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Utility Engineering And Coordination

HKP 15 Utility Engineering And Coordination

Project Flowchart for this Article

Project Flowchart Article 15

1. Utility Funds Final Design Stage Estimate

The Utility Supervisor develops estimates for U Phase Funding after the PM submits a request. U Phase estimates should include the costs of: 

    • All utility relocations, 
    • Utility relocation engineering, 
    • Inspection, 
    • Administration, 
    • KYTC utility staff coordination, and 
    • Railroad coordination costs when appropriate. 

U Phase estimates focus on the statutorily reimbursable utility relocation. The Utility and Rails Guidance Manual offers a full list of applicable regulations (see UR-200). Estimates are prepared at each project milestone, and their accuracy improves as new details become available. Estimates are assigned a class value from A to E. Class A estimates are the most detailed and accurate. Generally, the Final Design Stage Estimate is Class B or C. Refer to the Utilities and Rails Guidance Manual for descriptions of each estimate class (UR-602). 

All U Phase estimates and funding requests are generated, recorded, and submitted for funding through the Kentucky Utility and Rail Tracking System (KURTS). KURTS contains actively updated U Phase line items for each of the Cabinet’s 12 Districts. 

2. Utility Funding Authorization

Milestone with Federal Approval

Decisions about U Phase funding authorization are made based on the Final Stage Estimate. As such, this estimate must be prepared using the best available information. KURTS houses templates and contains helpful information for preparing of funding requests. 

Red Flag

U Phase funding may be used to reimburse relocation work in road contracts. If executing the relocation agreement with U Phase funding will delay closure of the U Phase for a long period (e.g., if the roadwork will not occur for years), it may be best to use C Phase funding to finance utility relocation work found in the road contract. Doing so prevents two funding phases from being tied up.

Any expenditures incurred by a utility owner prior to authorization of the appropriate funds will be ineligible for reimbursement.

U Phase funding authorization may only take place after environmental clearance occurs. If utility engineering or studies are needed before utility phase funding is available, design phase funding may be used with PM approval.

3. Joint Utility Meeting

The Joint Utility Information Meeting (JUM) is the first official meeting between potentially affected utility companies and District utility staff. All potentially affected utility companies are invited to the JUM. These companies are recorded on the project utility contact list found in KURTS. The PM and other KYTC staff attend as well. Decisions about which Cabinet staff to invite are made based on project-specific issues that require subject-matter expertise. If the potentially affected utility companies have not received the most updated versions of the highway plans, KYTC will distribute these at the meeting (electronic and/or hard copies).

The JUM provides an opportunity to:

  • Validate the location of the existing facilities shown on the plans
  • Identify where facilities conflict with the highway design
  • Define possible relocations to address conflicts
  • Examine potential resolutions with all involved utility companies to identify and resolve conflicts between their relocation plans 
  • Plan utility design and relocation schedules
  • Identify reimbursable and non-reimbursable utility work
  • Consider the highway project schedule (including anticipated letting date)
  • Look for minor highway redesign measures that could minimize utility relocations
  • Look for utility data needs that can be easily addressed with SUE or surveying
  • Discuss appropriate erosion prevention and sediment control measures
  • Discuss KYTC permitting and traffic control requirements
  • Consider utility relocation work that should or can be included in the roadway construction bid package

Red Flag

For complex projects, a representative from the highway design consultant may need to attend the JUM. Likewise, the highway designer may need to attend the JUM to help avoid, minimize, or accommodate utilities in the project corridor. The design consultant may also need to sit in to provide utility engineering and coordination.

 Side Note

Document the JUM through meeting minutes. Have all attendees sign a sign-in sheet. The District Utility Supervisor ensures that utility companies not able to attend the JUM receive meeting materials. Companies that do not attend are included on the project utility contact list in KURTS. A company is only removed if utility staff confirm their facilities are unaffected by the project.

4. Meet With Affected Utility Owner (If Required)

If during the active U Phase KYTC identifies additional utility facilities that will be impacted by a project, coordination with the affected utility companies begins immediately. After the Cabinet sends the project authorization letter and project plans to a utility company, KYTC staff will hold a one-on-one meeting with company representatives.

5. Engineering Agreements and Authorizations


Once U Phase funds are authorized for the appropriate project phase and KYTC staff identify potentially affected utility facilities, KYTC issues project authorization letters. Authorization letters – which are also called state letters – authorize utility companies to begin facility relocation design, whether this is done by in-house staff engineers or by procuring a consultant through an engineering services contract (ESC). The Cabinet must review and approve of an ESC’s terms. The Utility and Rails Guidance Manual provides additional information about ESCs (see UR-900).

Relocation agreements between KYTC and the utility company may include any reimbursable engineering work needed to execute facility relocation. In some circumstances, two agreements are established: one for facility relocation design and one for relocation construction. If utility engineering is needed before U Phase funding is available, the PM can approve the use of D Phase funding. When this occurs, KYTC may issue a design-only state letter authorizing the utility company to perform engineering and execute a design-only agreement with the reviewed documentation provided. An agreement for relocation construction may follow once U Phase funding is available.

Red Flag

Before project authorization letters are sent, consultations with utility companies are non-reimbursable. Therefore, any consultation should be undertaken with discretion. KYTC must inform utility companies about this reimbursement limitation, and utility companies must consent to this arrangement before meeting.

The Cabinet has no interest in approving engineering services for non-compensable utility relocations, whether in-house or via an ESC. KYTC approval and authorization of engineering services (company personnel or consultant) is applicable only to utility companies authorized to receive compensation for their engineering and relocation costs.

6. Utility Relocation Designs

The Cabinet’s Utilities staff reviews facility relocation designs submitted by utility companies to verify the proposed relocation work is both necessary and appropriate as well as physically and fiscally viable. Whether plans are developed by in-house engineers or a utility design consultant through an ESC, a utility company’s relocation design plans must specify:

    • Facilities that will be removed;
    • Materials slated for installation;
    • Materials that will be transferred from within the project to other utility facilities;
    • Items that will remain in place;
    • Existing sizes, lengths, and types of underground facilities that will be abandoned;
    • Pertinent specifications and standard drawings;
    • Required traffic control measures;
    • Total project cost estimate;
    • The estimate should be itemized and separated into engineering, administrative, and construction costs;
    • Estimates are not required of non-compensable utility companies;
    • Reasonable schedule
    • Reasonable schedule of consecutive days for completing the relocation;
    • KYTC’s requested level of cost participation in the form of a percentage compensable, with justification;
    • If facilities’ functional capacity will be increased or more expensive materials are planned for use, this shall be clearly stated;
    • Special requests related to project development or execution;
    • For facilities in the public ROW, adherence to Accommodation Policies listed in the KYTC Permits Manual.

A utility company can submit relocation plans in KURTS or mail a hard copy to KYTC. However, KURTS is preferred and typically faster.

Red Flag

Compensable and non-compensable utility relocation plans have significantly different requirements. PMs should consult the Utilities and Rails Guidance Manual (UR-1100) and utilities staff for details.

All traffic control must comply with the MUTCD and the Department of Highways’ Standard Drawings TSC series.

7. Assess Easements Needs/Acquisitions

Utilities staff and the PM review easement needs proposed by the utility company in their relocation plans. ROW and easements needed to complete a relocation are acquired by KYTC or the utility company before relocation commences.

If a utility company must relocate a facility outside of its existing permanent easement or if it cannot be relocated in the new ROW, the Cabinet may obtain permanent easements on behalf of the utility. Under these circumstances, an easement agreement is executed, giving KYTC the authority to acquire a permanent easement in which the utility company may relocate its facilities. Processing of easement acquisition agreements is discussed in the Utility and Rails Guidance Manual (UR-1104-8). The Right of Way Guidance Manual details KYTC policy and procedure for ROW acquisitions and the transfer of easements to utility companies.

Red Flag

It is imperative that KYTC and the utility company quickly identify ROW and easement needs for utility relocation. The project may benefit if an easement agreement authorizes KYTC to acquire a replacement easement on behalf of the impacted utility company, especially if the Cabinet is obtaining ROW for highway construction from the same parcel.

8. Utility Relocation Review and Coordination

KYTC Utilities staff review proposed relocation plans to ensure the proposed work is necessary and eliminates conflicts between utility facilities and highway construction. Materials proposed for use in the relocation plans are reviewed to ensure they are consistent with the materials being replaced as well as utility company policy. For relocations in KYTC’s ROW, plans are reviewed to ensure the design complies with the Cabinet’s accommodation policy, which is defined in the KYTC Permits Manual. Any betterment of the facilities is noted and quantified.

9. Utility Relocation Estimates (If Required)

A Class A estimate is the most accurate type of estimate. Relocation agreements with utility companies are prepared based upon this estimate. The cost of utility relocations varies by region. KYTC relies heavily on district utilities staff to maintain utility construction cost data and to vet cost estimates.

10. Utility Relocation Agreements and Authorizations


Two methods are available to perform reimbursable utility relocations. When an impacted utility is eligible to be reimbursed for relocating its facilities, it can formalize a written agreement with KYTC that stipulates: 1) the facility relocation work will be included in the Cabinet’s construction contract, or 2) the facilities which conflict with highway construction and will be removed and relocated independently of the KYTC project. Sometimes conditions prevent the completion of facility relocation until after the beginning of roadway construction, and the facility is partially relocated prior to construction, with outstanding work finished while construction is underway. The PM and Utilities staff examine project details and coordinate decisions about relocation procedures with the utility company.

KYTC Utilities staff negotiate and draft utility relocation agreements. Negotiated utility relocation agreements are reviewed by the District-level counsel in the Office of Legal Services as well as Central Office Utilities staff for quality control and to provide advice if necessary. Reviews may be completed in KURTS. Once the District-level Office of Legal Services attorney signs the fully reviewed and Cabinet-accepted original and bound agreement, the Execution Phase begins. Utility company representatives must then sign the agreement. An original and bound utility relocation agreement typically consists of the full legal document with the approved justification documentation attached as exhibits. All materials are bound by a blue paper backing. Once the utility company receives a fully executed contract and a notice to proceed letter (which may be held until the necessary ROW is acquired) it can begin relocating impacted facilities. Relocation activities must adhere to the reviewed and approved relocation design and terms of the contract.


Red Flag

When KYTC reimburses utility companies to relocate facilities, it must comply with the terms defined in KRS 177.035 and KRS 179.265. Facility relocation may be: (1) fully reimbursable, (2) partially reimbursable, or (3) not reimbursable. Reimbursement status depends on the utility company type, the utility company’s property rights, existing location of the facilities, and whether the utility company will install an improved facility. Some work may be considered betterment or otherwise ineligible for reimbursement. Betterment is defined as “any upgrading of the facility being relocated that is not attributable to the highway construction and is made solely for the benefit of and at the election of the utility.” The utility agreement reflects the degree to which the Cabinet will reimburse the utility (expressed as a percentage). Companies whose facility relocation costs are eligible for compensation (pursuant to KRS 179.265) only receive compensation for facilities originally constructed on areas other than public ROW that must be relocated due to the reconstruction or improvement of a public road.

11. Prepare For Utility Construction

Once the Cabinet approves the Final Utility Relocation Plans, all necessary ROW and easements have been acquired, and the agreements and accounting documents are in place, KYTC may authorize utility construction work to begin with a Notice To Proceed letter.

At the beginning of relocation activities KYTC staff and the utility companies relocating facilities communicate with one another about workforce mobilization and schedules. The Cabinet also distributes utility relocation schedules and applicable as-built drawings to the highway contract bidders.

12. Utility Relocation Construction

Invoices submitted electronically by the utility company or its designated representative require backup documentation. Invoicing forms are available in KURTS, and invoice packages may be submitted electronically through KURTS. For any individual project phase (e.g., planning, design, ROW, construction management), the utility company or its representative shall not submit invoices for an amount greater than the amount stipulated in the contract without notifying the utility company and KYTC utilities staff via a change order request. 

Overrun quantities for work items or scope changes must be documented and approved using a change order. The utility company representative must furnish a detailed justification for change orders. KYTC Utilities staff preapprove any changes to the scope of work before work begins on revised items. When proposed construction is to be done by contract, once the District Utilities Agent receives the contract, they must review it with the low bidder plus the contracts of the next two bidders. 

KYTC utilities staff must periodically inspect facility relocations. When facility relocation work is executed under the roadway construction contract, it is inspected and invoiced in a similar manner. However, KYTC construction staff may provide inspection and daily pay quantity reports to the Cabinet’s Utilities staff and the utility owner. 

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