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Chapter 12.27
ACCOMMODATION OF UTILITIES ON RIGHTS-OF-WAY

Sections:

12.27.010    Purpose.

12.27.020    Application.

12.27.030    Definition of terms.

12.27.040    General conditions and requirements – Location.

12.27.050    General conditions and requirements – Design – General.

12.27.060    General conditions and requirements – Standards and codes.

12.27.070    General conditions and requirements – Adjustment and relocation of existing facilities.

12.27.080    Permits – General requirements.

12.27.090    Permits – Specific requirements.

12.27.100    Underground utilities – Location and alignment.

12.27.110    Underground utilities – Cover.

12.27.120    Underground utilities – Encasement.

12.27.130    Underground utilities – Uncased carriers.

12.27.140    Underground utilities – Appurtenances.

12.27.150    Underground utilities – Installation.

12.27.160    Underground utilities – One call system.

12.27.170    Overhead utilities – Power and communication lines.

12.27.180    Aesthetic/scenic considerations.

12.27.190    Installations on roadway bridges and structures.

12.27.200    Preservation, restoration and cleanup.

12.27.210    Traffic control and public safety.

12.27.220    Emergency repairs.

 

12.27.010 Purpose.

The purpose of this chapter is to establish a county policy to provide administrative and procedural guidance needed to accommodate the installation and relocation of all above and below ground utilities which are located within the county road right-of-way. (Ord. 92-098 Appx. A § 1).

12.27.020 Application.

This policy shall apply to all new franchises and permits issued pursuant to RCW 80.32.010, 80.36.040 and Chapter 36.55 RCW, to all public and private utilities, and to all installation and relocation of utilities within the county road right-of-way, including but not limited to electric power, telephone, television, telegraph, communication, water, gas, all petroleum products, steam, chemicals, sewage, drainage, irrigation, and similar pipes, lines or cables.

This policy cannot address all situations and conditions that may be encountered. Specific provisions contained herein may not be appropriate for all locations and existing conditions. The policy is intended to assist, but not substitute for, competent work by both road and utility design and installation professionals. This policy is not intended to limit any innovative or creative effort which could result in better quality, better cost savings or improved safety characteristics.

It shall be the responsibility of any utility installing or relocating any of its facilities to ascertain and abide by the requirements and conditions of this policy. (Ord. 92-098 Appx. A § 2).

12.27.030 Definition of terms.

Unless otherwise stated, words and phrases used herein shall have the following meanings:

1. “Appurtenance” means equipment and/or accessories which are a necessary part of an operating utility system or subsystem.

2. “Backfill” means replacement of excavated material with suitable material compacted as specified.

3. “Boring” means grade and alignment-controlled mechanical or other method of installing a pipe or casing under a road without disturbing the surrounding medium.

4. “Carrier” means pipe directly enclosing a transmitted fluid or gas.

5. “Casing” means a larger pipe enclosing a carrier for the purpose of providing structural or other protection to the carrier and/or to allow for carrier replacement without re-excavation, jacking or boring.

6. “Coating” means protective material applied to the exterior of a pipe or conduit to prevent or reduce abrasion and/or corrosion damage.

7. “Conduit” means an enclosed tubular runway for protecting wires or cables.

8. “Cover” means depth to top of pipe, conduit, casing or gallery below the grade of a road or ditch.

9. “Drain” means appurtenances to discharge accumulated liquids from casings or other enclosures.

10. “Encasement” means structural element surrounding a pipe or conduit for the purpose of preventing future physical damage to the pipe or conduit.

11. “Franchise” means occupancy and use document granted by the county required for occupancy of road rights-of-way in accordance with RCW Chapters 36.55 and 80.32.

12. “Gallery” means underpass for two or more utility lines.

13. “Manhole” means an opening in an underground utility system into which workers or others may enter for the purpose of making installations, inspections, repairs, connections, cleaning, and testing.

14. “Pavement” means the combination of subbase, base course, and surfacing placed on a subgrade to support the traffic load and distribute it to the subgrade.

15. “Permit” means a document issued under the authority of (1) the county engineer (or public works director) and/or (2) a franchise granted by the county’s legislative authority. The permit provides specific requirements and conditions for specific utility work at specific locations within the right-of-way.

16. “Pipe” means a structural tubular product designed, tested, and produced for the transmittance of specific liquids and gases under specific conditions.

17. “Plowing” means direct burial of utility lines by means of a ‘plow’ type mechanism which breaks the ground, places the utility line at a predetermined depth, and closes the break in the ground.

18. “Pressure” means internal gage pressure in a pipe in pounds per square inch, gage (psig).

19. “Private lines” means privately owned, operated and maintained utility facilities devoted exclusively to the use of the owner.

20. “Relocation” means planned change of location of an existing facility to a more advantageous place without changing the character or general physical nature of the facility.

21. “Replacement” means installation of a like element of a utility system or subsystem in the same or near-same physical location normally due to damage, wear or obsolescence of the element.

22. “Restoration” means all work necessary to replace, repair or otherwise restore the right-of-way and all features contained within to the same or equal condition as before any change or construction thereto.

23. “Right-of-way” means a general term denoting public land, property, or interest therein, usually in a strip, acquired for or devoted to transportation or secondary purposes.

24. “Road (or roadway)” means a general term denoting a street, road or other public way, including shoulders, designated for the purpose of vehicular traffic.

25. “Sleeve” means short casing through a pier, wall or abutment of a highway structure.

26. “Traffic control” means those activities necessary to safeguard the general public, as well as all workers, during the construction and maintenance of utility facilities within the right-of-way.

27. “Trenched” means installation of a utility in an open excavation.

28. “Untrenched” means installation of a utility without breaking the ground or pavement surface such as by jacking or boring.

29. “Vent” means appurtenance to discharge gaseous contaminants from casings or other enclosures. (Ord. 92-098 Appx. A § 3).

12.27.040 General conditions and requirements – Location.

A. Utility installations shall be located to minimize need for later adjustment to accommodate future roadway improvements and to permit access to servicing such installations with minimum interference to roadway traffic. Counties shall make available to utilities a copy of their six-year transportation improvement program (or capital facilities and transportation plan where required) in order to minimize both utility customer and road user inconvenience should future road improvements (on existing or new alignment) require adjustment or relocating of the utility facilities. Said utilities shall, within the limits of standard business practice, make available appropriate short and long range development plans to the county.

B. Unless otherwise approved by the county, all above-ground utilities and their appurtenances as well as all above-ground appurtenances of below-ground utilities that may constitute a roadside obstacle for traffic using the road shall be located as close as practicable to the edge of the right-of-way line. If an appurtenance within the right-of-way would constitute an unacceptable roadside obstacle, said obstacle may be:

1. Relocated to another place within the right-of-way;

2. Converted to a break-away design;

3. Crash-protected; or

4. Relocated to another location off the road right-of-way.

C. Installations that are required for a road purpose, such as street lighting or traffic signals, are to be located and designed in accordance with this policy.

D. Where existing facilities are in place, new facilities shall be compatible with the existing installations and conform to this policy as nearly as practicable. (Ord. 92-098 Appx. A § 4A).

12.27.050 General conditions and requirements – Design – General.

A. The utility shall be responsible for the design of the utility facility being proposed. This responsibility shall include, in addition to the integrity of the proposed utility facility, provisions for public safety during the course of construction, as well as consideration of traffic safety and accident potential for the life of the installation.

B. For work requiring application to the county, the county may review and approve the utility’s plans with respect to:

1. Location;

2. The manner in which the utility facility is to be installed;

3. Measures to be taken to preserve safe and free flow of traffic;

4. Structural integrity of the roadway, bridge, or other structure;

5. Ease of future road maintenance, and appearance of the roadway.

C. Provision shall be made for known or planned expansion of the utility facilities, particularly those located underground or attached to bridges or other structures within the right-of-way.

D. Granting of a franchise or permit shall not imply or be construed to mean the county shall be responsible for the design, construction, or operation of the facility or for public safety during the facility’s installation, operation, or maintenance. (Ord. 92-098 Appx. A § 4B).

12.27.060 General conditions and requirements – Standards and codes.

All utility installations shall be designed in accordance with the standards, codes and regulations applicable to the type of utility. The methods of installation and materials used shall conform to the codes and standards promulgated by government and by the industry. This shall also include any road design standards which the county shall deem necessary to provide adequate protection to the road, its safe operation, appearance and maintenance. (Ord. 92-098 Appx. A § 4C).

12.27.070 General conditions and requirements – Adjustment and relocation of existing facilities.

A. Existing underground utilities on county road right-of-way may be removed or relocated when road work funded by the county would disturb the existing underground utility. All such removal or relocation shall be at the sole expense of the owning utility and all work must be accomplished by the same permitting process as for new installations.

B. Notwithstanding reinforcement or protection otherwise provided, a permittee shall be responsible for the security of each existing pipeline and utility within a road construction zone. Where there are unusual utility hazards or where heavy construction equipment will be used, the permittee shall provide adequate temporary protection. In replacing the roadway, the design should give due consideration to the protection of previously existing utilities in the roadway section without sacrificing the geometrics of roadway design. (Ord. 92-098 Appx. A § 4E).

12.27.080 Permits – General requirements.

For work not authorized by franchise, comprehensive plan, or other agreement, a written permit may be required for occupancy of road right-of-way by all utility facilities, including private lines. No facility shall be used for other than the purpose stated, unless written approval is granted by the county. (Ord. 92-098 Appx. A § 5A).

12.27.090 Permits – Specific requirements.

When required, permit applications shall be submitted in a standard format as prescribed by the county. The permit application shall include the following information:

A. Agreement to all pertinent provisions of this policy and to such special conditions as the county may deem appropriate.

B. Description of the facilities to be installed.

C. Adequate exhibits depicting existing or proposed location of the facility in relation to the road, including right-of-way or easement lines; relationship to currently planned road revisions, if applicable; and all locations and situations for which deviations in depth of cover (including the proposed method of protection) or other locational standards are anticipated. (Ord. 92-098 Appx. A § 5B).

12.27.100 Underground utilities – Location and alignment.

A. For all crossings, the angle of crossing should be as near a right angle to the road centerline as practicable. However, lesser angles may be permitted based upon economic considerations of practical alternatives.

B. Where practicable, crossings should avoid deep cuts, footings of bridges and retaining walls, or locations where highway drainage would be affected.

C. Longitudinal installations should run parallel to the roadway and lie as near as practicable to the right-of-way line. Installations which cannot be so installed will be allowed within the right-of-way, provided that:

1. The installation will not adversely affect the design, construction, stability, structural integrity, traffic safety, or operation of the road facility; or

2. Failure to allow such installation will create an undue hardship or financial burden upon the utility.

D. Where irregularly shaped portions of the right-of-way extend beyond the normal right-of-way limits, a uniform alignment of facilities shall be allowed. (Ord. 92-098 Appx. A § 6A).

12.27.110 Underground utilities – Cover.

The grade of and resulting cover for an underground utility shall be in compliance with applicable federal, state and county requirements unless otherwise specified. (Ord. 92-098 Appx. A § 6B).

12.27.120 Underground utilities – Encasement.

A. Casings shall be installed for roadway crossings where required by appropriate industry code.

B. Casings may be required for the following conditions:

1. As an expediency in the insertion, removal, replacement, or maintenance of a carrier line crossing or other locations where it is necessary in order to avoid open trench construction.

2. As protection for carrier lines from external loads or shock either during or after construction of a road.

3. For jacked or bored installations of coated carrier lines unless assurance is provided to the county that there will be no damage to the protective coating.

C. Within the road right-of-way, where practicable, casing pipes shall extend beyond the toe of fill slopes, back of roadway ditch, or outside of curb.

D. Other than for necessary vents and/or drains, casing pipes shall be sealed at both ends.

E. Casing pipes shall be designed to support the load of the road and superimposed loads thereon and, as a minimum, shall equal the structural requirements for road drainage facilities. Casings shall be composed of materials of sufficient durability to withstand conditions to which they may normally be exposed. (Ord. 92-098 Appx. A § 6C).

12.27.130 Underground utilities – Uncased carriers.

A. The carrier pipe shall conform to the material and design requirements of the appropriate utility industry and governmental codes and specifications.

B. The carrier pipe shall be designed to support the load of the road, plus superimposed loads thereon, when the pipe is operated under all ranges of pressure from maximum internal to zero pressure. (Ord. 92-098 Appx. A § 6D).

12.27.140 Underground utilities – Appurtenances.

A. Vents shall be required for casings, tunnels and galleries enclosing carriers of fuel where required by federal safety standards. Vent standpipes should be located and constructed so as neither to interfere with maintenance of the road nor to be concealed by vegetation. Preferably standpipes should stand by a fence or on the right-of-way line.

B. Drains shall be required for casings, tunnels or galleries enclosing carriers of liquid, liquefied gas, or heavy gas. Drains for carriers of hazardous materials shall be directed to natural or artificial holding areas to prevent the potential for surface or ground water contamination. Drains for which only water or other non-hazardous liquids may discharge may be directed into the roadway ditch or natural watercourse at locations approved by the county. The drain outfall shall not be used as a wasteway for routine purging of the carrier unless specifically authorized by the county.

C. Location markers and emergency information should be used when required by applicable state and federal standards.

D. Manholes should be designed and located in a manner that will cause the least interference to other utilities or future road expansion. Where practicable, installations in the pavement or shoulders should be avoided. (Ord. 92-098 Appx. A § 6E).

12.27.150 Underground utilities – Installation.

Installations shall ensure safety of traffic and preservation of the roadway structure, and required construction shall, unless otherwise provided in the approved permit, be in accordance with the following controls:

A. Trenched Construction and Backfill.

1. Where the pavement must be removed, it first shall be cut in vertical (or undercut) continuous straight lines.

2. Trenches shall be cut to have vertical faces, where soil and depth conditions permit, with a maximum width of outside diameter of pipe plus two feet. Shoring shall comply with the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries Safety Code.

3. The pipe or carrier shall be installed and the trench backfilled in a manner assuring no deformation of the pipe likely to cause leakage and restoration of the structural integrity of the roadway structure. Specific trench backfill requirements regarding materials and methods shall be provided by the county.

4. When trenching is approved on paved roads, the pavement shall be restored as required by the county.

B. Untrenched construction may be required for pipelines crossing roads paved with asphalt concrete or cement concrete and for roads paved with bituminous surface treatment when directed by the county.

1. If sufficient right-of-way exists, the length of untrenched construction shall extend a minimum of four feet from edge of pavement, except that a lesser standard may be permitted by the county engineer where conditions warrant.

2. Overbreaks, unused holes, or abandoned casings shall be backfilled as directed by the county engineer.

3. Water boring under roadways shall not be permitted.

4. Existing carriers and conduit installed under a roadway may be physically located prior to pipeline installation.

C. Plowing of communication and electrical lines on or adjacent to existing roads by means of a vibratory plow may be allowed by the county, provided that the structural integrity of the roadway is not impaired. (Ord. 92-098 Appx. A § 6F).

12.27.160 Underground utilities – One call system.

All owners of underground facilities shall comply with RCW Title 19, RCW Chapter 19.122, RCW 19.122.010 through 19.122.900 (Washington State One Call System or Dig Law). (Ord. 92-098 Appx. A § 6G).

12.27.170 Overhead utilities – Power and communication lines.

A. Single-pole construction and joint use of the pole is desirable and should be used whenever feasible.

B. The minimum vertical clearance for overhead power and communication lines above the road and the minimum lateral and vertical clearance from bridges shall be in compliance with the National Electrical Safety Code and Washington State Department of Labor and Industries “Electrical Construction Code”.

C. Where irregularly shaped portions of the right-of-way extend beyond the normal right-of-way limits, a uniform alignment of facilities shall be allowed. (Ord. 92-098 Appx. A § 7).

12.27.180 Aesthetic/scenic considerations.

A. Utility installations shall be designed and constructed to minimize the adverse effect on existing roadside manmade or natural amenities. Special efforts shall be taken to minimize any potential negative impact on areas of scenic beauty (i.e., scenic strips, viewpoints, rest areas, recreation areas, public parks or historic sites, etc.).

B. Overhead utility installations shall be permitted in areas of scenic beauty when other utility locations are not available, are not technically feasible, are unreasonably costly, or are less desirable from the standpoint of visual quality.

C. If the utility intends to use chemical sprays to control or kill weeds and brush in scenic areas, prior approval must be granted by the county at least annually. The county may limit or restrict the types, amounts, and timing of applications if a significant negative impact on the aesthetics of the area is anticipated, provided such limitations or restrictions are not in conflict with state law governing utility right-of-way maintenance.

D. Refuse and debris resulting from the installation or maintenance of the utility facilities shall be promptly removed once work is completed. (Ord. 92-098 Appx. A § 8).

12.27.190 Installations on roadway bridges and structures.

Attachment of utility lines to a roadway structure (including bridges) may be allowed where such attachment conforms to sound engineering considerations for preserving the roadway structure and its safe operation, maintenance and appearance. The attachment shall be in accordance with the following:

A. Attachment of a utility shall not be considered unless the structure in question is of a design that is adequate to support the additional load and can accommodate the utility facility without compromise of highway features, including reasonable ease of maintenance.

B. Manholes and other utility access panels should be avoided within the roadway portion of the structure.

C. Attachment on a structure of a pipeline carrying a hazardous transmittant shall be avoided where practicable.

D. The utility attachment shall not reduce the clearance of a structure where such clearance is critical. Attachment to the outside of a structure should be avoided where there are reasonable alternatives.

E. Utility mountings shall be of a type which shall not create noise resulting from vibration.

F. The hole created in a structure abutment shall be sleeved, shall be of the minimum size necessary to accommodate the utility line, and shall be sealed to prevent any leakage of water or backfill material.

G. The utility line back of the abutment shall curve or angle out to align outside the roadbed area in as short a distance as is operationally practicable.

H. Communication and electrical power line attachments shall be suitably insulated, grounded, and preferably carried in protective conduit or pipe from point of exit from the ground to re-entry. Carrier pipe and casing pipe shall be properly isolated from electric power line attachments. (Ord. 92-098 Appx. A § 9).

12.27.200 Preservation, restoration and cleanup.

A. The size of disturbed area necessary to install a utility shall be kept to a minimum.

B. Restoration methods shall be in accordance with the specifications of the county and/or special provisions of the franchise, permit, or agreement.

C. Unsatisfactory restoration work shall be promptly corrected by the utility. If necessary, unsatisfactory restoration work may be corrected by the county and billed to the utility. (Ord. 92-098 Appx. A § 10A).

12.27.210 Traffic control and public safety.

A. Traffic controls, including detours for all utility work, shall conform with the currently applicable “Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways”.

B. All construction and maintenance operations shall be planned to keep interference with traffic to a minimum. On heavily traveled roads, construction operations interfering with traffic should not be scheduled during periods of peak traffic flow. Work shall be planned so that closure of intersecting streets, road approaches, or other access points is held to a minimum.

C. Adequate provision shall be made to safeguard any open excavation, and shall include barricades, lights, flaggers, or other protective devices as may be necessary.

D. The storage of materials on through roadways shall not be allowed, and parking of vehicles on through roadways shall be kept to a minimum. (Ord. 92-098 Appx. A § 10B).

12.27.220 Emergency repairs.

A. All utility facilities shall be kept in a good state of repair. Emergency repairs shall be undertaken in a timely manner.

B. If emergency repairs disturb the right-of-way, such repairs may be immediately undertaken and the right-of-way restored. Approval as to the manner of final restoration of the right-of-way shall be secured from the county in a timely fashion. (Ord. 92-098 Appx. A § 10C).

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The Whatcom County Code is current through Ordinance 2014-047, passed August 5, 2014, and Resolution 2014-037, passed August 5, 2014.

Disclaimer: The Clerk of the Board's Office has the official version of the Whatcom County Code. Users should contact the Clerk of the Board's Office for ordinances passed subsequent to the ordinance cited above.

County Website: http://www.whatcomcounty.us/
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