Best Practices 30 Day Review

Proposed Updates and Modifications

Best Practices - 30 Day Review

The wording below has been approved for Committee review by the task team responsible. The proposed wording will be voted on during the next Best Practices Meeting.

TR 2022-06: Excavator Role in Positive Response Proposed Update of 5-8 Positive Response


5.8 Positive Response

Practice Statement:

The 811 Center notifies the underground facility owner/operator of the proposed excavation area within the time specified.  The underground facility owner/operator notifies the excavator/contractor of the status of the ticket by providing an electronic positive response through the 811 center.

Practice Description:

Once a facility owners/operator marks the location of existing facilities in the proposed excavation area or determines that excavation or demolition is not in conflict with any of its existing underground facilities, it notifies the excavator of the status of the ticket by appropriate response code through the 811 center’s positive response system.  In addition to positive response, additional communication may be made by any reasonable manner including, but not limited to, face-to-face communications, phone, or other electronic means.

The excavator reviews positive response from the notified owner/operators on the ticket before beginning excavation.  If an excavator identifies or has knowledge of the existence of an unmarked underground facility, the excavator notifies the 811 center that a conflict exists.  Better communication between the excavator and the facility owner/operator is required as an area of excavation becomes more crowded with new underground facilities.

When the excavator makes the request to the 811 center, the excavator is informed which facility owners/operators will be notified.  The excavator reviews all positive responses and compares these to the list of all owner/operators notified on the ticket prior to beginning excavation.  Upon review, the excavator notifies the 811 center of any discrepancy between the positive responses and the field conditions.


  • Existing state laws, including California, Maryland, Nevada, and others
  • Existing operating procedure for various one call centers (over 40 participating states or 811 centers)

TR 2023-01: Subsurface Utility Engineering (SUE) Proposed Update of 2-4 Utility Coordination


2.4 Utility Coordination

Practice Statement:

Project owners and facility owners/operators regularly communicate and coordinate with each other concerning future and current projects in the planning phase.

Practice Description:

Utility coordination requires a tiered approach/ initially sharing proposed project information (Coordinate PA tool) that can result in cost sharing opportunities; and a deeper dive once design begins and the physical location of existing facilities becomes critical.  It is in this latter stage where the damage prevention process begins.  Coordination fosters an open exchange of information among private and public facilities, governmental agencies, and construction-related organizations. Utility coordination also promotes cooperation among said groups in the planning, design, and construction of projects affecting the overall good of participating parties, their organizations and customers or constituents, and the general public. The formation of utility coordinating committees (or councils) include private utilities, public agency utilities, engineering firms, contractor associations, and others with facilities or business interests in public rights-of-way. Coordinating committees function in multiple communities, counties, and states/provinces to promote excavation project coordination. Typical items of discussion include facility excavations in existing and recently paved roadways, disruption of essential facility services, location of utility facilities, environmental impact of damages to utilities, permit procedures, right-of-way access controls, and underground facility damage prevention. Plans of future roadway improvement and of future facility installations are reviewed regularly.


  • Wisconsin Administrative Rule Chapter Trans 220 “Utility Facilities Relocations”
  • Arizona Utility Coordinating Committee (AUCC) Public Improvement/Project Guide, December 1996
  • Highway/Utility Guide. Publication No. FHWA-SA-93-049. Office of logy Applications, FHWA, U.S. Department of Transportation, June 1993.
  • PA One Call – Coordinate PA

TR 2023-03: Trouble Locate (Unlocatable) Facility Proposed New Practice Trouble Locate (Unlocatable)

Proposed New Practice - Trouble Locate (Unlocatable) Resolution Protocol

Practice Statement:

The operator has a trouble locate resolution protocol that emphasizes the timely and accurate completion of the trouble locate request with communication between the parties and documentation of actions taken.

Practice Description:

The practice is intended to be applied in cases where upon initial arrival at the location, the tolerance zone for an existing facility cannot be established with confidence consistent with the Operator’s compliant mark out criteria.

In this scenario the Locate Entity:

·   Applies any initial locate protocols available to them that may result in establishing the tolerance zone and placing markings to avoid unnecessary escalation.

·       After exhausting initial trouble locate protocols, and prior to the required marking date, escalates the trouble locate internally for advanced/enhanced resolution measures, i.e., Vacuum Truck, Line Tracer, GPR, In-line 3D Gyro Mapping technology, etc.

·       Attempts to make direct contact with the Excavator (cell phone, text, email) and documents the method and message.  If a specific interim positive response code is available or comments can be placed in the 811 Center system, share why the locate cannot be completed, along with contact information.

·       Designates the trouble locate area consistent with their procedures and using paint, flags, or other methods that distinguishes the specific trouble area, from the locatable areas.

·       Prioritizes the completion of the Trouble Locate and maintains communication with the Excavator until resolved.  In this communication, the Operator should warn of any unique or elevated risk associated with the unlocatable facility (high pressure gas, high voltage electric, high-density fiber, etc.).

·       Operator makes the appropriate records/mapping corrections, and when feasible takes action to make the facility locatable going forward (tracer wire, EMS-Marker Balls, etc.).

·       Completes the appropriate positive response in jurisdictions that provide that option.

This practice does not relieve an owner/operator, responding to a valid 811 Center notification, from complying with existing statutory language regarding the notification and response time but rather provides supplemental tools to reduce damage potential and maintain Excavator productivity.

Enhances communication and documentation between the parties, keeps the Excavator working in non-trouble areas when applicable, improves Operator’s facility records, and reduces damages to at-risk facilities that could otherwise cause a delay.


·       Existing practice by Southwest Gas operating in Arizona, California, and Nevada; UGI Utilities, Inc., operating in Pennsylvania and Maryland; NiSource operating in Indiana.

TR 2023-01: Subsurface Utility Engineering (SUE) Proposed Update of 2-3 Identifying Existing Facilit


2.3 Identifying Existing Facilities in Planning and Design

Practice Statement:

Designers indicate the existence of all public and private underground facilities on drawings during planning and design, including if the application of subsurface utility engineering (SUE) process and appropriate quality level of verification were applied or required for construction.

Practice Description:

During the planning phase of the project, existing facilities are shown on preliminary design plans. The planning documents include possible routes for the project together with known underground facility information. The various facility owners/operators are then given the opportunity to provide appropriate feedback. During the design phase of the project, underground facility information from the planning phase is shown on the plans. If information was gathered from field-located facilities, potholing, underground facility surveys, or subsurface utility engineering (SUE), this is noted on the plans. The designer and the contractor should understand the SUE process and the quality levels of the information included on the plans. If an elevation was determined during information gathering, it is shown on the plan. The facilities shown include active, abandoned, out-of-service, and proposed facilities. The design plans include a summary drawing showing the proposed facility route or excavation, including streets and a locally accepted coordinate system. The plans are then distributed to the various facility owners/ operators to provide the opportunity to furnish additional information, clarify information, and identify conflicts.  In the event confirmation is lacking regarding the physical location of an existing public or private underground facility, a process to identify these facilities is noted on the plan and in bid/contract documents as applicable.


Providing complete underground facility information and including this information on design drawings and in bid/contract documents when applicable reduces hazards, simplifies coordination, and minimizes the cost to produce the final project.

TR 2023-01: Subsurface Utility Engineering (SUE) Proposed Update to 2-14 Subsurface Utility Engineer

2.14 Subsurface Utility Engineering (SUE)

Practice Statement:

When applied properly during the design phase, Subsurface Utility Engineering (SUE) provides significant cost and damage-avoidance benefits and the opportunity to correct inaccuracies in existing facility records.

Practice Description:

In certain cases and environments, it may be difficult or impossible to determine the locations of all utilities and/or impediments with sufficient accuracy to avoid damage or delay during construction. In these cases, SUE is applied during the design phase to locate, identify, and characterize all existing utility infrastructure (and other relevant non-utility features) found within a given project/area. SUE is applied in a structured manner in accordance with practices and quality levels found in ASCE 38-22 “Standard Guideline for Investigating and Documenting Existing Utilities.” The project owner dictates the required quality levels (QL) as well as the amount of effort expended by the SUE provider on each. Although the standard is more detailed and comprehensive, the following is a brief summary of the quality levels defined therein:

  • QL-D involves utility records research and interviews with knowledgeable utility personnel.
  • QL-C involves surface survey and identifying and recording aboveground features of subsurface utilities, such as manholes, valves, and hydrants.
  • QL-B involves application of “surface geophysical methods,” such as EM-based locating instruments, GPR, radar tomography, metal detectors, and optical instruments, to gather and record approximate horizontal (and, in some cases, vertical) positional data.
  • QL-A involves exposure via “non-destructive soft digging” (vacuum excavation or hand-digging and provides precise horizontal and vertical positional data.  SUE results are integrated into the design process, in which design engineers use the information to create construction plans that accommodate existing infrastructure, thereby reducing the overall risk of conflicts and/or damage.


  • U.S. Department of Transportation—FHWA (12/1999). Cost Savings on Projects Utilizing Subsurface Utility Engineering. Pub. No. FHWA-IF-00-014
  • U.S. Department of Transportation—FHWA (3/2001). Subsurface Utility Engineering: Enhancing Construction Activities. Pub. No. FHWA-IF-01-011
  • ASCE 38-22 Standard Guideline for Investigating and Documenting Existing Utilities
  • Pennsylvania state law – Underground Utility Line Protection Act of 1974 as amended

    TR 2023-04: Bilingual Efforts Proposed Update to 8-3 Target Audiences and Needs

    8.3 Target Audiences and Needs

    Practice Statement:

    An effective damage prevention education program identifies and implements a plan that addresses individual needs in English as well as those populations where English is not their primary language. 

    Practice Description:

    Identification of target audiences ensures maximum impact for the Dig Safely message.  The following target audiences are identified as examples:

    ·       Professional designers

    ·       Surveyors

    ·       Equipment suppliers, distributors, and rental companies

    ·       Construction management officials

    ·       Excavation equipment operators

    ·       Excavation equipment rental stores

    ·       Excavators

    ·       Public works excavators

    ·       Locators

    ·       Railroads

    ·       Participating facility owners/operators

    ·       Non-participating facility owners/operators (i.e., not one call members)

    ·       Agricultural industry members

    ·       Public officials

    ·       Planning, zoning, licensing, permitting, and code enforcement officials

    ·       Public utility board members

    ·       Homeowners and associations

    ·       Schools

    ·       Landscape companies

    ·       Geotechnical and environments soil testing laboratories

    ·       Insurance industry members

    ·       Marine operators

    ·       Children

    ·       Property owners/tenants

    ·       Emergency responders/local emergency planning committee members

    ·       News media

    When target audiences are identified, their specific needs can be more readily addressed.  This helps identify which media (e.g., free advertising, advertising, brochure, meal meetings, handouts, door hangers, yard cards, etc.) can most effectively be used to deliver the message.  This also facilitates customization of the message itself.  Coordination with other strategic partners can assist in reaching the greatest number of people.


    ·       Various 811 centers including AL, AZ, CO, CT, GA, FL, ID, IL, IA, KY, MS, MO, NM, NY (City), NC, OK, OH, OR, TX, VA, WV, and WI

    ·       NUCA and various NUCA state chapters

    ·       API, INGAA, and AGA member companies

    ·       Associated General Contractors (AGC) chapters

    ·       Door hangers from TCS Communications, LLC, of Florida

    ·       Yard cards from Ohio Utilities Protection Service

    PROPOSED TR 2023-05: Ticket Life and Preservation of Marks Proposed Update to 4-8 Facility Marking

    4.8 Facility Marking

    Practice Statement:

    Facilities are adequately marked for conditions.

    Practice Description:

    Facility locators match markings to the existing and expected surface conditions. Markings may include one or any combination of the following: paint, chalk, flags, stakes, brushes. All marks extend a reasonable distance beyond the bounds of the requested area. Proper training for all facility locators includes properly identifying the varying surface and environmental conditions that exist in the field and what marking methods should be used. Conditions that may affect markings are rain, snow, vegetation, high traffic, construction, etc.

    Offset markings offer a valuable marking alternative by providing precise measurements/directions from established and permanent objects, assisting contractors in preserving marks, and conducting excavation best practices.  They enhance visibility and durability in diverse weather conditions, serving as reliable reference points to ensure accuracy of establishing the tolerance zone and safety throughout construction, regardless of the weather.  Communication with the contractor is also critical when using offset marking to describe locate utilities.

    PROPOSED TR 2023-05: Ticket Life and Preservation of Marks Proposed Update to 5-17 Marking Preserva

    5.17 Marking Preservation

    Practice Statement:

    The excavator protects and preserves the staking, marking, or other designation of underground facilities until no longer required for proper and safe excavation. The excavator stops excavating and notifies the 811 center for re-marks if any facility mark is removed or is no longer visible.

    Practice Description:

    During an excavation project, the marks for underground facilities may need to be in place far longer than the locating method is durable. Painting, staking, and other marking techniques can be compromised by construction activity, weather, and unauthorized removal, and may last only as  circumstances allow. When a mark is no longer visible, but work continues around the facility, the excavator requests a re-mark to ensure the protection of the facility.


    • Existing state law, including Ohio