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Proposed Legislation to Address Utility Delays on Pennsylvania Construction Projects

Our firm recently presented to members of the National Utility Contractors Association of Pennsylvania (“NUCA of PA”). The presentation summarized recent testimony offered by NUCA of PA to the Pennsylvania Senate Transportation Committee aimed 1) to educate the Legislature on the delays routinely experienced by contractors as a result of the relocation of a utility company’s facilities located within public rights-of-ways on state road, bridge, and utility construction projects and 2) to offer potential solutions to help minimize delays and reduce the costs of such delays.  The focus of the testimony was to address 1) delays that result from a utility company’s mismarking or failure to disclose utility lines in response to a Pennsylvania One Call request and 2) delays by utility companies in relocating facilities that must be moved to allow construction to proceed.  Given the tremendous cost impacts to contractors that experience delays to their construction projects resulting from the delays described above, NUCA of PA is seeking legislative action which would provide avenues of recourse for recovery of their costs by contractors.  Several potential solutions were addressed.  One solution calls for revisions to Pennsylvania’s Underground Utility Line Protection Act, known as the Pennsylvania One Call Law, 73 P.S. §§ 176, et seq.  A second solution seeks the creation of a statutory negligent misrepresentation claim against utility companies which would essentially expand the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania’s Bilt-Rite ruling.  A third solution would provide financial incentives to utility companies that perform their locating and relocating work in a timely manner.  Finally, a discussion centered upon making provisions such as those found in PennDOT’s Form 408 Specifications, relating to both differing site conditions and utility delays, mandatory for all construction projects in Pennsylvania.

NUCA of PA is seeking suggestions and prior experiences from contractors to share with legislators and lobbying consultants in its effort to enact legislation which would benefit contractors throughout the Commonwealth.  Please feel free to share those suggestions and stories with Richard Saxe or you can contact NUCA of PA’s Executive Director, Brenda Reigle, directly at ed@nucapa.org or (717) 234-8055.