Shopping Mall Utility Markout

Written by admin on . Posted in Private Utility Locating NJ, Private Utility Locating NY

Recently Completed Utility Markout Job in NY and NJ

We performed a utility markout in a huge shopping mall parking lot today for a contractor. I was directed to mark out all utilities running through the area that was to be excavated to run new fiber-optic lines. When I arrived I noticed that most of the main utilities running through the parking lot were marked by the One Call Service (811 – Call Before You Dig). The contractor requested I ignore all of those marks since it was “done already” and just focus on the parking lot lighting and other possible utilities. I told him that the one call is sometimes a bit off on their marks and I would feel more comfortable if I could at least verify the areas where the lines were crossing over the excavation area. The contractor told me “why do I need to pay you for something that was done already… for FREE??” Since he was the PRO and knows ALL the ins and outs of locating I didn’t argue.

As advised, I began my day by hooking up my EM locator to the parking lot lights. As I was moving along making my red marks on the ground I noticed yellow marks falling in line with my red marks. These yellow marks were made by the public locator sent by the 811 call center. My EM locator led me to the last parking lot light which was right next to the building around 8 feet away from the gas main. I disconnected my transmitter from the lights and connected to the Gas main tracer wire to see what was going on.

As I carefully moved along the gas line it crossed over my red mark and went in a different direction. As I moved along the signal/tone brought me directly over the excavation marks, across the parking lot where it crossed over more lights I had already marked, then up a grassy hill and down to the street where there was a gas valve in the ground. As I re-traced the yellow marks I understood what happened. The 1 call locator started out right but his EM signal jumped on the electric when the 2 lines crossed one another.

Then when he made it across the lot the signal jumped back onto the gas which led him to the gas cap in the street. He didn’t realize his mistake. The problem with this situation is he was only half right. He mistakenly marked a large portion of the GAS line (through the excavation area) and that’s how deadly accidents happen! As I started correcting the dangerously wrong utility markout, the contractor came up to me and said, “Didn’t I tell you to ignore the utilities that were already marked, why are you going over the gas marks that are already done??” As I proceeded to show him what happened his whole tune changed. He started to sweat… looked really confused… and started asking ME a lot of questions.

When we finished the locate my client came up to me, patted me on the back and apologized for not taking my initial advice. He swore from this job forward he would ALWAYS call for a private mark out to play it safe. I looked at him, smiled and said, ” you really don’t need to apologize to me…you can’t be a “PRO” at everything!!” (He laughed)