The National Academies

NCHRP 15-81 [Active]

Guideline for Depicting Existing and Proposed Utility Facilities in Design Plans

  Project Data
Funds: $550,000
Staff Responsibility: David M. Jared
Research Agency: Iowa State University
Principal Investigator: Roy Sturgill
Effective Date: 10/20/2022
Completion Date: 10/20/2025



State departments of transportation (DOTs) are stressing the importance of utility coordination as more utilities continue to be installed within the right-of-way (ROW) nationwide. Utility data varies in source, detail, accuracy, and collection timeframe, making it difficult to depict correctly and reliably. The proper denotation, use, and standardization of utility data can substantially reduce risk in construction projects. However, without guidelines and specifications for the collection, management, and depiction of utility data, it can be challenging for state DOTs and utility owners to determine if conflicts exist.


Strategic Highway Research Program 2 (SHRP2) Project R01A, “3D Utility Location Data Repository,” laid the groundwork for a 3D storage and retrieval data model to accommodate data, interface with existing design software, and provide designers a tool to use captured data on underground utilities. The forthcoming American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Standard 75-22 is to provide guidelines for ROW and utility owners in specifying the essential elements of documenting the location and attributes of subsurface and aboveground utility infrastructure. Also, the Federal Highway Administration has promoted the appropriate use of utility investigations and depiction of utility information in proposed project design plans, as explained in the ASCE Standard 38 guidelines.


If the appropriate utility data is collected and then depicted correctly, products like SHRP2_R15B,_”Idenfifying_and_Managing_Utility_Conflicts” and the concept of the Utility Conflict Matrix (UCM) can be leveraged to improve coordination among transportation agencies and utility companies for faster and more efficient project delivery. Research is needed to document a sound approach for collecting utility data, managing that data, and determining the reliability of data obtained from various sources. This approach could help prevent unnecessary utility relocation, reduce risk to the delivery of timely projects, and reduce project costs.  




The objectives of this research are the following: 


1. Identify current, successful practices for (a) retrieving, depicting, and managing data for various utilities; and (b) determining and depicting utility conflicts.


2. Develop sound approaches to (a) depict existing, proposed, and relocated facilities; (b) prioritize the depiction of data from multiple sources; (c) reconcile inconsistent utility data from various sources; and (d) determine reliability of depicted data for design standards.


3. Develop guidelines for state DOTs on practices for retrieving, depicting, and managing data for various utilities and for utility conflict identification and depiction.



STATUS: Research in progress. 


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