Utility Investigative Survey

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Brief Overview:

The Ontario Ministry of Transportation initiated the first SUE pilot project at the Homer Watson Boulevard and Highway 410 interchange in Kitchener-Waterloo, Canada, involving reconstruction activities such as bridge reconstruction, lane widening, and the construction of new ramps.


Despite the 30% completion of design, the $25,000 SUE investigation identified and addressed potential utility conflicts, resulting in a cost-effective measure that saved MTO over $62,000, representing a return on investment of $2.48 for every dollar spent, accounting for only 0.125% of the overall project budget.

Case Study as Reported:

The first SUE pilot project initiated by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) took place in the City of Kitchener-Waterloo, Canada, at the Homer Watson Boulevard and Highway 410 interchange.


The project involved the reconstruction of the Homer Watson interchange with the 401 highway and included the following activities: bridge reconstruction, lane widening, modifications to alignments of existing ramps, and the construction of new ramps.


At the time of data collection, design was about 30% completed. Utility records information was collected and served as the basis for utility designation (QL-B), which was performed using multifrequency electromagnetic cable locating equipment in zones where the new ramps would be constructed.


A number of potential conflicts were identified and 16 test holes (QL-A) were made to confirm the vertical depth and characteristics of selected utilities at critical locations.


A number of unmarked, underground utilities were located, including a fiber optics line located at the same location where the formation of the bridge was to be installed.


Based on data provided by the SUE investigation, designers decided to lower several utilities that were in grade conflict with the excavations for the proposed ramp.


The cost of the SUE investigation was $25,000. A study by the University of Toronto suggested that MTO saved over $62,000 due to the subsurface investigation, which translated into a return on investment of $2.48 for each dollar spent.


The cost of the SUE investigation amounted to 0.125% of the overall project budget.

Keywords: Highways/roads/intersections, Design/redesign, Cost, direct, ROI (Return on investment), Savings, EM (Electromagnetic) induction, Excavating, Incomplete (utilities not in records), Test holes (QL-A), Surface geophysical techniques (QL-B).


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