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  1. #1
    Bronze Member
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    Aug 2008
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    71
    Location
    Lynchburg, Virginia
    Tractor
    BX24 and RTV500

    Default What you need to know about miss Utility

    I think that anyone with a back hoe, FEL, (or shovel), should know about the experience that I had with my telephone company last year when I installed a board fence around my 4 acre horse pasture. I started by calling Miss Utility to request the marking of utility lines that my fence might cross. I had marked the proposed fence line to assist the utility locator service. The locator service determined that a telephone line crossed under the proposed fence in 2 spots. They marked the buried telephone line with orange spray paint. I was told not to excavate within 24" of the lines. I was also told that my "ticket" would expire in 15 days.

    The fence is a (very horse friendly) conventional 3 board design with wood post fence on 6 foot centers.

    Soooo, I started boring 330 post holes for the fence. In doing so, I found EVERY rock, stone, and boulder that I own! By the time that I arrived at the second fence crossing site, I had been drilling for 3 weeks, and broken about 20 shear bolts on the auger. I targeted one of the two fence post holes at 30" from the center of the orange spray paint that was still clearly visible in the ground.

    I did not know that I had cut the cable to my neighborhood until I saw the telephone truck roll up. Looking down the hole, there it was. The severed cable. However, I was in the center of my hole (30" from the orange mark)!

    I was told that I was at fault because I was excavating with an expired work ticket. My assertion that the hole was located according to the erroneous utility locator's mark was dismissed as "irrelevant". I was told that I should have had the ticket renewed (even thought the orange paint was perfectly clear). I was also told that if I had drilled the same hole a week earlier (damaging the cable) it would not have been my fault.

    A week later I received a letter from the phone company requesting the contact information for my homeowner's insurance agent. I responded with a letter explaining my position (everything above), and that they would be better off to determine why the marks (of a cable 14" deep) were 30" off.

    2 weeks later, I got a more threatening letter indicating that I owed them $873 in damages. I responded with another letter, and included a copy of the first.

    Then the phone calls started. I maintained that the time of the damage was completely independent of the cause of the damage. The calls were very threatening and implied that they had a room full of lawyers ready to take me to task if I were to request a 3rd party review of the situation. None the less, I was not at fault, and I was not going to pay.

    It took me 6 months to reach a person of authority, accountability, and intelligence within the phone company. But I finally did, and my case was change to "DO NOT BILL".

    In summary, if your project goes past the "ticket date", call the SOBS out to mark it again. And if there is damage that is their fault, FIGHT IT. The system is strategically set up to cause you to fail and give up. But I am proof that you can win!

    One other thing, take lots of pictures of the marks, utilities, and excavation with yardsticks showing the pertinent locations of each.

  2. #2
    Veteran Member chopped's Avatar
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    Dec 2008
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    1,640
    Location
    New England yankeee

    Default Re: What you need to know about miss Utility

    OMG what a story and they did all this for a louse 873 dollars..Unreal..Thanks for sharing..

  3. #3
    Elite Member Duffster's Avatar
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    Mar 2009
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    4,372
    Location
    Wisconsin

    Default Re: What you need to know about miss Utility

    Had it been relocated it may have been marked correctly.
    "If everyone is thinking alike, someone isn't thinking." George Patton

  4. #4
    Platinum Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Posts
    870
    Location
    Covington, GA
    Tractor
    JD 870

    Default Re: What you need to know about miss Utility

    I called for buried utility locate. The phone company came out but not the cable company. I checked my ticket and cable company marked it as not in the ground or something that said they did not need to mark. I called the utility locate service and told them the cable company was wrong. They sent someone out to mark the 1/4 mile of buried cable that my fence was going to miss but I wanted to be sure. I was right of course about the cable being in my work zone.

  5. #5
    Elite Member DT86's Avatar
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    Dec 2010
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    2,992
    Location
    SWVA
    Tractor
    Kubota 9540, RTV 900 and David Brown 885.

    Default Re: What you need to know about miss Utility

    Wow that is crazy. Glad to hear you finally got it worked out.

  6. #6
    Veteran Member Mechanos's Avatar
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    Aug 2010
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    1,059
    Location
    Roosterville, MO
    Tractor
    JD 955/70A/7 TLB

    Default Re: What you need to know about miss Utility

    Quote Originally Posted by kdm0811 View Post
    ...I was also told that my "ticket" would expire in 15 days...I had been drilling for 3 weeks...I was told that I was at fault because I was excavating with an expired work ticket...
    Everyone always seems to think that "the man" is out to get them. In my neck of the woods, calling for utility locates is law. Since it is a legal matter that determines liability of damage, parameters must be clearly defined. A locate ticket cannot last forever and must have a clearly defined length of effectiveness as yours did and as aknowledged by you in your post. The terms of the "contract" were not held up on your end. The entire incident could have easily been avoided with a simple phone call on your part.

    All of that being said, I'm glad you were able to reach a voice of reason and settle the issue to your satisfaction, even if, IMO, you were at fault for not renewing the ticket. I've been in the utility construction industry for 17 years and this is just one of the issues that you have to learn to abide by... if you damage a utility, and don't have a valid ticket, you're responsible for the damages. Whenever we have to excavate near a utility mark, we hand dig to expose the utility and visually verify it's location before sinking any type of equipment into the ground.

    It turned out well for you in the long run, but I would still chaulk it up as a lesson learned for the next time.

  7. #7
    Veteran Member kebo's Avatar
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    May 2006
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    Lexington, SC
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    2001 John Deere 790 4x4, bar tires

    Default Re: What you need to know about miss Utility

    Glad you were able to get that situation resolved in your favor without having to lawyer up. However, you are so right that the "system" is setup to cause you to get so frustrated that you eventually give in to their demands and threats. That seems to be true with every utility in this country! What's so ironic about that is the people that work at those utilities have relatives, friends, neighbors that are the ones that the utility is trying to walk all over. I guess those employees look at it as just doing their job lol.
    Nothing could be finer than riding my JD790 in South Carolina!!

    2001 John Deere 790 4x4 with Model 70 FEL, 5ft International World Agritech bush hog, 5ft Wallberg BB, 5ft Frontier disc harrow, 5ft King Kutter II Rototiller, 5ft Cultipacker, 5ft Sitrex finish mower, Leinbach PHD with 9" & 12" augers, Leinbach middlebuster, Leinbach #11 Field Cultivator, boom pole, custom 3pt handi-hitch, clamp on bucket forks, Pat's Easy Change.

    Nothing runs like a Deere, or smells like a John....

  8. #8
    Gold Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Posts
    269

    Default Re: What you need to know about miss Utility

    Another option from the beginning would have been to measure off your holes for fence posts and dug the ones near the underground lines first...

  9. #9
    Super Member
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    Feb 2008
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    somewhere usa
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    Deere 110tlb, 4520, x749, L130

    Default Re: What you need to know about miss Utility

    I find that alot of the local cable and phone wires aren't even buried (house drops). I remember driving my F550 service truck over a cable one day and got a call from the cable company that I owed them for the repairs. I told them that the line on top of the ground with only a few pine needles over it was improperly installed. They threatened but I ignored them, I knew they didn't have a leg to stand on.

  10. #10
    Veteran Member MHarryE's Avatar
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    Feb 2009
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    Northeastern Minnesota
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    JD 7720; Kubota M135GX, NH TS115A; JD 6230; Kubota L5740

    Default

    Last year I was lucky. I was trying to save myself some tough hand digging in our hard clay and got too close. The mark was off from the telephone cable but they warned me and I cut it. Repairman said he would turn it in as some incidental thing and I didn't get charged. Sometimes you get the right guy.
    JD7720; KubotaM135GX; NH TS115A; JD6230; KubotaL5740

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