Planning an excavation project this winter? One important step that you should take before contacting Montana 811 is to white line your proposed excavation area. Montana Code Annotated Section 69-4-503 2(a) states: “Adequate information must allow the person completing the locate to determine the area where the proposed excavation will occur. The information may include but is not limited to marking the path of the proposed excavation with white paint, marking the path of the proposed excavation with white flagging, or other clear marking that allows a person to determine the path of the proposed excavation.”1 Doing so narrows the scope of the excavation area for location purposes.
According to the Common Ground Alliance (CGA), white lining is the practice of marking your route of excavation with “white paint, flags, stakes, or a combination of these to outline the dig site prior to notifying the one call center and before the locator arrives on the job. [White lining] allows the excavators to accurately communicate to facility owners/operators or their locator where excavation is to occur.”2 White lining also helps to eliminate the locating of underground facilities that are not involved in the work area and reduces unnecessary paint marks on streets, sidewalks, and other areas.
White lining in Montana winter conditions can be tricky when snow is present. You may be wondering, “How do I white line when it snows?”
Recommended practices for marking in the snow:
An excavator can use colored paint, flags, or stakes in different colors not specified in the APWA Color Code as an alternative to pre-marking with white. Remember to indicate the use of alternate colored markings on your locate request. Uploading an image, text, or shape file when submitting an online ticket via ITIC is a digital method to identify the boundaries of the proposed work site. You can do this by clicking on the Attachments button during step five of the ITIC submission process. This will bring up a menu that will allow you to choose files directly from your computer by clicking the Choose Files button.
Identify your entire proposed excavation area to allow locators to mark the affected utility lines. Click here for the CGA guidelines for excavation delineation: http://bit.ly/2BdCrON
Properly maintain your marks until all utility lines are located. If the snow melts and locate marks disappear, contact Montana 811 to get your excavation area remarked.
White lining is an important step in the safe digging process. Doing so will help prevent any miscommunication with the locator and enhance the protection of buried utilities. Once you have white lined your work area, contact Montana 811 two business days in advance, excluding weekends and holidays, before starting your excavation project. Feel free to contact us with any other questions you may have!