Pond Ingenuity Fall 2017 13 P ipeline and facility expansion projects are always an exciting opportunity to serve new markets and provide needed improvements to critical infrastructure. When it comes to planning for these efforts, many considerations are involved; from selecting a route or facility location to ordering materials to physical installation. However, without a place and rights to install, the time spent on activities and decisions is for naught. While pipeline projects are sometimes able to utilize public easements and rights-of-way, in many cases acquisition of rights to install pipe or facilities on private property will be necessary for success f u l pro j ec t comp l e t i on . Coordinating and executing rights to private easements can be a challenging process that involves many stakeholders, including property owners, legal representation, engineers, surveyors, utilities, real estate agents, and construction professionals. The goal is to ensure a positive outcome for all stakeholders, where the project can be successfully completed on time and on Land Acquisition Making Way for Infrastructure to Meet Consumer Demand budget, and the property owners feel the process was conducted fairly. Different types of easements may be required for different situations. In some cases, a utility may prefer to purchase property outright for permanently installed facilities. In other cases, a utility may elect to acquire a permanent easement agreement with a landowner. Furthermore, temporary workspace (or temporary construction easement) agreements may be executed to ensure adequate construction space for the project efforts. It’s worth noting that effort up-front to acquire additional temporary workspace often results in increased construction efficiency with regard to both schedule and budget. It is important to begin land acquisition discussions as early in the project planning process as possible, as nego t i a t i ons can o f t en requ i re considerable time and several design iterations to arrive at a conclusion satisfactory to all parties. Keep in mind that pipe routing and facility location decisions often need to be adjusted based on the results of land negotiations, and that these changes can cause a ripple effect throughout the rest of a project’s activities. It is always a good idea to plan for multiple alternatives to ensure project success. Involving experienced professionals to guide the process and communicate on the utility’s behalf with property owners can help efforts stay on track; however all stakeholders need to be ready and willing to respond quickly when action or decisions are required to avoid delays. Consideration should also be given to the construction phase of a project to ensure property owners remain satisfied with the process. Utilities and contractors should understand and adhere to any special conditions listed in easement agreements, and should seek to leave the property in clean and presentable condition both during and after construction. Land acquisition can be a productive process if undertaken with care. Being receptive to property owner concerns and addressing questions in a timely manner are critical to success. Before you know it, the easements will be executed, and it will be time to get to work! Andrew Lawton, PE | Project Manager, Natural Gas Being receptive to property owner concerns and addressing questions in a timely manner are critical to success.