VA811 keeps Virginians in the know

Chart of the VA811 underground utility-locating process.

Virginia 811 (VA811), formerly called Miss Utility of Virginia, is the not-for-profit organization created by Virginia’s utilities to protect its underground facilities. The headquarters and its disaster-recovery site are located Roanoke. Virginia 811 began serving the Commonwealth of Virginia in 2002 and became the sole notification center in 2003.

There are approximately 75 employees. In 2012, Virginia 811 earned its ISO 9001:2008 certification. This standard provides a framework to build a management system that ensures customer satisfaction by reducing nonconformance and variation in work processes, products and services. In earning the ISO 9001:2008 certification, Virginia 811 became the only one-call notification center in the United States to be ISO certified for all business processes. In 2015, Virginia successfully completed a recertification audit. In 2017, Virginia earned its 9001:2015 certification.

Virginia 811 (VA811), formerly called Miss Utility of Virginia, is the not-for-profit organization created by Virginia’s utilities to protect its underground facilities. The headquarters and its disaster-recovery site are located Roanoke. Virginia 811 began serving the Commonwealth of Virginia in 2002 and became the sole notification center in 2003.

There are approximately 75 employees. In 2012, Virginia 811 earned its ISO 9001:2008 certification. This standard provides a framework to build a management system that ensures customer satisfaction by reducing nonconformance and variation in work processes, products and services. In earning the ISO 9001:2008 certification, Virginia 811 became the only one-call notification center in the United States to be ISO certified for all business processes. In 2015, Virginia successfully completed a recertification audit. In 2017, Virginia earned its 9001:2015 certification.

The process

Contacting Virginia 811 to have underground utility lines marked is a free service provided to anyone digging in Virginia. It is the first step in protecting yourself, your workers and the people around where you work. There are three ways to request locate marks. The first way is to use the Single Address Ticket program (sat.va811.com). This is an online form that allows a homeowner or professional contractor to submit a request for non-emergency work at a single address. Professional contractors can attend training to gain online access to enter their own locate requests using the Virginia 811 ticket entry program. To sign up for training, email info@vups.org. Lastly, a person can call the center by dialing 8-1-1 to request locate marks.

Virginia 811 doesn’t locate underground utility lines. The member utilities locate their own utilities or hire contract locators to do the locate marking. There are approximately 530 member utilities across Virginia. Once a person contacts the center, Virginia 811 notifies the impacted utility members such as communications, gas and power companies, municipalities and even some neighborhood associations with underground utilities. The utility member or its contract locator has 48 hours starting at 7 a.m. the next business day after the call to respond to the locate request. Once the locate marking is complete, the information is sent to Virginia 811. Virginia 811 relays that information to the person digging.

It’s important for the person digging to know what the locators’ response codes indicate. For example, a Positive Response Code of 10 means “marked,” and there should be paint/stakes/flags to indicate the approximate horizontal location of the utility. If the locator responses with a Code of 11, that means the underground utility line is marked, and there may be abandoned lines in the area that will not be marked. To look up a locate request/ticket, visit lets.va811.com. This website allows a user to search by phone number, ticket number or your GPS location if accessing from a mobile device. A full list of the Virginia Positive Response Codes can be found on the VA811.com website.

If there is clear evidence of unmarked, mismarked or incompletely marked utility lines, the person digging should always contact Virginia 811 and request a three-hour notice. The center will notify the member utilities to respond to your notice. The member utilities are expected to respond within three hours of being notified.

If construction or weather eradicates the locate marks while an individual is working, he or she should contact Virginia 811 and request a Remark ticket. This can be done online at tre.va811.com or by dialing 8-1-1.

The outreach

Virginia 811 and its member utilities urge all stakeholders to contact Virginia 811 before any digging project big or small. It’s a free service, and it’s the law. Virginia 811 has an entire department devoted to training and promoting safe digging throughout Virginia. If a company wants training on Virginia’s safe digging laws and rules, a coordinator will come to the job site and provide the training. If a company prefers online training, that’s available too.

Virginia 811 has a massive high-definition video display truck. It travels to sporting events, parades and neighborhood events to get the safe digging message out. The truck has an independent power source and a built-in sound system. Organizations can request the truck for events by submitting a form on the VA811.com website.

The future

Understanding the importance of maintaining a 24/7/365 operation, Virginia 811 has decided to partner with a similarly functioning organization. Virginia 811 and the City of Roanoke 911 held a groundbreaking ceremony July 16 to announce the new building that is being constructed to house both agencies. The state-of-the-art building should be completed in 2019.

Tracey Lamb can be reached at tlamb@va811.com

or (804) 335-9522.

Contacting Virginia 811 to have underground utility lines marked is a free service provided to anyone digging in Virginia. It is the first step in protecting yourself, your workers and the people around where you work. There are three ways to request locate marks. The first way is to use the Single Address Ticket program (sat.va811.com). This is an online form that allows a homeowner or professional contractor to submit a request for non-emergency work at a single address. Professional contractors can attend training to gain online access to enter their own locate requests using the Virginia 811 ticket entry program. To sign up for training, email info@vups.org. Lastly, a person can call the center by dialing 8-1-1 to request locate marks.

Virginia 811 doesn’t locate underground utility lines. The member utilities locate their own utilities or hire contract locators to do the locate marking. There are approximately 530 member utilities across Virginia. Once a person contacts the center, Virginia 811 notifies the impacted utility members such as communications, gas and power companies, municipalities and even some neighborhood associations with underground utilities. The utility member or its contract locator has 48 hours starting at 7 a.m. the next business day after the call to respond to the locate request. Once the locate marking is complete, the information is sent to Virginia 811. Virginia 811 relays that information to the person digging.

It’s important for the person digging to know what the locators’ response codes indicate. For example, a Positive Response Code of 10 means “marked,” and there should be paint/stakes/flags to indicate the approximate horizontal location of the utility. If the locator responses with a Code of 11, that means the underground utility line is marked, and there may be abandoned lines in the area that will not be marked. To look up a locate request/ticket, visit lets.va811.com. This website allows a user to search by phone number, ticket number or your GPS location if accessing from a mobile device. A full list of the Virginia Positive Response Codes can be found on the VA811.com website.

If there is clear evidence of unmarked, mismarked or incompletely marked utility lines, the person digging should always contact Virginia 811 and request a three-hour notice. The center will notify the member utilities to respond to your notice. The member utilities are expected to respond within three hours of being notified.

If construction or weather eradicates the locate marks while an individual is working, he or she should contact Virginia 811 and request a Remark ticket. This can be done online at tre.va811.com or by dialing 8-1-1.

The outreach

Virginia 811 and its member utilities urge all stakeholders to contact Virginia 811 before any digging project big or small. It’s a free service, and it’s the law. Virginia 811 has an entire department devoted to training and promoting safe digging throughout Virginia. If a company wants training on Virginia’s safe digging laws and rules, a coordinator will come to the job site and provide the training. If a company prefers online training, that’s available too.

Virginia 811 has a massive high-definition video display truck. It travels to sporting events, parades and neighborhood events to get the safe digging message out. The truck has an independent power source and a built-in sound system. Organizations can request the truck for events by submitting a form on the VA811.com website.

The future

Understanding the importance of maintaining a 24/7/365 operation, Virginia 811 has decided to partner with a similarly functioning organization. Virginia 811 and the City of Roanoke 911 held a groundbreaking ceremony July 16 to announce the new building that is being constructed to house both agencies. The state-of-the-art building should be completed in 2019.

Tracey Lamb can be reached at tlamb@va811.com

or (804) 335-9522.

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