 1. Synthesize legislation, regulations, policies, and permitting documentation available at the state, federal, and—to the extent possible--local/municipal levels, to identify statutory and regulatory standards for utility and communications accommodation and associated fees, property valuation, and charges.
Task 2. Summarize, categorize, and analyze data from Task 1. Categories to be considered include, but are not limited to, utility types; fee structures; and permitting procedures. Highlight potential legislative constraints to be further analyzed in later tasks, e.g., in a survey (Task 3) or case studies.
Task 3. Conduct a survey of state DOTs to identify (a) state DOT approaches to accommodation of utilities and communications; (b) any associated fees, property valuation, charges, or leasing; (c) how these fees may be affected by variables such as utility type, route type, access limitation, and urbanization; and (d) potential legislative constraints. The survey may require response from different parts of the state DOT, e.g. ROW, permitting, and utilities. The survey will also be used to determine which state DOTs should serve as case studies for developing guidance, with consideration of all applicable categories from Task 2. The survey mechanism and content must be approved by NCHRP before deployment.
Task 4. Submit Interim Report 1 that summarizes findings from Tasks 1-3, along with list of potential state DOTs recommended for case studies and the rationale for each recommendation. Following NCHRP review of the report, Interim Report 1 will be presented at an in-person meeting with the NCHRP project panel, along with an outline for a pilot case study to be conducted in Task 5. The in-person meeting will be held at the TRB offices in Washington, D.C.
Task 5. Complete case studies that will document approaches used by selected state DOTs for valuation and compensation for accommodating utility and communications installations on public ROW. A pilot case study will precede the remaining ones and be approved by NCHRP before the other studies are conducted. Case studies should be completed for at least 10 state DOTs; California, Colorado, Louisiana, Maryland, and Utah may be candidates, since these states have been identified as resources on this subject. Case studies should at a minimum address the topics covered in Tasks 1-3.
Task 6. Submit Interim Report 2 that includes (1) the completed case studies; (2) an annotated outline of the guidelines; and (3) an explanation of how the case studies will be used to support and/or illustrate the guidelines. Present Interim Report 2 at an in-person meeting of the NCHRP project oversight panel. NCHRP approval of the case studies and annotated outline is required before proceeding with work on Task 7. The in-person meeting will be held at the TRB offices in Washington, D.C.
Task 7.  Develop guidelines on selecting and implementing the approaches identified for valuation and compensation for accommodating utility and communications installations on public ROW, consistent with the case studies and annotated outline approved in Task 6, and provide presentation materials that summarize the results of the research and could be used for multiple purposes and audiences.
Note: Following receipt of the draft final deliverables, the remaining 3 months shall be for NCHRP review and comment and for research agency preparation of the final deliverables.
A. Proposals should include a task-by-task breakdown of labor hours for each staff member as shown in Figure 4 in the brochure, "Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals" (http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/crp/docs/ProposalPrep.pdf). Proposals also should include a breakdown of all costs (e.g., wages, indirect costs, travel, materials, and total) for each task using Figures 5 and 6 in the brochure. Please note that TRB Cooperative Research Program subawards (selected proposers are considered subawards to the National Academy of Sciences, the parent organization of TRB) must comply with 2 CFR 200 – Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards. These requirements include a provision that proposers without a "federally" Negotiated Indirect Costs Rate Agreement (NICRA) shall be subject to a maximum allowable indirect rate of 10% of Modified Total Direct Costs. Modified Total Direct Costs include all salaries and wages, applicable fringe benefits, materials and supplies, services, travel, and up to the first $25,000 of each lower-tier subaward and subcontract. Modified Total Direct Costs exclude equipment, capital expenditures, charges for patient care, rental costs, tuition remission, scholarships and fellowships, participant support costs and the portion of each lower-tier subaward and subcontract in excess of $25,000.
B. NCHRP is a practical, applied research program that produces implementable products addressing problems faced by transportation practitioners and managers. The benefits of NCHRP research are realized only when the results are implemented in state DOTs and other agencies. Implementation of the research product must be considered throughout the process, from problem statement development to research contract and beyond completion of the research. Item 4(c), "Anticipated Research Results," must include the following: (a) the "product" expected from the research, (b) the audience or "market" for this product, (c) a realistic assessment of impediments to successful implementation, and (d) the institutions and individuals who might take leadership in deploying the research product. The project panel will develop and maintain an implementation plan throughout the life of the project. The research team will be expected to provide input to an implementation team consisting of panel members, AASHTO committee members, the NCHRP Implementation Coordinator, and others in order to meet the goals of NCHRP Active Implementation: Moving Research into Practice, available at http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/nchrp/docs/NCHRP_ActiveImplementation.pdf.
C. Item 5 in the proposal, "Qualifications of the Research Team," must include a section labeled "Disclosure." Information relevant to the NCHRP's need to ensure objectivity and to be aware of possible sources of significant financial or organizational conflict of interest in conducting the research must be presented in this section of the proposal. For example, under certain conditions, ownership of the proposing agency, other organizational relationships, or proprietary rights and interests could be perceived as jeopardizing an objective approach to the research effort, and proposers are asked to disclose any such circumstances and to explain how they will be accounted for in this study. If there are no issues related to objectivity, this should be stated.
D. Proposals are evaluated by the NCHRP staff and project panels consisting of individuals collectively very knowledgeable in the problem area. Selection of an agency is made by the project panel considering the following factors: (1) the proposer's demonstrated understanding of the problem; (2) the merit of the proposed research approach and experiment design; (3) the experience, qualifications, and objectivity of the research team in the same or closely related problem area; (4) the plan for ensuring application of results; (5) how the proposer approaches inclusion and diversity in the composition of their team and research approach, including participation by certified Disadvantaged Business Enterprises; and, if relevant, (6) the adequacy of the facilities.
Note: The proposer's approach to inclusion and diversity as well as participation by Disadvantaged Business Enterprises should be incorporated in Item 12 of the proposal. 
E. Copyrights - All data, written materials, computer software, graphic and photographic images, and other information prepared under the contract and the copyrights therein shall be owned by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The contractor and subcontractors will be able to publish this material for non-commercial purposes, for internal use, or to further academic research or studies with permission from TRB Cooperative Research Programs. The contractor and subcontractors will not be allowed to sell the project material without prior approval by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. By signing a contract with the National Academy of Sciences, contractors accept legal responsibility for any copyright infringement that may exist in work done for TRB. Contractors are therefore responsible for obtaining all necessary permissions for use of copyrighted material in TRB's Cooperative Research Programs publications. For guidance on TRB's policies on using copyrighted material please consult Section 5.4, "Use of Copyrighted Material," in the Procedural Manual for Contractors.

Proposals (15 single-bound copies) are due not later than 4:30 p.m. on 2/13/2020.

This is a firm deadline, and extensions are not granted. In order to be considered for award, all copies of the agency's proposal accompanied by the executed, unmodified Liability Statement must be in our offices not later than the deadline shown, or the proposal will be rejected. Proposers may choose any carrier or delivery service for their proposals. However, proposers assume the risk of proposal rejection if the carrier or delivery service does not deliver all the required documents by the deadline.

Delivery Address:

ATTN: Christopher J. Hedges
Director, Cooperative Research Programs
Transportation Research Board
500 Fifth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001

Liability Statement

The signature of an authorized representative of the proposing agency is required on the unaltered liability statement in order for the NCHRP to accept the agency's proposal for consideration. Proposals submitted without this executed and unaltered statement by the proposal deadline will be summarily rejected. An executed, unaltered statement indicates the agency's intent and ability to execute a contract that includes the provisions in the statement.

Here is a printable version of the Liability Statement (pdf). A free copy of the Adobe Acrobat PDF reader is available at http://www.adobe.com.

General Notes

1. According to the provisions of Title 49, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 21, which relates to nondiscrimination in federally assisted programs, all parties are hereby notified that the contract entered into pursuant to this announcement will be awarded without discrimination on the grounds of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, or disability.

2. The essential features required in a proposal for research are detailed in the current brochure entitled "Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals" (updated July 2019). Proposals must be prepared according to this document, and attention is directed specifically to Section V for mandatory requirements. Proposals that do not conform with these requirements will be rejected. This brochure is available here.

3. The total funds available are made known in the project statement, and line items of the budget are examined to determine the reasonableness of the allocation of funds to the various tasks. If the proposed total cost exceeds the funds available, the proposal is rejected.

4. All proposals become the property of the Transportation Research Board. Final disposition will be made according to the policies thereof, including the right to reject all proposals.


Potential proposers should understand clearly that the research project described herein is tentative. The final content of the program depends on the level of funding made available through States' agreements for financial support of the NCHRP. Nevertheless, to be prepared to execute research contracts as soon as possible after sponsors' approvals, the NCHRP is assuming that the tentative program will become official in its entirety and is proceeding with requests for proposals and selections of research agencies.

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