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Chapter 10 - Utilities

PRIMARY ROLES & RESPONSIBILITIES

PRIMARY TASK ODOT
(District Utility Coordinator
unless otherwise directed)
LPA
REQUEST FOR UTILITIES TO BE LOCATED BY COMPANY
(OUPS) IN FIELD (Note: not all utilities are OUPS members.)
  X
PRELIMINARY PLANS SENT TO UTILITIES TO VERIFY
LOCATIONS
  X
FINAL RIGHT OF WAY & CONSTRUCTION PLANS WITH
LETTER TO UTILITIES REQUESTING RELOCATION PLANS
  X
RELOCATION PLANS RETURNED TO LPA FOR REVIEW &
EITHER APPROVAL OR REJECTION BY LETTER
  X
DETERMINE IF COST IS REIMBURSABLE
(Yes, if existence of compensable property right.)
  X
  • If reimbursable, plans & estimates are reviewed approved by LPA and sent to ODOT district for final approval. ODOT will review & forward approval to LPA who will issue approval to utility.
X X
  • If not reimbursable, plans are reviewed and approved by LPA
  X
UTILITY NOTE   X
WAIT FOR RIGHT OF WAY CLEARANCE   X
AFTER CLEARANCE, LPA INFORMS UTILITY THAT WORK CAN BEGIN   X
  • (LPA sends letters when project is put out to bid,
  • when contract is awarded, and when pre-construction meeting is
  • to be held.)
  X
  • Upon completion of relocation work, LPA makes final inspection.
  X
BILLS RECEIVED & REVIEWED BY LPA   X
  • If Federal funds, the LPA reviews bills and forwards to ODOT district for approval. After ODOT approves bills, LPA pays them and applies to ODOT for the Federal share. An invoice from the utility will be forwarded for reimbursement.
X X
  • If no Federal funds, the LPA pays the bill from own funds.
  X

Note: All relocation work should adhere to ODOT Utilities Manual. All estimates should be submitted on RE 75-1, Preliminary Estimate Form and all bills on RE 75-2, Summary of Billing Form.

INTRODUCTION

During the project initiation phase the LPA must coordinate with the various utility companies to determine if the project scope will require a utility company to participate in the design and/or construction of the project. Title 23 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 645.105 defines a utility as:

 “A privately, publicly or cooperatively-owned line, facility or system for producing, transmitting or distributing communications, cable television, power, electricity, light, heat, gas, oil, crude products, water, steam, waste, storm water not connected with highway drainage or any other similar commodity, including any fire or police signal system or street lighting system which directly or indirectly serves the public. The term utility shall also mean the utility company inclusive of any wholly owned or controlled subsidiary.”

Service lines privately owned and devoted exclusively to supplying the various commodities to the owner and not directly or indirectly serving the public, are not considered to be a utility.

For Federal-aid projects all utility relocations, adjustments, reimbursement and accommodations are subject to the current editions of 23CFR 645 and the ODOT Utilities Manual:

Guidance for District Utility Coordination

ALLOCATING PROJECT COSTS

FHWA participation in the reimbursement of utility relocation costs is governed by 23CFR 645 Part A. However, section 645.103(d) is the operative section as it explains that Federal-aid reimbursements are limited by the reimbursement rules established by State law or regulation.

PLANNING

Early coordination between the designer and utilities is required to assure that utilities are provided with necessary and accurate information to determine the potential need for relocation, time frames necessary to complete proposed relocation work, and possible alternatives.

Meetings should be held to discuss potential conflicts and possible mitigation, relocation time frames (i.e., material ordering, bid processes, critical outages or splicing needs) and construction or right of way constraints. The use of Subsurface Utility Locating is encouraged to identify and mitigate utility impacts on a project. As a result of these studies, a determination should be made as to the nature and extent of the work to be done, who is to be responsible for its performance, and the general distribution of costs. Agreement should also be reached as to scheduling work to avoid conflict with the highway contractor.

To avoid unnecessary delays and costs, it is essential that full consideration be given at the earliest practicable date to the problems involved in right of way clearance and utility adjustments. In addition, insofar as feasible and economical, such clearance and adjustments should be accomplished prior to bidding and before the physical construction of the highway project. Recognition must be given to the fact that if utility owners are to complete the adjustments of their facilities by the time desired, they must have ample opportunity to design the adjustments, budget the costs, procure the necessary materials and supplies, fit the work into operating schedules, assemble the required crews and equipment, and perform the work.

As soon as the highway location and design have advanced sufficiently so that the right of way clearance work and the utility relocation work is known, the LPA should initiate an evaluation of the plan, including on-site investigations, an estimate of costs, difficulties involved, and consideration of any plan revisions for reducing such costs and difficulties. There should be participation in these studies by representatives of all affected governmental agencies and utility owners. All utility owners should be present at the same meeting/conference call in order that their plans for proposed adjustments can be properly coordinated and that consideration can be given, where feasible, to the joint use of certain facilities such as pole lines or utility corridors.

No reimbursable construction costs shall be incurred prior to the date on which ODOT authorizes the LPA to proceed with the work. 

COORDINATION WITH THE UTILITY SCHEDULE

After identifying the utility facilities affected and discussing the time schedules with the utility owners, a work schedule should be prepared and made part of the construction contract documents. It should be noted that, in some instances, the contractor may need to complete certain work (layout, clearing and grubbing, etc.) before the utility companies can perform their relocation work.

The objective is to establish reasonable time schedules with the utility owners for relocating their facilities thus avoiding any delay to the process of the Local-let construction project. It is important that working together the LPA and the Utilities identify as early as possible the facilities to be removed, relocated or replaced so that these time schedules can be included in the contract documents prior to bidding.

LPA/LEGISLATION AGREEMENTS

The purpose of the written agreement is to fully document responsibilities for financing and accomplishing the relocation work prior to the construction project letting. An agreement must be executed between the LPA and the utility whenever there are Federal funds in utility relocation.

CONSTRUCTION PLANS

The LPA must review and evaluate utility work in the construction plans performed by the highway contractor (usually governmentally owned water and/or sewer). The review must evaluate the scope of work, eligibility for cost reimbursement, betterments and proper coding of the General Summary. At that time, the LPA must request necessary agreements.

UTILITY RELOCATION PLANS AND ESTIMATES

The LPA must review and approve utility relocation plans and estimates; verifying compensable property rights and contractor information (if applicable). Prior to approval, any errors or unacceptable work must be corrected. The LPA should monitor the performance of the relocation work; including revisions and construction conflicts.

The owner of the utility facility eligible for reimbursement should prepare the following data, which shall be submitted to the LPA as promptly as possible:

  • A plan, including cross section and/or profile of the existing and proposed facilities within the affected area.
     
  • A detailed estimate of cost to cover all work to be performed. This detailed estimate should be broken down into separate temporary and permanent work. Salvage credit should also be separated in the same manner. All additions and betterments must be clearly identified. Refer to the ODOT Utilities Manual section 8303 for additional information and example.

CERTIFICATION AND PROJECT SALE

If applicable, prepare a Utility Note detailing all utilities that are located within the construction limits, the disposition of these facilities, the time frame when the work will be completed and any other necessary information. The note must be included in the certification package with the bid proposal and copies of the note must be transmitted to all utilities covered within the note. The LPA must then notify all utilities of the project sale, project award, contractor and preconstruction conference by letter.

BILLING FOR REIMBURSEMENT

A utility is eligible for reimbursement when existing facilities are affected by the project and located on property where the utility has a compensable property right. (See Section 8301 of the ODOT Utility Manual.)

All invoices should be broken down to show actual costs for all appropriate and approved expenditures. The LPA must review partial and final utility force account billings for conformance to the approved plan and estimate and verify that funding is in place. At that time, any necessary corrections should be made as well as a check for betterments or ineligible work, review support documentation and proofs of payment and if the bill is acceptable, issue payment to the utility. If there are Federal funds involved, the LPA reviews the bills and forwards them to ODOT district for approval before the LPA can make payment. The LPA then applies to ODOT for the Federal share. (See Section 8304 of the ODOT Utility Manual) 

If you would like further details on any of the topics discussed in this chapter, please refer to the ODOT Utilities Policies and Procedures Manual at the link noted above.