January 16th, 2019

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By: Helen Callier

I’ve met a few people this year that have struggled in one way or another in obtaining the necessary permits on highway construction projects.  From forgetting to fully assess site conditions for Rock Quarry to having modular trailers that lacked State seal of approval to getting started later than planned with environmental permits, issues popped-up that stressed the start of construction.

So, what were my wise words of wisdom shared during recent conversations?  Did I talk about the intricacies of environmental permits or best practices of Right of Way?

Instead, what I mentioned and have found valuable are five simple tips that help to remove blind spots and provide clarity in obtaining agency and jurisdiction permits.

  • Start Early – Regardless of the type of permit being sought on your highway or DOT related project, getting started early during planning and early design phases allows you to ask questions or be available to answer team member’s questions about permit requirements and concern areas. Waiting for the ball to enter your realm to begin thinking about permits almost always causes a delay.
  • Use Agency and Jurisdiction Checklists and Cheat-Sheets – Making assumptions about what needs to be completed to obtain a specific permit is one sure-fire way to cause a delay in construction. Assumptions can be eliminated by using available agency checklists and cheat-sheets that are found online.  The latest version of documents is available on agencies web site to help insure that construction permit requirements are met.
  • Perform QA/QC – It takes a lot of time and effort to complete permit applications, assemble package and to submit to agency. Before submitting permit applications and package, have a team member to QA/QC to make sure all forms are properly and fully completed including all signatures and stamps on plans are discernable.  This one step along can save a significant amount of time and money.

If a team member is not available to assist, then consider having a third-party permitting expert as a resource to QA/QC before submitting.

  • Track Changes – Keep an ear open and make sure to read internal communications to see if any design or specification changes may derail efforts to prepare for permitting. It is wise to also touch base with jurisdictions as well to make sure forms using are correct, assess agency internal workload or for process changes to make sure can move forward with permitting with little or no hiccups.
  • Ask Questions – If you have doubts in any area of regarding permitting process or your gut gives you a signal or you have not kept up with jurisdiction or agency permitting process and latest standards or your team lacks the depth to properly handle, then your best action to take is to write down your area of concerns and have gaps in addressing requirements then ask questions. Jurisdictions and agencies are partners in the process for safety and are available to answer your questions.

Conclusion

There are billions of dollars of highway projects in Texas and other parts of the United States that will require permitting and taking simple steps early in the process goes a long way in obtaining permits in a timely manner.  If you have any best practices in obtaining permits on highway or other DOT related projects, please let me know @PermitUsNow on Facebook or Twitter. 
Build Safe.