Post-45 – Utility Coordination (Part 3)

[This is the third LinkedIn Post on the early History of Utility Coordination, as provided by SUE firms for State DOTs and other owners of highway projects. Jim Anspach finishes up his history in this post]

I asked Jim a question: Is Utility Coordination an integral part of SUE, or is SUE an integral part of Utility Coordination? His response is as follows:

“By the mid-1990s, the answer to this question was another question. Does it matter?  After 30+ years of practice, I think the answer is trending towards “no.” They both enhance each other. Because So-Deep’s idea and practice of SUE was all encompassing, ASCE defined SUE in 1998 as a practice of engineering that manages the risks associated with subsurface utilities via: utility mapping at appropriate quality levels, utility coordination, utility relocation design and coordination, utility condition assessment, communication of utility data to concerned parties, utility relocation cost estimates, implementation of utility accommodation policies, and utility design.” 

Perhaps a fairly complete example of this concept was demonstrated in the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Project (WWB), reconstruction of which commenced in the mid-1990s. The WWB used all the elements of SUE as defined above and was the subject of a session at the 2003 National Highway Utility Conference. There were 20 or more utility owners, 3 railroads, 20 permit agencies, and involved 270,00 feet of underground and 2,650,000 feet of overhead utilities with wetlands, geotechnical ground improvements, stream crossings, condition assessments of large sewer outfalls, resulting in $35,000,000 of utility relocations and adjustments (on the Virginia side). Estimates were that the investigative portion of SUE saved $35,000,000 in unnecessary relocation costs, a stunning ROI that was really made possible by following the process of early utility investigation at an attempt to achieve QLB and incorporating that data seamlessly into project design for avoidance and minimization of adjustments.”

“By the early 2000s, these successes were becoming noticed by an increasing number of State DOTs, FHWA, and design consultants and there was the realization that consultants could indeed step in the shoes of both the project owner and the utility owner in all aspects other than legal agreements’ signatures.”

This is how it started. Thanks to Jim Anspach for sharing. Beginning next week, we will take a look at how some of the other SUE firms got into the Utility Coordination business.