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locating under ground utilities (one call)

Discussion in 'Jobsite Coordination' started by littleroadgrade, Oct 9, 2011.

  1. littleroadgrade

    littleroadgrade Active Member

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    Can anyone give some tips on white flagging excavation area's for one call locates, to putting out reference points to save locate markings, to how you dig or work over located underground utilities? We have had some problems in these areas I would like to here how others handle things. Mostly crossroad pipe relays, ditch cleaning, and construction work in rural right of ways.
    Thanks
     
  2. Randy88

    Randy88 Senior Member

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    Its three simple words," locate entire property" then its up to them to mark anything on the property that are utilities owned, private stuff is still your problem to find. I've done the marking bs and had nothing but problems, they will only find those in the marked area, the marks wash off before they get there, my marks get confused with others markings and the list goes on and on. If your doing ditch work have them mark from one road to another road, not just part of a ditch or a few hundred feet of ditch but a half mile or mile at a time or more. When the locators complain, tough, its their job and they are getting paid to do it, whether they do part of it, none of it or all of it they get paid for the job, no matter how little or how much they do.

    As for how to dig over underground stuff, very carefully, depending on what it is, we usually dig by hand to locate it first the work from there, depending on how deep it is, most locate guys won't tell you how deep the stuff is but some will. In all the years of digging I've never hit any utility that was marked, some that weren't and the locate guys paid to have it replaced but none that was marked.................... yet. Also take pictures with a digital camera before you do any digging to show where the marks were at, the locate guys do so should you, in case you hit something you have proof they didn't mark it there, once the ground is dug up and they are to blame for marking the wrong spot, they'll never show you their pictures. A friend of mine dig up a fiber optic cable a few years ago, the cost was 75K to replace it but he had one photo that showed just before he dug there were no markings there but about 50 ft to the side, saved his butt in court and he paid nothing, the locate company paid it all.

    One call has loop holes that they can get out of doing some calls, so be careful before digging, they are not responsible for certain things to locate, even if they are on the property your digging on and in certain cases you can't be told the stuff is there even if they know about them, road ditches are a bad place to be. If there are phone lines there ask how many lines per company, if two companies are located one mark each and you dig and find two lines, there could be more you weren't told about and you end up hitting one you still pay, so always ask how many live lines and how many dead lines they have in there, in case you locate a dead line and figure its live, been there almost did that one too. Also request a marking, flags, and a call back or notification. Reason being, some companies will mark others lines so they know they are on their line and to isolate others, leaving two marks, now which is which, they'll also do it for dead lines to trace them out as well but won't flag a dead line, only paint them, so you end up with a half dozen marks with one flag line and no explanation as to what the other stuff is, or they'll only mark the live line and you hit another line and then you have to report a hit but kill half a day to find out its a dead line, again way too many loop holes in my opinion.

    Above all else get confirmation of fiber optic lines and gas lines, those are expensive, now the private gas lines are a pain and sometimes there's loop holes that you can't be told there are gas lines there and you can't access that information, so experience will tell you when to go ask the neighbors if they have a gas line feeding a house or building setup somewhere that might come through your work area, been in that situation a few times too, where neighbors A's gas line went through neighbor B's yard and I was working for neighbor B and I couldn't request a shut down on the line for precaution, only neighbor A could do that, another loop hole to watch out for.

    Welcome to the forum and also the misery of digging around utilities and if your new to the one call, best of luck dealing with them on any level, if your computer literate you can keep a record of the requests you do but if you call them in your pretty much out of luck for documentation. No matter what any utility company says they are required by law to participate in one call, even if their head office is out of state, argued that many times as well, another thing you'll learn over the years, your not at fault and nothing can be held against you if you request a locate and don't dig there, thats a big one to remember, I've requested locates on entire farms, like 500 acre tracts and never dug on the farm the farmer changes his mind and wanted work done on a different farm instead, so don't feel you need to scrimp on one calls and save them any work, you only need to cover your own butt and require them to do as much as possible for you, everyone else will do the same you might as well do it too.
     
  3. d4c24a

    d4c24a Senior Member

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    utilitys

    i do all of my own tracing here in the UK using a cat and genny ,i also have the relvent plans ,that at best are only a guide
    i personaly would not trust anyone else to trace out for me
    i have just finished putting in 1 mile of 12" mdpe main down a main road
    at best the biggest clear bit of digging i had was 20 ft :D
    you have to have the need for feel ;)

    cheers graham
     

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  4. Randy88

    Randy88 Senior Member

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    d4c24a, isn't one call required in the UK? Here it is a requirement that you call before you dig, they have to come out and locate all main company owned utilities, nothing private, also what is a cat and jenny? And lastly what are relvent plans? Around here no small town has any idea of what's out there, most of the maps were taken by the last fired employee because he was ticked off over being fired and are lost for good or were never mapped at all because of lazy employee's, or the utility companies have a master set of blueprints somewhere but won't share them with you if they did have them. We can request a locate be done and also a locate person on hand while digging is done, which hardly ever happens unless its in some city or around a gas main line. The biggest problem around here is so much stuff is abandoned or replaced, in another 50 years there will be so much stuff in the ground there won't be room to put any more in confined spaces, every time something goes bad its not required to take the old out just put some more in new, rural areas in road ditches and right of ways its really bad. I've never hit a marked line yet but plenty of them that weren't marked, they ended up marking a dead abandoned line instead of the good line and you end up hitting the good one.

    Next question I have is how do you locate plastic water lines, around here the city mains are now plastic and there's no way to find them with a locator, even the big mains are all plastic and as one city guy told me last fall, "we really have no idea where its at or which side of the street it's on or where it comes from or goes but its a main line and its big". The same town wanted me to put new water taps in for houses on an entire block on both sides of the street and they said they had a main sewer line, 9 private sewer lines, water main, power lines, cable lines, old water taps and no records or maps at all where anything was and they can't get anyone, to come up with an accurate locate on anything but the cable line. I told him its required by law to put things in according to code, he told me there was nobody around to enforce the code so nothing was done according to any code.
     
  5. RonG

    RonG Charter Member

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    Watch for those two services in the same trench.I have found one and tore out the other one before.Ron G
     
  6. Komatsu 150

    Komatsu 150 Senior Member

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    I also never mark with white paint where I want them to locate. It seems to create nothing but trouble and a way for them to weasel out of responsibility. I always ask for entire property. If it's out in the middle of nowhere I ask for a meeting. I ALWAYS take photographs of their marks before we dig. I've been accused of moving their flags when we hit something. A photograph ends the discussion.
     
  7. donkey doctor

    donkey doctor Senior Member

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  8. d4c24a

    d4c24a Senior Member

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    locate

    randy there is not requirement for a one call type company in the UK
    we do have them ,but mainly we do it our selfs
    we are trained in the use of locator's (cat and genny) http://www.pearpoint.com/
    plans are supplied as a guide by the power and gas co,s
    we also have telephone plans and some storm and foul water plans
    we usually trace out the job then dig trial holes
    services are a bit of guess work :D ,usually locate stopcock ,gas meter etc for a guide of line and dig carefully
    when we lay a new main in plastic now ,we put in a marker tape with wire strand in to help with locating ,but then even our main roads are narrow compared to yours so its there somewhere :D

    the picture is of a 1" gas line to a property that i just missed with the rock wheel milling out the road surface ,it was a bit of a hard dig so they did not go too deep :rolleyes:

    cheers graham
     

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  9. 562C

    562C Well-Known Member

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    We put our plastic watermains in with a tracer wire so that they can be located, but even 20 years ago most had no wires. It's a best guess situation most of the time.
     
  10. waterman28

    waterman28 Well-Known Member

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    Pictures, pictures and more pictures. Take lots of pictures of the locate marks, that way when you hit a line you have proof if they were marked properly or not. Pictures saved me $1500.00 on a phone line repair. No marks but there was a phone line. I had pictures to prove there were no locate marks.
     
  11. Randy88

    Randy88 Senior Member

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    Whats the law in different states reguarding the distance they have for a grace period distance and your still responsible if you hit it, around here its about two or three feet, so they can be off that much or maybe even more in their locates and if you hit it you still pay, whats it like in other states or areas? I'm told this varies as to what area or utility your dealing with. I've also been around some utilities that won't locate the lines and if you hit them, they'll try to get you to pay anyhow, claimig you didn't wait the aloted time or jumped the start time, so you need to keep plenty of good paperwork and documentation on the call in times as well. How are other areas done?
     
  12. MunkyMayhem

    MunkyMayhem Member

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    1st thing to remember all plans are only as good as the designer and the surveyor.
    2: All utilities do what they want and the sensing equipment is good within 2' of either side of the marks made.
    3: The marks made may not be for live lines. (The tracer wire may be still active from old lines)/Tracer lines on new stuff may drop off.
    4: Depths are not good I have had so many variations on depths of lines that if it is said to be in the area I have my operators work cautious and spot thier holes to make sure nothing gets tagged.

    Note:Good operators know though when they found something and will prevent pulling it.

    I spent 2 days tracing a line that was dead for a Fiber line cut. It was supposed to go into a junction box but instead they buried the active junction box. This was par for the course I honestly think that there should be regulations and common ducts for utilities and services. No more of the plant it where you feel like crap.

    To date worst utility strike I have been on is when my company took down the US Postal service runway information system. Ugh that was alot of money there.
     
  13. BlazinSS934

    BlazinSS934 Well-Known Member

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    I work for a water dept in long island NY. The problem with one call in my area is all of the major utilities around me have a sub contractor do the mark outs. If I have a water main break and call for a emergency mark out , the sub for the Gas will be there within the hour' electric usually under 2 hours. Verizon telephone?? They are horrible. They usually show up 3 days later for an emergency. They don't have a sub contractor so they only have 10 guys to cover the NY area and Long island. I made a boat load of OT last summer because of the telephone Co. I had a 16" water main break and we isolated it. It was on a state road so I had to saw cut 14" monolithic pour 6000 psi concrete pavement and I had to take out the entire 45 x 30 panel. Now I called in the mark out on Thursday 2 pm and I went out on Wed so 6 days pass. Gas electric cable all came to mark telco no show but there was a lot of over head telephone so I didn't expect to find 4 400 pair bundles with my backhoe. I had no choice I had to finish my repair first. So I put my 8 x 14 x 8 digging box in cut my pipe and repair with new. Pipe and repair sleeves. I now back fill with 2 feet of clean sand and then use RCA up to the grade that the telephone stuff is. So I wait... And wait ... Me and my guys worked all day weds in to Thursday AM the. The white hats from the telephone co show up and they want they excavation shored up with a wood and I beam whalers. My digging box was too small for them
    Weird!! Long story short I walked in my front door at 6 am Monday Memorial Day. Cha Chang the OT meter was ticking. Thank you phone company!!!!! That mega OT check and comp time I earned paid for my supercharger and the 2 days I needed to install it
     
  14. CM1995

    CM1995 Super Moderator

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    Recent story about line locates.

    We had a job a few weeks ago that involved repairing an existing storm water junction box. Got a line locate for the area and it showed telephone and gas running 30' away, parallel to the road. The gas was actually a foot or so underneath the turn lane. We started digging and about 8' down I snagged what I though was a log, I had already pulled out a few chunks of wood as this was a previously filled area adjacent to the road. To my horror it was not a log but a 2" phone line and what I though was a log was a previous splice.:eek: It looked like a log of colorful spaghetti in the hole.

    So I stopped the backhoe, got out to look at the locates again - all is good, no marks anywhere close to that area until I looked back up the road about 200' and saw a marker for buried fiber optics that was in line with the cable I just destroyed.:eek: At this point stomach goes into knots and the argument is already getting played out in my head.:rolleyes: We call AT&T and tell them we hit a buried line that wasn't located. About 30 mins later an AT&T truck shows up. He drives right past us and up the parking lot to the cell tower, doesn't stop where we are working. We wait for him to come back down the hill and when he does, drives right past us and waves.:beatsme No one else from AT&T showed up about our line - come to find out it was abandoned....
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2012
  15. d4c24a

    d4c24a Senior Member

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    just to get this right , you pulled 4 -400 pairs with a backhoe :eek:
    and made a fortune waiting for them to repair the damage you did :confused:
    here for me , it would have been the walk of shame down the road at least :eek:
     
  16. BlazinSS934

    BlazinSS934 Well-Known Member

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    Well I didn't yank them out completely lol. I damaged one real bad they weren't in conduit it was DB so I didn't have a snowballs chance in hell of feeling the cable. One cable was totally shot the next one had like 150 pairs damaged and the other two had some gouges in the outer jacket. The problem with telephone in my area is the fact that they never ever come to mark out an emergency within the required 2 hours and they rarely get a routine mark out done within the 3 business days they are allotted. They didn't bill us for the repair so I guess that would be an admission of guilt hehe
    I was shocked that they didn't want to use my digging box and had an outside contractor come and shore the excavation. Probably do it that way to pad the bill lol

    Gotta try to find pictures on my old phone

    Sal
     
  17. CM1995

    CM1995 Super Moderator

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    Had another project in downtown Birmingham, luckily for us we found out after the first one-call that the main fiber optical cable running from Meridian, MS to Atlanta was located in the ROW a couple of feet away from where we had to tie into an existing storm drain..:rolleyes:

    We had a guy from AT&T that was basically "assigned" to the project the whole time we were digging, almost became part of the crew.:D He would start when we would start and quit when we would. He stayed on the job until the storm pipe was tied into the junction box and a couple joints laid out of it. Funny thing about it was we never uncovered the fiber line or really got close to it.

    His time was no charge and we were glad he was there. Remember, always call One-Call before you dig, you never know what main line is running through your project. I don't even want to think about how much it would have cost if we would have hit that line.:dizzy
     
  18. BlazinSS934

    BlazinSS934 Well-Known Member

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    The Gas company has 2 guys dedicated to High Pressure gas main supervision. They have a route that they drive once a day and they also get tickets from one call and they supervise any one digging within 100 feet of a 100# HP gas main and within 250feet of a 350 # gas main. The gas co and electric co are combined they follow the same practices. Anytime you dig near a hydrostatic transmission cable they watch you. I like it because they know exactly where their utilities are


    Sal
     
  19. CM1995

    CM1995 Super Moderator

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    That reminded me of a long time ago when my father was building houses in a subdivision that had a natural gas transmission line running through it. They completed the first sector and was working on the second sector that the gas line basically separated. They would walk a loader across the pipeline and sure enough within an hour or so there would be Southern Natural Gas trucks show up and ask what they were doing. I always wondered how they knew a piece of heavy equipment had crossed their line. Do they have any way of detecting vibration or weight? They didn't drive by while the loader was crossing it nor did the plane that fly's the line, fly over while they were doing it.:beatsme