Source: Sherman Publications

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Sidewalk flags for construction

by Andrea Beaudoin

August 20, 2014

Independence Township DPW employee Tim McArthur locates utilities on Robertson Court and Main Street. Photo by Andrea Beaudoin
Robertson Court residents spotted colored plastic and metal flags sticking out of the ground and wondered what they were.

Yellow, red, orange blue and green flags mark underground utility lines in advance of two projects. One yard on Robertson was painted and flagged for a landscape project. Another at the corner of Main and Robertson is set for a sidewalk project on Main Street.

Paint and flags let construction workers know where utility lines are located to prevent damage and service disruption.

Underground utility lines include main, services and transmission lines providing gas, electricity and water.

Damages to some lines can cause explosion, electrocution and death.

Removing flags and paint can result in a $5,000 fine and/or one year imprisonment.

Public Act 174 requires that individuals doing any type of excavation work call "Miss Dig" at 811 to submit a request three days in advance so utility companies, or their contractors, can identify underground lines.

If a homeowner has hired someone to do any type of underground digging, the contractor is required to call in a request. Homeowners performing their own work must submit the request.

Tim McArthur locates utility lines for the Independence Township DPW. When a Miss Dig request is called in at a location with underground utility lines in Independence Township, McArthur visits the work area and uses special equipment to identify water and sewer lines.

McArthur said paint and flags are important, and urges anyone who sees markings to be respectful of them.

"There are a lot of utilities underground like gas, electric and water," said McArthur. "It is important these lines be identified to protect public safety."

Even when planning a project that only requires minimal digging, utilities should be marked by calling 811. Some utility lines, like cable television, are extremely shallow and often just an inch or two underground.

"Private" lines like gas lines to grills and pools, electricity to street lighting and sprinkler systems are not located by utility companies.

Identification colors for utility lines include yellow for gas, oil, steam, petroleum; red for electric; orange is communications; blue means water; brown, sewer; green, storm sewer; and white, survey and proposed construction.