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Manual for Controlling and Reducing the Frequency of Pavement Utility Cuts

Cover Page


This document is disseminated under the sponsorship of the Department of Transportation in the interest of information exchange. The United States Government assumes no liability for its contents or use thereof.

The contents of this report reflect the views of the authors, who are responsible for the accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official policy of the Department of Transportation.

This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation.

The United States Government does not endorse products or manufacturers. Trade or manufacturers' names appear herein only because they are considered essential to the objective of this manual.

Technical Report Documentation Page

1. Report No.


2. Government Accession No.

3. Recipient's Catalog No.

4. Title and Subtitle

Manual for Controlling and Reducing the Frequency of Pavement Utility Cuts

5. Report Date

6. Performing Organization Code

7. Author(s)

W. James Wilde, Carolyn A. Grant, and Patricia K. Nelson

8. Performing Organization Report No.

9. Performing Organization Name and Address

The Transtec Group, Inc.

1012 East 38 ½ Street

Austin, TX 78751

10. Work Unit No.

11. Contract or Grant No.


12. Sponsoring Agency Name and Address

Office of Program Administration

Federal Highway Administration

400 Seventh St., S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20590

13. Type of Report and Period Covered


14. Sponsoring Agency Code

15. Supplementary Notes

Contracting Officer's Technical Representative: C. Paul Scott, HIPA-20

16. Abstract

At an alarming rate, pavement utility cuts are becoming a major problem in the pavement infrastructure of the United States. Not only is the number of overall utility customers increasing with the growing US population, new and widely variable types of utilities are being developed constantly. In the first half of the twentieth century, the major utilities included water, wastewater, electricity, telephone and natural gas. By the end of the twentieth century, the volume and variety of utilities have increased dramatically, including cable television, an unprecedented increase in telephone customers, fiber optics, internet-related technology and cabling, and others.

This report is intended as a manual to provide basic information regarding methods that government agencies can use to reduce, or at least to control, street cuts and minimize damage to public infrastructure due to the ever-increasing activity of new and existing utility companies. This report also describes the problems associated with extensive pavement utility cuts, and recommends potential solutions based on the policies and technologies discussed in the manual. Such recommendations include the implementation of incentive- fee- and requirements-based policies, and the promotion and advancement of trenchless technology applications. Recommendations in this manual can be used by cities, states, and other local governmental agencies to reduce or control the frequency of pavement utility cuts in the agency's pavements.

17. Key Words

utility cut, pavement deterioration, trenchless technology, public utilities, franchise fee, right of way management policy, permit fees, shared resources

18. Distribution Statement

No Restrictions. This document is available to the public through the National Technical Information Service; Springfield, Virginia 22161

19. Security Classif. (of this report)


20. Security Classif. (of this page)


21. No. of Pages


22. Price

Form DOT F 1700.7 (8-72) Reproduction of completed page authorized


This manual is intended to provide guidance and support for state and local rights-of-way (ROW) and public works agencies in developing policies and in promoting technologies for controlling or reducing the frequency of utility cuts in pavement infrastructure. The primary focus of this manual is the potential for policies that may be implemented and technologies that may be encouraged by individual agencies to control and reduce the frequency of utility cuts in pavements. Current and potential uses of trenchless technology are discussed to provide a basic technical background of, and to inform the users of this manual about, methods available to help reduce the frequency of pavement utility cuts.

The primary audience of this manual is the state and local utilities and ROW manager charged with the responsibility of protecting and regulating an agency's rights-of-way. With such a substantial responsibility, mixed with constrained resources yet ever-increasing demands from utility providers, state and local highway agencies must find ways to manage and control access to the ROW. By so doing, they attempt to preserve the functional life of ROW assets and minimize the life-cycle cost of the facilities.

This manual is organized into five chapters. The first two chapters give a general background of the problems that have arisen throughout the United States and preview potential solutions to these problems. Chapter 1 describes the policies that may be implemented by various local and state agencies to control the frequency of pavement utility cuts. Chapter 4 discusses the technology available for reducing the frequency of these cuts by encouraging trenchless technologies, where possible, and in reducing the impact to existing facilities (utilities or public assets) when using either open-trench or trenchless methods. Section 4.5 presents several innovations that may be used in the near future to reduce the requirements for open-trenching methods of utility construction and maintenance even further. Chapter 5 highlights recommended policies and practices for controlling and reducing the frequency of utility cuts in highways and streets throughout the Nation.

SI (Modern Metric) Conversion Factors

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Updated: 04/19/2018
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000