Local agencies can wear many hats when it comes to utility coordination. In some cases, local agencies are the owners of public utilities, and, as such, they work with MnDOT on highway transportation projects in the same way as other utility owners. In other cases, they may collaborate with MnDOT on transportation projects, or local agency projects may impact the MnDOT trunk highway right of way.
Both MnDOT and local agencies share a goal of delivering projects on schedule and within budget, and effective utility coordination can play an important role in reaching these goals. MnDOT encourages local agencies to consider applying the MnDOT utility coordination process as a way to ensure that they are meeting statutory requirements and improving utility coordination efforts.
Cooperative construction projects involve both MnDOT and local agencies. When MnDOT participates in a cooperative construction project with local agencies as the lead, local agencies are required to complete and submit the MnDOT Utility Certification Form. In certain circumstances, they also may be required to complete the form for local projects that require MnDOT permits. In addition, when MnDOT contracts with local agencies to complete transportation projects, MnDOT includes a requirement to follow the MnDOT utility coordination process in its contract scope of services.
The Federal Highway Administration requires that each state develop a utility accommodation policy to receive federal dollars for transportation projects.
According to its 23 Code of Federal Regulations, 645.209(g), the FHWA also requires local agencies on projects that receive federal-aid funds to either manage accommodation of utilities providing a degree of protection comparable to MnDOT Utility Accommodation on Highway Right of Way Policy or use the MnDOT Utility Accommodation on Highway Right of Way Policy.
23 Code of Federal Regulations, 645.209(g) reads as follows:
“(g) Projects where state lacks authority.
On Federal-aid highway projects where the State transportation department does not have legal authority to regulate highway use by utilities and private lines, the State transportation department must enter into formal agreements with those local officials who have such authority. The agreements must provide for a degree of protection to the highway at least equal to the protection provided by the State transportation department's utility accommodation policy approved under the provisions of § 645.215(b) of this part. The project agreement between the State transportation department and the FHWA on all such Federal-aid highway projects shall contain a special provision incorporating the formal agreements with the responsible local officials.”
The MnDOT Utility Accommodation on Highway Right of Way Policy consists of both a policy document and a Utility Accommodation Section of the MnDOT Utility Accommodation and Coordination Manual (PDF). Permit approval depends on meeting the technical guidance that is contained in the Utility Accommodation Section.
The following tools apply to cooperative projects with MnDOT or in special cases when you need a permit for a project that impacts MnDOT trunk highway right of way.
- Technical Memorandum (PDF) - Provides guidance in the application of the utility coordination process and the utility accommodation policy and defines the requirements for use of the utility coordination process.
- Attachment A: Utility Certification Form (PDF) - Documents compliance to the statues that govern utility identification, coordination, and depiction in the state.
- Attachment B: Local Agency Project Manager Checklist (PDF) - Use this checklist to ensure that you complete all steps in the utility relocation process.
For public utility owners
When you work with MnDOT on projects in the role of a public utility, you may find the following tools helpful.
- Utility Owner Checklist (RTF) - Use this checklist to ensure that you complete all steps in the utility relocation process.
- Traffic Control Manual (PDF) - Contains information that utility owners may find helpful when planning utility relocations.
- Utility Agreement Estimate Template (XLSX) - Use this when providing cost estimates for utility relocations.
- Utility Agreement Invoice Template (XLSX) - Complete and submit this form as part of any invoice for payment under a utility agreement.
What are the benefits of the utility coordination process for local agencies?
The emphasis on early coordination can help utility owners by reducing the overall number of utility relocations. The utility owner is able to better plan and budget the time and resources that are required for utility relocations, and increased collaboration and communication improve the efficiency of utility relocations. MnDOT bases its utility coordination process on national best practices for utility coordination, and, as a result, local agencies may find it beneficial to consider use of the process on local agency-only projects that do not impact trunk highway right of way.
What is new in the Technical Memorandum?
The Tech Memo (PDF) now incorporates information about accommodation requirements of the FHWA.
How do local agencies know when to submit a Utility Certification Form?
When MnDOT participates in the construction cost of a cooperative construction project, local agencies are required to complete and submit the MnDOT Utility Certification Form (PDF). When a project impacts trunk highway right of way without trunk highway funding, MnDOT requires completion and submission of the MnDOT Certification Form in the following instances:
- Local projects that require a level-one or level-two geometric layout for work on trunk highway right of way.
- Layout types (DOCX) offers a description of level-one, level-two, and level-three layouts types
- On a case-by-case basis in situations that may include, for example, obtaining new trunk highway right of way, relocating city utilities within the trunk highway right of way, or planning for major excavations within the trunk highway right of way.
Do you have an idea for improving utility coordination or feedback on the MnDOT utility coordination process? Please share it with us.