The National Academies

NCHRP 15-81 [Anticipated]

Guideline for Depicting Existing and Proposed Utility Facilities in Design Plans

  Project Data
Source: AASHTO Committee on ROW, Utilities and Outdoor Advertising Control
Funds: $550,000
Staff Responsibility: David M. Jared
Fiscal Year: 2022

This project has been tentatively selected and a project statement (request for proposals) is expected to be available on this website. The problem statement below will be the starting point for a panel of experts to develop the project statement.

Utility information varies in degree of accuracy, source and timeframe collected, making it difficult to depict correctly and with an indicated level of confidence. The proper denotation and use of utility information eliminates substantial risk from construction projects. State Departments of Transportation (DOTs) are highlighting the importance of utility coordination just as more utilities are being installed within the right-of-way (ROW). These standards are needed before these trends exacerbate the previously defined problems. Without best practices and specifications in collection, management, and the depiction of utility information, many state DOTs may simply force utilities that might not truly be in conflict with the project to relocate. Research is needed to document a sound understanding of utility data, managing that data, and documenting confidence in data obtained from various sources. This would combat the practice of relocating utilities unnecessarily, reduce risk to the delivery of timely projects, and save millions of dollars in unnecessary costs.

Data management investigated in SHRP2 R01A, “3D Utility Location Data Repository,” proposed to implement a state-of-the-art 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. Moreover, FHWA has promoted the appropriate use of utility investigations and depiction of utility information in proposed project design plans, as explained in the American Society of Civil Engineering (ASCE) 38 Guidelines. If the proper utility data is collected and depicted, products like SHRP2 R15B, “Identifying and Managing Utility Conflicts” and the concept of the Utility Conflict Matrix (UCM) can be leveraged, which can improve cooperation among highway agencies and utility companies for faster and more efficient project delivery. Finally, some state DOTs who do use advanced utility investigations do not clearly delineate a confidence level of the utility information collected.

The objective of this research is to develop guidance for state DOTs on best practices for retrieving data, depicting data, and identifying conflicts for all of the collected information about utilities. The research should have a primary focus on how information is depicted. The research should help define approaches to (a) reconcile conflicting utility information from various sources; (b) prioritize the depiction of data from multiple sources; (c) depict existing, proposed, and relocated facilities; and (d) depict data indicative of confidence level with design standards. The practice of better utility records, proper depiction, and conflict analysis will allow for better decision-making for state DOTs and their consultants who perform design and utility coordination for transportation projects. 


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