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

"The logical development is to incorporate SUE information into a system," he said. "It will have to begin small in a city, then to a county, and expand a step at a time. The more detailed information made available will help the industry improve overall management of right of way."


Common Ground Alliance, (703) 836 1709, www.commongroundalliance.com.
Haley & Aldrich Inc.: Brian Dorwart, P.E., (603) 625 5353, bcd@haleyaldrich.com
Utility Notification Center of Colorado: J.D. Maniscalco, (303) 232-1991, www.uncc2.org/web/

Further information: SUE and Highway Construction

Subsurface utility engineering (SUE) is much more than locating and marking underground utilities – it is an engineering process that has evolved over the past few decades. SUE was born in the early 1980s when it was recognized that traditional methods of dealing with subsurface utilities were not working.

The SUE process combines civil engineering, surveying and geophysics. It utilizes several technologies, including vacuum excavation and surface geophysics.

When the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) began promoting SUE in the early 1990s, only a few state departments of transportation (DOTs) were known to be using it. Today, nearly every state DOT has used it to some extent on highway projects and SUE has expanded into Puerto Rico and Canada. Many state agencies now use the SUE process routinely on every project. In addition, SUE is being used by local highway agencies, utility companies and design consultants and has expanded beyond the highway industry to military, airport, transit, port and other transportation industries.

SUE services are provided by specialty companies.

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has established a national standard stating responsibilities of engineers, project owners and contractors for the collection and depiction of existing subsurface utility data on design and construction documents. The FHWA and several SUE providers helped fund this activity. Compiled from information on the FHWA web site, www.fhwa.dot.gov.

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