Utilities and Public Right-of-Way...the Right Way!

Carol S. Estes, P.E.
Technical Services Program Manager
APWA Kansas City Office

The Utilities and Public Right-of-Way (UPROW) Committee is one of APWA's busiest Technical Committees. The committee provides education and information to help raise awareness about and promote the best use of the public rights-of-way. It provides a forum where diverse stakeholders can come together to discuss common issues, best management practices, and peaceful integration of all users of the right-of-way. It was established as the result of a task force report identifying the need for clarification of more than 30 issues arising from the use of public rights-of-way.

The committee is composed of six members representing public agencies and utilities, and a representative of One-Call Systems International (OCSI). To accomplish its aggressive work plan, the UPROW Committee has created three subcommittees. Each subcommittee is chaired by a committee member and is charged with oversight of a specialized technical area of concern. In addition, each subcommittee prepares or oversees the development of an educational session for the APWA Congress. Sessions developed by the subcommittees for Congress this year include "A New Paradigm for Managing the Right-of-Way: Urban Micro Surgery," "Locating and Working around Contaminated Soil Sites," and "Fiber to the Premises: ROW Management for the Next Wave."

The three current UPROW subcommittees are:

  • Right-of-Way Management
  • Construction Practices
  • OCSI/Underground Damage Prevention

The UPROW Committee often provides technical material, speakers, and moderators for right-of-way Click, Listen & Learn programs. This year, "Right-of-Way Cooperation for Consistency and Simplicity" and "Protecting Your Interests Underground" were produced with technical input from UPROW Committee members.

A continuing activity of all Technical Committees is the review, revision and development of APWA publications. It is the responsibility of the committees to ensure that material is current, complete, and representative of the best of established practices. UPROW has completed the review of the publications Why Manage the Public Right-of-Way and Roadway Maintenance Guide. The committee's comments will be utilized in future updates.

UPROW actively follows developments in public policy and local issues. This year the committee has been following congressional action on the right-of-way provisions contained in the Highway Reauthorization Bill and developments on a new Telecommunications Act. Other issues under review include the "Fiber to the Premises" concept, distributive antennas, and pipeline safety.

The current members of the UPROW Technical Committee are:

  • Wm. Roger Buell, P.E., Chair; Director of Public Services, Grand Blanc Township, MI
  • William Bohlen, Superintendent of Public Works, Lincoln Park, MI
  • Steven Goodman, Project Manager, Arizona Public Service Co., Phoenix, AZ
  • Mark Macy, P.E., Assistant Director of Public Works, Nashville, TN
  • Shawn O'Keefe, P.E., Engineer II, City of Minneapolis, MN
  • Ron Polvi, P.E., Director of District Engineering, Northwest Natural Gas Co., Salem, OR
  • John L. German, P.E., Board Liaison; Vice President/District Director, PBS&J, San Antonio, TX
  • Carol Estes, P.E., Staff Liaison; Technical Services Program Manager, APWA Kansas City Office

Carol Estes, P.E., can be reached at (800) 848-APWA or

The APWA Utilities and Public Right-of-Way Committee. Front row: Shawn O'Keefe, Ron Polvi, and Carol Estes. Back row: John German, Roger Buell, Bill Bohlen, and Mark Macy. Not pictured: Steve Goodman