The National Academies

NCHRP Synthesis 20-05/Topic 52-05 [Active (Synthesis)]

Implementation of Subsurface Utility Engineering for Highway Design and Construction
[ NCHRP 20-05 (Synthesis of Information Related to Highway Practices) ]

  Project Data
Funds: $45,000
Authorization to Begin Work: 5/1/2020 -- estimated
Staff Responsibility: Jo Allen Gause
Research Agency: Iowa State Univeristy
Principal Investigator: Roy Sturgill
Effective Date: 9/22/2020
Fiscal Year: 2021

Final Scope

Many state departments of transportation (DOTs) have implemented some level of subsurface utility engineering (SUE) as part of their project development and utility coordination processes. SUE is standardized by the American Society of Civil Engineer’s CI 38-02 “Standard Guidelines for the Collection and Depiction of Existing Subsurface Utility Data.” This standard, while currently being revised, has been instrumental in ensuring more uniform practice of SUE since its development in the 1980s. Nevertheless, DOT implementation has varied considerably with respect to when different SUE quality levels are implemented and how the data collected is integrated into plans and contract documents.

The objective of this synthesis is to document DOT use and practices related to SUE. The synthesis will examine how DOTs use SUE and when SUE is used in the design and project delivery process.

Information to be gathered includes (but is not limited to):
• Extent of DOT use of SUE (i.e., how many agencies have a SUE program);
• How the decision to use SUE is made and at what point in the project delivery process is the decision made;
• DOT policies and procedures that guide SUE deployment;
• How SUE deliverables are obtained (e.g., in-house, SUE contract service, utility owner, highway construction contractor);
• At what point in the project delivery process is SUE deployed (e.g,, concept development, preliminary design, final design);
• Type of projects that typically use SUE (e.g., project excavation, foundations, urban versus rural, major versus minor roadway projects, project funding threshold);
• Use of SUE for various project delivery methods;
• QA/QC procedures and process for SUE deliverables;
• DOT documented measurement of cost savings or risk reduction;
• How DOTs use and store SUE data after the project; and
• Whether SUE is performed after utility relocation

Information will be collected via literature review, a survey of DOTs, and follow-up interviews with selected agencies for the development of case examples. Information gaps and suggestions for research to address those gaps will be identified.

Information Sources (Partial):
• ASCE. (2002). Standard Guidelines for the Collection and Depiction of Existing Subsurface Utility Data. Standard ASCE/CI 38-02, American Society of Civil Engineers, Reston, VA.
• Anspach, J., and Murphy, R. (2012). Subsurface Utility Engineering Information Management for Airports. ACRP Synthesis 34: Subsurface Utility Engineering Information Management for Airports, Transportation Research Board, National Research Council, Washington, D.C.
• Lew, J. (2000). Cost Savings on Highway Projects Utilizing Subsurface Utility Engineering, Report No. FHWA-IF-00-014, Purdue University, Federal Highway Administration, Washington, D.C.
• Singha, S., Thomas, H., Wang, M., and Jung,Y. (2007). Subsurface Utility Engineering Manual, Report No. FHWAPA-2007-027-510401-08, Pennsylvania Transportation Institute, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA.

TRB Staff
Jo Allen Gause
Phone: 202-334-3826
Email: jagause@nas.edu

Meeting Dates
First Panel: September 22, 2020, Washington, DC
Teleconference with Consultant: October 19, 2020, 9:45 a.m., Eastern 
Second Panel: June 7, 2021, Washington, DC

Topic Panel
Patrick Allen, Georgia Department of Transportation
Eric Cimo, Delaware Department of Transportation
Jesse Cooper, HDR
William Owens, California Department of Transportation
Wendi Snyder, Ohio Department of Transportation
Claudia Valles-Tovar, Texas Department of Transportation
Julie Johnson, Federal Highway Administration
Nelso Gibson, Transportation Research Board
Jo Allen Gause, Transportation Research Board 

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