#subsurface utility engineering


Wow, what a Surprise! The response to my recent posts on the early days of Subsurface UtilityEnginering (SUE) has been phenomanel. Nick Zembillas called me from Greece and said, “Paul, I have been sharing your LinkedIn posts with my global network of SUE friends and hundreds of them have liked it. Some of them have been responding and adding to the story, which is adding to the history.”

I want to thank everyone and if you have something to add to my story that is factual and accurate, please do and share your story. So that is what I am doing today, thanking you very much for reading and liking the posts. Please keep the responses coming in. 

So, moving along with the history of SUE. In the early days much of the promoting of SUE was centered around case studies.  Jim Anspach documented a case study in his history of SUE that was probably the first BIG case study showing the value of SUE. It goes like this: 

Garon Stutzman approached the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) in late 1983 with the concept of designating all the utilities on a highway project in the design stage so that designers could avoid them on paper when possible. VDOT saw the potential and allocated $10,000 for a trial project. The selected project was a massive road reconstruction in Crystal City (VA) traversing the Pentagon and National Airport areas. Construction plans were already drawn, with utilities plotted from owner records and supposedly “certified” as correct by the utility companies. So-Deep designated the utilities (see picture) and a VDOT crew surveyed the designations and plotted them on the plans. There were vast differences. So-Deep then performed approximately 100 test holes to prove their designations were accurate and to further identify the potential conflicts. On the record, VDOT stated to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) that over $1 million dollars in savings to the tax payer were realized. Off the record, the figure was $7 million or more.

Next week we will begin looking at early contributions to SUE that made it what it is today. Before leaving, though, I want to thank Mark Warden for sending me nine names of early SUE pioneers, primarily from So-Deep and neighboring state DOTs. Mark is a highly respected friend who began his career with So-Deep in 1984 and has successfully sold SUE and served clients for 35+ years. I will be inserting those names at appropriate places in posts to follow.

Post 4 - Early Subsurface Utiltiy Engineer Technician