California Department of Transportation

Project Development Workflow Tasks (PDWT)

Part 3 - Identify Project Need and Project Initiation Document

II. Project Initiation Document

D. Analyze Alternatives (WBS 150.15) - Assess Utility Relocation Requirements (WBS 150.15.10)

P65. Identify Preliminary Utility Relocation

The Department’ general policy is to allow utilities within conventional highway rights of way subject to reasonable conditions to provide for the safety of the traveling public and to permit the improvement of the highway. However, Caltrans’ policy regarding freeways and expressways is to exclude utilities from within access controlled rights of way, to the extent practicable.

Utility clearance requirements and other guidance information for relocation of utilities may be found in the following sources:

  • Chapter 600 of the Encroachment Permit Manual.
  • PDPM, Appendix LL-"The Policy on High and Low Risk Underground Facilities Within Highway Rights of Way ".
  • Utility Relocation of the Right of Way Manual Chapter 13.

Each extensive or significant utility relocation that is necessary for a project alternative requires a thorough investigation during the project initiation phase to develop relocation cost estimates and required lead times. Early awareness of utility conflicts allows the R/W Utility section to inform the utility company. This enables the utility company to make informed decisions and resource planning to accommodate the Department’s proposed project. Early notification also allows the utility company to modify or adapt their future improvements.

The project engineer must identify all apparent utilities and possible conflicts based on available information such as As-Built records, encroachment permit records, preliminary survey information, and field reviews. Although determining exact locations of buried utilities is not usually necessary during the PID phase, positive location, known as “potholing”, of critical utility facilities may be necessary in order to adequately determine utility involvement and potentially high relocation costs. The project engineer should discuss the need to perform potholing with the R/W Utility Coordinator.

Utility facilities within the project construction limits are typically plotted on the Preliminary Right of Way Requirements map, or may be plotted on separate project strip maps. The project engineer should use the Regional Notification Center-USA colors required by law. Both known and potential conflicts with existing utility facilities must be shown. Conflicts may occur due to policy conflicts, physical conflicts, or conflicts with construction operations. A field review shall be made to determine if differences between records and actual field conditions exist. Any apparent differences should be noted on the map. The Preliminary Utility Relocation map is an element of the Preliminary R/W Estimate Map.


PDPM, (Chapter 17, “Encroachment in Caltrans’ Right of Way”)

PDPM, (Appendix LL, "The Policy on High and Low Risk Underground Facilities Within Highway Rights of Way ")

Right of Way Manual, (Chapter 4, “Estimating”)

Right of Way Manual, (Chapter 13, “Utility Relocations”)

Plans Preparation Manual, (Section 2-2.13, “Utility Plans and Details”)

Return to Table of Contents

If you have any questions about the Project Development Procedures Manual send e-mail

This page last updated November 20, 2010