top of page
Pipe laying

OUC Chicago

We Expedite Permits from the Office of Underground Coordination - OUC

Your construction, renovation, or remodeling process may involve deep excavation, piping installations, below-ground utilities, and Earth retention. In this case, your project might have to seek information and approval from the Office of Underground Coordination (OUC). At Permit Studio, we can help you navigate through the permitting process for any parts of your project that will fall under the purview of the OUC. 

Fixing a Pipe

About the Office of Underground Coordination

The OUC is responsible for reviewing IR and EFP documents to determine the effect specific requests will have on their existing facilities. The OUC reviews individual IR and EFP requests. The OUC team members (including 29 utility members) will provide comments by providing existing atlas information/record drawings, conflict notification, and resolution requirements or authorizing proposed construction/installation of new facilities. The mission of the OUC is to ensure the integrity of any existing utilities of infrastructure that already exist underground in the City of Chicago. 

Services from the Office of Underground Coordination

During the construction, renovation, or remodeling process, you may have to seek information or comment from the OUC. Here’s a look at the office's various services to guide your project through the compliance process. 

Working on Laptop

Information Retrieval (IR) Process 

In order for your team to properly engineer the installation of new facilities or maintenance of existing facilities, you should make an Information Retrieval request (IR) to the OUC.  This will allow the member of the OUC to comment on any potential issues your project may have with existing infrastructure. This will minimize conflicts in the field during the construction of new facilities or maintenance on existing facilities.


As an example, let’s say that your project involves the build-out of basement space. The OUC will be able to comment and let your team know about any significant underground pipelines that may come into conflict with your project. This can save you any delays and potential fines.


Our Permit Management team can review your blueprints and recommend where your team should seek IR from the OUC. This can help save your project from any potential delays and cost overruns. 

Existing Facility Protection (EEP) Process 

If any part of your project is in a public way and on private property and involves excavation, and all excavations and/or penetrations are deeper than 12 feet, then your project will need to apply for an opening permit. Additionally, the project will need to be reviewed by the Office of Underground Coordination. Without a review from the OUC, a pavement-opening permit may not be issued. 


The Existing Facility Protection (EEP) Process is designed to reduce the damage to an already existing infrastructure located underground in the City of Chicago. Once your application has been sent to the OUC, the office members have 30 days to respond with one of the following declarations:


  • Permit Issuance Authorized - The OUC has reviewed your project’s plans and has found that it will not interfere with any already existing infrastructure. At this point, your opening permit can proceed. 

  • Not Involved - The OUC has determined that their input is not required on the project. 

  • Conflict - The OUC had found that portions of your project can potentially interfere with already existing infrastructure. At this point, the plans will need to be altered and resubmitted. 


At Permit Studio, we can review and “pre-screen” your architectural drawings to warn you of any potential conflicts that may be detected by the OUC. Also, we can handle every step of the EEP process. That includes giving you a recommended timeline to submit to the OUC to ensure that your project’s timeline stays on track.


Projects That will Require EEP Review


There are 10 types of projects that will require EEP review from the OUC. If your project falls under one of the ten criteria, then our Permit Management team will be able to pre-screen your plans and submit them for EEP review:


  • Projects that involve excavations in the public which parallels traffic flow.

  • 12 foot or deeper Excavations that are in proximity to the Freight Tunnel System Area.

  • Any part of a project involving the demolition or excavation beyond the existing floor, wall, or roof.

  • Exploratory Borings near the Freight Tunnel System Area and are deeper than 12 feet. 

  • Any development which requires an excavation deeper than 12 feet below an adjacent Public Way grade.

  • Any project which requires the issuance of a Harbor Permit. Additionally, this project involves below-grade excavation or penetrations within 40 feet of an existing waterway.

  • Any directional boring installation under the Public Way and waterways.

  • Any underground structural installations.

  • All locations/intersections where new ADA Ramps are to be installed.

  • Any building demolitions require the use of explosives. 


Construction Site

Deep Excavation

If you have a project that requires excavation or penetrations below 12 feet, then you will need to get reviews from both the Office of Underground Coordination (OUC) as well as the Existing Facility Protection Office (EEP). After your project’s plans have been reviewed by these offices, you will then need to get approvals from the CDOT office of the Division of Infrastructure Management (DIM). 


You may be wondering what exactly will be reviewed by the OUC and the EEP when it comes to deep excavations. Here’s a partial list that could fall under a Geotechnical review:


  • Deep foundation members

  • Underpinning elements

  • Earth retention systems

  • Backfilling 


Our Permit Management team will look over your plans and advise your team on what exactly will fall under review. Additionally, we will be able to deal with the multiple approvals and permits that you will require before you are allowed to break ground on the project to finish to ensure minimal delays. 

Expedited OUC Review 

As stated before, the OUC has 30 days to provide your team with a response to your project’s plans. However, if you would like to get a quicker decision, then you can request an expedited OUC review. This process cuts the response time from 30-days to 15-days. In some cases, the response time may take more than 15 days. However, the OUC will strive to provide an answer before the usual 30-day timetable. In order to request an expedited OUC review, your team will need to provide a number of relevant documents to the OUC members. Our Permit Expediting team will be able to determine what paperwork needs to be submitted to get the expedited response that your project needs. Note that there is an additional fee for Expedited OUC reviews. 


Who is Part of the OUC Review Team?

The OUC review committee is made up of 29 members who will review and comment on your project’s plans if they involve any excavation or penetration into the Earth. At Permit Studio, we can interact with each member of the team to ensure that your project gets the “go ahead” needed to proceed with the permitting process. 


  1. Mobilitie LLC

  2. CDOT - Red Light Cameras Section

  3. RCN

  4. Level 3 Communications - CenturyLink

  5. Digital Realty Trust - Lakeside Technology Center

  6. Abovenet - Zayo Communications Inc

  7. Crowncastle

  8. ComEd - Transmission

  9. ComCast

  10. CTA - Engineering - Secondary

  11. JC Decaux North America

  12. CDOT - Division of Project Development

  13. M W RD

  14. CTA - Traffic

  15. Peoples Gas - Secondary

  16. ATT - Illinois SBC

  17. Wide Open West LLC

  18. CDOT - Division of Electrical Operations - 2

  19. Chicago Park District

  20. ATT - Local Network Services

  21. CDOT - Division of Infrastructure Management - PCO

  22. Bureau of Forestry

  23. CDOT - Division of Engineering

  24. MCI

  25. ComEd - Distribution

  26. Department of Water Management - Sewer Section - 2

  27. Enwave Chicago

  28. Department of Water Management - Water Section - 3

  29. Special Review

Frequently Asked Questions

If your project involved work under the surface, you likely have several questions regarding the approval and permitting process. Here are the answers to the most frequently asked questions of these types of projects.


Contact Permit Studio to Learn More About Our Expedited Permitting and Permit Management Services 


Make sure that your project is covered from start to finish. Our Permit Management team can list out all the information and permitting approvals that you need in order to complete your project without unnecessary delays. This includes all work that may involve excavations, implosions or underground construction, renovation, or remodeling. If you have any questions about permitting and approvals for your project, contact our office today. 

bottom of page