Improving project delivery with a utility coordination matrix

Posted in: Bridges, Highways, Infrastructure


Getting ahead of conflicts with a utility coordination matrix can help streamline the project delivery process. South Carolina and other states are looking to integrating UCMs as a regular utility coordination practice. They are an excellent way to track and manage various conflicts throughout a project’s life.

UCMs can be created in Microsoft Excel or tracked in various applications like ArcGIS. Each conflict is identified and described on one row, and each conflict must be resolved by the end of the design phase. This helps address all known conflicts prior to construction.

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The matrices can be adapted to fit any infrastructure project with various phases and milestones. To track each conflict, line items can include columns to show whether the task has been completed to keep the conflict moving towards resolution. These can include:

  • Prior rights determination
  • Subsurface utility engineering
  • Permitting
  • Right-of-way acquisition

By creating a UCM that fits the project’s needs, a well-utilized matrix can:

  • Track coordination milestones
  • Identify conflict points and details
  • Monitor prior rights determinations and utility relocation costs
  • Analyze conflict resolution alternatives and recommendations
  • Track utility deliverables and outstanding action items
  • Establish relocation construction timelines and schedules

UCMs allow transparency throughout the utility coordination process.

Utility coordinators, utility providers and designers are up-to-date on each conflict’s progress. Also, allow designers to become aware of potential utility conflicts in early project development stages.

Affected parties can quickly compare costs between potential alternatives.

Because no conflicts are forgotten, UCMs also result in fewer contractor change orders and delay claims. With early streamlined coordination, there are reduced impacts on the public from both construction-related delays and utility disruptions. From a safety standpoint, all potential utility hazards are known before construction, so worker and public safety are both improved.

I think UCMs are a great idea, and I’m glad they’re gaining traction with other coordinators, providers and designers. We’re keeping the utility conflict resolution process transparent and showing how utility coordinators work to resolve conflicts.


Kevin Barnes, PE, LEED AP

About the Author

Kevin Barnes, P.E., LEED AP has nearly 25 years of project management and utility coordination experience. Having led dozens of utility coordination and conversion projects, he was recently invited to help improve South Carolina Department of Transportation’s utility coordination process as well as propose upgrades to the SCDOT Utility Accommodations Manual.

Read more posts by Kevin Barnes, PE, LEED AP

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