Guidance for Implementing Utility Investigations in Alignment with Project Delivery

While permitting installation of utility infrastructure in roadway right-of-way (ROW) has systemic benefits, the practice has contributed to utility-related issues being one of the leading causes of delays for transportation projects, per the National Utility Program Review (FHWA, 2018). These delays are often attributed to unknown or inaccurate utility locations. Utility investigations, inclusive of subsurface utility engineering (SUE), are procedures state departments of transportation (DOTs) can implement to locate utilities and help their project development teams avoid these issues. However, few guidelines exist for aligning the timelines for implementing utility investigation (UI) procedures with the timelines of the project delivery process. Many factors influence the optimal approach of UIs for a specific project, and UI needs vary based on the timing of design elements within the project delivery process. Inappropriate UIs contribute to significant funding losses due to lack of utility and highway coordination and underlie utility impacts as one of the top three causes of project delays. The proper investigation of utility locations would help project teams eliminate substantial risk from state DOT projects. Research is therefore needed to support state DOTs strategically aligning UIs to project development phases and preventing unnecessary delays. The objective of this research is to develop guidelines and tools for state DOTs to identify and align UIs and related efforts to project characteristics and development phases, with the overall goal of avoiding or minimizing utility impacts that lead to increased project costs and delays. The guidelines and tools developed should, at minimum help (a) determine the need for UIs; (b) select and implement UIs; (c) model UI findings; and (d) communicate UI information.  


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Funding: $400000
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 10-119

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    National Cooperative Highway Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)

    444 North Capitol Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Project Managers:

    Jared, David

  • Performing Organizations:

    Iowa State University, Ames

    Ames, IA  United States  50011
  • Principal Investigators:

    Shane, Jennifer

  • Start Date: 20231016
  • Expected Completion Date: 20261015
  • Actual Completion Date: 0

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01846749
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 10-119
  • Files: TRB, RIP
  • Created Date: May 24 2022 11:00AM