I-35/I-670 Improvement Project: Mapping Fiber Optic Facilities in Kansas City, MO

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The I-35/I-670 improvement project in Kansas City, MO, undertaken by the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) District 4, highlights the complexities and challenges of subsurface utility engineering (SUE) in urban infrastructure projects.

This case study focuses on the efforts of a SUE consultant who performed Quality Level B (QL-B) mapping and uncovered a significant network of fiber optic facilities, emphasizing the critical role of accurate utility detection and mapping in project planning and execution.

Project Overview

During the initial phases of the I-35/I-670 improvement project, the SUE consultant identified an unexpected challenge: an extensive network of fiber optic facilities linked directly to an AT&T building located in the northeastern part of the project area.

The discovery of these facilities, coupled with inadequate utility records and uncertain utility ownership, necessitated a thorough investigation and precise mapping to avoid potential disruptions to the fiber optic network and ensure the project's success.

Methodologies Employed

Accessing Fiber Optic Splice Chambers
The consultant undertook extensive research and engaged in discussions with various fiber optic utility owners to gain access to the fiber optic splice chambers both within and beyond the project's limits.

This access was crucial for accurately designating the fiber optic facilities and required careful coordination with multiple stakeholders.

Advanced Mapping Techniques
To accurately map the fiber optic facilities, the consultant utilized toroid clamps and composite core insertion coupling techniques. These methods, combined with low frequency pipe and cable locators, enabled the team to distinguish between individual cables.

This approach was essential for overcoming the challenges presented by the dense and complex urban utility environment.

Challenges and Solutions

Inadequate Utility Records and Ownership Uncertainty
The lack of comprehensive utility records and unclear ownership of the fiber optic facilities presented significant hurdles.

The SUE consultant's proactive engagement with utility owners and thorough research allowed for the successful negotiation of access to the necessary splice chambers, demonstrating the importance of stakeholder collaboration in SUE projects.

Precise Mapping of Fiber Optic Facilities
The dense concentration of fiber optic cables required the adoption of specialized techniques to ensure accurate mapping.

The use of toroid clamps and composite core insertion coupling techniques, specifically tailored for fiber optic cable detection, exemplified the consultant's adaptability and expertise in employing advanced technology to meet project needs.

Impact and Outcomes

The meticulous mapping of the fiber optic facilities within the I-35/I-670 project limits had a profound impact on the project's design and execution.

By accurately locating and designating the fiber optic network, the consultant mitigated the risk of damage to these critical utilities, ensuring uninterrupted service and avoiding potential costly delays and repairs.


The I-35/I-670 improvement project in Kansas City, MO, serves as a compelling example of the vital role that SUE practices play in modern infrastructure projects, particularly in urban settings with complex utility networks.

The successful mapping of extensive fiber optic facilities, achieved through strategic stakeholder engagement and the use of advanced detection techniques, underscores the necessity of precise utility mapping in avoiding disruptions and ensuring the smooth progression of construction projects.

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