Trends Spring 2017 - Page 9

A Federal Highway Administration-Purdue University study in 1999 concluded that acquiring SUE data for construction projects provided a return of $4.62 for every $1 invested, using a sample of 71 projects in four states. Today, with increased costs for construction delays and lawsuits, the return likely is much higher, said Janice Sands Ash, Ayres’ manager of municipal and utilities services for Southeast Operations. “The roadway is not just commerce with trucks going down the road,” Ash said. “What’s going through data cables underneath – the fiber optics – have far more commerce in them than any trucks on the road. What people are finally realizing is that cutting those fiber optic lines will interrupt commerce.” Service blends several disciplines ‘Safety first’ “It helps mitigate the risk for striking an existing utility, which if hit, will cause potential injury or heartache for someone,” said Kevin Mazzei, a project manager with The Beck Group, a construction and architecture firm that has hired Ayres to provide SUE for several of its Tampa-area projects. “It’s one of those things that you can take for granted. If someone has a backhoe out there and needs to put something in the ground, it’s easy to just start digging. But there are so many things underground – out of sight, out of mind. “We always keep what’s potentially out there fresh in our workers’ minds,” Mazzei said, including displaying utility data on construction plans in visible areas at all times at construction sites. “Our firm is big on safety first, and it is a huge part of our safety orientation on the job site.” SUE services combine research, engineering, utility coordination, land surveying, and nondestructive exploratory skills. From a technical standpoint, the process is complex and involves significant training. SUE data acquisition includes various methods to deliver specific quality levels governed under America Society of Civil Engineers National Consensus Standards: D – Basic records research C – Visual inventory of aboveground utilities B – Electronic designating of underground anomalies using electromagnetic detection or ground penetrating radar A – Physically locating a utility with nondestructive methods, usually vacuum excavation Utilities designated or located in a project area are marked and staked in the field; confirmed using topographic │9