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FHWA > Programs > Office of Policy > Office of International Programs  > Streamlining and Integrating Right-of-Way and Utility Processes > Chapter 6

Chapter 6: Implementation Strategies

The study team identified some 20 potential implementation ideas that merit consideration in the United States. Table 3 lists those ideas, including which ideas the study team considers top priorities for implementation.

A summary description of each implementation idea follows. A separate document (Scan Technology Implementation Plan) provides a more detailed description of the top priority implementation ideas.

Table 3. Potential right-of-way and utility implementation ideas.
Subject Area and Related Implementation IdeasTop Priority
Legal Framework for Right-of-Way and Utility Processes
Promote incentive-based reimbursement for utility relocations.5
Establish standard protocol and lease template for utility attachments to roadway structures. 
Pursue strategies to facilitate corridor preservation.6
Establish template for roles and responsibilities of multiple parties that use infrastructure corridors. 
Transportation Project Delivery Methods
Create template for project-specific roles and responsibilities based on project type and configuration. 
Integrate right-of-way acquisition and utility coordination in an alliance contract approach.1
Establish operation and maintenance fee for developer-initiated transportation infrastructure. 
Establish sliding scale for State contribution to developer-initiated transportation infrastructure. 
Project Development Process
Develop framework for risk-based business case analysis for project decisionmaking. 
Develop framework for multimodal transportation infrastructure planning that integrates utilities. 
Right-of-Way Acquisition
Enhance cooperative relationship with property owners to facilitate timely property acquisition.2
Develop GIS-based right-of-way project and asset management systems.8
Promote visualization techniques to communicate anticipated project impacts to property owners.3
Utility Coordination and Utility Conflict Management
Promote the use of multiple-level MOU structure among transportation and utility interests.7
Create template for project-specific roles and responsibilities based on project type and configuration. 
Promote the use of best practices in utility coordination during the construction phase.9
Develop methodology for preliminary utility relocation cost estimates. 
Real Property Management
Develop GIS-based right-of-way project and asset management systems.8
Promote active management of the right-of-way asset to maximize value and return on investment. 
Project Team Strategies, Training, and Professional Development
Develop framework to establish proficiency of right-of-way and utility professionals in core disciplines.4

Legal Framework for Right-of-Way and Utility Processes

Promote Incentive-Based Reimbursement for Utility Relocations

This implementation idea involves providing incentive-based compensation to utility companies for the relocation of utility facilities required by transportation infrastructure improvement projects. The incentive compensation (in the form of a reimbursement) may be provided for eligible items of work, such as preliminary engineering, physical relocation, and materials to the utility, by preestablished utility relocation milestones set through coordination between the transportation infrastructure owner and the utility company. Failure of the utility company to meet milestones would cause the utility to forfeit all or a preestablished percentage of the incentive compensation, in effect causing the utility company to relocate its facilities at its own expense.

In general, the incentive compensation applies in situations in which the utility company does not have a reimbursable real property interest and is occupying highway right-of-way by permit.

Strategies in connection with this implementation idea include the following:

  • Prepare a synthesis report on States with legislation allowing incentive-based compensation of utility companies for the relocation of utility facilities, the benefits derived from incentive-based compensation in terms of time savings and reduction in project delays and construction contractor claims, and the cost of incentive-based compensation to the transportation infrastructure owner. The synthesis report should include samples of legislation from States that have used incentive-based compensation successfully.
  • Develop model legislation to enable compensation of utility relocations using legislation from States that allow compensation of utility relocations. The model legislation would provide the foundation for implementing State legislative changes to allow for compensation of utility relocations.
  • Conduct pilot projects in States that allow compensation of utility companies for the relocation of utility facilities, but have not used incentive-based compensation. As part of the pilot, the transportation agency would disseminate information on lessons learned.

Establish Standard Protocol and Lease Template for Utility Attachments to Roadway Structures

This implementation idea involves collaborative work between transportation agencies and utility companies to establish a standard protocol and a lease template for the attachment of utility infrastructure to roadway structures. The protocol and lease template would cover relevant terms and conditions, such as engineering evaluations, access for maintenance, indemnity for damage, attachment costs, and responsibility for relocation costs.

The origin of the idea was a provision in the Code of Practice for Management of Infrastructure in Road Reserves in Victoria, Australia. As required in the Road Management Act 2004, this code of practice provides guidance to road authorities, utilities, and public transportation providers on planning and managing their infrastructure in road reserves. Two objectives of the code of practice are minimizing total costs to the community and providing guidance to road authorities on coordinating the installation of nonroad infrastructure on roads. In the case of utility attachments to bridges and other road structures, the code recommends that the interested parties enter into a commercial agreement that addresses technical considerations, attachment costs, damages, and relocation costs.

Pursue Strategies to Facilitate Corridor Preservation

An ongoing challenge State and local transportation agencies face is keeping up with population shifts and the resulting shifts in demand for different transportation routes. Given the extensive amount of time typically required to plan and deliver transportation projects, agencies have a special mandate to anticipate future demand and plan proactively. An increasingly valuable tool for dealing with this challenge is corridor preservation— an environmentally sound and cost-effective approach for avoiding and minimizing the impacts of transportation projects that involve widening existing alignments or developing new alignments.

Strategies in connection with this implementation idea include the following:

  • Establish a protocol that enables the official register of transportation plans with land title registration offices. This protocol would enable those offices to add notes or caveats to title certificates on the future use of a corridor.
  • Introduce mechanisms for transportation agencies to acquire parcels or provide compensation during the planning phases of a transportation project. Examples include cases in which it would be strategic to preserve a corridor for future transportation use or in hardship situations (e.g., if a property owner cannot sell a property because of a caveat on the property title certificate on the future use of a corridor).
  • Establish mechanisms that facilitate effective information exchanges among all stakeholders involved in the corridor preservation effort, including transportation agencies, planning agencies, property owners, appraisal districts, local and county governments, and the public. One such mechanism involves the use of GIS-based proposed acquisition overlays (published on easily accessible Web sites) that show proposed corridors in relation to landmarks and existing parcels and enable stakeholders to provide comments.
  • Establish protocols that enable transportation agencies to control building setbacks on corridors designated for future road expansion. One mechanism to achieve this objective is to enable transportation agencies to provide input on the building permitting process.

Establish Template for Roles and Responsibilities of Multiple Parties That Use Infrastructure Corridors

The Road Management Act 2004 in Victoria established a coordinated management framework for transportation networks. The act formalized the concept of a coordinating road authority, codes of practice for infrastructure management, and an infrastructure reference panel that provides advice to the state on utility coordination and other users of the road reserve, the codes of practice, and regulations. The panel is composed of 15 representatives of various utilities and services, VicRoads, public transportation, and local governments.

The purpose of this implementation idea is to establish a template that would enable State DOTs to initiate an entity similar to Victoria's infrastructure reference panel that could be used in the planning, design construction, and management phases of joint transportation-utility infrastructure corridors. The role of the panel would be to provide State transportation infrastructure and rightof- way owners with advice on utility coordination issues, such as utility accommodation policies, regulations, and hierarchy of utility location within the corridors. The template would define the roles and responsibilities of the transportation and utility infrastructure owners in the infrastructure corridor.

Strategies in connection with this implementation idea include the following:

  • Prepare a report that describes the Victoria infrastructure reference panel functions, protocols, and levels of authority; identifies any DOT in the United States that convenes a group similar to the infrastructure panels; and documents similarities and differences.
  • Identify two or three pilot State DOTs willing to establish and convene a stateside equivalent of the Victoria infrastructure reference panel, with the goal of establishing a similar panel within 6 to 9 months after designation and committing to convene the panel for 1 to 3 years.
  • Share lessons learned and successes achieved from the infrastructure reference panel pilots via American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) mechanisms.
  • Formalize utilities as a mode of transportation.

Transportation Project Delivery Methods

Create Template for Project-Specific Roles and Responsibilities Based on Project Type and Configuration

This implementation idea involves developing a matrix to identify roles and responsibilities by all stakeholders based on project type and configuration. In addition to the general coordinated management framework for transportation networks (see above), the Road Management Act 2004 in Victoria established a mechanism that facilitates the development of a project-level framework in situations that involve several local jurisdictions and agencies, and it is important to outline the roles, rights, and responsibilities of each stakeholder. VicRoads has used this mechanism to facilitate the development of projects such as the EastLink Project and the Melbourne CityLink Project.

The study team did not identify major challenges or costs in connection with this implementation idea in the United States. It would be advisable to conduct a synthesis report to develop an inventory of current practices in the United States and determine specific recommendations for implementing the template.

Integrate Right-of-Way Acquisition and Utility Coordination in Alliance Contract Approach

The alliance contract approach is gaining popularity in Australia, particularly when there are significant uncertainties about the optimum solution for a project. Uncertainties can include unpredictable risks, a project that is difficult to scope or for bidders to price, time pressures, and the state's desire for breakthroughs and innovation. An increasing body of knowledge documents the benefits of the alliance contract approach, including the report on a recent scanning study on public-private partnerships sponsored by FHWA, AASHTO, and the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP). That body of knowledge strongly indicates that implementing an alliance contract approach to support the delivery of transportation projects in the United States would be highly beneficial.

Strategies in connection with this implementation idea include the following:

  • Identify the source and role of right-of-way acquisition and utility coordination personnel in alliance teams, following a best-for-project approach. In Australian practice, right-of-way acquisition typically remains the responsibility of the transportation agency. In general, the alliance team has the responsibility to coordinate effectively with utilities early and find optimum relocation strategies. Only one team interacts with utilities during the design and construction phases. The alliance team also presents a unified front for dealing and negotiating with property owners.
  • As part of the gainshare-painshare arrangements in an alliance contract, introduce mechanisms for dealing with unplanned utility relocations that encourage collaboration by all alliance team members. For example, if a pipeline is unexpectedly found during construction, the focus should be on finding a solution instead of blaming one of the parties for not identifying the pipeline earlier during the planning and design phases.
  • Conduct the following activities in conjunction with other alliance contracting interests (e.g., the public-private partnership scan team):
    • Investigate other sectors and initiatives (e.g., oil industry and community redevelopment) in the United States that may already use elements of the alliance contract approach.
    • Conduct initial education and outreach efforts (e.g., using a white paper, synthesizing available information about alliance contracting, and including the role and integration of right-of-way acquisition and utility coordination activities in alliance contracts).
    • Give presentations and conduct workshops at events such as the Transportation Research Board (TRB) Annual Meeting, the AASHTO Design and Construction Committee Conference, and the Right-of-Way and Utilities Subcommittee Conference.
    • Sponsor presentations by Australian delegations at those events.
  • Identify two or three States willing to use the alliance contract model and establish suitable pilot projects already included in their Transportation Improvement Programs (TIPs). Depending on the State and its legislative framework, it might be necessary to obtain special legislative approval to use an alliance contract approach.
  • For States willing to pilot the alliance contract model, request approval from FHWA under Special Experimental Project No. 14—Alternative Contracting (SEP-14).
  • At the end of the pilot project phase, prepare a synthesis report to identify lessons learned and recommendations for implementation nationwide, taking into consideration the differences in State legislative frameworks throughout the country.

Establish Operation and Maintenance Fee for Developer-Initiated Transportation Infrastructure

This implementation idea involves establishing a protocol to enable transportation agencies to charge an upfront fee for developer-based transportation infrastructure. In Ontario, developers are typically responsible for all expenses when they build transportation infrastructure such as interchanges. At the completion of the project, MTO takes ownership of the project. As part of the agreement, MTO charges an upfront fee to cover anticipated operation and maintenance costs throughout the lifetime of the new facility. On occasion, developers have agreements with local municipalities in which the municipalities agree to assume responsibility for maintaining the facility.

Strategies in connection with this implementation idea include the following:

  • Identify States that have implemented this strategy or parts of it (e.g., Maryland, Ohio, and Florida). Ohio has three interchanges where developers built the structures and are responsible for maintaining the facilities.
  • Explicitly incorporate the concept of an upfront operational and maintenance fee as an analysis factor during long-range transportation planning.
  • As needed, draft model State legislation and guidance documents.

Establish Sliding Scale for State Contribution to Developer-Initiated Transportation Infrastructure

This implementation idea involves tying the State contribution to locally requested projects to the number of years into the future the department is already considering those projects for construction (e.g., 90 percent for 1 year, 80 percent for 2 years, 70 percent for 3 years, and 0 to 60 percent for more than 3 years). Alberta Transportation uses this strategy to accelerate the delivery of projects in response to third-party requests to develop those projects. In general, to consider a cost-sharing plan, the department would need to include the project in its transportation plan.

Strategies in connection with this implementation idea include the following:

  • As needed, draft model State legislation and guidance documents.
  • Identify two or three States willing to implement this strategy and set up the necessary legislative and planning framework.
  • On a trial basis, identify pilot projects and report on the lessons learned after a 3-year period.

Project Development Process

Develop Framework for Risk-Based Business Case Analysis for Project Decisionmaking

This implementation idea involves promoting the concept of a business case-risk management approach not just for identifying and selecting transportation projects, but also for coordinating right-of-way and utility activities. In Australia, the study team perceived a strong emphasis on entrepreneurship and the application of sound business principles to DOT operations. An example of a business strategy was the emphasis on strategic planning, which relies on the preparation of risk assessments and business cases to provide adequate justification for projects. The risk management approach extends to the assessment of risks and cost contingencies associated with property acquisition and utility relocation.

To maximize value, the risk-based business case approach to decisionmaking would include the use of performance measures, which provide a mechanism to determine the effectiveness of initiatives, programs, and strategies, therefore enabling a direct link between infrastructure facility operations and maintenance and overall planning activities. An example of this approach would be using judicious cost contingencies throughout the utility relocation process, comparing utility relocation cost estimates with final costs, and developing a historical cost database to facilitate the effectiveness of the utility relocation process.

An example of a risk-based business case analysis is the preparation of a risk management plan for new utility installations on existing transportation corridors. The risk management plan would include an analysis of risk areas, proposed mitigation measures to reduce risks to an acceptably low level, assignment of responsibility for operating the risk management plan, training for staff and contractors to ensure the risk management plan is followed, and a monitoring and review plan. The risk areas to cover in the analysis would include elements such as safety, road infrastructure integrity, traffic and transit disruption, delays, and negative impacts on the future development of both road and nonroad infrastructure.

Develop Framework for Multimodal Transportation Infrastructure Planning That Integrates Utilities

This implementation idea involves developing a framework that integrates utilities into a multimodal transportation planning process. In Alberta, the transportation and utility corridors were established on the principle that long-term planning for the accommodation of a number of transportation and utility facilities within a TUC can maximize its use. TUCs protect road and utility alignments from advancing urban development. Advantages of using 48 | Chapter 6: Implementation Strategies TUCs include land conservation, limited environmental disruption, administrative efficiency, safety, land use certainty, assured alignments for future users, and open space use.

Alberta has two TUCs corresponding to loop corridors in Edmonton and Calgary. Many jurisdictions in the United States have concentric loop corridors around urban centers, but those corridors typically do not integrate utilities at the same level as TUCs in Canada. However, at any given point, many U.S. urban or suburban transportation projects are in the planning stage. Integrating utilities, particularly major ones, into the metropolitan transportation planning process would offer a number of advantages, including a more rational use of societal resources and the opportunity for a more effective, less confrontational working relationship between transportation agencies and utility interests.

Strategies in connection with this implementation idea include the following:

  • Draft legislation that requires coordination among transportation and utility stakeholders during the metropolitan transportation planning process and establishes a hierarchy of roles and responsibilities for developing and managing the infrastructure right-of-way. The legislation would need to enable transportation agencies to acquire right-of-way for uses other than transportation (or formally recognize utilities as a transportation mode).
  • Conduct workshops and educational outreach activities to illustrate the process and benefits of the coordinated framework. As part of the outreach activities, it would be advantageous to prepare typical cross sections to illustrate the use of the right-of-way by all stakeholders.
  • Identify two or three pilot projects to develop a model strategic plan.

Right-of-Way Acquisition

Enhance Cooperative Relationship With Property Owners to Facilitate Timely Property Acquisition

The study team observed a number of practices in Australia and Canada that lead to a more cooperative, less adversarial relationship with property owners, which can result in more effective property acquisition practices and earlier access to property needed for project completion. For example, Australian states routinely share appraisal reports with property owners and reimburse property owners for reasonable expenses related to the appraisal and negotiation process. Property owners are also encouraged to become informed and seek professional help to assist them in that process. Additional innovative right-of-way acquisition practices include reconciliation of professional opinions, the use of lease agreements with property owners to facilitate early right of entry to the property, in-kind compensation, exchange of surplus property for required property, and reliance on appraisals by independent bodies.

Strategies to develop nonadversarial relationships with property owners to enhance and accelerate the acquisition of property needed for transportation projects in the United States include the following:

  • Appraisals and expenses
    • Share appraisals if parties cannot agree on price.
    • Reimburse property owners for reasonable expenses related to the appraisal and negotiation process. It may be necessary to convene a focus group with interested stakeholders to determine the meaning and scope of"reasonable" expenses and to address issues such as the perception of providing"gifts" of public funds.
    • Establish a minimum agreement value, which could be useful for small partial purchases, such as corner cutoffs for intersection improvements.
  • Early property access
    • Develop lease agreements with property owners.
    • Obtain right of entry for early property access.
    • Establish advance partial payments to facilitate early property access while negotiations for a just compensation-based final purchase price (and corresponding paperwork) are being finalized.
  • Other innovative right-of-way acquisition tools
    • Develop criteria on eligibility for land exchanges.
    • For partial purchases, enable the acquisition of a larger portion, or even an entire parcel, when it is in the best interest of the project to do so.
    • Establish a reasonable time frame for property owner to consider offer.
    • Enable compensation in cash or in kind.
    • Enable options on properties.

The following activities would be necessary in connection with the strategies outlined above:

  • Conduct a synthesis study to evaluate current practices in the United States.
  • Conduct cost-benefit analyses of the proposed processes.
  • Develop draft regulations for FHWA to propose through a notice of proposed rulemaking. (This is generally a 1- to 2-year process.)
  • Develop educational and training materials for right-of-way agents, as well as public outreach materials for property owners and other stakeholders.

Develop GIS-Based Right-of-Way Project and Asset Management Systems

This implementation idea involves promoting the development of comprehensive Web-based right-of-way project and asset management systems with the ability to track project and parcel status, as well as the ability to produce reports and GIS-based parcel documents and maps.

Several states in Australia use GIS-based systems to manage acquisition of right-of-way and perform property management activities. These systems enable acquisition staff to know the status, history, and relationship of all parcels on a project. The use of GIS technology is further supported by the use of public acquisition overlays during the planning process to illustrate the extent of the road reserve, the requirement to register transportation plans with the state land title registration office, and the integration of parcel databases into georeferenced data repositories that facilitate data exchange among stakeholders. For the property management staff, the benefits include access to mapping interfaces and the ability to produce paper maps that depict different types of parcels, such as excess right-of-way, under lease, in the disposition process, and parcels that could be combined to generate a larger, more attractive parcel for disposition.

Strategies in connection with this implementation idea include the following:

  • Implement results of NCHRP Project 08-55"Integrating Geo-Spatial Technologies into the Right-of-Way Data-Management Process" and NCHRP Project 08-55A"Developing a Logical Model for a Geo- Spatial Right-of-Way Land Management System."(60)
  • Implement the results of the Texas Department of Transportation Research Project 0-5788 "Right-of-Way Real Property Asset Management Architecture."(61)
  • Develop a national standard for depicting real property assets that builds on current data modeling and data standardization efforts (including cadastral initiatives) by industry, government, and academic research. In the long term, the national standard would have as one of its primary objectives the development of robust data exchange specifications to ensure that parcel data can be generated and shared among many stakeholders (e.g., transportation agencies, appraisal districts, property owners, and metropolitan planning organizations) without any degradation in positional accuracy and metadata content. Level of access to relevant attribute data would depend on user role and access permission levels.
  • Use a project under the Transportation Pooled Fund Program to develop, test, and report on the results of a GIS-based property asset management system using the results of recent research efforts.

Promote Visualization Techniques to Communicate Anticipated Project Impacts to Property Owners

This implementation idea involves using innovative visualization techniques to help transportation agencies communicate anticipated project impacts to property owners. As part of an alliance contract in Australia, the alliance team used 3-D visualization techniques and posted video clips on the Internet to explain the project to a wide audience. Although the development of the 3-D tool was expensive, the DOT concluded that the results obtained (e.g., in terms of better understanding by property owners and the public) were more than enough to offset the initial investment.

The use of visualization techniques is increasing in the United States. As part of the 2006 domestic scan on right-of-way and utilities, the Minnesota DOT reported on the preliminary results of using 3-D video to illustrate afterconstruction conditions to help property owners develop a better understanding of the project and how the project would appear in relation to adjacent properties.(58) The department also used the video at public information meetings. The preliminary results reported by the Minnesota DOT were positive.

Strategies in connection with this implementation idea include the following:

  • Conduct an analysis to quantify benefits and costs associated with the use of 3-D visualization techniques to support the right-of-way process. This analysis would need to consider cost allocation factors to determine the impact of the visualization tools on right-of-way acquisition costs (considering that the 3-D visualization products could also be used for additional project development process activities).
  • Monitor a recent FHWA initiative on design visualization using Surface Transportation Environment and Planning (STEP) funds. Objectives of this initiative include developing a clearinghouse of sources, both Web-based and published, that have used visualization techniques for right-of-way activities; conducting a peer exchange to identify best practices or develop new technologies; facilitating technology transfer; and developing sample scopes of work for visualization contracts.
  • Using a cost allocation formula, include the cost of developing visualization products into the project development cost.

Utility Coordination and Utility Conflict Management

Promote the Use of Multiple-Level MOU Structure Among Transportation and Utility Interests

This implementation idea involves promoting a multiplelevel MOU approach to optimize the relationship between transportation agencies and property interests. In Australia, several states are exploring a variety of MOUs and agreements with utilities to facilitate the cooperation and coordination process. A multilevel MOU structure typically includes a high-level MOU that sets forth general principles and the intent of both parties to work cooperatively, attachments and other agreements that cover specific topics of interest to both parties, and contract-level details and specific provisions that the higher-level MOU does not address.

The high-level MOU sets forth general principles and the intent of both parties to work cooperatively (e.g., by establishing a framework that covers issues such as cost distribution, information sharing, strategic planning, project management, work sequencing, and dispute resolution). Normally, this MOU is signed by the parties at the executive director level or by a steering committee.

To ensure the MOU is a living document, it may include attachments and other agreements that discuss specific issues, such as standards, specifications, and general procedures for resolving conflict. Typically, technical personnel from both organizations prepare these documents. For example, in Queensland, Main Roads and Energex are developing new protocols, procedures, and specifications to address issues on electric utility relocations, planned utility installations, backfill requirements, preliminary estimates, and power pole safety. Similarly, an agreement between Main Roads and Telstra describes technical requirements for Telstra document submissions to enable Main Roads to review the documentation and reply to Telstra in a timely fashion.

Coordination and cooperation can involve multiple parties. For example, the NSW Streets Opening Conference, a voluntary association of organizations in New South Wales that focuses on common transportation and utility issues, has sponsored the development of documents such as a model agreement between transportation agencies and utility interests, a guide to codes and practices for street openings, and a specification for excavation, backfill, and restoration. The NSW Streets Opening Conference has also developed a pilot training course to improve the understanding of plans and the identification of facility components in the field.

The multilevel MOU concept is also used in the United States, but the study team's impression is that Australian MOUs are more elaborate and stringent than those in the United States.

Strategies in connection with this implementation idea include the following:

  • Obtain more information about the operation of the multiple-level MOU approach from Australian states (e.g., language contained in the MOUs, exact levels of organizational leadership associated with membership on the panels, challenges, and plans).
  • Conduct outreach activities to explain the benefits of the multiple-level MOU approach to transportation agencies and utility interests, with an emphasis on the differences between that approach and current utility coordination practices in the United States.
  • Identify two or three DOTs willing to experiment with the multiple-level MOU approach and record the lessons learned after an initial trial period.

Promote the Use of Best Practices in Utility Coordination During the Construction Phase

This implementation idea involves promoting the use of best practices in utility coordination during construction. In Australia, RTA recently started requiring contractors to have utility coordinators at the jobsite. According to RTA officials, this tactic has been very effective. In the United States, some States also use utility coordinators, at least to some degree, on major construction projects.

Having utility coordinators assigned to a project in a meaningful capacity during construction (either provided by the transportation agency or required as part of the construction contract) would enable the transportation agency to prepare pending utility agreements, expedite utility relocation work, and alleviate conflicts between highway construction and utility relocation activities. Utility coordinators would also assist with the inspection of utility-related work in the field to verify compliance with applicable highway and utility industry standards and specifications.

Traditionally, utility coordination has been a preconstruction activity. Expanding the utility coordination scope to the construction phase would result in additional costs to the project. However, the expectation is that the resulting benefits to the project would offset those costs.

Strategies in connection with this implementation idea include the following:

  • Publish the results of a 2008 survey of States documenting the use of full-time utility coordinators during construction (either provided by the transportation agency or required as part of the construction contract). Information in this study could be used to identify State DOTs and contractors that might be surveyed further to document best practices and benefits. Information is not available on whether the utility coordinators were also involved in utility inspections or whether the projects used additional inspectors. An additional survey might be necessary to gather this information.

  • Conduct a study (e.g., through the NCHRP process) to determine the effectiveness of providing utility coordination and/or utility inspection during the construction of sample highway projects to document best practices and benefits. The study would involve identifying at least five projects throughout the country and either documenting their experiences with utility coordination and/or utility inspection during construction or providing utility coordination and/or utility inspection and evaluating the results. The analysis would include an evaluation of the additional project costs and any benefits resulting from implementing the strategy.

    In addition to costs and benefits, the analysis would need to examine potential challenges and strategies for addressing them. For example, it is known that experienced and knowledgeable utility coordinators are difficult to find for preconstruction, and it may be even more difficult to find them for construction, especially if they are required to provide inspection services. Likewise, utility coordinators provided by contractors may adopt the contractors' point of view when issues arise, making it more difficult to establish productive working relationships with utilities.

    The AASHTO Subcommittee on Right-of-Way and Utilities could use the lessons learned from the study to update its right-of-way and utility guidelines and initiate the inclusion of a recommendation in updates of pertinent AASHTO guidance and policy manuals.

Develop Methodology for Preliminary Utility Relocation Cost Estimates

This implementation idea involves developing and promoting methodologies for preparing preliminary utility relocation cost estimates. As part of the multiplelevel MOU structure in place at Main Roads in Australia, a catalog was prepared that shows typical electrical installation facilities and the amount required to relocate those facilities.

This catalog allows Main Roads to conduct a quick identification of assets (partly because the catalog contains photographs of typical assets found in the field) and produce a preliminary assessment of utility relocation costs, which is appropriate for developing early utility relocation cost estimates in the planning and programming phases. In the preliminary design and design phases, more detailed cost assessments are still necessary (that include variable contingency levels, depending on the design status). The document, which is revised yearly, is distributed to all regional Main Roads offices.

Strategies in connection with this implementation idea include the following:

  • Implement the results of Texas Department of Transportation Research Project 0-4998"Standardization of Special Provisions and Determination of Unit Costs for Utility Installations."(62) This research resulted in a framework for estimating and analyzing utility relocation costs throughout the project development process, from planning to design and construction.
  • Identify Sates with methodologies for collecting cost information for utility relocation estimation purposes. This effort might also include cost aggregation schemes and benefits derived not only by State DOTs, but also by participating utility companies.
  • Develop a best-practice manual for developing utility relocation estimates throughout the project development process and disseminate the results to State DOTs and utility companies.

Real Property Management

Develop GIS-Based Right-of-Way Project and Asset Management Systems

Note: See details under "Right-of-Way Acquisition."

Promote Active Management of the Right-of-Way Asset to Maximize Value and Return on Investment

This implementation idea involves promoting strategies that encourage a business-oriented asset management approach to maximize the value and return on investment of the right-of-way asset. The origin of the idea was the strong emphasis on entrepreneurship and the application of sound business principles to DOT operations, including right-of-way and utility coordination, that the study team perceived in Australia. In addition to using strategies such as strategic planning and maintaining high levels of performance and customer satisfaction, the state DOTs visited also seek opportunities to maximize the value and revenue from right-of-way assets. Examples of commercial ventures include leasing properties not needed for transportation purposes in the short term, leasing billboards located on the right-of-way, using multiple leases for communication infrastructure locations, and using commercial agreements for utility attachments to bridges. Not every right-of-way asset management tool needs to result in additional revenue.

Strategies to promote best practices for the optimum use of the right-of-way asset include the following:

  • Develop and deploy a comprehensive asset management function to plan, develop, manage, and optimize returns on State DOT real property holdings. The function would need to cover all interests associated with the right-of-way asset, including the land, subsurface mineral rights, water rights, air rights, and wireless communication support structures.
  • Draft legislation that enables the use of innovative ideas to optimize the use of the right-of-way asset.
  • Develop alternative right-of-way valuation techniques to the traditional"across-the-fence" valuation method, explicitly considering the fact that a continuous right-of-way is more than just an assembly of isolated land parcels. Expanded use of alternative valuation methods is also important to properly assess the value of the right-of-way for accommodating other facilities within the right-of-way.

Project Team Strategies, Training, and Professional Development

Develop Framework to Establish Proficiency of Right-of-Way and Utility Professionals in Core Disciplines

This implementation strategy involves developing programs and promoting strategies for developing right-of-way and utility professionals. Australian states use a variety of approaches to promote training and professional development opportunities. For example, several universities offer formal educational programs for property valuers. A typical 3-year, full-time program offers a degree with a major in property. In New South Wales, the NSW Streets Opening Conference sponsored the development of a pilot training course for transportation and utility personnel, which will provide the foundation for a formal accreditation process for utility location services. Through VicRoads International, VicRoads has an active presence abroad that provides staff members with the opportunity to travel and work abroad. VicRoads also promotes VRI as a recruitment strategy.

In Canada, Alberta Transportation outsources most work, including right-of-way acquisition and utility coordination. However, the agency is revisiting its 100 percent commitment to outsourcing. MTO outsources much of its work, except right-of-way acquisition, but has begun to do more work internally. This trend highlights the need to develop in-house expertise to address needs such as succession planning, the ability to provide needed services, and the management of services that continue to be outsourced.

Strategies in connection with this implementation idea include the following:

  • Monitor Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP) 2 Project R15(A)"Model Curricula and Training Programs for Utility Relocation." The objective of this project is to develop a training program and model curricula to provide transportation agencies, consultants, and utility professionals with tools to assist in the coordination, design, and construction of utility facilities, as well as tools to develop a better understanding of the interaction between transportation and utility facilities. SHRP 2 R15(A) is expected to become active in the short term. If SHRP 2 R15(A) is not activated, it would advisable to develop a research problem statement for potential NCHRP funding.

  • Monitor the Florida Utilities Coordinating Committee's (FUCC) effort developing six utility coordination training modules for State, consultant, and utility personnel, and explore the possibility of adopting FUCC's training modules for nationwide use. Two modules are already being taught. Upon completion, the Florida DOT anticipates using the modules to train and certify all utility coordinators working on agency projects.

  • Work with the National Highway Institute (NHI) to either extend the scope of the"Highway/Utility Issues" course (FHWA-NHI-134006) to cover utility coordination issues in more detail or to develop a new course that covers topics beyond that course.

  • Examine the need to revamp right-of-way-related NHI courses (e.g.,"Advanced Relocation Under the Uniform Act" (FHWA-NHI-141030),"Appraisal for Federal-Aid Highway Programs" (FHWANHI- 141043), and"Appraisal Review for Federal- Aid Highway Programs" (FHWA-NHI-141044)) to ensure that they effectively address the training needs of right-of-way professionals.

  • Develop training and accreditation programs on selected right-of-way and utility topics through established university-based extension services nationwide. To facilitate the process, it would be advisable to develop a centralized list of courses and provide funding to a selected number of university-based extension services to develop and market the training modules.

  • Develop formal degree-seeking curricula on rightof- way topics. Following the Australian model, the first step could be to develop a 2- to 3-year associate's degree program. To facilitate the process, it may be possible to provide seed funding for developing the curricula to a selected number of nationally recognized institutions that offer associate's degrees. (A few institutions in the United States already provide associate's degrees in real estate appraisals. It may be advisable to capitalize on their experience and extend their scope of services to cover transportation right-of-way topics.)

    The second step could be to develop 4-year bachelor's degree programs. According to anecdotal information, consultants frequently hire graduates with a degree (e.g., in business) to do right-of-way-related work. While it is possible to provide on-the-job training to those individuals, the industry (and its clients) would benefit enormously if it could hire graduates with a degree in a right-of-way-related topic. Transportation agencies would also benefit because of the possibility to hire right-of-way agents who have 4-year college degrees and are more likely to grow internally to management levels. A 4-year degree in right-of-way would also increase the level and visibility of the right-of-way profession in the transportation industry.

  • Develop graduate-level programs (both master's degree and Ph.D.) in utility engineering that also enable upper-level undergraduate students to take utility-related electives. In recent years, subsurface utility engineering (SUE) has evolved into a recognized specialty in the civil engineering profession. However, the name of the specialty is sometimes controversial because transportation professionals frequently associate SUE with the inventory of utilities and the corresponding quality levels and fail to recognize that SUE also encompasses utility coordination and aboveground utilities.

    To enhance the visibility of the specialty, it would be advisable to use a more generic term such as "utility engineering," much like other recognized civil engineering specialties such as transportation engineering, geotechnical engineering, structural engineering, and hydraulic engineering.

    A graduate-degree program in utility engineering would enable students to develop expertise in a variety of topics, such as utility accommodation and utility relocation laws, regulations, and principles; utility coordination topics; construction management; relevant geotechnical topics; industry standards and specifications; project management; right-of-way topics; surveying; computer-aided design; database management; and GIS. To facilitate the process, it may be possible to provide seed funding for developing the curricula to a selected number of nationally recognized universities.

  • Develop a staff exchange program with selected counterpart transportation agencies abroad as a mechanism to expose staff members to alternative practices, which in the long term could benefit both the participating agencies and the individuals involved.

  • Develop and maintain a strategic relationship with Australian and Canadian transportation agencies. A common theme during the meetings in Australia and Canada was the mutual interest between the U.S. delegation and the host agencies in continuing the exchange of ideas after the scanning study. Several strategies were discussed to achieve this goal, including cross participation in significant state- and national-level organizations and conferences. In the case of Australia, those discussions have evolved into short-term activities and plans that include DTEI's participation at the 2009 AASHTO right-of-way and utilities conference in Oklahoma City, OK, and the potential participation of AASHTO and/or IRWA representatives at similar conferences in Australia. In the case of Canada, several mechanisms already foster communications between U.S. and Canadian officials (e.g., through AASHTO and IRWA). These mechanisms could be expanded to cover relevant right-of-way and utility-related issues of mutual interest.

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