The National Academies

NCHRP 20-123(06) [Final]

Merging and Updating AASHTO Policy on the Accommodation of Utilities within Freeway Right-of-Way and AASHTO Guide for Accommodating Utilities within Highway Right-of-Way
[ NCHRP 20-123 (Support for AASHTO Committees and Councils) ]

  Project Data
Funds: $75,000
Research Agency: Texas A&M Transportation Institute
Principal Investigator: Edgar Kraus
Effective Date: 5/5/2021
Completion Date: 11/5/2022

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Committee of Right of Way, Utilities and Outdoor Advertising (CRUO)’s Technical Subcommittee on Utilities (TSU) has been charged with merging and updating the AASHTO_Policy_on_the_Accommodation_of_Utilities_within_Freeway_Right-of-Way and the AASHTO_Guide_for_Accommodating_Utilities_within_Highway_Right-of-Way. Both documents were published in 2005 and have not been updated since then. The need to merge and update the two documents is multi-faceted, as explained below.
Merging the Documents
The TSU recognizes that these two documents are similar in subject matter. Both deal with utilities crossing rights-of-way, accommodating utilities, access control, and other topics. Both documents are also brief. The TSU, with input from CRUO’s Utility Technical Councils, has prepared a draft of the merged documents. This draft addresses the functional classification of roads, per Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)’s Highway_Functional_Classification:_Concepts,_Criteria,_and_Procedures (FHWA, 2013) and includes commentary and some suggested modifications. This research, however, would be the first attempt to both merge and update these documents under the auspices of CRUO’s Utility Technical Councils.
Updating the Documents
The TSU not only proposes merging the documents but also updating the material therein.
Terminology. Many definitions in utility contexts are similar and need to be clarified and made uniform. Moreover, what is defined as a utility has changed over time, and states have varying definitions and utility accommodation policies. State departments of transportation (DOTs) also have differing definitions of functional classification, controlled and/or limited access, and freeways/highways.
Stakeholder roles. Consistent, updated language is needed to describe the roles of the following groups: 
  • FHWA: maintaining functionality of transportation system, especially interstates and limited access facilities.
  • Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration: regulating pipe safety practices such as casing or “sleeving.”
  • State DOTs: aligning utility accommodation policies with national guidelines and state laws; balancing highway design and utilities considerations; and anticipating (a) asset management plans including utilities, and (b) utility considerations of connected/autonomous vehicle (CAV) and other emerging technologies.
  • Local governments: justifying utility and right-of-way (ROW) activities conducted with federal funds and using pertinent federal and state models which reference AASHTO guidelines.
  • Utility providers: conducting normal business.
The objectives of this project are to:
  • Merge the AASHTO Policy on the Accommodation of Utilities within Freeway Right-of-Way and the AASHTO Guide for Accommodating Utilities within Highway Right-of-Way, into the AASHTO Guide for Accommodating Utilities within Highways and Freeways, targeting redundancies and necessary revisions therein.
  • Update material within these two documents, where needed, with emphasis on (a) material that has changed or developed following release of the previous edition; and (b) emerging technologies for installing and accommodating utilities in ROW.
Status: Research is complete; the conduct of research report is available as Web-Only Document 356. Publication of the merged Guide by AASHTO is pending.  

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