View Full Version : silly markouts
07-02-2002, 08:56 PM
recently, I've decided that this whole markout thing really is a silly little game we contractors have to play.
For instance, I did a job last month and asked for a property markout. I did a job in the same neighborhood the year before and had a markout done then also. When they did the markout, they did everything BUT the gas line to the house.........well, sure enough, I undug (luckily not hit) the gas line as it was buried a whole 6" underground.
When I requested the markout for the next house, I specifically requested the gas company to mark out their utilities. Well, they specifically did not come out again, and all other utilities but the gas was marked out.
Know the vicinity and the fact that the lines were very shallow, I was very careful around those areas. I did not hit anything.
However, a few houses down, a irrigation company was putting in sprinkler systems and things went differently. They had a markout, but as my client explained fully (What a long story that was) the gas company had to come in a 12 at night and patch the line as they must of knicked it.
I just find it very amusing that the law for us contractors is WE MUST CALL, however, the law for the guys installing these things:
1) don't have to come do a markout
2) get away with installing gas lines 6" under ground.
My favorite is my friend just hit a gas line the other day doing drainage work. Hit a line that was marked out. However, the line was about 8" underground (code is 18") and no dead sand/ribbon or other backfill was in the trench to notify it was there. When the gas company finally came, he asked how they get away with it. He said they probably were testing out pulling lines that week with a vibratory plow. He also said that next time, he should just call the gas company up directly and not report anything to the state, 'as it will help speed up things"
You really have to wonder about these things.
07-02-2002, 09:22 PM
You should be getting hazardous duty pay-say a prayer and dig.
When I was doing installs it was a joke. Never hit gas, I worried more about power lines while I was running tiller. Got a couple phone lines, most damage comes from p.o.ed customer. You did it, they dont care why.
I still get 2-3 tv cables per year with my aerator. Nothing meaner than somebody with messed up TV.
Mile high cable was using subs with a shovel to do the work & paying $15 per house. Can we figure out why there was a problem?
Dish TV sure helps the situation.
07-02-2002, 09:25 PM
PG&E(Pacific Gas & Electric) will send a contractor out to mark up where their utilities are. They will tell you how many inches the utilities are down. They will bill you at a ridiculous fee if you ever hit their utilities, even though it was recorded at 2' and the line is only 6".
There is an area that I work where the gas lines are 8 ft from street and supposed to be 36" down. A good friend, while grinding a Yucca tree stump, hit the line . It was funny to see it sand blasting the neighbors house(less than 1/4 mile from ocean, go more than 6" thru top soil, you get beach sand ). After everything, his insurance ended up paying almost $14,000 to the various people involved. He never did grind up that stump.
The stories I could tell about utilitites and the people they use to locate them.
07-03-2002, 10:51 PM
I can only imagine the stories you have paul!
The other day, one of the guys was showing me pictures of his wife and kids..........not to bad........right.......then, he proceded to show me pictures of his wife in a bikini........ok, didn't need to see that......then, he said he had pictures of his wife naked.....that's when I said, "ok, thanks for the markout, see you later!"
My big problem with markouts and underground utilities is the liability issue.......not for nothing, but its almost necessary to get a markout to plant annual mums in 6" pots.
I am just getting disgusted. The law is plain and simple. If you doing ANY digging, you need a markout..........I'm sorry, but is this really possible.....If a neighbor comes over one day and wants a few shrubs put in, and I'm there to do it, should I? No I guess. I'd have to call in markout, and wait the 3-7 days, and by that point, it wouldn't make sense to do the job.
The world is going mad.
It is a pain but it is a part of this business.
Here we have one company that marks all the utilities ...they need a couple days notice... you have to meet them at all commercial property's. They will not tell you how deep anything is but whenever I have asked I am told that he could not stop me from looking over his shoulder. Over all they do a good job here.
I'm not sure about your area Steve, but here they have 48 hrs ( 2 work days) to complete the marking. If they don't have it marked by then you can rip up anything not marked. Of course I hope you don't hit any high pressure gas lines or 10,000 strand fiber optics cable.
We hit a fiber optics cable a few years backwhat a mess! Lucky we had taken pictures of the site before we dug, showing the cable 12' away from the hole we dug :)
The worst one was a high pressure gas line we hit. We where removing sidewalk along a building before installing storm water drainage system. by removing I mean lifting it off the gravel. It seems the pipe was installed inside the concrete. It was a 2" high pressure line they had to evacuate the building, along with the 5 fire trucks and 7 ambulances they sent to the site. Lucky for us they could tell we hadn't started digging yet.
07-14-2002, 11:49 AM
I've hit numerous TV cables that were inches below the surface, in one case my stabilizer pad sheared one off. In every case I've been able to reconnect the customer with temporary service until the cable company can repair. I throw a length or two of conduit under my work area so I'm not held up waiting for them to show, in one case it was 10 days before they came to make the repair.
I also took down an overhead phone wire that wasn't marked and again hooked up temporary service, as the phone company had a 3 day wait on their schedule. So far, all accidents have been covered by the providers, as their installations were not to code.
Not all utility companys are bad. My full time job is with a large natural gas company, in Louisiana before you dig you have to call Louisiana One Call, we then have 48 hours to mark our lines. Unlike most companys that contract out this job we send company personal to every site that is anywhere close to our high pressure pipeline. Our transmission lines are from 20" to 42" diameter with pressures of around 1,000psi. NO YOU DO NOT WANT TO HIT ONE OF THESE. When we come out we mark the line, probe the depth and record it on the flags. Our policy is to be on site when any work is being done on our right of way. That way we can insure everyones safety and the safety of our pipeline. I know some utilities do not go to this much trouble, they contract with a company to come out and mark and go, they do not record depth or stay on site for the work to be done. That being said we have a lot of trouble out of contractors you do not call in a locate, mainly water and sewer people. We have a patrol plane that flys our system at least once a week for safety. There have been a number of times when the pilot would call in someone digging on top of our lines without calling in. One time we had a contractor laying a water line beside a major highway that crosses our pipeline. We went to the site to find a track hoe on top of the pipe digging across the line, when we stopped him he was 4" from hiting a line with 700 psi on it. If we had not stopped him he and all the crew and passerbys could have been killed. What thanks did we get for saving their lives? the owner of the company came out and cussed us out for stoping his crew! I will agree that the one call system is a joke, I have a friend who is a State Trooper in the Haz-Mat division, he has been to emergencys where he needed to call Louisiana One Call due to a spill or derailment, problem is they only work 8 hours a day and not on weekends.
07-14-2002, 06:33 PM
Pelican - Did I read that right? You hit some unmarked, overhead lines?
How do they usually mark overhead lines?
07-14-2002, 07:06 PM
I'm a former trucker, and by DOT rules, anything over a roadway lower than 14' is required to be marked as such. This was a single service line my backhoe cab caught while on the trailer, I spliced in a patch and the phone company repaired it 3 days later. Once I pointed out the DOT regulation to them, I wasn't held accountable for the damage.
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