Colorado Builds A High Accuracy Database of The Location of Underground Assets in The Public Right of Way

New regulations were released January 14 by the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDoT) that mandates (1) the electronic submission of high accuracy plans showing the location of of underground infrastructure prior to commencing a construction project and (2) the electronic submission of accurate as-builts after completion of construction. Last week Rob Martindale, Program Manager Utilities/Railroads at CDOT, gave a webinar elucidating the revised statutes applying to excavation safety.
These are the latest revisions to Colorado statutes which began a year ago. To date the main revisions to Colorado Revised Statues, Title 9, Article 1.5 Excavation Safety (C.R.S 9-1.5 ) have set a new level for excavation damage prevention. First and foremost, for major public civil engineering projects it is now mandatory to conduct a subsurface utility engineering (SUE) at the beginning of a project. In preparation for a SUE survey project owners are now required to notify Colorado one call (CO 811). Within 10 days utility and telecom network owners and operators are required to provide records other information and mark the ground. After completion of the SUE survey the project owner must provide plans stamped by a professional engineer (PE) or professional land surveyor (PLS) showing the location of underground utilities and the quality level achieved for each. The target quality level is ASCE 38-02 QL B or A. If it has not been possible to meet or exceed QL B, documentation must be provided explaining what was attempted and why it was unsuccessful. Another mandatory requirement of the revised statutes is that all newly installed utilities must be electronically locatable. This generally requires the installation of tracer wires or electronically detectable balls. To enforce the provisions of the revised statutes the Underground Damage Prevention Safety Commission was created by the legislation with powers of enforcement including civil penalties.
As of January 14 Term #112 of the new regulations mandates the electronic submission to CDOT of a digital plan, typically the result of a SUE survey, showing all physical offsets, both horizontal and vertical, to all existing utilities, including laterals to buildings, before commencing work on a public construction project. Furthermore, Term #116 requires that accurate as-builts, stamped by a PE or PLS, must be submitted electronically to CDOT within 45 days of the completion of work on a public construction project. The as-built submission must conform to CDOT published standards including the soon to be released ASCE utility as-built standard “Recording and Exchanging Utility Infrastructure Data”. Location accuracy in as-builts is required to meet ASCE Quality Level 3 (0.3 feet or 100 mm) or better.
The mobile application used by CDOT and its contractors for capturing and sharing information about the location of underground utilities is Pointman developed by Prostar, based in Grand Junction CO. Pointman runs on handhelds, phones and tablets and priced to be affordable for small contractors. CDOT has acquired a number of Pointman licences that enables it to provide Pointman apps to its construction contractors so they are all able to view CDOT data in the field and also add to the data as new infrastructure is installed or existing infrastructure is relocated in preparation for a road or highway project. Furthermore CDOT now requires that over 150 utility companies and more than 1,000 utility installation stakeholders use ProStar’s PointMan to capture and record the location of underground utilities.
The cloud enterprise application that manages this information at CDOT is Transparent Earth, also developed by Prostar. In the near future Prostar plans to release a new cloud application Prostar Pro. One of the important features of Prostar Pro is the ability to share data with other instances of Prostar Pro. For example, a large contractor may have its own instance of Prostar Pro which can connect to and share data with CDOT’s instance of Prostar Pro when the contractor is working on a CDOT project.
The CDOT infrastructure data stored and managed in Transparent Earth is in general accurate to ASCE QL 3 (0.3 feet or 100 mm) or better. It also contains extensive metadata about each data set, referred to as its pedigree. The pedigree includes when the data was captures, the equipment used, who captured it, the quality level, the geographic projection and coordinate system, horizontal and vertical precision, and so on. The pedigree information is essential because it provides information required to assess the reliability of the data about each underground facility. The provisions of the Colorado Revised Statutes has resulted in the reliability of the data contained in the CDOT database being much higher than is typically found in utility or telecom records. The high accuracy underground utility data comes from two sources, both mandated by the recent Colorado Revised Statutes; subsurface utility engineering surveys (SUE) and as-builts submitted for newly installed utility and telecom infrastructure. In addition, in some parts of Colorado, for example, the western slope, CDOT is inventorying existing underground infrastructure in the public right of way to support future civil engineering projects. Ultimately it is to be expected that the CDOT data will comprise a complete, current, high accuracy map of underground assets in the public right of way in Colorado. Such a map will provide immeasurable benefits to everyone involved in construction in the public right of way.