Guideline for the Coordination of Utility Relocations on PPP Projects (2021)

This is our last in the series of looking at TAC-PUMS publications. It may be the last, but it is also the most anticipated. Completed in late 2020, we are anticipating publication any day now by TAC. The goal is to have it as a free download from the TAC website.

It is written in the same manor as the original Guideline for Design-Bid-Build projects, with a FLOW Chart and written component. But for anyone who has worked on PPP’s knows, they are unique and have their own sets of rules and challenges.

The PPP guideline looks at all aspects of the project from Planning Phase to RFP Documentation Preparation Phase to In-Market Design Phase to Project Implementation Phase to Post Construction Phase.

If you are a government agency looking to procure a PPP project, or currently procuring a PPP this is a must-read document.   If you are a consultant or contractor working on a PPP this will help you layout your Utility Strategy for the whole job.

If you are interested in getting a copy of the new PPP Guideline it will soon be available on the TAC website, however in the meantime if you want to learn more you can e-mail me at

National Survey for Utility Agreements (2020)

Completed in 2020, this report is not yet even published by TAC but it does contain some great information. It was completed by a task force within the TAC PUMS committee – led by Jean-Francois Demers (MTQ), and with help from Pierre Gagnon (MTQ), Barry Poon (Calgary) and Jevito Marchese (Mississauga).

The purpose of the task force was to conduct a survey for Highway ROW owners in order to compare the practices across Canada in the field of Public Utility Management. Surveys were sent to 59 organizations, but only 7 took the time to fill them out. Despite low numbers, there is still some great insights that can be found in the data.

Some interesting facts from the survey

  • 43% have a website for Utilities to submit and obtain their permits online.
  • 71% don’t apply penalties when work done by Utilities is not in accordance with permits.
  • 57% assume part of the costs of utility relocations that take place in their highway ROW.
  • 43% take more than 3 weeks to analyze permit applications.

Respondents answered a total of 51 questions for the survey. The task force did a great job of summarizing the data into a concise presentation. If you are interested in getting a copy of the presentation it will soon be available on the TAC website, however in the meantime you can e-mail me at

Guidelines for the Coordination of Utility Relocations (2016)

Published in 2016, this guideline has been used by several Municipalities and Government agencies to help produce or update their own Utility Coordination Guidelines and that is exactly what it was meant to do!!!

The guideline is written from the perspective of a roadway owner completing a Design-Bid-Build project. It is focused on DBB, however it can be used for a variety of different projects, far beyond just roadways.

The guideline is very neatly laid out with both a written component and a flow chart. The flow chart provides a simplevisual summary of all the different phases of a project (Planning, Design, Construction and Post Construction) and what each stakeholder should be responsible for at each of one of the phases.

The written component of the guideline provides insights into the roles of each of the stakeholder on a project – Owner/Road Authority, Utility Coordinator, Designer, Utility Agencies, Other Authorities. It provides more of details that cannot be covered in the simple flow chart, but at the same time, relates back to the flow chart by connecting with each of the aspects within it.

This guideline is a must read for any engineer / designer that works on projects that are impacted by Utilities. Whether you work on the owner’s side, consultants side, Utilities side or Contractors side there is a ton of great material to learn.

If you want to download a FREE copy from the TAC website you can click here.

A Guide for the Accommodation of Utilities within Freeway Rights-of-Way (2011)

This guide is intended to help road authorities establish and administer guidelines for accommodating Utilities with the Freeway Right-of-Way. There guide is applicable for Canada although it is a very good reference to compare with other similar guidelines such as the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) – A Guide for Accommodating Utilities within Highway Right-of-Way and the US Federal Highway Authority (FHWA) – Highway Utility Guide.

The guide provides a clear distinction between how to handle existing and new facilities. For new facilities, it states that new utilities should not be installed longitudinally within the right-of-way unless there are exceptional circumstances. Some examples of exceptional circumstances would include where alternatives are not available or are cost prohibitive, and when running it outside the ROW would result in a loss of productive agriculture land.   In all scenarios it cannot interfere with the safety or function of the freeway.

At locations where utilities must cross the freeway it is recommended that they be done perpendicular to the freeway. Ideally this is done at the same location as a crossing road so that it can be serviced from the roadway and not the freeway. The guide provides provisions for both Aerial and Underground crossings.

In the next guidelines we will cover – “Guidelines for Underground Utility Installations Crossing Highway Rights-of-Way” – there are more detailed specs about the taking it from a operating principal to providing technical specifications.

If you want to download a FREE copy from the TAC website you can click here.

Management of Utilities in and adjacent to the Public Right-of-Way: Survey of Practices

This was the first publication from the Transportation Association of Canada’s – Public Utilities Management Subcommittee (PUMS). The major components were a review of current practices across Canada and around the world, and a Survey of Ministries of Transportation and Municipalities to get a sense for how they deal with Utilities.

Although the number of respondents was limited there was some great feedback obtained. One of the key findings was the consensus on the major concerns that each respondent had. Some of the top issues identified in the study were:

  • Delay of road construction due to relocations
  • Quality and timeliness of as-built drawings
  • Losses due to utilities being installed in newly constructed roads
  • The ability of utility companies to identify the exact location of their facilities

Sound familiar?????

The study even touches on the sensitive topic of cost allocations. This is always an interesting aspect to look at and see how it is handled in different areas. Some of the specific comments in the document are:

  • “We do require ‘total value’ cost estimates. In very rare cases where disputes occur we may ask for a detailed cost estimate.” (Saskatchewan Highways and Infrastructure)
  • “The utility companies are not providing MTO with enough information.” (Ministry of Transportation Ontario)
  • “Since relocations are typically paid for under the Act, we ask for a detailed cost estimate ahead of time so we can budget appropriately.” (City of Toronto)

One of the interesting things about this document is the ability to see how far the industry has come since it was published back in 2008. The use of Subsurface Utility Engineering, is much more common place, and the Utility Coordination Guidelines published by the committee as helping to streamline how municipalities and government agencies deal with Utilities and therefore improve the overall process.

Bottom line is that although this document is somewhat dated, there is some great information in there that could be of benefit to anyone working for a municipality of government agency that wants a look into what others are doing, or more correctly were doing back in 2008. You can use it as a measuring stick to see how you stack up.

If you want to download a FREE copy from the TAC website you can click here.


A Guide to key Utility Risk Management Standards & Guidelines

Blog 1 - GuidetoUtilityRiskManagement

One critical aspect of managing Utility Risk on projects is to have a set processes or standards to follow. The best way to start and develop these is to look at existing standards and best practices that have been developed by other users and practitioners from reputable industry focused groups like the Utility Engineering and Survey Institute, Transportation Association of Canada – Public Utilities Management Subcommittee, Right of Way Management Committee and Transportation Research Board. Over the next coming weeks and months, we at 4Sight will help to summarize some of the key standards and guidelines and breakdown a practical user guide to effectively using them on your project(s). These summaries will aim to be short and sweet but hit all the key things that you need to know to use them effectively.

Some of the documents that will be covered include:

  • All six TAC Guidelines published by the Public Utilities Management Subcommittee.
  • ASCE 38 Standard, published by the Utility Engineering and Survey Institute
  • CSA S250 – Mapping of Underground Utility Infrastructure
  • Soon to be published ASCE “Utility As-Built Guideline”

If you have any documents that you think we should include please send a comment and we can add it to the list.

First up, starting next week will be coverage of the guidelines published by the TAC - Public Utilities Management Subcommittee.

  • 2008 - Management of Utilities in and Adjacent to Public Right-of-Way: Survey of Best Practices
  • 2011 – A Guide for the Accommodation of Utilities Within Freeway Rights-of-Way
  • 2013 – Guidelines for Underground Utility Installations Crossing Highway Rights-of-Way
  • 2016 – Guidelines for the Coordination of Utility Relocations
  • 2020 – Utility Agreements: Survey of Best Practices
  • 2021 – Guidelines for the Coordination of Utility Relocations on PPP Projects.

Up first starting next week will be the 2008 Survey of Best Practices. This is an interesting overview of practices across Canada and around the world. It is a great way to see how thing stack up in your jurisdiction!