How Great Utility Coordination Leads to Project Success

February 1, 2015

Infrastructure projects are on the rise as the Texas economy grows. To maximize project dollars, utility coordination is essential on most projects – from local site developments to major transportation projects.

What Is Utility Coordination?
Utility coordination includes subsurface utility engineering, conflict analysis, communication about project requirements, and construction observation or inspection of utility relocations. Most of these – if not all – are critical-path activities for project start-up and, in many cases, project completion.

Successful coordination begins with early contact between a utility owner and a project developer or agency. Many Texas counties and municipalities agree with this recipe for success, conducting regular utility coordination meetings to ensure utility owners are in the loop from project inception through construction.

Utilities in Public Rights of Way
By state law, utilities can be placed within the public right of way (ROW), subject to the safe design, operation and maintenance of the facilities. The Texas Administrative Code (TAC) sets out rules and regulations to accommodate utilities within public rights of way. Required reading within the TAC includes sections on Local Government Code, Transportation Code and Utility Code.

An excellent resource for utility accommodation within the public ROW is the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) ROW Utility Manual, which provides:

  • policies and procedures for constructing utilities within TxDOT ROW;
  • information emphasizing the need for early/frequent coordination with utility owners; and
  • descriptions of the processes required for utility permitting within TxDOT ROW. (For example, did you know that even if a utility will remain in place during a TxDOT roadway project, the utility location site must be reviewed and approved by TxDOT for compliance?)

Design & Construction Standards
Utilities located within TxDOT ROW must adhere to specific design and construction requirements, as stated in TAC Title 43, commonly known as the Utility Accommodation Rules (UAR). In addition, utilities seeking permission to be placed within TxDOT ROW must formally acknowledge joint use of the ROW.

Halff’s Clients Appreciate Effective Utility Coordination
Halff Associates’ 10 utility coordinators provide proactive, helpful, hands-on utility coordination services. We are proud to be known as UAR experts. Our clients include municipalities, various agencies, and utility companies. Because of our vast utility coordination expertise and great relationships, we work throughout the state to help affected entities and utility owners as well.

Halff Associates:

  • has completed more than 50 TxDOT utility coordination projects, including high-profile projects such as State Highway (SH) 360 and SH 161;
  • has assisted with more than 400 utility agreements totaling more than $150 million since 2005;
  • has ongoing TxDOT utility coordination contracts with the Dallas, Fort Worth, Waco, and Abilene districts; and
  • has successfully permitted more than 50 utility projects with UP Railroad, BNSF Railroad, and DART.

Halff is currently helping the Town of Addison relocate overhead utility lines to underground along a two-mile stretch of Beltline Road to stimulate commercial and retail development. Halff is providing utility coordination services as well as relocation design for electric, communications, gas, water, and wastewater.

Halff is also helping the Upper Trinity Regional Water District with utility coordination services, conflict analysis, master planning, agreement package preparation, and preparation of construction documents for TxDOT projects along Farm-to-Market (FM) 2499, FM 544, and Interstate 35E.

The Take-Away
Proactive utility coordination offers numerous benefits, including:

    • • avoided surprises, relocations, construction delays, and redesigns;
    • • savings in both time and dollars;
      • • assurance that you can construct, operate and maintain the facility; and

     project success.

If Halff Associates can assist your team with utility coordination, please call Executive Vice President Jessica Baker, PE, CFM, PMP, at (214) 217-6692.

Halff Associates is an employee-owned, diverse multi-disciplined professional services firm founded in Dallas, Texas, more than 65 years ago. We serve water utilities, municipalities and other public entities throughout Texas.