Exempt County Road Maintenance from 811 Locate Requirements

Sponsors:  Reps. Baisley, Hooten & Saine / Sen. Smallwood

County road and bridge departments are responsible for maintaining over 100,000 miles of unpaved roads across Colorado.  Maintenance grading activities are required annually to keep the roads’ surface and adjacent roadside drainage in good condition and usable by all sectors of the traveling public.  Under the state’s 811 “Call Before You Dig” law, counties are required to submit every mile of road for verification of the location of underground utilities (aka “locates”) before they can begin grading – even though this grading activity does not disturb more than a few inches of ground and counties already know what utilities are buried by utility owners in the county right-of-way.

This locate requirement is cumbersome for counties to comply with and results in costly delays at the local level – at a time when transportation dollars are becoming scarcer.  Moreover, landscapers and agricultural producers are already statutorily exempt from the same locate requirement.  Road grading activities disturb no more soil than do farming activities and landscape maintenance. 

The intent of the 811 “Call Before You Dig” law is to protect the public, utility employees and excavators by ensuring that excavation activities do not strike buried utilities like gas, water, sewer and power lines and telecommunication infrastructure.  The law works well in instances where the excavator does not know what utilities lie beneath the surface.  Since counties have authority over their own rights-of-way, they know what utilities are buried beneath the surface.  Additionally, counties have requirements specifying at what depth utilities must be buried in the county right-of-way.  These depths range from two to five feet – well below the minimal surface disturbance caused by routine road and adjacent drainage maintenance.

It is also worth noting that the following 29 states currently have some kind of 811 “Call Before You Dig” exemption in place for county road maintenance: AL, AK, AR, FL, GA, ID, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, MI, MN, MS, NE, NM, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, SC, SD, TN, TX, VT, VA, & WA.

HB20- _______ would exempt counties from the 811 utility locate requirements when performing routine maintenance activities in the public right-of-way.  This bill will save valuable time and resources without endangering infrastructure or public safety.   Under the bill, any road construction activities that involve actual excavation would still require a formal locate request by the county to the 811 Board. 

Contact:  Eric Bergman 303.915.2909/ebergman@ccionline.org

***Click here to read the Language Proposed by CCA

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