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. No person shall make or begin any excavation or demolition without first submitting a locate request to the notification center. Submission of a locate request 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 submit a locate request for a 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 that 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 or in cases subject to subsection C, the excavator shall only commence work:

1. After the excavator has confirmed, by reviewing the positive response information posted on the notification center's positive response system, that each operator has marked its utility lines, notified the notification center that its utility lines are not present in the area of proposed excavation, or otherwise posted a positive response indicating excavation may begin; or

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

If any operator fails to respond to the positive response 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. If, after at least 48 hours beginning with 7:00 a.m. the next working day following a locate request or on the date of excavation, the excavator, upon arrival at the site of a proposed excavation, 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 contact is made to the notification center for the area, provided that no information has been posted to the positive response system or information posted to the positive response system is inconsistent with the clear evidence observed by the excavator.

The operator of any unmarked utility line shall respond within three hours of the excavator's contact to the notification center. After the clear evidence of an unmarked utility line is addressed pursuant to the additional contact to the notification center, excavation may proceed. During any excavation subject to this subsection, the excavator shall exercise reasonable care at all times to protect underground utility lines and shall be liable for any damages.

D. The excavator's notification shall be valid for 15 working days from 7:00 a.m. on the next working day following a locate request or 15 working days following a scheduled excavation date provided to the notification center, whichever is later. Three working days before the end of the 15-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 48 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 15 working days from 7:00 a.m. on the next working day following a locate request.

E. If 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, 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 excavation or demolition shall be a work area that can be excavated within 15 working days from 7:00 a.m. on the next working day following a locate request. The area covered under each locate request shall not exceed one-third of a mile.

1979, c. 291; 1989, c. 448; 1992, c. 192; 1994, c. 890; 2002, c. 841; 2023, cc. 299, 300.

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.