Utility Coordination Process

This web page includes several letter templates in both the Microsoft Word and Adobe PDF formats, as well as a step-by-step overview of how utility coordination occurs throughout the development of a MaineDOT or MaineDOT-funded project. 

Please note:

The letter templates have been set up assuming that they will be used by a MaineDOT consultant; however, anyone who proposes any work that affects utilities or other outside parties are encouraged to use this process as well. Portions of the letters that must be changed for MaineDOT projects have been highlighted with a combination of brackets, italics and bold-face type (for example, if a particular sentence needs the date of a meeting entered, it will appear as {Date}). People wishing to modify these letters for non-MaineDOT projects will also need to remove all references to the Maine Department of Transportation.
Utility Coordination Process Guide

The following outlines the laws , rules and procedures governing utility relocations associated with Maine Department of Transportation (hereinafter “Department”) Capital Improvement projects. The typical utility coordination process as it relates to the Project Development process funded with state and/or federal dollars administered through the Department is also presented.

Note that the process guide is generally applicable to large, capital improvement projects, such as highway reconstruction and bridge replacements. For projects with reduced scopes, such as overlay projects or bridge deck replacements, some of these steps will not be required.

Any references to a “Utility Coordinator” refer to the person who is responsible for assuring that proper utility and railroad coordination occurs on a given project. This may be a MaineDOT employee, a town/city employee, or a consultant acting on behalf of either party. Any references to Letters #1 through #7 refer to standard letters that are routinely mailed out to utility or railroad companies at a particular stage of a project. Templates of these letters are available on the "Utility Coordination Files and Forms" link on this web page.

MRSA Title 35-A

  • Chapter 23
    • Sect. 2301-2305-B: Public Utilities may locate distribution facilities within the public way, consisting of roads, streets, and highways rights-of-way (hereinafter “ROW”).
  • Chapter 25
    • Sect. 2502(1)(A): When the public way is a state or state-aid highway, excluding urban compact areas, the Department is the licensing authority.
      • When the Department undertakes capital improvement projects within the highway ROW in urban compact areas, the Department retains overall jurisdiction.
    • Sect. 2503: All utilities that occupy the public way must be permitted through the applicable licensing authority.
    • Sect. 2503(16): Permitted utilities are subject to rules established by the Department. Department rules are outlined in the following:
      • MaineDOT Utility Accommodation Rules, 17-229 CMR Chapter 210.
      • The standards set forth in MaineDOT Utility Accommodation Rules apply to all portions of state and state-aid highways, regardless of who the licensing authority may be pursuant to other statutes, i.e. urban compacts.
      MRSA Title 35-A

MaineDOT Utility Accommodation Rules

  • Department’s Utility Accommodation Rules
  • Section 10: Underground Installations
    • Facilities must be a minimum of 36 inches below finish grade except that transmission or distribution Hazardous Transmittant Facilities such as gas lines with working pressure greater than 100 psi must be a minimum of 48 inches below finish grade.
  • Section 11: Aboveground Installations
    • Offset requirements for utility poles are defined based on either from edge of travel way or from edge of shoulder.
    • Sect. 11(2)(A) - 11(2)(B)
      • Offset requirements based on what is required to facilitate maintenance and proper function of highway facilities.
    • Sect. 11(2)(C): Minimum Corridor Offsets
      • Offset requirements based on Corridor Priority classification, design speed, and traffic volume.
    • Greater offsets preferred if space allows.
  • Exceptions to rules:
    • Exceptions to the rules can be granted by the Department Utility Engineer, as follows:
      • Underground Facilities: Exceptions may be granted for minimum amount of cover based on site conditions, and impact to the relocating utility. Exceptions cannot be less than the applicable Federal Standard. For example, the Federal Standard for conveyance of natural gas is governed by Title 49, Part 193 - Transportation of Natural and Other Gas by Pipeline: Minimum Federal Safety Standards (United States Department of Transportation)
      • Aboveground Facilities: Exceptions to the standards outlined in Sect. 11(2)(A) - 11(2)(B), based on site conditions, and impact to relocating utility, excluding Sect. 11(2)(B)(1), Guardrail, but cannot be less than the minimum corridor offset requirements established in Sect. 11(2)(C).
      • Exceptions to minimum corridor offset requirements shall be approved by the Department, through the Department’s Design Exception Process.
    • MOU Summary:
      • MaineDOT project designs will consider immediate needs for aerial utility tree trimming. The intent of the Memorandum of Understanding for Overhead Utilities, dated February 25, 2009,may be satisfied by using fee acquisition, permanent easements and temporary easements, or a combination of these rights, to achieve trimming needs. There may be some project settings where trim rights will need to be acquired by the utility company. The following guidelines should be considered when determining whether or not the acquisition of trim rights is appropriate for a certain situation:
        • The accommodation of trimming needs should only be undertaken on parcels where the Department is already planning to acquire rights that are for highway purposes and necessary for the project.
        • The accommodation of trimming needs is generally not required if the existing R/W width is adequate to accommodate the project improvements and the new poles (and conductors) and the only other reason to acquire more would be to achieve the full eight (8) foot offset.
        • The accommodation of trimming needs is not required if they will cause additional impacts to historic, 4(f), 6(f), or other properties that are not subject to our authority of eminent domain.
        • The accommodation of trimming needs should not be undertaken if they will cause significant severance issues.
        • The accommodation of trimming needs should not be undertaken if they will cause additional impacts to wetlands, vernal pools or other environmental resources that could tip the threshold of requiring mitigation.
        • The accommodation of trimming is intended for immediate needs. The Department does not need to acquire these rights in fields or low growth areas.

Cost for Relocating Utilities Located in the ROW

Maine law does not permit reimbursement for the relocation of utility facilities located within a public highway ROW when such relocation is made necessary by transportation-related construction or maintenance projects. There are two basic reasons for this:

  1. Neither the state nor any of its subdivisions (counties, municipalities, etc.) have legal authority to reimburse utilities for relocating their facilities already within the public highway ROW when those relocations are made necessary due to road projects; and without legal authority, public funds cannot be spent for this purpose. This has been the law in Maine ever since utilities began to be located in public highway ROW. According to Maine’s Supreme Court, the state or a municipality cannot pay to a utility its expense for relocating an installation in a public street or way. See First National Bank of Boston, et al, v. Maine Turnpike Authority, et al., 153 Me. 131.

  2. Maine Constitution Article IX, Sect. 19, as interpreted by the Maine Supreme Court, prohibits use of any revenue derived from “fees, excises and license taxes relating to registration, operation and use of vehicles on public highways, and to fuels used for propulsion of such vehicles” to pay for relocation of utility facilities. See Opinion of the Justices, 152 Me. 449. Since most of the funds that would be available to the Department for utility relocation reimbursement are derived from these sources, their use for such purposes would be unconstitutional.

General Utility Coordinator Responsibilities

  • The Utility Coordinator will participate as an active member of the project team.
  • The Utility Coordinator will meet with utility and railroad (hereinafter “RR”) contacts as necessary to identify and resolve all utility and railroad issues and/or conflicts relating to the project and the Department's current policies.
  • The Utility Coordinator will provide information to utility and railroad contacts as early as possible to provide the maximum notice possible.
  • If the Utility Coordinator is a consultant working for the Department, the Utility Coordinator shall keep a predefined Department representative informed of all coordination activities by:
    • Copying that individual on all utility/RR related project correspondence, and Inviting that individual to critical utility/RR coordination meetings.
  • This predefined contact will be responsible for providing general oversight of the coordination process and for the review and processing of any necessary utility/RR agreements to be signed by the Department.

General Utility Coordination Process

  1. Identify Utilities
  2. Verify Facility Information
  3. Preliminary Utility Comments, Conflicts, and Relocation Strategy
  4. Identify Specific Underground Facility Locations
  5. Final Facility Impacts, Relocation Strategy and Agreements
  6. Prepare Utility Specification and Certification
  7. Utility Relocation Schedule
    • Coordination with Utilities and Railroads associated with Capital Improvement projects is required by Federal Law (23CFR635.307), and the Department’s policy is to have Utility and Railroad coordination on all projects to be advertised for construction, regardless of funding source.

Detailed Utility Coordination Process

I. Identify Utilities

  • Project Kickoff
    • The Utility Coordinator will research the Department's utility and railroad database to obtain a list of contact names, addresses, and phone numbers for all utility and railroad companies located in the city/town of the proposed project. View the Utility Contacts information on our Contact page.
    • The Utility Coordinator will obtain a list of contact names, email addresses, mailing/physical addresses, and phone numbers for any applicable municipal officials in the project town(s).
    • The Utility Coordinator will mail, or email, an initial utility contact letter (Letter #1) to all utilities, railroads and municipalities within the city/town of the proposed project to determine the following:
      • Whether or not the addressee has existing facilities within the project area and, if so, the type of facilities;
      • Whether or not the addressee intends to construct facilities within the project area over the next five years;
      • The name of the individual that will be available to mark any existing facilities prior to the project survey; and
      • The name of the individual with whom the project team can coordinate throughout the project.
  • Compile Preliminary Data
    • The Utility Coordinator will research the Department's accident data for any issues relating to the location of utility facilities. This information may be obtained from the Project Manager or from the Department's Traffic Engineering Division (624-3600).
    • The Utility Coordinator will coordinate with the project team's Right-of-Way representative to obtain any available right-of-way information.
    • The Utility Coordinator will determine whether or not there are any Department-owned traffic facilities within the project limits and will determine how those facilities will be handled throughout the development of the project. If the traffic facilities will not be modified as part of the project contract, the Utility Coordinator shall coordinate with a Department traffic representative as though they were a separate utility throughout the project.
    • For any railroad crossings, the Utility Coordinator will communicate directly with the operating railroad company to determine if any work is planned for that crossing. If the railroad corridor is owned by the state of Maine, similar communication shall also occur with the Department's Office of Freight and Business Services (624-3560).
  • Initial Field Review
    • The Utility Coordinator will make an initial site visit to identify (with documentation and photographs as necessary) the following:
      • Visible utility facilities on the project;
      • Typical offset of the utility poles;
      • Whether all of the appropriate utilities were contacted with the initial utility contact letter (Letter #1);
      • Features that may affect/limit utility relocations (i.e. buildings close to the highway, shade trees, etc);
      • Major utility installations that may be costly to relocate (i.e. substations, critical poles, telephone switching stations, pump stations, etc);
      • Utility facilities that may be located on their own easements;
      • Proximity of any RR corridors to the project and the status and condition of any RR crossings;
      • Overhead clearance issues around bridges or major drainage structures; and Any other pertinent utility information that may impact the project.
  • Initial Team Meeting
    • The Utility Coordinator will attend the Initial Team Meeting and provide a summary of the critical issues identified in the previous steps. If the Initial Team Meeting occurs before the above-mentioned work, a summary of critical issues shall be distributed to the team after-the-fact.

II . Verify Facility Information

  • Preliminary Public Meeting/Survey Plan Available:

    • The Utility Coordinator will attend the Preliminary Public Meeting as applicable on projects where significant utility or railroad involvement is anticipated or when requested by the Project Manager.
    • The Utility Coordinator will mail copies of the existing topographic survey plans (which may or may not include an initial proposed horizontal and vertical alignment) to all utility and railroad contacts for their review and comment. A letter shall accompany the survey plans requesting verification of the existing facilities indicated on the plan and any concerns that may exist (Letter #2).
    • The Utility Coordinator will coordinate with the project team's Survey representative for any additional survey identified from the Letter #2 mailing.

III. Prelim. Utility Comments, Conflicts, and Relocation Strategy

  • Horizontal/Vertical Alignment Available:

    • When the centerline of the highway is to be modified, the Utility Coordinator will distribute plans indicating the proposed horizontal and vertical alignment to all affected utilities and railroads within the proposed project for their comments (if not addressed with the survey plan distribution).
      • This distribution should come with the Draft Preliminary Design Report (PDR) for the design team to review.
    • If the RR or utilities express alignment concerns, the Utility Coordinator shall provide a written summary of those concerns to the Project Manager and other team members as applicable. The Utility Coordinator is responsible for assuring that all concerns are addressed to a conclusion and that all parties are aware of what the conclusion is.
  • Preliminary Plan Available/ Formal Public Contact:

    • The Utility Coordinator will write a summary of the utility and railroad issues associated with the proposed project and submit them to the Project Manager for inclusion in the Preliminary Design Report (PDR).
    • Depending upon the extent of the utility and/or RR work, the Utility Coordinator will meet with or, at least, communicate with the utilities to identify how utility work will generally be undertaken. Discussions shall include the right-of-way needs to accommodate the utility facilities.
    • The Utility Coordinator will work with the project team to determine the proposed right-of-way limits/needs.
    • The Utility Coordinator will attend the Preliminary Public Meeting as required. (Factors that will require the Utility Coordinator's attendance at the preliminary public meeting include: extensive utility relocation, significant trimming or shade tree removal necessitated by the utilities, utility impacts on a controversial right-of-way width, or requests by the Project Manager for utility representation).
    • The Utility Coordinator will distribute preliminary plans to the utilities & railroads for a more detailed determination of impacts (Letter #3). As a result of the preliminary plan distribution, the Utility Coordinator will determine the need for any agreements with the railroad(s) or utilities.

IV. Identify Specific Underground Facility Locations

  • Drainage Plans Available

    • The Utility Coordinator shall identify locations where utility test pits are required to obtain the specific depth of underground facilities that may conflict with the proposed design. The Utility Coordinator shall review the proposed test pit locations with the project team and then coordinate with the utilities and Survey for the work to be accomplished.
      • The test pit data will be forwarded to the buried utilities, along with relocation requirements. If no test pits were required due to reliable location information,  relocation requirements and buried facility designs should be requested as part of the PDR distribution.

V. Final Facility Impacts, Relocation Strategy and Agreements

  • 75%-80% Plans Available/Precoordination Meeting:
    • The Utility Coordinator will provide all affected utility and railroad companies with 75% - 80% plans for review and comment (Letter #4).
    • The Utility Coordinator will hold and moderate a Utility Precoordination Meeting to review utility and railroad impacts and relocations in the field and to discuss proposed schedules for the relocations (Letter #4).
    • Following the Precoordination Meeting, the Utility Coordinator will prepare and distribute written minutes from the Precoordination Meeting, including any significant comments from the affected utility or railroad companies.
  • Plan Impacts Complete Milestone
    • The Plan Impacts Complete project milestone is achieved when the highway, traffic, drainage and environmental design is complete and Right-Of-Way needs are determined.
    • At this time, the Utility Coordinator will work with the Right-Of Way mapper to accommodate the utility facilities resulting from the highway design. A pole list may be requested at this time.
    • The Utility Coordinator will prepare and distribute the draft railroad and utility Special Provisions (Letter #5).
    • The Utility Coordinator will prepare any draft agreements and initiate the agreement approval process.

VI. Prepare Utility Specification and Certification

  • Project to Contracts
    • The Utility Coordinator will provide the final railroad and utility Special Provisions to the Project Manager with a certification that all necessary arrangements have been made.
      • The Utility Coordinator will draft any agreements required for the project. There are two types of agreements which govern Department interaction with utilities on Department-sponsored projects. These are as follows:
        1. Accounts Receivable: Agreements where the utility’s relocation work required as part of the project is advertised as part of the Department’s construction contract for the project. Upon completion of the work, the Department will bill the utility for the work associated with the utility relocation. This type of agreement usually occurs with underground utilities.
        2. Accounts Payable: Agreements where the Department takes existing rights from a utility as part of a project, and the Department reimburses the utility for the impact. An example would be when the Department takes property from an electric utility associated with transmission lines. Compensation would include the cost for taking the property, and any cost associated with relocating or adjustment to the transmission lines. The law outlining this provision is part of MRSA Title 23, Sect. 154, as follows: http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/Statutes/23/title23sec154.html
        • There are several other types of accounts payable agreements that the Department may enter into with utilities, these include:
          • Agreements where the Department wants to include utility services to a newly constructed transportation facility, including: tourist information centers, and truck weigh stations.
          • Agreements where the Department wants to use a utility’s pole to attach new traffic signals or a flashing beacon.
        • The Department may enter into other agreements with utilities based on specific project requirements and constraints.
      • The Utility Coordinator will fill out a “Location Permit for Projects” form to document the approved utility locations resulting from the utility coordination process. This form may be found at the "Utility Coordination Files and Forms" link on this page and is to be sent to the address indicated on the form with all associated attachments.
      • If relocation of facilities would result in a significant benefit to the project, the Utility Coordinator may request facilities be relocated before project advertise. This will require approval from the Project Manager, MaineDOT Utility Engineer and the Director of Project Development, and consultation with the affected Utility and/or Railroad.
  • Advertise and Award
    • The Utility Coordinator will provide guidance to the Project Manager to resolve questions from contractors relating to railroads and utilities during the bidding phase of the project.

VII. Utility Relocation Schedule

  • Preconstruction

    • Upon notification from the Department's Construction Resident of a Preconstruction Meeting, the Utility Coordinator shall schedule a joint Preconstruction Utility Meeting with the affected utilities and railroad(s) (Letter #6).
    • The Utility Coordinator will attend the Preconstruction Meeting and chair the joint Preconstruction Utility Meeting to coordinate the utility schedules with the Contractor's construction schedule, as follows:
      • The Utility Coordinator will work with the Contractor and Construction Resident to develop an understanding of how the utility work schedule will be tracked and accommodated within the Contractor’s construction schedule, with an emphasis on identifying any potential issues or conflicts which may severely impact the construction schedule.
    • Following the Preconstruction Utility Meeting, the Utility Coordinator shall prepare and distribute written minutes to all utilities and railroads on the project, the Contractor, and the Construction Resident (Letter #7).
  • Construction
    • After the Preconstruction Utility Meeting, the contractor has primary responsibility for coordinating their work with utilities. The Contractor shall work with the Utilities in accordance with the construction Contract Documents, and as outlined in the Utility Preconstruction Meeting and must communicate directly with the utilities regarding any utility work necessary to maintain the Contractor’s schedule and prevent project construction delays. The Contractor shall notify the Construction Resident of any issues.
    • If issues arise during construction which cannot be resolved through the Department’s Resident, or a particular utility is unresponsive to the Contractor and the Department’s Resident:
      • The Utility Coordinator will work directly with the Utility or Utilities, Contractor, and Construction Resident to resolve the issue.


Utility Coordinator Contact Information

MaineDOT Utility Engineer

  • Ron Cote, P. E.

Bridge Program

Highway Program

Utility Coordinator Consultant

  • Michael Barden