SAM Recognized with AASHTO CRUO Innovation Award

June 6, 2023

SAM is honored to have been awarded an American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Committee on Right of Way, Utilities, and Outdoor Advertising Control (CRUO) Innovation Award, in partnership with the Georgia Department of Transportation, for our role in their infrastructure improvement efforts. We hope that this recognition of the benefits of this Preliminary Utility Relocation process can have the same meaningful impact on Departments of Transportation best practices.

The example project submitted for the Innovation Award was an interstate improvement project to the existing I-85/SR 138 Jonesboro Road Interchange, including the overpass bridge replacement, ramp improvements, and urban widening along SR 138 east to Buffington Road and west to Goodson Connector with signal upgrades, lane additions, and traffic pattern changes. This complex renovation had far-reaching effects on the existing utility infrastructure located in the area. There were 11 utility owners made up of power, gas, water, sewer, telecom, and CATV impacted, along with 24 retaining walls, 50 trade signs, and three billboards within the project footprint.

Due to the complexity of the utility infrastructure involved, identifying risk factors to design, right-of-way (ROW), and environment, created a successful method of documenting and mitigating those risks and promoting active utility conflict management. Our team implemented and instituted a Preliminary Utility Relocation Process (PURP) and ROW/Utility Meeting process as part of the Utility Plan Development Process. The PURP occurred after identifying existing utilities and before the Preliminary Field Plan Review utilizing the latest design plan.

These process improvements fostered early risk assessment and a collaborative effort between state and district ROW and Utility offices, design, Office of Program Delivery (OPD), and utility owners. The ultimate result was a decision to acquire the additional ROW. From this decision, the process allowed our team to strategically reduce and minimize utility relocation and contract construction time and cost, and address utility risk to ROW acquisition.

This process has been documented in GDOT’s Plan Development Process (PDP) manual, Utility Accommodation Manual, and Preliminary Utility Relocation Memo and is available for other states’ replication. Read our team’s application and full details on our innovation.