HISTORY OF SUBSURFACE UTILITY ENGINEERING Post-56 – Looking Back (1990–1994, Part 2)

We’re continuing to look back before moving on to the 2000s. For the last three weeks we have looked at the SUE history from 1981 thru 1994. We didn’t quite finish 1990-1994 last week so we’ll continue with it this week.

SUE History from1990 thru 1994, Part 2

(1) Professionals touting SUE in the early 1900s included Jim Anspach (So-Deep, Inc.), Nick Zembillas (TBE Group, Inc.), Bob Milliken (Underground Services, Inc.), Jonathan Tan and John Krause (Geotrack, Inc.), John Midyette (InfraMap), and probably some others I wasn’t aware of at the time. These SUE professionals visited many State DOTs in all parts of the country; prepared numerous papers for conferences; prepared numerous articles for industry publications; provided numerous presentations, demonstrations, and exhibits at workshops, conferences, meetings, etcetera; developed generic videotapes and provided them to FHWA for distribution; conducted numerous workshops for State DOTs; and provided SUE services to many DOTs.  

(2) About 1993 or so, So-Deep developed a nationwide “Governors Program,” where it hired lobbyists in 35 states to get a meeting with the Governor and State Secretary of Transportation to lobby for SUE.  This resulted in trial projects in Florida, Arizona, West Virginia, Rhode Island, New York, and several other states.

(3) In 1994, Paul Scott and Jim Anspach visited the University of Alabama to discuss the concepts of SUE with Dr. Dan Turner, who headed the Department of Civil Engineering, was very active in national highway/utility activities, and would be elected the National President of the American Society of Civil Engineers.  Dr. Turner suggested that the Utility Quality Level concepts might be a way to mitigate recent court decisions holding engineers responsible for utility information (or the lack of it) on plans despite their typical disclaimers that utilities were the problem of the Contractor at time of construction.  This led Jim Anspach to develop a proposal to ASCE for a standard guideline. This proposal was accepted and a standards committee began work in 1996.

(4) The FHWA collected data from state DOTs that suggested significant savings through the use of SUE. As a result, in 1994 they issued a request for proposals to develop a SUE videotape. So-Deep was awarded this contract and developed the video “Subsurface Utility Engineering: A Proven Solution.” 

Next week we will look at SUE in the final years of the decade (1995-1999).