3 Ways OSPE Providers Can Improve Utility-Transportation Agency Relations

| Sean Weingartner


As transportation agencies strive to upgrade and expand infrastructure to meet growing demand, utilities are increasingly called upon to relocate assets. Relocation projects represent a large portion of capital expenditure and are often not focused on until the last moment. It’s a complicated issue that can threaten construction schedules and damage relationships between Department of Transportations (DOTs) and telecommunication companies.

An external outside plant engineering (OSPE) service provider with extensive geospatial and inspection services experience can play three key roles.

1. Relationship Builder: Transportation agencies routinely send telecom conflict notifications to organizations potentially affected by upcoming work (e.g., highway expansion). The OSPE provider reviews the project, establishes if there’s a conflict, proposes recommendations for resolution, and then acts as the liaison for the Telecom Utility in transportation owner meetings. This allows project managers to focus on their core competency, construction.

Poor representation can result in confusion, delays, and poor relationships. Delays in project letting dates and contractor construction can result in liquidated damages and contractor claims. Our tax money often pays for these claims! As a representative of the telecom owner, it’s our goal to avoid these delays and be good stewards of the taxpayer’s money provided through the reimbursable project approach. This concept is equally important on non-reimbursable projects, when it is your money!

Quality external OSPE gives clients a voice at the design table through representation at meetings with an eye toward cost-effective and beneficial solutions. In this role, a quality OSPE becomes the face of the client, strengthening the relationship with the project owner.

2. Value Engineer: If relocation is needed, your OSPE provider must have the skills and experience to offer options that deliver benefits throughout the project’s lifecycle. The provider must then be able to prepare and obtain necessary permits. Success requires actionable communication and experience to understand the issues at hand and find the best possible resolution given schedule and cost.

3. Reimbursable Representative: Federal or state reimbursement can provide millions of dollars to telecom providers to offset utility relocation costs. Implementation of this approach is historically underutilized due to the complex agreement processes. A quality OSPE service provider fully understands the agreement processes and can cut through the red tape, providing seamless access to these funds.

SAM's OSPE service providers are experts in these processes and will strengthen your relationship with DOTs. Our goal is to identify and eliminate points of contention, establishing a mutually beneficial and seamless process that will benefit both parties.

We leverage our long-term relationship with agencies such as the Texas Department of Transportation and other DOTs across the country to streamline communications and find resolutions to complicated telecom relocation projects. That coordination and collaboration with transportation agencies goes a long way toward building the type of rapport necessary to complete your relocation projects on time and on budget.

Reach out to Manny Fernandez or me directly to learn more about SAM’s OSPE services and the importance we place on relationship building, lifecycle benefits, and the effective use of reimbursement programs.

Sean Weingartner

Sean Weingartner joined SAM in 2011 and has 34 years of transportation experience with a focus in utility coordination, SUE, and utility construction inspection.

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