The Mountain View Corridor team recently earned the 2011 Excellence in Utility Relocation and Accommodation Award from FHWA.
Relocation of utilities in preparation for road construction can be very challenging. The process involves a lot of time and expense for businesses on top of day-to-day maintenance. Sometimes, utility companies and transportation agencies can be at odds.
The Mountain View Corridor project, a freeway, transit and trail system under construction in western Salt Lake County and northern Utah County has had its share of potential utility challenges. The alignment crosses 13 municipalities, includes difficult terrain and encroaches or crosses a 300-foot-wide power and gas corridor. All together, the construction area includes about 900 separate impacts to existing utility facilities. With so many potential utility conflicts, the cost estimate to address these conflicts was $30 Million.
To meet these challenges, the MVC project team laid out a strategy to work hand-in-hand with utility companies to hold down costs, find workable solutions and keep on schedule. Partnering, master agreements, project-funded engineering, cost sharing, collaborative engineering, and acquisition of rights-of-way on behalf of the utilities all played a part in a cooperative problem-solving among UDOT, the construction contractor and the utility companies.
Wanting to better understand objections, constraints, internal processes and politics, the MVC team hired former Rocyk Mountain Power and Kearns River Gas employees. Knowing the needs of utility companies helped strengthen existing relationships, and opened doors at the senior management level so UDOT, the construction contractor and utility companies could work together to reach viable solutions.
Cost and schedule savings
The MVC team used master agreements, allowed by state code, and evenly split relocation costs between the state and private utilities. The local natural gas company agreed to use a time and cost-saving design-build contract to accommodate the MVC schedule. Qwest Communications agreed to MVC hiring an approved designer to work directly with the team to accommodate MVC’s schedule. The team collaborated with KRG and RMP to develop protect-in-place strategies for several conflicts that otherwise would have required replacement.
Success and rewarding relationships
Acquiring property for the corridor, accommodating or relocating existing utilities, phased construction and difficult terrain are factors that have posed challenges. But careful partnering and hard work has helped the project team and utility companies come to a meeting of the minds while saving time and money for the state and utility companies too. As a result, the major utility budget was reduced $11.6 Million and the construction schedule for utility work was shortened one full year, making the project deserving of national attention.