U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
202-366-4000


Skip to content U.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Highway AdministrationU.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Highway Administration

Design

The Proper Use of SUE

  • The highway agency and SUE provider enter into a contract for professional engineering services.
  • For planning purposes, the highway agency authorizes the SUE provider to:
    • Review the proposed highway project with the highway planners.
    • Obtain existing records from utility owners.
    • Plot utility information on plan sheets using utility records (QL-D information) and visual indications (QL-C information).
  • For preliminary design purposes, the highway agency authorizes the provider to:
    • Review established project limits with the highway designers.
    • Apply applicable surface geophysical techniques to determine the existence and horizontal position of underground utilities within the project limits (QL-B information).
    • Survey QL-B information to project control and transfer it into the highway agency's CADD system or onto its preliminary plans.
    • Correlate existing utility records with the QL-B information and resolve any discrepancies.
    • Professionally seal the work product.
  • At this point decisions can be made on where to place storm drainage systems, footers, foundations, and other design features in order to avoid conflicts with existing utilities. Slight adjustments in the design can eliminate many utility relocations and enhance safety by moving excavation work away from utilities.
  • For final design purposes, the highway agency authorizes the provider to:
    • Review the project with the highway designers to select locations for test holes at certain critical points where the highway design and underground utilities appear to conflict, or where additional utility information is desired.
    • Use nondestructive digging equipment (such as vacuum excavation) at critical points along a subsurface utility's path to determine the precise horizontal and vertical position of buried utilities (QL-A information). This involves physically uncovering the utility using a small hole measuring about 20 x 20 cm at the top, thus allowing the utility to be accurately surveyed (top and bottom), and providing information on its type, size, material, and condition.
    • Survey QL-A information to project control and transfer it into the highway agency's CADD system or onto its final plans.
    • Resolve discrepancies with any previous information shown on the plans.
    • Professionally seal the complete work product.
  • The designer now knows where the critical utilities are positioned in three dimensions and can make small adjustments in design elevations, horizontal locations, or structure types and avoid the need to relocate utilities or excavate near them.
  • For construction purposes, the highway agency authorizes the provider to:
    • Provide and review all information with bidders at the prebid meeting.
    • Provide QL-A and QL-B information to utility owners for their use relocating utilities.
    • Provide QL-A and QL-B information to utility owners and/or one-call centers for their use in marking facilities prior to excavation.
Updated: 10/07/2014
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000