Each time a shovel hits the ground on a transportation project, a utility strike is possible. After all, more than 35 million miles (56 million kilometers) of known underground utilities exist in the United States and many more remain unidentified. Telephone and internet cables, electric and gas lines, and pipes (both large and small) are all at risk when a transportation agency digs into the earth.

The best way for a transportation agency to avoid utility strikes is to know exactly what lies underground at a given location. Agencies need every possible advantage to detect and manage utility conflicts. Enter the second Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP2), which created a collection of tools for transportation agencies that address common transportation challenges—including utility location—through a partnership between the Federal Highway Administration, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, and the Transportation Research Board.

After years of research, 63 products were born out of SHRP2, each tested by State departments of transportation (DOTs) through the Implementation Assistance Program (IAP). The IAP provided States with financial assistance and technical expertise to see if SHRP2 products helped save time, money, and lives by addressing common transportation problems.

Often, the inability to properly locate utilities costs State DOTs time and money because of related delays and inaccuracies. To help solve the utility location issue, SHRP2 created a suite of tools to correctly identify, map, and manage utilities. This set of tools includes three separate products, often referred to as the “utilities bundle” when combined, that can help State DOTs and other transportation agencies mitigate potential negative effects related to utilities and transportation projects.

Read more on this at  FHWA’s Public Roads Magazine!