March 30, 2020

By Rick Yeager

The creature comforts we take for granted…

Ever wonder what is involved in providing and maintaining all the creature comforts that we enjoy every day, and sometimes take for granted? We all appreciate the services that we have in our homes that keep us warm, and safe, connected to the outside world through TV or Internet, but what does it take to deliver those services to us, and maintain them so we can enjoy them day after day?

There are numerous types of utilities that provide us daily services, making our lives easier and providing us with a sense of comfort and security. We utilize all these services, but rarely sit back and think about everything involved to deliver and maintain them.

Whether you live in a mansion or a small farmhouse, all living spaces have one thing in common: They all have utilities required to make them a home. Electric to power for lights and appliances; cable or telephone/fiber-optic to provide TV channels, internet, telephone and home security; water for showers, toilets and laundry; sewer for waste and garbage disposal, and natural gas for fireplaces or house heating system.

So, who is responsible for helping utility companies get these services to their final destination? Gresham Smith has become a growing part of that process.

Our Role Supporting Transportation and Utility Clients

In 2012, we began providing design services for electric utility companies in East Tennessee. This service was added to existing small-scale design services already being performed for telephone, gas, water and sewer, specifically centered around helping these providers plan and design facility moves in conjunction with roadway widening. Our work in this area has grown, and today, we provide services to more than 30 Utility clients, throughout Tennessee, Virginia, Kentucky and Georgia.

Our expertise in providing design services on DOT roadway projects is extensive. For example, we have provided design and construction inspection on more than 80 roadway projects in the State of Tennessee alone. Most of these projects result in multiple design contracts for Gresham Smith as several, if not all, utilities in a corridor seek us out for our expertise in navigating the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) Right-of-Way and Utility requirements. And, our established expertise in Tennessee is being put to use to serve transportation improvement projects in other states throughout the Southeast.

Gresham Smith also provides services for non-DOT projects. Recently, we have been awarded several standalone and additional scope contracts to provide utility make-ready (UMR) services for local utility companies and municipal engineering and public works offices. We have also provided the design, construction engineering and specification development for two federal-level design build projects in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Other services include protection analysis, system studies, electric substation design, grounding analysis, arc flash studies, construction specification development and street lighting design, just to name a few.

A Clear Connection

As most of the nation adjusts to working from home, the intimate connection between the transportation and utility industries has never been more clear. Our staff, and our firm, are committed to adding value to all parties involved and embracing the need for clearly managed coordination for everyone in the corridor. To learn more, check out my previous blog on how utilities can minimize delays and avoid unforeseen costs.

About the Author—Rick Yeager

Rick Yeager is the State Utility Design Leader based in Knoxville. He leads Utility Design Services in Tennessee and supports utility coordination operations in Kentucky and Georgia. In his 20-year career, he has provided utility design, coordination and project management on more than 150 DOT and Non-DOT utility projects. Rick also serves on the Quality Pillar and has held several speaking engagements designed to train other utility companies on the processes of DOT relocation.