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Viewing and Discussion Guide CCC: Making the Effort Works!

March 2002

On the topic of
Reducing Utility-Related Construction Delays

Distributed by
FHWA Office of Asset Management and Office of Program Administration

Prepared in cooperation with
AASHTO Highway Subcommittees on Construction and R/W & Utilities
Utility Delays in Construction Technical Panel Members

Video produced by
LTS Productions

For best results when using the video for staff training, management awareness or for information exchange, please take advantage of the enclosed:


This document and related video are disseminated under the sponsorship of the U.S. Department of Transportation in the interest of information exchange. The United States Government and other producers of this document and video assume no liability for their contents or use thereof. The contents of this document and video do not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation.

The United States Government does not endorse products or manufacturers. Trade and manufacturers' names appear in this document and video only because they are considered essential to the object of the document and video.


A study done by Penn State University for the AASHTO Highway Subcommittee on Construction(1) found that utility relocation is one of the main causes of delays and added expense to road construction projects. Lack of coordination, cooperation and communication between transportation agencies and utility companies form the root of the problem.

The video CCC: Making the Effort Works! is based on the research and the recommendations contained in AASHTO Utilities Guidelines and Best Practices(2). It is designed to inform transportation agencies and utility companies of actions they can take toward avoiding construction delays and reducing or eliminating unnecessary project costs, and to motivate them to work in partnership with each other toward this common goal.

The nineteen-minute video features extemporaneous comments from a variety of spokespersons in seven states that have developed and implemented innovative practices for reducing utility-related delays, illustrated by action footage and accompanied by music and narration. Spokespersons include:

  • DOT utility, design and construction engineers at both state and district levels who convey their views and experiences.
  • Engineers and coordinators representing local, state and regional utility companies who speak candidly about the challenges of utility relocation.

Together with representatives of FHWA and private engineering firms, the speakers convey a spirit of cooperation as they share successful strategies, practices and techniques.

Facilitator Tips

Schedule Enough Time: 45 minutes to one hour or more.

It will take about 5 minutes to get settled and started. The video runs approximately 19 minutes. Plan at least 20 minutes for discussion.

Viewing Set-Up Checklist:

  • Have a working VHS videocassette player (or DVD player) and TV/monitor.
  • Play a few minutes of the tape (or DVD disk):
    • Adjust monitor brightness, color and contrast controls if necessary.
    • Set volume so everyone can hear clearly from all parts of the room.
  • Remember to REWIND the tape to the beginning of the program (reset disk).
  • Arrange seats so everyone can see the monitor easily.
  • Prepare to shade windows and turn off lights if necessary to avoid glare.

Key Points

CCC: Making the Effort Works!

It is well known to highway engineers that uncoordinated utility relocation activities commonly cause costly delays. There are several things that can be done to alleviate this problem. The proper use of information obtained from programs like Subsurface Utility Engineering (SUE) avoids the need to relocate many utilities. When utility relocations cannot be avoided, early and frequent Coordination, Cooperation and Communication(CCC), together with the adoption of new technologies, processes and successful strategies, result in more timely and efficient relocation activities, with improved safety and quality in the utility relocation process.

What You Can Do

Encourage Coordination, Cooperation and Communication between/among: State Transportation Agencies Utility Companies Local Agencies Contractors Consultants

  • Practice CCC EARLY and OFTEN throughout the project:
  • Provide Long-Range Construction Schedules
  • Formalize Communication and Coordination Efforts
  • Avoid Conflicts by Designing Around Known Utilities
  • Encourage and Facilitate Cooperative Working Relationships
  • Hold Regular Meetings with Utility Companies in the Planning and Design Phases
  • Become Knowledgeable of Utility Relocation Processes and Challenges
  • Hold Regular Meetings with Utility Companies and Contractors during Construction
  • Encourage Utility companies to Make and Keep Commitments on Work Plans
  • Share Best Practices

Use Current Available Technology to the Greatest Extent Possible

  • Subsurface Utility Engineering
  • World Wide Web and the Internet
  • Electronic Transfer of Plans
  • Trenchless Technology
  • Information Sharing Through Various Training and Outreach Programs

Improve Contract, Internal Project Development and Training Processes

  • Stake and Acquire Sufficient Right-of-Way
  • Pay the Costs of Engineering the Utility Relocations
  • Inform Bidders of Concurrent Utility Relocation Work in Special Provisions
  • Accept Responsibility for Costs and Delays due to Late Plan Changes
  • Let Separate Contracts for Selective Advance Work when Feasible
  • Make Contractors Responsible for Selective Relocation Work
  • Support and Encourage Joint Use Programs
  • Sponsor and Conduct On-Going Training Programs for all
  • DOT Divisions and Managers, Consultants and Utility Personnel
  • Proactively Market Best Practices

Discussion Questions

The following questions and scenarios are designed to promote thought and discussion and encourage positive problem solving. Choose two or three that best reflect the needs of the viewers. Encourage people to work together and listen to one another as they decide how best to arrive at a solution.

  1. Identify a project you were involved with that experienced significant delays or increased costs due to utility relocation. What might have been done differently in the earliest stages of the project to avoid the problems encountered? In the design phase? In the pre-construction phase? In the construction phase?
  2. List unrealistic expectations or misperceptions that you believe utility companies have about transportation projects. [Utility viewers: List unrealistic expectations or misperceptions that you believe transportation agencies have about relocation projects.] How can you work to change unrealistic expectations and misperceptions? What can your agency/company do to improve knowledge and understanding of your process and procedures?
  3. Identify one or two changes that could be made in your agency's contract, internal project development or training processes that you think would be a positive step toward minimizing or avoiding utility relocation-related delays. Explore what it would take and whose responsibility it would be to implement these changes.
  4. While DOT personnel are properly focused on maintenance of traffic and the safety of the traveling public, to what extent are they aware of and consider the impact of utility service disruption on customers? The safety of utility workers on relocation projects? Examine why an electric company may want to avoid working at night on major electric transmission facilities. Examine why a telecommunications provider may prefer to work overnight splicing cable linking to cell towers. How can you work together to reduce traffic delays, minimize service disruptions and provide a safe environment for all?
  5. Utility companies may be reluctant to begin design and engineering on a relocation project until they have received substantially complete plans. What factors may influence their reluctance? Consider availability of human and financial resources, acquisition of right of way, the impact of late plan changes, past experience with the DOT shelving a project for lack of funding. What might the DOT be able to do to encourage and facilitate earlier utility engineering?
  6. What impact is there to utility relocation work if the contractor decides to prosecute the construction work differently than the way the utility companies and perhaps the DOT assumed it would be done? For example, the utility companies begin their relocation at the north end of the project; then the contractor decides to begin at the south end. What practices can the DOT implement to avoid such scenarios?
  7. Discuss whether there are any statutory barriers to implementing desirable changes in how agencies and utility companies interact (such as prohibitions on the DOT acquiring right-of-way for utility companies; prohibitions on the DOT accepting fiber optic or other resources from a utility company in exchange for right-of-way access). Whose responsibility is it to suggest and promote legislative changes?
  8. Identify the various divisions within a state transportation agency, within a utility company, and/or within local governmental agencies that have some involvement with utility relocation/road construction projects. What can be done to encourage internal divisions to better communicate, coordinate and cooperate on projects?
  9. Explore ways in which your agency/company might make better use of technology to avoid or minimize utility relocation-related delays. What barriers exist to implementing these ideas, and how might they be overcome?
  10. If your agency/company has tried one or more of the practices addressed in the video but without success; examine why the effort did not succeed and whether other changes might need to be made to achieve success with the practice.
  11. Consider the up-front costs of recommendations such as subsurface utility engineering, paying for utility companies' preliminary engineering costs, paying utility companies to do advance selective clearing, paying contractors to relocate water and sewer utilities. What other pay items might be reduced as a result of spending the money up front for these recommendations?
  12. What advantages might there be if larger utility companies centralized their planning process? That is, provided one central location for the DOT to send plans to, staffed with engineers dedicated solely to DOT projects? Discuss how such a recommendation might be made to utility companies, and what related action might be taken by the DOT to help implement and support it.
  13. Discuss the elements of a good working relationship, and how a partnership approach can benefit each party. Identify a situation in which the DOT might be able to accommodate a special need or request of the utility company; and how the favor might be returned by the utility company.
  14. Consider how you would react to receiving a set of telephone wiring diagrams and being expected to install a telephone system. Apply the same consideration to utility company personnel who are highly qualified in their discipline, but are not familiar with reading and understanding highway plans. What advantage would there be to the DOT to hold training sessions for utility company personnel on how to read road construction plans?

Additional Resources

Avoiding Delays During the Construction Phase of Highway Projects NCHRP Report 20-24(12), report on study by Penn State University

Utilities Utilities Guidelines and Best Practices AASHTO Highway Subcommittee on Right of Way and Utilities

Highway/Utility Guide, June 1993, FHWA-SA-93-049, provides comprehensive, guidance on highway/utility issues, including planning and coordination, design, permits, information management and mapping, notification procedures, legal matters, safety, construction, maintenance, reimbursement, and others.

Cost Savings on Highway Projects Utilizing Subsurface Utility Engineering, Report on study by Purdue University, Publication No. FHWA-IF-00-014. Executive summary is available on the Web at: https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/programadmin/pus.cfm

Program Guide: Utility Adjustments and Accommodation on Federal-Aid Highway Projects, Sixth Edition January 2003, FHWA-IF-03-014. This publication expands the Federal utility regulations contained in 23 CFR 645 and provides non-regulatory guidance for using Federal-aid highway funds for the relocation and adjustment of utility facilities, and for accommodating utility facilities on highway right-of-way. Available on the Web at: https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/reports/utilguid/

Standard Guidelines for the Collection and Depiction of Existing Subsurface Utility Data on Design and Construction Documents, American Society of Civil Engineers https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/programadmin/asce.cfm

Video:Subsurface Utility Engineering: A Proven Solution For more on SUE, see https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/programadmin/sueindex.cfm

For a list of Office of Program Administration, Utilities Program resources and related links: https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/programadmin/utility.cfm

Highway/Utility Issues, NHI Course No. 134006
Contact: National Highway Institute
Arlington, VA 22203 Phone (703) 235-0500

Wisconsin Statute Sec. 84.063, Administrative Rule Trans 220, Guide to Utility Coordination,
Contact: Ernest J Peterson, P.E., Utility/Access Management Engineer
Wisconsin Dept. of Transportation, Bureau of Highway Development
Phone (608) 266-3589 E-mail: ernest.peterson@dot.state.wi.us

1,2. See Additional Resources, page 7

Updated: 06/27/2017
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