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View Full Version : Make sure you call your utility markouts!


shovelracer
07-25-2011, 07:24 PM
Well today was a first for me. Ive been excavating (as part of the landscape jobs we do) for 15yrs, and 8 years on my own. Today with one solid swipe I managed to wipe out all the electrical based utilities of the house we were working for today. Also managed in the process to knock out the transformer for the street. Got some nasty looks from neighbors this afternoon. We did as always though call for markouts, and were cleared as of this morning. Turns out someone messed up and the wrong house got marked. One of the companies tried blaming us, and then the tech tried flagging it post damage, so I took some pics of the guy to go with my pics of the unmarked damage. When I got back I made sure to file away my printouts of the marking notification with the shady company right on top.

So my point is that every one should call in their markouts every time. This was a backyard job and utilities are almost never in the back around here. Could have very easily turned into a very expensive day. It takes 5 minutes to do it right, and doesn't cost anything. Call before you dig for your own sake. Not to mention your customers.

DVS Hardscaper
07-25-2011, 08:11 PM
Almost 2 years ago we had a job where the utility locating guy mis-marked the power line ........by about 20-feet!

The cable and phone got wiped out. And I missed the power line by an inch.

Last week I called MD's Miss Utility to have lines marked for a new home not on the map and not on GPS. They wanted not just driving directions (turn left here, turn left there), but they also wanted distances for the directions! As in go 1 mile, then go 108 yds. I don't know the freaking distances. They refused to process my request. And they told me
If I dig without a ticket, I could be fined. Well, the attorney in me plans to review the MD law, as I bet it does not state ANYTHING about the excavator being responsible for providing precise driving directions with distances.

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RussellB
07-25-2011, 08:23 PM
Almost 2 years ago we had a job where the utility locating guy mis-marked the power line ........by about 20-feet!

The cable and phone got wiped out. And I missed the power line by an inch.

Last week I called MD's Miss Utility to have lines marked for a new home not on the map and not on GPS. They wanted not just driving directions (turn left here, turn left there), but they also wanted distances for the directions! As in go 1 mile, then go 108 yds. I don't know the freaking distances. They refused to process my request. And they told me
If I dig without a ticket, I could be fined. Well, the attorney in me plans to review the MD law, as I bet it does not state ANYTHING about the excavator being responsible for providing precise driving directions with distances.

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Posted via Mobile Device If you are referring to Utiliquest that handles most marking in DC area, they are easy to get along with. Why not just meet them at a cross road and show them where you are working?

shovelracer
07-25-2011, 08:37 PM
We can supply Lat and Long as an option. I am going to start logging that info from now on. There will not be a direct cost to me for today, but we still lost time, and I do not need added stress. We ran into the directions thing before when the new street was not listed. They pulled up the area on a satellite mapping program and I was able to get there because of the unique geographic location.

DVS Hardscaper
07-25-2011, 09:27 PM
If you are referring to Utiliquest that handles most marking in DC area, they are easy to get along with. Why not just meet them at a cross road and show them where you are working?

that would be fine and dandy if all I was doing was sittin 'round twitteling my thumbs!

The problem isnt with Utiliquest finding the place. It's the women at Miss Utility that process the ticket.



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tm14930
07-25-2011, 09:58 PM
The problem with 'Miss Utility', is that she is a dispatcher for a number of different markout/locator companies, and agencies. She is programmed to get as precise information as she can about the markout, and you reconize that. But if you err on any of that info, it would serve as another nail in the coffin. Because it wasn't called in correctly, it wasn't marked correctly. Than of course, if you hit it without having a m/o not only will you get the repair bill, but you can also be setting yourself up for a hefty fine!

stuvecorp
07-25-2011, 11:28 PM
Almost 2 years ago we had a job where the utility locating guy mis-marked the power line ........by about 20-feet!

The cable and phone got wiped out. And I missed the power line by an inch.

Last week I called MD's Miss Utility to have lines marked for a new home not on the map and not on GPS. They wanted not just driving directions (turn left here, turn left there), but they also wanted distances for the directions! As in go 1 mile, then go 108 yds. I don't know the freaking distances. They refused to process my request. And they told me
If I dig without a ticket, I could be fined. Well, the attorney in me plans to review the MD law, as I bet it does not state ANYTHING about the excavator being responsible for providing precise driving directions with distances.

.
Posted via Mobile Device

I've had many an epic argument with Diggers here, their maps suck and it isn't getting better.

If I can find the house from the address so can everyone else...

bigviclbi
07-26-2011, 07:25 AM
Good story. I always call for markouts in the front and side yards, but sometimes don't if we are digging in the back and I don't see any evidence of possible utilities.

LoweJ82
07-26-2011, 12:14 PM
after years of directional boring hitting things was almost normal, the locators was so busy they just flew through and miss marked half the stuff, Ive seen some crazy things utilities have done big power lines at 6" water at 20" I learned back then and to this day dont even stick a shovel in the ground w/o calling and getting a dig#

GreenI.A.
07-27-2011, 12:59 AM
We always call as we learnt on a job when the gas line ran where you would never imagine and then was barly a foot deep because the lawn hd been compleatly regraded since the original construction. Luckily another contractor was digging the trench and not us, and when the line was hit there wasn't a big BOOM.

But the thing I don't understand is, you said they marked the wrong property. Did you not notice that the property you were working at wasn't marked? Is it different there than it is in MA. We use dig safe up here and if you call to have them mark in the rear they will also mark the front aswell. It's more of a pain in the ***, if utilities go under a patio it isn't uncommon for them to mark right across the stone. Next thing you know you are on your hands and knees scrubbing the patio o remove the paint before the homeowner sees it

joes169
07-27-2011, 11:21 AM
I've had my share of frustration with calling in locate requests as well. SO much that I refuse to do it anymore, and simply use their online service instead. It seems that the computer asks far less stupid questions than those processing the calls..............

The online requests need to be fairly accurate when it comes to directions as well (if you're not specific, you'll likely get a dreaded phone call from the same people at the hotline). I simply pull up Google Earth first and use their measuring tool to get the info they require.


As for "goofs" in marking, it seems at least once a year I use it as a teaching oppurtunity for my employees (and myself) when a locator mis-marks a utility. I make sure to tell them that if I hadn't called the free locate in, I'd be the one paying for the repair rather than the locating company.

shovelracer
08-11-2011, 07:04 PM
The update:

2 companies acknowledged fault. The damn TV company, who is also the ones that tried getting shady with pics and post markings, sent my customer a bill for the repair. I have been trying for 2 weeks to get in touch with the supervisor that approved the charge, but have gotten nowhere. Also the state board of public utilities has been of no help. The charge is menial, but this is a business ethics issue, only fueled by their extremely shady and poor customer service. Any suggestions?

DVS Hardscaper
08-11-2011, 08:37 PM
The update:

2 companies acknowledged fault. The damn TV company, who is also the ones that tried getting shady with pics and post markings, sent my customer a bill for the repair. I have been trying for 2 weeks to get in touch with the supervisor that approved the charge, but have gotten nowhere. Also the state board of public utilities has been of no help. The charge is menial, but this is a business ethics issue, only fueled by their extremely shady and poor customer service. Any suggestions?


You're going to have to get someone on the phone. I usually politely and sternly depand to speak with a top supervisor.

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shovelracer
08-11-2011, 08:51 PM
Seems I am also able to collect for my down time. I was down 4hrs waiting on this company. My excavation rate is $150 / hr. Seems they OWE me $600. How the tables are turning. Seriously though I am going to stop by in the morning.



NJ Underground Facility Protection Act

48:2-80

d. Any underground facilities operator that fails to mark, locate, or otherwise provide the position and number of its underground facilities which may be affected by a planned ex-cavation or demolition, in accordance with the provisions of paragraph (2) of subsection a. of this section, shall be liable for any costs, labor, parts, equipment and personnel down-time, incurred by an excavator damaging a facility owned, operated or controlled by the underground facility operator. An excavator that damages an underground facility in viola-tion of the provisions of the "Underground Facility Protection Act," P.L. 1994, c. 118 (C. 48:2-73 et seq.) shall be liable for any costs, labor, parts, equipment and personnel down-time, incurred by the underground facilities operator that owns or controls the damaged underground facility. Any dispute arising from the provisions of this subsection, where the claim is less than $ 25,000, shall be subject to an alternative dispute resolution process as established within the Office of Dispute Settlement in the Office of the Public Defender. Nothing in this act shall be construed to discourage parties from pursuing alternative dis-pute resolution processes for an amount greater than $ 25,000. The parties may by mutual agreement designate another alternative dispute resolution association for all matters.

shovelracer
08-12-2011, 09:33 PM
All is well.. Went in today to the office. They were not very nice, but I pleaded my case with proper proof of process. I got the we'll look into it excuse. Coincidence or not there happened to be a cop hanging out outside the office I was in when I was walked out by the manager. The entire office knew about me with the bombardment of calls I laid on them the last few days. Anyways, I got a call at the end of today that the charges will be dropped, and they will be calling the customer to apologize. They knew they were doing things in violation of the law, but I guess most people just roll over.

DVS Hardscaper
08-12-2011, 10:26 PM
Haha - sounds what I would done, I'm big on face to face personal visits.

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