Locates At The Design Stage Prove Valuable

By Jeff Griffin, Senior Editor | April 2009 Vol. 64 No. 4
Best to locate facilities before reaching this stage

"Many state one call laws do outline procedures for making locates during the design process, but don't necessarily require them to be made in the same time frame," Maniscalco said. "But we hear that many times, these requests go unnoticed and unattended for that reason. However, there are some one call centers that do handle design locates routinely and the majority of facility owners do a fine job to accommodate the request by either providing maps or physical marks with paint or flags."

Workload

During the past decade, the drive to build and the resulting number of locate tickets has made it difficult to fill requests for locates to use in planning.

"Some facility owners and operators have struggled to keep up with processing basic location requests so they can be completed before excavation is scheduled to begin," he said. "Possibly with the slowdown in construction, some of this pressure may be relieved."

Complicating the problem, Maniscalco added, are instances when a large project goes to bid and several competitive firms overload the system firms with requests for the same information. The company receives the contract and locates are requested again for the same area when work is started.

One way some project planners have expedited one call generated locates for planning is to indicate that earth will be moved which changes the notification to an excavation notice, he added.

In conclusion, Maniscalco said there currently is no national effort directed at promoting utility location during planning.

"We see pockets of private companies, SUE companies hired by utility owners to gather information, but no industry organized group advocating the benefits of making utility location a part of the process," said Maniscalco. "In Colorado, we had a pilot project five years ago to encourage five major counties to begin a project that would build data into the system so it would be available, but it became so large and unwieldy, it was dropped."