During the final years of the 20th Century, it had become apparent to the FHWA, SUE providers, and other proponents that there was a great need to establish standard guidelines for its use. Hence, early in 2003, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) published ASCE 38-02, Standard Guideline for the Collection and Depiction of Existing Subsurface Utility Data. The FHWA purchased 500 copies of the new standard guideline and distributed copies to all State DOTs, and to some local DOTS, SUE providers, and other stakeholders.

Jim Anspach chaired the ASCE committee that developed this standard and was the prime force behind the ideas and concepts included in it. It was a consensus standard guideline for defining the quality of utility location and attribute information that is placed on plans. It addressed such issues as (a) how to obtain subsurface utility information, (b) what technologies are available to obtain that information, and (c) how to convey that information to users. It presented a system of classifying the quality of data associated with existing subsurface utilities, thus allowing project owners, engineers, constructors, and utility owners to develop strategies to reduce risk by improving the reliability of information on existing subsurface utilities in a defined manner.

Those on the standards committee involved in the development of ASCE 38-02 included Jim Anspach (Chair), Paul Scott (Vice Chair), Dr. Tom Iseley, Capt. Jim Allen, Wayne Brooks, Dr. C.C. Chang, Kevin S. Nichols, Jim Noone, Kathe Sopenski, Bob Stevens, Dr. Alan Witten, and Nick Zembillas. These individuals had varied backgrounds, including professional experience in subsurface utility engineering, geology, geophysics, surveying, computer-aided design and drafting, and geographic information systems; highway design; right-of-way; geotechnical engineering; and utility design. It also included professionals representing research organizations, the construction industry, education, the military, government regulatory agencies, and the utility owner community. 

ASCE 38-02 was dedicated to two persons that were not physically on the standards committee, but their spirit was essential to its formation: Garon Stutzman, Chairman Emeritus, So-Deep, Inc., the “founder” of the SUE profession, and Jerry Poston (deceased), Federal Highway Administration, whose unflagging support for the profession resulted in a groundswell of acceptance by the highway design and construction communities.

ASCE 38-02 was well received over the next 20 years, and was updated in 2022 by ASCE 38-22, Standard Guideline for Investigating and Documenting Existing Utilities. More about the new document, and a companion document, ASCE 75-22, Standard Guideline for Recording and Exchanging Utility Infrastructure Data, will be contained in a future LinkedIn Post.

Next Week — SUE Moves to Canada