The National Academies

NCHRP 20-123(06) [Pending]

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
Contract Time: 18 months
Staff Responsibility: David M. Jared

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.
Accomplishment of the project objectives 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 objectives. 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 objectives.
Task 1. Review available literature and develop a prioritized list of manual updates. The research team will receive the original documents. Following the literature review, the research team may recommend modifications to the priority list. Based on the draft priority list and with guidance from CRUO Technical Council on Utility Accommodation and Safety, input shall be sought from a cross-section of stakeholders on developments, best practices, and standards in utility installation and accommodation. Stakeholders among utility practitioners, utility owners, and designers should be selected for interviews, with approximately equal representation from aerial, surface, and underground utility stakeholders. All interviewees shall have expertise pertinent to the identified update priorities, to ensure that the final document is widely acceptable and valuable to utility stakeholders. The literature review, prioritized list of updates, and proposed list of interviewees shall be provided to NCHRP in a technical memorandum, along with a quality assurance plan for all deliverables from Tasks 1-4. NCHRP approval of the technical memorandum is required before Task 2 work may begin.
Task 2. Interview selected utility stakeholders. Input is expected to provide (a) confirmation of inclusion or elimination of update priorities; and (b) details on the priorities included. The product of Task 2 shall be a finalized set of update priorities to include in the new Guide, presented in a technical memorandum. NCHRP approval of the technical memorandum is required before Task 3 work may begin.
Task 3. Produce a draft of the merged AASHTO policy and guidance documents. The research team shall present the draft new Guide in-person at an interim meeting. The team shall provide the draft at least two weeks before the interim meeting for NCHRP review.
Task 4. Deliver the new Guide document and final report. Deliver the new Guide document with all NCHRP feedback from Task 3 addressed and, as appropriate, incorporated into the Guide. A final report describing the research approach, the findings from Tasks 1-3, and the contents of the new Guide shall also be prepared and delivered.
Status: Proposals have been received for this project.  The project panel will meet in late December 2020/January 2021 to select a contractor to perform the work.

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