Determining durations for right-of-way acquisition and utility adjustment on highway projects

Sohn, Taehong
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For the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), accurately predicting durations for right-of-way (R/W) acquisition and utility adjustment on highway projects has been deemed as one of the most important capabilities that regional districts should possess. Because this need is so pressing, TxDOT has sought to establish an effective methodology for predicting the durations of these two pre-construction processes. The “Right-of-Way Acquisition and Utility Adjustment Process Duration Information (RUDI) tool” was developed, which is an Excel-based tool that takes into consideration user inputs regarding project circumstances such as schedule urgency and levels of uncertainty. In this study, the accuracy of RUDI and the key drivers that affect the durations of R/W acquisition and utility adjustment have been examined in order to assess RUDI’s effectiveness in implementation on projects, to identify critical needs for enhancing RUDI, and to understand how practitioners can better predict durations needed for R/W acquisition and utility adjustment. RUDI proved useful in predicting durations with better accuracy in spite of limited data availability. Specifically, RUDI provided practitioners with reasonable duration ranges that can be used in better forecasting the durations of utility adjustment. Moreover, the study revealed that practitioners with more than 13 years of experience and R/W acquisition specialization showed better performance in estimating durations for R/W acquisition. Accurately estimated durations for utility adjustment were mostly provided by practitioners working at districts located in urban or metropolitan areas in Texas. The drivers identified significantly influential in predicting durations for R/W acquisition by the practitioners include “TxDOT Project Type,” “District R/W Annual Budget,” “Dedication of Funds to the Project,” “Funding Limitations for the Project,” “Level of Political Pressure,” “Need for Residential Relocation,” “Level of Local Availability of Replacement Housing Facilities,” and “Likelihood of Title Curative Actions,” “Status of Environmental Clearance,” “Status of Right-of-Way Map,” “Frequency of Eminent Domain,” “Right-of-Way and Utility Scope,” and “Number of Parcels for Acquisition.” Likewise, for estimating utility adjustment durations, the drivers deemed highly influential and important by the practitioners include “Dedication of Funds to the Project (R/W and Construction),” “Funding Limitations for the Project,” “Have Subsurface Utility Engineering (SUE) Investigations been Performed,” “Adjustment is Reimbursable Utility or Non-Reimbursable Utility,” “Status of Environmental Clearance,” “Status of Right-of-Way Map,” “Right-of-Way and Utility Scope,” “Number of Utilities Located in Private Easement,” and “Responsiveness of Utility Companies to TxDOT Needs.” These drivers should be considered key data points in RUDI because they can provide users with more duration ranges that can be useful in forecasting actual durations of R/W acquisition and utility adjustment on highway projects. The study also revealed that further research is needed to maximize the benefits of the RUDI tool, although validating the study’s findings was restricted due to a lack of data. Additional studies for improving the RUDI tool should focus both on collecting more recent data and reconstructing the tool in terms of function and structure.