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

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


<< Previous Contents Next >>

Avoiding Utility Relocations

I. Introduction

The transportation and utility networks of the United States cross all social, political, and geographical boundaries to link citizens to essential services. Although these networks are operated independently, owners share the common goals of serving the population in the most economical manner, providing improved services with the lowest financial and functional impacts. In pursuit of these goals, networks have evolved into common alignments in an effort to traverse the distance between users and suppliers in the most direct path.

Conflict occurs when network owners – State and municipal transportation departments and utility service providers – compete for limited space within existing alignments. Frequently, they construct, alter, repair, or replace facilities without regard to the impact to the others’ facilities, operations, and budgets. Regardless of which network incurs the initial cost of resolving these conflicts, it is the taxpayer or the ratepayer, who are one and the same, who ultimately bears the financial burden.

Conflicts between the utility facilities, both above and below ground, and the alignment, geometry, grade, and drainage of new and expanding highways are now all too frequent. This chronic problem makes it imperative to identify potential conflicts, and incorporate the most efficient and cost-effective accommodation possible into the highway design.

This manual describes the problems common to highway designers and utility owners, the tools available to locate utilities, and the mitigation measures that have been implemented to avoid relocation. It describes successful processes being used in the planning, design, and construction phases of highway projects that support coordination and reduce conflict among owners. We hope that it encourages transportation professionals to look for innovative designs and construction methods that avoid or minimize a utility conflict.

<< Previous Contents Next >>
Updated: 06/27/2017
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000