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Utility Coordination Deliverables

1. Introduction

KYTC’s Utilities and Rails Branch developed the 3WH series of training webinars. For each topic, trainings describe what, why, where, and how. This article summarizes the Utility Coordination Deliverables 3WH training and links to video segments from the webinar.

Most KYTC projects involve some form of utility coordination and/or relocation. Throughout project development, KYTC’s utility coordination process requires several deliverables (the Utilities and Rail Manual provides detailed information).  This article discusses four primary utility deliverables:

  • AGREEMENT: Provides a clear, written understanding of responsibilities assigned to the utility company and KYTC
  • ESTIMATE: Covers terms of reimbursement if the utility costs are reimbursable.
  • PLAN: Functions as a permit/authorization for both reimbursable and non-reimbursable utility relocations
  • UTILITY AND RAIL CERTIFCATION NOTE:  Defines the status of utility and rail coordination and is required in all KYTC bid packages. 

2. Regulations 

Many state and federal regulations apply to utility relocations on highway projects. Kentucky Revised Statutes (KRS) Chapter 177 contains state regulations pertaining to state and federal highways. KRS 177.035 provides guidance specific to relocation of reimbursable utilities. Under this statute, KYTC is responsible for:

  • Staying on schedule (a utility-supplied schedule does not apply if KYTC project is delayed)
  • Costs and expenses of relocation or removal, including:
    • Facility installation
    • Land

The statute also defines utility company responsibilities:

  • Provide a relocation plan (deliverable discussed in this article)
  • Provide a cost estimate (deliverable discussed in this article)
  • Provide a schedule of calendar days
  • Enter into a written agreement (deliverable discussed in this article)
  • Maintain schedule
  • Seek reimbursement within 12 months of completion

Guidance in 23 CFR 645 describes reimbursement procedures for Federal-aid and direct Federal projects. Subpart A deals explicitly with utility relocations.

23 CFR 645.113 states that utility companies and state departments of transportation (DOTs) must enter into agreements that:

  • Define responsibilities for financing
  • Specify the responsibility for accomplishing relocation work
  • Incorporate regulation by reference
  • Designate methods to perform the work (by contract or force account)
  • Describe a method to estimate costs (actual direct and indirect costs preferred)
  • Include relocation plans
  • Provide specifications when required
  • List itemized cost estimates of the work (including credits)
  • Stipulate the cost share to be borne by each party

3. Plans

Utility relocation plans are a critical deliverable required of the utility relocation process. Plans are developed in accordance with DOT utility accommodation policies in accordance with 23 CFR 645 Subpart B.

23 CFR 645 Subpart B requires that state DOTs develop a utility accommodation policy that addresses guidelines for utility construction within state-owned right of way (ROW). Chapter 300 of KYTC’s Permits Manual outlines the agency’s utility accommodation policy. Key stipulations of this policy are listed below.

  • Utilities generally shall not be placed in medians.
  • With restrictions, utilities are permitted to cross roads and highways
  • When practical, utilities shall:
    • Cross perpendicular to the highway alignment, and
    • Under the highway
  • Utilities shall be located:
    • Behind the ditch and toe of the slope as near to the edge of the ROW as practical, or
    • In designated utility strips, or
    • Outside clear zone (poles)
  • Utilities shall not be installed:
    • Longitudinally under pavement,
    • Shoulder areas or
    • Ditches

Buried utilities must follow depth guidelines found in Chapter 300 and summarized in Table 1.

Table 1: Utility Depth Installation Guidelines

Table 1: Utility Depth Installation Guidelines

Utility Type Underground Installation Minimum Depth (Inches)
Fully Controlled Access Non -Fully Controlled Access
Under roadways, ramps, ditches All other areas Under roadways, ramps, ditches All other areas
Natural Gas/Petroleum 60” 60” 42”
Electrical 60” 42” 60” 42”
Other Cable/Comm/Data 42”

When relocating aboveground utilities, avoid locating obstacles in a clear zone. For more information on clear zones, see the HKP Knowledge Book Roadside Clear Zone. When dealing with obstacles in a clear zone the order of priority is as follows:

  • Remove the obstacle.
  • Relocate the obstacle where is less likely to be struck.
  • Modify the obstacle’s design so that it can be safely traversed.
  • Reduce impact severity by using an appropriate breakaway device (i.e., shield or delineate).

The following vertical clearance criteria for overhead utilities must also be met:

  • The minimum vertical clearance for overhead utilities on a highway without full access control is 18 feet.
  • The minimum vertical clearance for overhead utilities crossing the interstate, other controlled access highway, or ramps is 24 feet.

4. Estimate

Estimates are deliverables required by state and federal law. 23 CFR 645 Subpart A covers preliminary engineering and preparation work leading up to estimates.

23 CFR 645.109 discusses preliminary engineering for utility relocations. Key aspects of this regulation are summarized below.

  • Preliminary engineering may be done by a:
    • DOT
    • Utility
    • DOT-provided engineering consultant
    • Utility-provided engineering consultant
  • Engineering consultant costs cannot be based on a percentage of the relocation work’s cost.
  • The utility and its consultant must have agreement in writing.
  • Design funds can only be used to reimburse engineering, administration, and other non-construction activities.

23 CFR 645.109 lists eligible costs for situations where utility relocation requires replacing ROW or an easement. Federal funds can be used for costs if:

  • The utility has a right of occupancy to the property (i.e., fee, an easement, or real property interest).
  • There is no charge to the project for that portion of the utility’s existing ROW.
  • The utility shall determine and make a written valuation of the replacement ROW it acquires to justify amounts paid for the ROW.

23 CFR 645.117 lists which costs are eligible or ineligible for reimbursement with federal funds:

Eligible Costs:

  • Salaries, wages, expenses
  • Contracts
  • Overhead and indirect construction costs
  • Labor surcharges
  • Material and supply costs
  • Handling and loading materials and supplies
  • Equipment costs
  • Inspection and testing
  • Transportation and subsidence costs

Ineligible Costs:

  • Advertising
  • Sales promotion
  • Interest on borrowings
  • Issuance of stock
  • Bad debts
  • Uncollectible accounts
  • Contributions

5. Agreement 

KYTC and each utility company must establish an agreement that clearly defines each party’s responsibilities. 23 CFR 645.113 covers agreements and authorizations for utility relocations.

Utility relocation work can only proceed after:

  • The work is included in the statewide transportation improvement program.
  • All environmental reviews and permitting are in place.
  • All utility documents are received and accepted (i.e., plans, estimates, utility agreements, and schedule)

Construction activities involved in utility relocation must be carried out in accordance with 23 CFR 645.115, which states construction work can be:

  1. Done under a low-bid contract awarded by the DOT or utility
  2. Included as part of the DOT road contract
  3. Integrated into an existing continuing contract
  4. Done under a contract for low-cost incidental work
  5. Completed by utility company forces and equipment

Whether utility relocation work is reimbursable depends on where utility facilities are located and the ownership of the utility companies: 

  • If a utility is not on public ROW, utility work is reimbursable under KRS 179.265. This means that the utility occupies (a) fee simple property or (b) a utility easement
  • Municipalities and publicly held utilities are reimbursable under KRS 177.035.

Key Recommendations


  • Document all utility agreements. KURTS is KYTC’s official data management application for utilities and rail coordination. Upload all utility agreements to KURTS.
  • Execute agreements early in the process (any time after funding is authorized and plans and estimates are available.
  • For longer/larger projects consider using Design phase funding to initiate utility engineering. This starts the process earlier and gets the design team more involved in utility coordination.
  • Avoidance is the best utility relocation option!

6. Utilities and Rail Certification Note

The Utilities and Rail Certification Note communicates the presence, location, and relocation of utilities, and related structures on KYTC projects. This note was developed to satisfy requirements in 23 CFR 635.309, which is the primary federal regulation detailing requirements for authorizing the construction of federally funded projects. 

FHWA will not authorize a project until it receives a statement from KYTC that reads: “utility… work has been completed or that all necessary arrangements have been made for it to be undertaken and completed as required for proper coordination with the physical construction schedules.

To ensure that KYTC fulfills its mission, bidders need to understand all utility-related issues so they can:

  • Minimize conflicts, project delays, and service disruptions
  • Provide safe conditions for construction

The Utilities and Rail Certification Note specifies the location of existing and proposed utility facilities and a schedule for relocations. On all projects, this note is a required deliverable that must be submitted before construction funds can be released.

Contractors use the Utility and Rail Certification Note to:

  • Assist in the bidding process
  • Facilitate planning for project execution
  • Identify possible hazards
  • Plan operations involving the use of cranes, booms, and other equipment

In the note, utility facilities are classified into one of four categories:

  • Do not disturb utilities
  • Relocations in the highway project
  • Relocations prior to project
  • Relocations concurrent to project

The note also requires that the following information be listed for each utility facility within the project limits:

  • Owners
  • Facility description
  • Actual or anticipated completion date
  • Description and location of work
  • Contact name, email, and phone number
  • General notes

Physical descriptions of utility facilities fall under three headings: (a) facilities that will remain in place, (b) facilities that will be adjusted or relocated, and (c) new facilities. Physical descriptions include: 

  • Size and type of utility
    • For example, 2” DIP water line with appurtenances
  • Location of facilities
    • Established via coordinates, station and offset, distance off ROW line, or other reasonable method
  • A summary of relocation or adjustment work performed to date with a focus on the final location

The Utilities and Rail Certification Note must be saved in KURTS and made available to the Division of Construction Procurement so it can be included in bid packages. 

The Utility Supervisor or agent should submit Utilities and Rail Certification Note two months before the letting date. The Utility Coordinator must:

  • Generate, compile, and distribute the note
  • Ensure the note is accurate and complete
  • Upload the final note to KURTS for recording and submission

At least 5 weeks before the letting date, the Area Coordinator must:

  • Review and approve the note
  • Ensure the Rail Coordinator (RC) has provided railroad data
  • Submit the final note to the Divisions of Construction Procurement

7. Questions and Answer Session

Material in this article is sourced from a May 2022 webinar. The links below capture the question and answer portions of the webinar. Topics discussed include:

  • Financing
  • Low-Cost Incidental Work
  • What is Considered a Utility?
  • Applicability of Utility and Rail Notes
  • Project Initiation in KURTS
  • KURTS and ProjectWise

8. KYTC Reference Documentation 

9. See Also 

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