OMEGA’s Best Kept Secret: How to Successfully Coordinate Massive Utility Relocations

Successful utility coordination is one of the most important aspects of a large infrastructure project and is often the key to ensuring a project is delivered on time.

OMEGA’s best keep secret is our incredible utility coordination team who ensures all major utility relocations, including gas, telephone, electric – including high voltage transmission linesjet fuel pipelinewater mains, and sanitary sewers are completed before any major construction begins.  

utility coordination

OMEGA's Approach to Utility Relocations

Major projects that change the landscape of our communities generally require major utility work. Our team understands that successful planning and coordination of utility relocations is crucial to avoiding unexpected utility encounters during construction, in turn eliminating costly and time-consuming project delays. 

How do we achieve that? It starts with relationships.

Our OMEGA utility team has developed relationships with utility stakeholders throughout the region through work on major projects which include work on the Illinois Tollway Central Tri-State (I-294) Corridor Reconstruction projectthe Illinois Tollway I-90 Corridor Reconstruction project, and the IDOT Jane Byrne Interchange projects.  

 

In order to be successful at the complex work involved in utility coordination, the utility team needs to be well versed and well connected with the utility stakeholders that impact a project. 

 

At OMEGA, we understand the ins and outs of these intricate utilities while also understanding the larger picture of how each utility works, and how to keep things running smoothly during relocation. With the best and the brightest on our team, our utility management team consists of experienced professional engineers and technicians with a combined 77 years of experience performing work on utility projects.  

 

In other words, we're no stranger to the complex utility world.

Relationships aren’t the only way we ensure successful utility coordination. We also provide professional assistance to private and public utility companies, municipalities, counties and government agencies in subsurface investigations, utility planning, program management, utility relocation and construction management. 

Beyond relationships and our close synchronization with private and public companies, there’s another important factor in the successful coordination of these utilities.  Soft skills like communication, patience, and persistence are just as important as the hard skills and expertise our team has to successfully deliver these complex projects. 

 

“It is important to have patience and be persistent when working with utility companies,” said Justin Weber, a construction engineer on the utility team. The coordinators for each of the utilities have more on their plate than just your work orders so it helps to be patient yet persistent to make sure your work doesn’t get left idle.”  

  

Utility 1

Our Utility Coordination Team: OMEGA’s Best Kept Secret

Our team knows what it takes to navigate planning and coordination of utility workThe OMEGA utility management team specializes in the following utility management:  

 

  • Utility Relocation Planning and Program Management:
    • OMEGA’s staff of professional engineers and technical personnel have experience in providing designs which aim to minimize the impact of utility relocations. In many cases, utility relocation cannot be avoided. OMEGA’s staff is prepared to advise and provide cost-effective alternative solutions that meet the needs of the client.  

 

    • OMEGA has extensive construction engineering and construction management experience, including work plans for construction activities above or adjacent to utilities. The work plans establish construction activity procedures and equipment crossing restrictions to ensure the safety of workers and the public during construction. 

 

  • Utility Locating Services 
    • OMEGA has provided comprehensive utility locating services on transportation projects of all sizes for the Illinois Tollway, Illinois Department of Transportation, county transportation agencies, and municipalities. 

 

    • At times, utility relocation can be close to residential areas, and OMEGA’s team of utility relocation experts, in conjunction with our communications team, are there to make sure those residents’ concerns are addressed. Whether it’s an in-person meeting to walk a resident through the plan, or if it’s coordinating a resolution of an issue—OMEGA’s utility team works hand in hand with the adjacent communities.  
utility relocation

Utility Management Team Work on the Central Tri-State (I-294) Corridor

How do we successfully manage these projects? By anticipating changes and developing processes that improve the coordination of these massive infrastructure projects. 

 

One such process is the Notice for Utility Work Order (NWO) process OMEGA created early in a project for one of our largest clients. The OMEGA utility management team established the NWO process to expedite collaboration with utility agencies to minimize schedule and cost risks for Tollway construction.  

 

How does it work? Simple. We put all the information together in one location so that our utility companies have all the information they need at the very beginning of the process. This process provides utility companies with all pertinent design information in order to complete relocation design. Prior to the NWO process, utility companies could not commence relocation design until pre-final (95%) plans were issued by the DSE resulting in schedule and cost implicationsNow that we have this process in place, utility companies can begin the relocation process much earlier. 

 

Our utility management team has also been successful in adding value to the Tollway through a variety of utility relocation processes in addition to the NWOOur team has been able to streamline the NWO submittals by verifying all pertinent design information has been provided to the utility companies in order to complete relocation design, and our team has also been key in proactively following up with designers and utility companies to ensure a timely and complete response to all requests and inquiries.  

 

 

Recent Project Utility Relocation Highlights 

We’re actively managing huge utility relocation projects, including on three major construction projects on the Central Tri-State (I-294) Project as well as past utility relocation projects. 

Mile Long Bridge:  

The OMEGA utility management team facilitated Buckeye Pipeline agreements, permits, easements, all impacted utility agencies, and municipal coordination to allow relocation to proceed in September 2019 to avoid delays to Mile Long Bridge construction.  This project also entailed ComEd tower relocations as well.

BNSF Bridge

The OMEGA utility management team facilitated relocation of CenturyLink duct bank prior to receiving contractor access. Enabling work previously included within the contract was completed by a preferred BNSF contractor in cooperation with the Tollway in order to preserve the project schedule that otherwise would have been negatively impacted had the utility duct bank relocation been delayed until after a construction and maintenance agreement was developed 

ComEd Transmission Relocation

The OMEGA utility management team is responsible, as part of the $4 billion Central Tri-State I-294 project, for overseeing 35 ComEd transmission tower relocations. These towers carry high voltage from a local substation within the project limits to users in western Illinois. In order to accomplish the relocation in tight quarters, OMEGA is in close coordination with multiple designers to ensure new locations do not conflict with the proposed work.  

Our utility management team is using their expertise to successfully execute these massive relocations including risk management, project controls and scheduling, coordination of all design elements, subsurface conditions and geotechnical knowledge, land and easement acquisitions, intergovernmental agreements, utility coordination, construction management, and public outreach. 

Northwest Suburban Municipal Joint Action Water Agency (NSMJAWA) Water Main Relocation along I-90 from the Elgin Toll Plaza to the Kennedy Expressway  

The OMEGA team provided construction management services for this project and facilitated the relocation of the existing Northwest Suburban Municipal Joint Action Water Agency (NSMJAWA) transmission main which was located on the south side of the I-90 Right of Way from Elmhurst Road to west of Route 59.

The NSMJAWA relocation contract began at Barrington Road and extended eastward to Elmhurst Road with work in eight major segments, costing a total of $83 million. The Tollway agreed to reimburse Nicor for expenses associated with protecting the 22” and 36” Nicor transmission mains adjacent to the I-90 widening and reconstruction.

Nicor Watch and Protect was contacted for proposed work taking place within 25 feet of the Nicor transmission mains. Nicor Watch and Protect was at all work within 15 feet of the transmission mains when notified. Coordination and tracking of Nicor inspection services was performed daily through the established three step Watch and Protect process.

The project included relocation of the water main, relocating the 90” hot tap into the existing 90” main east of Elmhurst Road, and relocating a portion of the existing 90” main between the hot tap and existing mains west of Elmhurst road. At the time this was the largest relocation of a hot tap. 

Our Utility Coordination Team Gives Their Top Tips for Successful Utility Coordination 

Curious what our top tips for successful utility relocation are? We crowdsourced the utility team, and here’s what they had to say. 

 

Top Tips for Successful Utility Relocation 

 

  1. The most important tip for success is to identify all potential conflicts early in the design process and begin coordination with the utilities ASAP. Major utility relocations such as large diameter gas lines or large duct packages can have a lead time of up to a year or more before completion. Any necessary easement acquisitions can extend the process even further. 
  2. Complete your utility relocation work before a construction contract advertisement date. 
  3. Work with the design engineers to evaluate design alternatives to minimize or avoid utility relocation. 
  4. Create a form that can be given to a utility company to verify all work is needed and unavoidableAlso include which alternative routes were considered in order to avoid utility relocation. OMEGA’s team created a Notice for Utility Work Order form which was provided to utility companies to verify all practical design alternatives had been explored to minimize or avoid relocations and concluded no feasible alternatives available. The process provides utility companies all pertinent design information in order to complete relocation design. 
  5. Streamline the process by ensuring the utility company receives all necessary information in order to complete relocation design. 
  6. Develop a communications strategy for community outreach to local municipalities informing them of the utility relocation impacts, scheduled duration and scope.  
  7. Keep open lines of communications between utility stakeholders, owners, design team, and communities. 
     

Meet OMEGA’s Utilities Relocation Team 

Now it’s the moment you’ve been waiting for. Meet the incredible team who make our utility relocations efforts happen. 

Ryan Macander, PE

 Ryan has more than 17 years of experience in construction engineering. He has significant experience working as a Project Manager on mega high profile utility, roadway, and bridge projects for the Illinois Tollway, Illinois Department of Transportation, Chicago Department of Transportation, Chicago Department of Water Management as well as local counties. Ryan has unparalleled structure and roadway construction experience within the Chicagoland region over the past 17 years. 

His professionalism, project management leadership skills, and proactive approach has proven to be invaluable to clients and colleagues within the construction engineering industry. Ryan holds a master’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Illinois at Chicago and is a Licensed Professional Engineering in the State of Illinois. Ryan is currently leading utility relocation as Deputy Corridor Manager for the Central Tri-State (I-294) project.

Mark Keating, PE

Mark has more than 32 years of experience in management, construction, implementation, and program initiatives on various large-scale civil and heavy highway projects. He has worked on significant roadway, highway, bridge, and rail projects for the Illinois Tollway, Chicago Department of Transportation, Chicago Transit Authority, and the Illinois Department of Transportation. Most recently, Mark has been serving as Deputy Construction Consultant Manager of the South Section for the I-294 Central Tri-State Reconstruction. Mark holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Illinois at Chicago.  

Steve Ravanesi

Steve has more than 40 years of experience in all phases of civil engineering design and project management ranging from utility management, traffic studies and environmental reports to the design of expressways, local roads and streets, parks, site developments and bike paths. He has processed dozens of Phase I reports including Environmental Assessments, Feasibility Studies and Location/Design Reports. 

He has also prepared contract plans/ specifications and estimates for major projects for clients such as IDOT, Illinois Tollway, CDOT, County Highway Departments, and local municipalities. Steve serves on the I-294 Owner’s Representative 95th Street to Balmoral Avenue project as Utilities Assistant. Steve holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Southern Illinois University and an MBA in management from University of Illinois at Chicago.  

 

Jose Malagon

Jose has more than 30 years of experience in utility management engineering. Jose has worked with ComEd, Illinois Department of Transportation, Illinois Tollway, Cook County Department of Transportation, Chicago Department of Transportation, and Chicago Transit Authority. Jose holds a bachelor’s degree in Construction Technology from Purdue University-Calumet.  

Justin Weber, EIT

Justin has more than seven years of experience in construction engineering. Justin’s experience includes inspecting, documenting, and managing all site activities including utility relocations on a broad range of projects including new Illinois Tollway corridors, IDOT bridge reconstructions, county roadway expansions, railroad bridge and double track expansions, and elevated multi-use path construction. 

Justin is currently leading coordination with all utility agencies in the corridor for the Central Tri-State (I-294) project. Justin is proficient in Illinois Tollway procedures and standards including utility work order processes to facilitate utility relocations associated with Illinois Tollway improvements. Justin holds a bachelor’s in civil engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville and is a Licensed Engineer-in-Training in the State of Wisconsin 

LinkedIn
Facebook
Twitter
Email

More from our blog

How OMEGA’s In-House Outreach and Communications Team Elevates Our Civil Engineering Firm

In the civil engineering world, firms often subcontract communications and marketing work to specialized firms and agencies for in-house work and also when managing client projects. Over the last several years, OMEGA shifted from using outside resources to bringing the experts in house where our communications and outreach team brings the quality of our project deliverables to a whole new level.

Work for a firm that works for you.

Resident Engineer

Ready to manage large-scale, complex projects with some of the largest transportation government agencies in Illinois? As a Resident Engineer, you’ll be tackling some of the largest projects in the Chicagoland region. Lead the way.

Construction Engineer

Time for a challenge? Our Construction Engineers gain invaluable experience on incredible projects to launch their careers. Be part of a team changing the landscape of how Chicago lives, works and moves.

Internship

Start your career in transportation off right by interning with OMEGA where you’ll have access to industry experts, exposure to some of the largest transportation projects in Illinois and hands-on experience from day one.