The National Academies

NCHRP 10-120 [Pending]

Guide for Incorporating Right-of-Way and Utilities into Value Engineering Studies

  Project Data
Funds: $400,000
Contract Time: 30 months
Staff Responsibility: Christopher McKenney
Comments: Contract Start Date is tentatively scheduled for 05/01/2024.


According to 23 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 627, value engineering (VE) is a systematic, organized approach that provides necessary functions in a project at the lowest cost without sacrificing performance and quality. VE focuses on the functions of various components and materials by reviewing and assessing a project to (1) identify essential project functions, (2) promote the substitution of materials and methods with less expensive alternatives, (3) optimize the value and quality of the project, and (4) reduce the time to develop and deliver the project.

VE studies have been incorporated into state departments of transportation (DOTs) project development process, typically reflecting federal policies and requirements. State DOTs specification manuals typically include guidance on how to conduct VE studies; however, the body of knowledge has been limited in the area of right-of-way (ROW) and utilities as it relates to VE. This limited body of knowledge increases the risk for VE study teams to obtain the degree of ROW and utility information needed to adequately perform their duties, thereby missing unique opportunities to add value to a project.

Research is needed to identify approaches to incorporate ROW and utilities when conducting VE studies.


The objective of this research is to develop a guide that will assist state DOTs with addressing ROW and utility impacts when conducting VE studies.


Anticipated tasks include:

  • Propose a methodical approach to:
    • Collect data and receive feedback to (1) identify knowledge gaps that should be addressed in this research or in the recommended future research as budget permits, and (2) implement methods to include ROW and utility topics more effectively in the scope of work and procedures for conducting VE studies;
    • Identify and develop best practices for conducting a VE study as it relates to ROW and utilities;
    • Conduct case studies from state DOTs and other transportation agencies with different organizational structures, identifying the levels of maturity of the VE process and performance perspectives;
    • Define critical factors and develop a risk matrix as they relate to project risks that may offset the VE benefits garnered through the VE process; and
    • Identify themes and scenarios for communicating the research findings and strategies to transportation agency’s leadership, staff, and other functional areas of transportation agencies as well as to external partners and stakeholders.
  • Propose a preliminary roadmap for the development and implementation of the guide and resources, showcasing key findings from the research, supported with examples.
  • Develop a workshop program to include 20 representatives of state DOTs and other industry stakeholders to (1) review the draft guide and implementation plan, and (2) obtain industry feedback and validation. The workshop outcomes are to assist with revisions to the guide.

The final deliverables will include:

  • A contractor’s final report with the following:
    • Documentation of the research activities and key findings;
    • A roadmap to assist transportation agencies in the early development stages of a VE study;
    • Scenarios with agencies’ programs demonstrating successful strategies and practices;
    • Prioritized recommendations for future research; and
    • Other topics identified during the project.
  • A guide that (1) provides transportation agencies with options for conducting VE studies, (2) clearly communicates how to examine the ROW and utilities alternatives with a VE approach, and (3) proposes strategies to guide VE development.
  • Informational resources that identify potential implementation requirements, visual communication tools (i.e., infographics, fact sheets), procedures (including quality assurance (QA)), strategies, training needs, and challenges as they relate to VE.
  • A technical memorandum that identifies implementation activities to facilitate and expedite implementation.

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