• Harris County




  • Start 2016 – On Going On-Call Contract

CobbFendley has served as the on-call engineer for utility coordination and subsurface utility engineering (SUE) services for the HCFCD since 2016. The utility coordination team serves as an extension of the HCFCD staff. Utility coordination and SUE services are provided for channel and infrastructure improvement projects for capital, federal, maintenance, and miscellaneous projects. The utility coordination team’s overall goal is to identify and facilitate the relocating of conflicting utilities prior to project bid. We have a team of three engineers assigned to this project.

CobbFendley is tasked with efficiently managing utilities on projects that require coordination with various stakeholders and owners to successfully complete the procurement, engineering design, construction and maintenance of a project while maintaining the integrity of impacted utility services, facilities, and assets. CobbFendley provides these services during study, design, and construction phases of a project. CobbFendley performs conflict assessments, communicates compliance and resolutions to conflicts, obtains plan adjustments, determines prior rights, prepares adjustment agreements and schedules, monitors, and verifies adjustments with the end goal of avoiding delay claims.

CobbFendley’s typical duties include attending progress, pre-bid, pre-construction and construction meetings; conducting utility coordination meetings with utility owners; preparing meeting notes; preparing weekly utility coordination progress reports; preparing project notification letters; reviewing design drawings for utility identification and conflict assessment; developing utility conflict lists; developing utility contact lists; facilitating the resolution of utility conflicts; coordinating all activities to facilitate the orderly progress and timely completion of the design phase; assisting in expediting utility adjustment/relocations; performing utility coordination liaison activities with utility owners, their consultants, HCFCD and the project team; reviewing the utilities proposed adjustments and evaluate alternatives; researching utility easements; coordinating with utilities regarding new easement requirements; coordinating with utilities to obtain letters of no objection; preparing utility adjustment agreements, requisitions, and purchase orders; developing and reviewing utility relocation estimates; performing field visits to check on utility relocation progress and ensure relocation resolves conflict; assisting with any utility related issues during construction; assisting the construction department in identifying utilities and coordinating relocation of utilities found during construction; and working with the engineering team to determine the need for SUE activities to locate utilities.

Innovative Solution

Initially CobbFendley managed and tracked utility coordination and SUE efforts using word documents. As the workload increased, spreadsheets were used instead. As both proved to be ineffective tools for managing and tracking, CobbFendley explored the use of a GIS-based system as an innovative solution. CobbFendley developed the utility coordination geographic information solution (UCGIS), an ESRI ArcGIS online-compatible tool that leverages an in-house developed schema to maintain project-related information and track project progress. The tool was developed by conducting a series of interviews with client management as well as CobbFendley engineers to develop a schema that compartmentalized project-specific information into more agile, easier-to-understand “tidbits” of information. The development of the tool found additional opportunities to improve the data management environment by creating a four-letter acronym dictionary for utility owners and domain dropdowns for actions resulting from conflict assessments. The geospatial aspects of this tool can be overlaid on any HCFCD project and can be used to identify utilities, potential utility conflicts, and coordinate conflict resolution. The UCGIS tool combines geospatial CAD data with weekly status update information to quickly communicate the status of utility coordination and SUE efforts to the HCFCD. SUE data is collected using field collectors, stored directly onto GIS layers on the web, and is visible on the UCGIS application simultaneously. The UC team also uses the UCGIS to maintain all the information related to each utility facility within each HCFCD project, including utility design and construction dates. Using a web-based system allows for easy access to the data for the UC team, the HCFCD project teams, and HCFCD management. The UCGIS also allows the user to create specialized utility coordination status spreadsheet reports which can be filtered as needed by the user.

The CobbFendley team created a 40-page viewer user guide to cover usage of the tool and to assist in defining key concepts, acronyms, and agencies that are integral to the understanding of the UCGIS.

The UCGIS currently manages information for over 249 HCFCD projects, including 200 unique utilities. The use of the UCGIS tool greatly assists the team in delivering utility coordination and SUE services to the HCFCD.

Following are the accomplishments of the HCFCD on-call engineer for utility coordination/SUE team since 2016:

  • 249 Unique Projects
  • 200 Unique Utilities (56 Pipelines)
  • 72 Letters of No Objection (LONO)
  • 30 Utility Access Agreements
  • 71 Utility Relocation Reimbursement Agreements
  • 23 Temporary Utility Relocations
  • 172 Permanent Utility Relocations