Colorado Public Works Journal, Fall/Winter 2019

58 • Colorado Public Works Journal ACEC ENGINEERING FORWARD Dana Bijold Join the Subsurface Utility Engineering Conversation Understanding and Implementing the Law’s Requirements As a community, we have spent the past year interpreting and implementing the new provisions related to CRS Title 9 Article 1.5 “Excavation Requirements” for the Colorado 811 One Call/Subsur- face Utility Law. This legislation has affected all aspects of under- ground utility damage prevention, but the questions most likely to arise are those more specific to the needs of engineering firms and those organizations involved in subsurface utilities. Some of these conversations may include: • Utility companies are focused on ticket response times and other transitions such as: • Providing records or field marks within 10 days of a Subsur- face Utility Engineering (SUE) notification request. • Responding to dig tickets within two business days after day of submittal. • Ensuring new facilities are electronically locatable and transitioning to Tier I. • Excavators and contractors are concerned with timely responses and how to interpret the quality level information on site-plans. • Local agencies are focused on budgets, specifications, road grading tickets, and SUE plan requirements. • Design engineers are interested in liability and project scoping with SUE requirements. • Colorado 811 is focused on adjusting their systems and processes to meet the obligations and educating their customers. • Underground Damage Prevention Safety Commission is reviewing complaints and providing education and guidance. The common themes of these conversations among the varied organizations include - what are the most efficient ways to meet the intent of the law, increase safety, better manage underground utility infrastructure, and reduce schedule and cost risk related to unknown or damaged utilities. SUE Project Identification One of the first questions municipalities should be asking, “Is this project a SUE required project?” The Professional Engineer (PE) can initiate the conversation with the project owner to confirm if the project, or portions of the project, meets all four elements of a “SUE required project.” If the project owner and PE determine that it is not a “SUE required project,” this decision should be documented in the project files. Project scope elements may change as design progresses, and the PE will need to determine if these design changes trigger SUE requirements. Keep in mind that as a municipality, regardless if the project meets the SUE required project thresholds, some projects can still require ASCE 38 quality level investigations and plans as part of the permit- ting process. Ultimately, most capital improvement projects are considered “SUE required projects.” Timing and Funding of SUE Projects The next conversation should be related to the timing and funding reliability of that specific project. If full funding is secured and the project is scheduled for construction in the next cycle, the PE should work with the municipality to complete the SUE investigations as soon as possible. This detailed information can then guide design and allow for greater opportunities to avoid or minimize utility relocations. More reliable utility data (QL B and QL A) will support the utility coordination process, increasing trust and responsiveness with the utility companies. If construction funding is uncertain or the project is being shelved, one option could be to evaluate if QL B and QL A investigations should be deferred or certain areas prioritized for phased SUE inves- tigations. When utility coordination identifies long lead times for utility relocations, some of these areas may be prioritized for early SUE investigations. It is important to converse with the PE to determine the best options for the specific project requirements. Join the SUE Conversation Project owners can greatly benefit from early conversations regard- ing project timing and design goals with a professional engineer to determine the most efficient implementation for SUE investigations and utility coordination to reduce risk during construction. Look for more opportunities to continue these conversations during an ACEC Colorado training event in January 2020, as well as the ACEC Colorado Infrastructure & Innovation Summit & Showcase on March 12-13, 2020. Visit for more details. The author is Dana Bijold, PE Project Manager at Goodbee & Associates, Inc.