Frequently Asked Questions - Utilities

Question 1:  What is considered a utility by FDOT?

Utilities are defined in the 2017 Utility Accommodation Manual. These are generally Physical lines owned by others such as: pipes, wires, pole lines, and appurtenances used to transport or transmit, electricity, steam, gas, water, waste, voice or data communication, radio signals, or storm water not discharged into the FDOT right-of-way. As of June 30, 2017 wireless devices are now considered a utility. Please note, lines owned by FDOT are not considered utilities and are not governed by 2017 Utility Accommodation Manual.

Question 2:  I see many references to the acronym "UAO"...what is a UAO?

The acronym "UAO" stands for utility/agency owner. This is any citizen or business of Florida that owns utility lines within the FDOT right-of-way.

Question 3:  Do the terms "UAO" and "utility" mean the same thing?

According to the 2017 Utility Accommodation Manual, "UAO" specifically refers to a person, business, or agency. Whereas, "utility" specifically refers to a physical line such as an electric line, pipe, or device. However, these terms are often used interchangeably relying on the context and the listener to make the correct interpretation.

Question 4:  What requirements must a utility meet?

A utility is to be installed in accordance with the 2017 Utility Accommodation Manual (UAM), the terms of the utility permit, and any other executed agreements between FDOT and the UAO.

Question 5:  Do FDOT's utilities need to meet the requirements of the FDOT Utility Accommodation Manual?

No. As explained in Question 1 above, lines owned by FDOT are not governed by the 2017 Utility Accommodation Manual. FDOT lines are installed in accordance with the appropriate FDOT design manual.

Question 6:  I called "Sunshine 811" and no one from FDOT provided any utility locates. Doesn't FDOT have to follow the 811 laws of Florida?

Yes, FDOT does follow 811 laws. However, there is no requirement in the law for FDOT to locate its underground lines when these lines are within FDOT right-of-way. Contractors working for FDOT should check their contract documents to find out whether or not FDOT will provide locates. UAOs assume responsibility for this as a requirement of their permit. However, FDOT does voluntarily locate most of its Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) lines through "Sunshine 811", and will provide locates for any of its underground lines outside of FDOT right-of-way.

Question 7:  I relocated my utility line because FDOT said it was in conflict with an upcoming project but then refused to pay me for my work. Doesn't FDOT have to pay me because I moved it for them?

The laws that govern utilities within FDOT right-of-way require the UAO to relocate or adjust its utilities at its own expense. However, these laws also dictate specific cases when FDOT would be required to reimburse the utility. FDOT only pays when they are legally obligated.

Question 8:  I have already signed a work schedule and relocation agreement with the Department to relocate my utility line to the other side of the road. I read in the UAM that this is equivalent to a permit, so why do I now have to get a permit?

Section 2.1 of the 2017 Utility Accommodation Manual says FDOT has the discretion to allow a utility work schedule in conjunction with a utility agreement to suffice for a utility permit. This means when it is necessary to expedite construction, FDOT may determine, at its sole discretion, that the language and details in the utility work schedule in conjunction with the language and details in a utility agreement are sufficient to obligate the UAO to the equivalent requirements of a Utility Permit. In those cases FDOT may relieve the UAO of the requirements to obtain a Utility Permit. Presently, there are no existing agreements in place that meet this requirement. Therefore, FDOT does not presently exercise this discretionary authority.

Question 9:  I have routine maintenance on my utility pole that I have to do work on. I read in the 2017 Utility Accommodation Manual that this work is allowed under Sections 2.3. Do I have to do some sort of lane closure analysis and wait weeks for approval before I can start work?

No. The UAO's responsibilities for lane closures found in the 2017 Utility Accommodation Manual in Section 2.1(5). The UAO is not required to report lane closures to the LCIS system to perform work in accordance with UAM Section 2.3 which is routine maintenance work or UAM Section 2.1 which is emergency work.

Question 10:  I have a Utility Permit to install my lines that was approved some time ago. I am now ready to go to work , but an FDOT project has popped up in the area. Do I have to fill out that utility work schedule that is in the back of the UAM?

The Utility work schedule in the UAM Section 8 is for UAO's that FDOT coordinated with prior to projects being let. Since the project is already let, depending on the type of contract, that form may not be appropriate. However, you must have an acceptable work schedule to install your lines within the limits of the construction project. The work schedule should be provided to you by FDOT or a Design/Build Firm.

Question 11:  I am doing routine maintenance work on my permitted facility. According to the UAM, I don’t need to apply for another Utility Permit for what I am doing? Do I still need to get a General Use Permit?

Rule 14-20.010(1), General Use Permits are for uses of the R/W that are not addressed by other rules of the Department. Rule 14-20.010(5)(e) goes on to specifically state General Use Permits “shall not” be issued to utilities. Therefore, utilities performing routine maintenance covered under Rule 14-46.001 in UAM Section  2.3 “shall not” be issued a general use permits.

Question 12: How will the changes to the newly published FDOT Standard Plans (previously called FDOT Design Standards) impact Utility Agency/Owners (UAOs) doing work in the FDOT right of way.

The 2017 Utility Accommodation Manual (UAM), Sections 2.3.2, 2.4.2, and 3.7, require the UAOs to use the 2016 FDOT Design Standards.  However, the UAO may elect to use newer FDOT Design Standards/FDOT Standard Plans, but are only legally required to use the 2016 FDOT Design Standards.