Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 56. Public Service Companies
Chapter 10.3. Underground Utility Damage Prevention Act

§ 56-265.17. Notification required prior to excavation or demolition; waiting periods; marking of proposed site.

A. Except as provided in subsection G, no person, including operators, shall make or begin any excavation or demolition without first notifying the notification center for that area. Notice to the notification center shall be deemed to be notice to each operator who is a member of the notification center. The notification center shall provide the excavator with the identity of utilities that will be notified of the proposed excavation or demolition. Except for counties, cities, and towns, an excavator who willfully fails to notify the notification center of proposed excavation or demolition shall be liable to the operator whose facilities are damaged by that excavator, for three times the cost to repair the damaged property, provided the operator is a member of the notification center. The total amount of punitive damages awarded under this section, as distinguished from actual damages, shall not exceed $10,000 in any single cause of action.

B. Except in the case of an emergency as defined in § 56-265.15, the excavator may commence work under one of the following conditions:

1. After waiting forty-eight hours, beginning 7:00 a.m. the next working day following notice to the notification center;

2. At any time, if the excavator confirms that all applicable operators have either marked their underground utility lines or reported that no lines are present in the vicinity of the excavation or demolition. The confirmation shall be obtained by contacting or receiving information from the notification center's excavator-operator information exchange system; or

3. If informed by the notification center that no operators are to be notified.

If any operator fails to respond to the excavator-operator information exchange system as required by this chapter, the notification center shall renotify any operator of its failure. This renotification shall not constitute an exemption from the duties of the operator set forth in § 56-265.19.

C. The excavator shall exercise due care at all times to protect underground utility lines. If, upon arrival at the site of a proposed excavation, the excavator observes clear evidence of the presence of an unmarked utility line in the area of the proposed excavation, the excavator shall not begin excavating until three hours after an additional call is made to the notification center for the area. The operator of any unmarked utility line shall respond within three hours of the excavator's call to the notification center.

D. The excavator's notification shall be valid for fifteen working days from 7:00 a.m. on the next working day following notice to the notification center. Three working days before the end of the fifteen-working-day period, or at any time when line-location markings on the ground become illegible, the excavator intending to excavate shall contact the notification center and request the re-marking of lines. The operator shall re-mark the lines as soon as possible; however, the re-marking of the lines shall be completed within forty-eight hours from 7:00 a.m. on the next working day following the request for the re-mark. Such re-marking shall be valid for an additional fifteen working days from 7:00 a.m. on the next working day following notice to the notification center.

E. In the event a specific location of the excavation cannot be given as required by subdivision 2 of § 56-265.18, prior to notifying the notification center pursuant to subsection A of this section, the person proposing to excavate or demolish shall mark the route or boundary of the site of the proposed excavation or demolition by means of white paint, if practical.

F. The extent of the excavator's proposed work shall be a work area that can be excavated within fifteen working days from 7:00 a.m. on the next working day following notice to the notification center. The area covered under each notice shall not exceed one mile.

G. An excavator may request a special project notice from the notification center for the purpose of notifying the operators of the excavator's desire to enter into an agreement for locating and protecting the operator's underground utility lines for a specific, unique or long-term project. An excavator using a special project notice shall have complete control over all activities within the project area. The terms and conditions of such agreements must be agreed upon, in writing, by the excavator and the operator before excavation commences. Such agreement and compliance with the terms of the agreement shall constitute an exemption from the requirements of subsections A, B, C, D and E of this section.

1979, c. 291; 1989, c. 448; 1992, c. 192; 1994, c. 890; 2002, c. 841.

The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of this section may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.