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Utility Maintenance & Construction Policy
Civil Engineering Division

In order to maintain the quality and durability of streets and sidewalks within public rights-of-way, and promote an attractive environment for economic growth, the City of Knoxville provides this policy for the non-emergency repair and improvement of utilities within public rights-of-way.

Any excavation, tree cutting or trimming, construction, or installation within public rights-of-way requires a Right-of-Way Permit from the City of Knoxville Engineering Department.

Contact for additional information and assistance:

Tony Vandergriff

1400 Loraine Street
Knoxville, TN 37921 

Permits for excavation can be classified into two categories: Construction Permits and Maintenance Permits.

The cutting of a street to install utilities will result in long-term damage sustained to the street pavement throughout its life. It also results in problems associated with work zone traffic control and inconvenience to the public when maintenance is required during the life of the pavement system. For these reasons, the Civil Engineering Division will carefully review the necessity to locate utility facilities under the pavement.


All utility cut repairs shall be completed in accordance with Construction Notes and COK-12 (Standard Detail for Trench Cut Repairs). The construction notes and standard detail COK-12 both refer to various  City of Knoxville Technical Specifications to describe paving materials and methods, with focus on the following specifications:

Section 5.0 Mineral Aggregate Base
Section 7.0 Tack Coat
Section 9.0 Bituminous Plant Mix Base
Section 10.0 Asphaltic Concrete Surface
Section 11.0 Portland Cement Concrete Pavement (Plain)
Section 12.0 Concrete Curb, Gutter, and Combined Curb & Gutter
Section 13.0 Concrete Sidewalks, Driveways, and Median Strip
Section 15.0 Concrete
Section 31.0 Temporary Water Pollution Control
Section 34.0 Construction Area Traffic Control

All street lights and wiring improvements proposed within the Central Business District shall be completed in accordance with the attached provisions for underground installations. The Central Business District is generally defined as extending from the World's Fair Park (west) to the Coliseum area (east), and from the Tennessee River northward to the Norfolk Southern Railroad right-of-way (north of Jackson Avenue).

The Knoxville City Code contains additional regulations and requirements for excavation within Chapter 23, Sections 23-71 through 23-83. See Appendix B of the Land Development Manual for the complete text of Chapter 23, or access all of the Knoxville City Code.

Section 23-71 Permit required; emergency exception.
Section 23-72 Permit cancellation.
Section 23-73 Revocation of permit.
Section 23-74 Bond; certificate of insurance.
Section 23-75 Inspections; fees.
Section 23-76 Responsibility for repair of street, sidewalk, or right-of-way.
Section 23-77 Supervision of work.
Section 23-78 Public safety and traffic control.
Section 23-79 Use of sheeting and braces.
Section 23-80 Work in public right-of-way.
Section 23-81 Utility connections to be installed prior to paving the street.
Section 23-82 Protective barriers for work in sidewalks or right-of-way
Section 23-83 Annual maintenance permit.

ROW Construction Permit

The Engineering Department will grant utility companies and construction companies a permit for all new construction within the right-of-way on a per-project basis. A ROW Construction Permit must be submitted to the Civil Engineering Division at least 48 hours in advance of the work. Upon permit approval, the utility shall notify the Civil Engineering Division as to when the construction will begin. The City may choose to invoice utility companies on a quarterly basis for construction permits. The utility or construction company must obtain a temporary traffic control permit (see requirements below) as part of the ROW construction permit. In addition, an erosion and sediment control plan must be submitted and approved before the ROW construction permit will be issued. Erosion and sediment control plans must be prepared and sealed by a professional engineer registered in the state of Tennessee, and must meet the requirements as set forth in Section 31.0, Temporary Water Pollution Control. Emphasis will be given to projects located near natural streams, wetlands or steep slopes. The ROW Construction Permit is different than the ROW Connection Permit . A state ROW connection permit is necessary for work or driveway connections along state or federal routes, and can be obtained from the local TDOT office (on Strawberry Plains Pike in east Knox County) at 594-9101. A city ROW connection permit is obtained as part of the land development process for a Building Permit or Site Development Permit (see Chapter 5 of the Land Development Manual or call the Stormwater Engineering Division at 865-215-2148).

The following fee structure will apply for ROW construction permits:

* $1.00 per linear foot of pipe within the right-of-way as shown on the construction plans. This fee may be reduced to $0.10 per linear foot of pipe that is jacked/bored, or a minimum of $15.00 per boring. 
* $10.00 per linear foot of pipe which is constructed under the pavement of the street and only surface destruction occurs. The $10.00 fee is to cover the current cost of resurfacing a 12-ft wide section of roadway. Exceptions to this fee would be as follows:  If the street is on the current City paving list, the utility would pay nothing. If the street has been resurfaced within 5 years or less, the utility will pay $20.00 per linear foot, i.e. the current cost of paving two 12-ft wide sections of roadway. In cases where there are deep trenches and subgrade destruction as well as surface destruction, the utility will be billed on case-by-case basis for the cost of roadway restoration.

Temporary Traffic Control Permit

A Temporary Traffic Control Permit must be submitted as part of the ROW construction permit. An essential part of this permit is the preparation of a detailed traffic control plan (TCP) as described on the permit application. The traffic control plan must be in accordance with the Work Zone Traffic Control Policy as well as applicable state and federal laws and regulations. Traffic control plans for the following types of projects must be prepared and sealed by a professional engineer registered in the state of Tennessee:

* Any excavation on a State Route.
*Any excavation requiring a lane closure or detour on a principal collector or arterial roadway as defined in the most recent version of the Work Zone Traffic Control Policy.
*Any excavation requiring a detour on any roadway.

Traffic control plans for all other situations may be prepared by personnel trained in work zone traffic control procedures and familiar with Section 34.0 of the technical specifications.

Annual Maintenance Permit

The City of Knoxville will grant utility companies an annual Maintenance Permit. This permit will be routine maintenance cuts within City right-of-way, i.e. service connections, breaks, repairs, etc. that occur during the year. The fee for this permit will be based upon the report of cut information (date, location, size, depth, materials), which is tabulated by the utility and forwarded on a monthly basis to the Civil Engineering Division, 1400 Loraine Street.

Temporary traffic control permits must be obtained for any types of street/lane closures as specified above. This type of permit includes the preparation of a traffic control plan (TCP), as specified above, that conforms to the requirements of Section 34.0 of the technical specifications. In addition, the utility company must use erosion and sediment control measures to prevent damage to the project or movement of sediment from the project site.

Utility companies may submit for review bored line extensions outside the pavement edge that are less than 500 feet long and not more than 2 inches diameter as part of the Maintenance Permit. The cost assessed for a bored line extension is $0.10 per linear foot or a minimum of $15.00 per boring. The maintenance permit fee will be billed annually to the utility for the previous year. The annual costs will be based upon the rate structure as found in Knoxville City Code, Chapter 23.