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Thread: Private design locating VS unresponsive munincipalities.

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    Member jdixon485's Avatar
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    Default Private design locating VS unresponsive munincipalities.

    Private underground utility locators are often hired for design projects. The reason for this is fairly obvious...contract locators often times don't mark utilities for design tickets because of they're work load and priorities, because of abusive ticket requests (heard of one recently for 16 plus miles), and simply because RCW laws don't have an official law stating that you have to respond to design tickets requests.

    Well now what I am observing on a local level is that local utility owners/municipalities and such are getting down right nasty with private utility locators on design jobs stating that they do not want private locators marking they're piping systems. (This is usually because of a distrust of the accuracy). But on the flip side of the coin these same municipalities refuse to mark they're utility pipes on design tickets.

    These types of scenarios can lead to millions of dollars in redesign efforts as soon as the contractor starts breaking ground and realizes all of they're data is "bad." This scenario becomes legal often and takes a long time to resolve. '

    What is a practical solution to this problem? RCW legislation that would either force municipalities to respond to design tickets, or to chose to opt out and allow private locators to mark utilities for design? What is the current law, private locators can mark any utility period if marks are below 12'' or something rather?

    Our local level utility councils continuously say they are addressing this concern, but its not on the top of the list - and quite honestly, I don't have faith in any form of resolution in the near future. I am not blaming them, because I know it is a complex problem that no one wants to address head on.

    What are your thoughts?

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    Senior Member yahoo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Private design locating VS unresponsive munincipalities.

    I am not for sure I understand the question but I think nothing will change . whatever company is wanting a survey done , they can pay the survey company to pay for private locating .
    wise men talk because they have something to say and fools because they have to say something....plato

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    Member Kramit69's Avatar
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    Default Re: Private design locating VS unresponsive munincipalities.

    Local utility's need to stop hiring the contract locator with the lowest bid. You get what you pay for.

    We all know that will never happen.

    So, I guess there is no solution to that problem.

    Next question?
    Last edited by Kramit69; November 12th, 2015 at 09:16 PM.

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    Member Kramit69's Avatar
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    Default Re: Private design locating VS unresponsive munincipalities.

    The system we have now has many flaws in it.

    In the area I currently work, there is a Native American utility company that has many square miles of underground electric distribution. Residential and commercial. They are not members of the local 811 system, and nobody locates their facility's. The local contractors/excavators call me and ask WTF? And I tell them sorry, your on your own.

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    Senior Member headcipher's Avatar
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    Default Re: Private design locating VS unresponsive munincipalities.

    As a municipal locator, I can tell you that we do locate design and engineering tickets.

    I often run into private locates that have been entirely wrong missing facilities or marking them inaccurately, sometimes more than 9 feet off. That is why we don't want private locators attempting to locate our facilities. If you don't have the maps, how can you be sure you're catching all utilities in the area?

    There's only one really competent private locating outfit in our area, but they can often miss much because they won't pay the fee for our maps.

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    Mke
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    Default Re: Private design locating VS unresponsive munincipalities.

    Jdixon, Unfortunately you are not going to get the response you are looking for by threatening fines or PUC sanctions for non-response to design tickets. First off, you are asking the people who have this policy to change it. It's not going to happen. The best course of action it to educate on the need to get the information to design infrastructure properly. It sounds like bullshit, but it works. You need to have a coopertative relationship with the utilities, not a confrontational one. I personally, have been threatened with PUC fines on multiple occasions. Mostly from the City Water bureau and the Local Gas company. I've worked with these agencies on multiple occasions to overcome these differences and now they have no issues with me marking their facilities for our design purposes.

    I also understand why they won't let just anyone mark their facilities. Most of this comes down to other locators tend to mark like crap. 5' long stripes that feather out at the end. All in Pink. No continuity in marking. One line starting and stopping in the middle of runs. Mis-label vaults, utilities, and other features. (Yes, I've ran into all of these)

    A lot of these issues can be worked around by communicating with the utility. A lot of times, they do not want to spend the effort into marking for survey, but will share base maps or prints that can be used to help identify. Cipher says his company charges for maps. Most design efforts have contingency plans for additional costs for stuff like this. They shouldn't have an issue acquiring things like this, other then they don't want to put in the effort to procure this information. Which is funny, since they are the first ones who want those same companies to put in added effort to supply them the information.

    The very last point I'm going to put out there is that the industry in a whole does not look favorably on marking survey requests. That is an industry standard that needs to change. You need to go to the public one-call companies like LI and such and help them understand that a little work on the front end will help with the digging part on the back end. It's a lot easier said then done.

    mke
    headcipher, yahoo and Kramit69 like this.

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    Default Re: Private design locating VS unresponsive munincipalities.

    I am a newer private locator in the northeast and we get several requests for "design locates". I think it's a combination of the client not trusting whatever prints they are provided, gaps in information from municipalities, and contract locators not marking these lines/structures. It seems as if the common goal was to prevent damages and delays the municipalities and utility companies should be on-board with this method of pre-marking. Mind you I have only been locating for like 6 months, I have not run into a conflict with a municipality or utility company while marking their lines. I would hope they would understand the purpose of my work and saving them from their unnecessary locating when no digging is being performed. I agree that in a design phase of a project, the call centers and their contract locators should not be burdened to locate; however they may have the prints and the knowledge that I lack or am not accessible to. I may miss some things that they are aware of. maybe there is room for a design locate service by the call centers and their contact locators. I wish it could be a simple answer....

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