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S.U.E. Subsurface Utility Engineering

Non-Project-Specific Consultant Contract Information For Internal CDOT Use


 The CDOT Utilities Program has established two SUE NPS consultant contracts for Department personnel to use in association with highway projects. The services that can be provided through either of these contracts include:

  • Preliminary utility information gathering;
  • Visual observation and surveying of above-ground utility facilities;
  • Surface marking of buried utilities;
  • Exposing and surveying the location of buried utility facilities;
  • Utility facility mapping and CADD drawings;
  • Utility relocation planning and design.

The contracts incorporate the SUE information Quality Levels of D through A that are described in ASCE standard "ASCE C-I 38-02, Standard Guidelines for the Collection and Depiction of Existing Subsurface Utility Data". Each Quality Level represents an improvement over the previous level (D the lowest, A the highest). Click on the Quality Levels tab above for definitions.

SUE Quality Levels

Quality Level D ("QL D") information comes solely from existing utility records. It may provide an overall "feel" for the congestion of utilities, but it is often highly limited in terms of comprehensiveness and accuracy. Its usefulness may be limited to early design stage (project planning and route selection) activities or to projects with minimal planned excavations.

Quality Level C ("QL C") involves surveying visible above-ground utility facilities, such as manholes, valve boxes, posts, etc., and correlating this information with existing utility records (i.e., QL D data). When using this information, it is not unusual to find underground utilities that have been either omitted or erroneously plotted. QL C information may not, however, eliminate all inaccuracies; nor will it reveal an unrecorded line that has no surface features. Therefore, its usefulness may be limited to preliminary design reviews or to projects with minimal anticipated conflicts.

Quality Level B ("QL B") involves the use of surface geophysical techniques to determine the existence and horizontal position of underground utilities. This activity is called "designating". It further correlates utility records and surface topographical information, and may also help reveal unrecorded lines. Two-dimensional mapping information is obtained. This information may be sufficient to accomplish preliminary engineering goals, by helping the designer to determine where to place storm drainage systems, footers, foundations, and other design features in order to avoid conflicts with existing utilities. Slight adjustments in the design may produce substantial cost savings by eliminating utility relocations.

Quality Level A ("QL A ") involves the use of nondestructive digging equipment at discrete, critical points to determine the precise horizontal and vertical position of underground utilities, as well as the type, size, condition, material, and other characteristics. This activity is called "locating." It is the highest quality level presently available. This information, when combined with other surveyed and mapped information, allows the designer to infer plan and profile information, for use in making final design decisions. By knowing exactly where a utility is positioned in three dimensions, the designer can accurately determine the extent of a utility conflict, or can often make small adjustments in elevations or horizontal locations and avoid the need to relocate utilities. Additional information such as utility material, condition, size, soil contamination, and paving thickness also assists the designer and utility owner in their decisions. QL A information (in the form of test hole logs), when included in the project bid documents, may yield more favorable bids due to reduced contractor uncertainty about subsurface conditions.

More information about the ASCE Standard and SUE in general can be found at the FWHA SUE website -

SUE Consultants

While all CDOT SUE work should be ordered in coordination with the Region Utility Engineer (see CDOT Utilities Contact page, basic information is presented below and on the following page:

NPS SUE contracts have been established with the following consulting firms:

CDOT NPS Contract 04-HAA-00053

Hedrick and Associates, LLC
Attn: Ken Hawkins or Chuck Dreeson
2455 West Main St
Littleton , CO 80120
(303) 798-9445
Email: [email protected] ; [email protected]

CDOT NPS Contract 04-HAA-00057
Cardno, Inc.
Attn: Scott Throm
10004 Park Meadows Drive, Suite 300
Lone Tree, Colorado 80124 
Phone: 720-257-5778 
Email: [email protected] 

No formal procedure has been established for CDOT personnel to follow in selecting one consultant versus the other for a particular project, but over the term of the two NPS contracts (2 years), approximately equal utilization of each firm is desirable. In choosing which consultant to use, factors such as specific consultant capabilities, and the ability of the consultant to meet desired timeframes for commencing and completing the SUE work may be considered. It is not appropriate to contact both consultants with the intention of soliciting competing cost estimates. The CDOT Headquarters Utilities Unit (attn: Rich Horstmann) may be contacted for information regarding the level of utilization of each consultant contract.

SUE Task Order Procedures 

1) The CDOT Region Utility Engineer (RUE), in coordination with (as appropriate) the CDOT Project Manager, the Resident Engineer, and the Region Survey Coordinator, must develop a project-specific Scope-of-Work and send it to the SUE consultant on CDOT letterhead. Examples for previous projects may be obtained either from other RUEs or the Headquarters Utilities Unit (attn: Rich Horstmann).

Also, each of the two SUE NPS contracts that have been established includes the original Scope-of-Work for the NPS contract. The NPS Scope-of-Work can be used as a starting point for developing the project-specific Scope-of-Work. Copies of the NPS Scope-of-Work can be obtained either from the RUE, or the HQ Utilities Unit.

2) The RUE, working with the project manager, must prepare a CDOT cost estimate for the work described in the project Scope of Work. Examples of previous project cost estimates are also available from the RUE or HQ Utilities Unit.

3) The consultant must review the Scope of Work scope and prepare a Task Proposal with their own cost estimate. It may be necessary to negotiate work items and/or costs. Once agreement on the work and costs is reached, the consultant must submit 3 original signed copies of the Task Proposal.

4) The RUE must obtain written approval of the Task Proposal from the RTD - an email is sufficient. The email approval may be forwarded directly to Mike Como in the CDOT Agreements office, and should copy HQ Utilities.

5) A CDOT standard Task Order Letter must be filled out to the extent possible (some items must be completed by the HQ Agreements Office later on), and the Region Business Office must generate a "PG" document. The standard Task Order Letter form may be obtained from the Region Business Office.

6) The following items must then be sent to the CDOT HQ Agreements Office (attn: Mike Como):

Three copies of each of the following:

  • The original CDOT Scope of Work and cover letter that was sent to the consultant on CDOT letterhead;
  • The CDOT RUE/Project Engineer cost estimate of the work;
  • All three original signed copies of the consultant's Task Proposal;
  • The partially completed Task Order Letter;
  • The PG document;
  • Unless an approval email has already been forwarded to Mike Como, written approval from the RTD.

7) The HQ Agreements Office will process the Task Order for all final approvals. Once such approval is obtained, the Agreements Office will coordinate issuance of the Notice to Proceed letter with the Region. The consultant may not proceed with any work until the NTP letter has been sent out.

More information about SUE or use of the NPS consultant contracts may be obtained from the RUE or the HQ Utilities Unit.



Contact Us
Scott Hoftiezer
Utility Program Manager
Project Development Branch
Colorado Department of Transportation
2829 W. Howard Pl.
Denver, CO 80204

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