Project managers are responsible for overseeing activities to ensure proper coordination of utilities during transportation, whether or not they complete the task or delegate the responsibility.
The Utility Accommodation and Coordination Manual (PDF) is the first resource for project managers, but the following checklists also offer a way to ensure that project managers complete all steps in the utility relocation process.
- Project manager utility certification (DOCX)
- Project manager checklist (RTF) - Use this checklist to ensure that you complete all the steps in the utility coordination process
- Permit on project information form (DOCX)
- Scope of services (DOC) - Include this template about utility accommodation and coordination requirements in any RFP for consultants
Is the utility coordination process required on all projects?
Yes, MnDOT utility coordination steps became effective for all MnDOT projects in fall 2006, and following them remains a requirement. The Utility Accommodation and Coordination Manual (PDF) defines the steps by project type.
What are the most significant impacts of the revisions to the MnDOT Utility Accommodation on Highway Right of Way Policy and utility coordination process?
Key changes for utility accommodation include a restructuring of the Utility Accommodation Section for increased ease of use, added definition of technical issues, such as blowout, and an emphasis on the close relationship between the accommodation guidance in the MnDOT Utility Accommodation on Highway Right of Way Policy and the permit. The manual now incorporates the Utility Accommodation Section, which lists the technical requirements for utility owners to meet and MnDOT project managers to evaluate. The utility coordination process also has been consolidated from 15 steps to 14 steps.
Are project manager duties impacted?
Generally, the roles and responsibilities of the project manager remain the same. In one change of note, the project manager is now responsible for requesting, receiving, and reviewing permit applications. The project manager sends the permit application, along with the set of project plans and the Request for Utility Relocation Plans Letter, to the utility owner in Step 5 of the utility coordination process. The project manager reviews all documents from the utility owner (including the permit application) in Step 9, consults with other functional areas if necessary, approves the permit (if acceptable), and then sends the District Permit Staff the complete package with any comments (see Step 9, VIII Permit Preparation in the Utility Accommodation and Coordination Manual (PDF) for additional detail).
Can we encourage joint trenching for more efficient use of right of way?
Yes, joint trenching offers many benefits, particularly in locations with limited right of way space. When utility owners submit permits and relocation plans, project managers and district permits staff may identify opportunities for joint trenching and approach the appropriate utility owners to determine the feasibility and implementation options.
What happens when utility owners are not responsive?
The MnDOT dispute resolution process (DOCX) outlines the steps to take. The goal of the process is to resolve issues between MnDOT and utility owners as early as possible in the process. It emphasizes the importance of following up on requests and documenting actions. At every step of the process, MnDOT project managers must document all actions that are taken to resolve the issue. If they don’t, it makes it much more difficult for MnDOT to resolve any potential legal concerns that may arise.
Do you have an idea for improving utility coordination or feedback on the MnDOT utility coordination process? Please share it with us.