New Utility Mapping Software SiteMap® Can Help Civil Contractors Eliminate Downtime & Reworks During Utility Relocation Projects

How NYC’s Newest Billion Dollar Subway Project Can Mitigate Reworks & Downtime Caused by Utility Relocations With The Accurate Underground Utility Mapping Software, SiteMap®

New Utility Mapping Software SiteMap® Can Help Civil Contractors Eliminate Downtime & Reworks During Utility Relocation Projects

How NYC’s Newest Billion Dollar Subway Project Can Mitigate Reworks & Downtime Caused by Utility Relocations With The Accurate Underground Utility Mapping Software, SiteMap®

Utility Relocation projects can be daunting.

Especially when that work must be completed in a populated downtown without accurate as-built documentation, where both private, and public utilities are present in an “underground spaghetti” like web such as in New York City’s (NYC) most recent billion-dollar Second Avenue subway expansion project.

Underground utilities displayed in Manhattan New York
Underground utility “spaghetti” overlap in downtown Manhattan, New York.

Leap Towards Reality

This project, which is the second of four planned phases to extend the Second Avenue subway line in New York City by 1.76 additional miles. It will also add three stations to expand transit into Manhattan’s East Harlem neighborhood. The expansion took a massive leap towards the starting line when New York Governor, Kathy Hochul (D-NY), awarded family-owned heavy civil contractor C.A.C. Industries, with a $182 million utility relocation contract to begin work.

The entire four-part project to extend the subway is estimated to cost up to $7.7 billion and be completed 8 years after work is started. To ensure the project is completed on budget, on, time, and safe, many factors that are required in the first stage of the work -utility relocation - must go according to plan and be assisted by the use of accurate underground utility mapping software such as SiteMap®.

What is Utility Relocation?

Utility Relocation, as defined by the Law Insider  is “the removal, relocation and/or protection in place (including provision of temporary services, as necessary) of any and all utility facilities that must be removed, relocated and/or protected in place in order to permit construction of the construction project.”

This means that any time there is a need to move, relocate, or protect in place an existing underground utility due to the new construction on this project, all utility owners and other stakeholders must first be notified and prompted to do so if their facilities will be affected by the project prior to construction beginning.

Utility Relocation – Challenges

These projects, when not properly estimated for and considered, can become nightmares for the teams involved in them. Some, due to inability to get the utility relocation work designed, permitted, and completed within a timely manner, have resulted in the accumulation of over 460 days’ worth of delays as reported by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) in a recent whitepaper.

Other challenges posed for these projects can be extremely difficult to navigate due to various factors that come into play during the process of utility relocation, such as the ownership of franchise agreements. These are typically drafted agreements between a local government and public/private utilities allowing those utilities restricted use of the public right-of-way. Most often in these agreements, the utilities must relocate their assets at no cost to the local government. However, that is not always the case. Other contracts that will come into play for the work needed to be conducted by C.A.C. Industries for the utility relocation project include Master Cooperation Agreements (MCAs), and Utility Agreements.

Risk Determination

The FTA states that, “Utility Relocations often represent the greatest risks to scope, cost, and schedule of a project. Mitigating these risks within project constraints is daunting, even for those experienced in project management, design, and construction.”

From underground utility conflicts and out-of-date as-built drawings, to designing without proper utility mapping software, the costs of work involved with utility relocations can be significant.

Various utility owners, project sponsors, and private and public stakeholders all play a role in communication and collaboration throughout these projects and need to play a role in mitigating risk to project assets. Many of these projects, due to various factors, can cost hundreds of millions of dollars and take years, depending on the scope of work, even for the most experienced professionals.

As-Built Verification

The steps recommended by the FTA to mitigate these risks during utility relocation projects include the assembly of a “Utility As-Built Records Team” to oversee the gathering and blending of as built record drawings and documents from all the utility companies within the projects scope of work. While this step is a great initial step to the coordination of record drawings, the majority of these plans are out of date due to years of directional drilling work and other utility relocation projects. Some plans are drafted inaccurately from the start. This results in further confusion, design mistakes, unwanted reworks, utility strikes, and project delays because the inaccurate data from these plans is then usually shown in computer aided design and drafting (CAD) drawings, which are then transferred to GIS mapping systems such as ArcGIS.

The issue with this process is that the data then displayed within the GIS platform is only as accurate as the as-built it was created from. If the as-builts are inaccurate, then the data being relied upon to make design, relocation, and dig decisions is inaccurate. At GPRS, we offer a solution to this with our 99.8% accurate Utility Mapping Software, SiteMap® with data from over 500,000 jobs completed nationwide.

A map of underground utilities

Step One: Utility Identification

While gathering as built information to start a project is necessary, it cannot be the only step taken before digging or designing. If it is, expensive reworks and damages lay ahead. To mitigate these future headaches, a great first step is to call 811 (as required by law) to coordinate for all public utilities to be located.

Then, pair that first call with the contact of a nationwide private utility locating contractor like GPRS. This will help ensure that project as-builts on private property are updated and located due to the use of multiple forms of technology, industry leading methodology, and world class training. The result of this will be accurate as-built utility mapping with up to 99.8+% confidence while also having the data stored within an easy-to-use and secure utility mapping software, SiteMap®. The utility lines included in these maps include the location of gas, water, electric, communication, sewer, irrigation, power, sight lighting, irrigation and steam lines when applicable as shown in the image below.

Utility map of retail parking lot
Accurate As-Built Utility Mapping of a jobsite.

This step in utility risk identification can pay dividends to your project and cost a fraction of what re-designs, reworks, and utility strikes may cost. An individual utility strike can cost over $56,000, and Engineering News Record (ENR) states that the annual estimated cost of construction mistakes is $1.7 trillion*. Plus, 65% of all underground utilities in the United States are deemed as private, so contacting a private utility locating company such like GPRS is essential to project safety and success.

Step Two: Upload Accurately Mapped Data

Once this data is accurately collected, it needs to be stored. This can be done within a central data bank for all underground utility information, infrastructure record keeping, and as built utility mapping. The best platform to do this needs to be easily accessible, secure, and shareable, so that all key stakeholders throughout the entire project lifecycle can access the information from wherever they are, 24/7 from any computer or mobile device.

Step Three: Access Data & Eliminate Reworks & Downtime

SiteMap® provides all of these solutions and more because once its data has been uploaded into the cloud from GPRS Project Managers, you can log into your SiteMap® personal account, and with the click of a button, view all your underground utility data, geolocated, referenced, aggregated and securely stored and shareable within the platform from any mobile device or computer, 24/7.

Not only does this help mitigate the stress involved with the relocation of underground utilities, it also helps ensure the project moves forward smoothly without experiencing re-designs that lead to unwanted project delays and budget overruns.

SiteMap® provides you the accurate data you need. Prior to design and construction.

SiteMap® is an industry-leading project and facility management application that enables collaboration on utility relocation projects and job sites in all 50 States, so that you can design, collaborate, communicate, dig, and ultimately build better.

To learn more about how a SiteMap® subscription can enhance the communication, safety, and accuracy of data used on your jobsite, schedule a live demo with one of our SiteMap® experts, today.


What is Involved in Underground Utility Mapping?

Underground utility mapping is a critical process that involves identifying, marking, and documenting the location of pipes, cables, and other underground infrastructural that are buried beneath the earth's surface. This process typically utilizes advanced technology such as ground-penetrating radar (GPR), electromagnetic location (EML), and Utility Mapping tools such as SiteMap® to accurately detect and map the underground utilities. Whether you’re needing utility mapping services in Queens NY or Seattle Washington, the collected data helps in preventing accidental damages during excavation works, planning future construction projects, and maintaining the integrity of essential services like water supply, electricity, and telecommunications.

What are the benefits of Simplifying Underground Utility Mapping?

Simplifying the process of underground utility mapping yields significant advantages for urban planning, construction, and facility management and maintenance projects. A streamlined mapping approach can drastically reduce the time and resources needed to locate utilities, leading to more efficient project completion and reduced costs. Additionally, it minimizes the risk of damaging utility lines during construction, which can cause costly repairs, service disruptions, and safety hazards. Simplification also enhances the accuracy of utility mapping, ensuring that future developments such as utility relocations are based on precise and reliable as built data. Ultimately, this process fosters better collaboration among utility companies, construction teams, and urban planners, paving the way for smoother project execution and improved infrastructure management.