The Committee on Right of Way, Utilities and Outdoor Advertising Control – known as CRUO – recently presented several awards in recognition of their work to develop innovative programs to address highway issues.
[Above left to right: Nancy Daubenberger, Jennifer McCleve, and CRUO Vice Chair Drew Gilmore. Photo by AASHTO.]
The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials developed CRUO to review the laws and regulations of the federal government, member states, and territories pertaining to public acquisition and management of real property for transportation related purposes. The committee also reviews issues related to the placement of utilities on highway rights-of-ways or ROW while providing a forum to exchange ideas, innovations, and best practices aimed at improving the quality and efficiency utility and ROW operating practices.
“This new awards program has been a few years in the making,” noted Nancy Daubenberger, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Transportation and CRUO’s chair. “Developed in partnership with the Federal Highway Administration, these awards recognize meaningful contributions to our field.”
CRUO honored the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s Utility Coordination Training and Certification Program with the 2023 Axis Stewardship Award for its efforts to improve methods to steward the public transportation space. KYTC said training, testing, and certification is now a requirement for consultant-led utility coordination prequalification – and the program’s quantifiable increase in interactions between stakeholders may be a huge step in the right direction towards less frequent delays and lower cost projects.
This training creates generational benefits of ensuring a competent, well-trained staff, and supports long-term viability of this certification program.
The Georgia Department of Transportation along with Survey and Mapping LLC (SAM) received the 2023 Axis Innovation Award for creating a new process of managing and mitigating risk in utility planning. In an effort to identify utility risk factors early in the ROW and utility planning process while creating a method of documenting and managing those risks, the Georgia DOT and SAM developed a Preliminary Utility Relocation Process or “PURP” and ROW/Utility Meeting process.
The PURP occurs after the identification of existing utilities and prior to conducting a preliminary field plan review. This process realized revenue and time savings, making the most of limited financial resources. This innovative practice saves stakeholder time, money, and reduces critical path risks.
Finally, Jennifer McCleve – KYTC’s utilities and rail branch manager, who also chairs the CRUO technical subcommittee on utilities – received the first-ever “Golden Bowtie Award” for her organizational and leadership duties for the committee.
“Jennifer, who takes her role as a subcommittee chair seriously, is a reliable and outspoken member of the steering committee and is an advocate for national-scale improvements within the sphere of state utility coordination,” noted Minnesota DOT’s Daubenberger. “We’re all fortunate to have her in this role.”