May 2020 Vol. 75 No. 5


TTC Partners with UESI for SUE Professional Training

By Dr. Tom Iseley & Saleh Behbahani

More than 50 million miles of underground utilities exist in the United States. These utilities are at varied depths, in assorted soils, made of different materials, in a range of sizes and have varied access. The importance of accurately locating and depicting existing underground utilities becomes more obvious each day to ensure successful construction projects.

A practical session during the TTC/UESI Utility Investigation School provided hands-on experience with technologies.

It has been reported that at least 70 percent of projects experience delays and budget overruns due to utility conflicts. The 2018 Common Ground Alliance (CGA) Technical Report cited an upward trend in total damage incidents from 439,000 in 2017 to 509,000 in 2018, representing a 16-percent increase. Inaccurate utility information means increased risk of utility hits.

Late utility relocation raises public safety risks due to longer-lasting work zones and exposure to worker strikes, and the fact that hitting a utility line occurs every minute somewhere in the U.S. An industry paradigm shift to reverse this trend is a necessity.

The Trenchless Technology Center (TTC) at Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, La., has responded to this crisis by partnering with the Underground Engineering and Surveying Institute (UESI) of the American Society of Civil Engineers to offer the five-day Utility Investigation School (UIS). TTC was established more than 30 years ago as an industry/university/government cooperative center to advance the science and practice of trenchless technology through research, education and technology transfer.

TTC hosted its first 2020 UIS, developed with UESI, March 2-6. The class was intended to address the two performance goals of ASCE 38 Standard: how can a project be designed so it has minimal utility issues during project development, and how can professionals protect themselves against utility-related claims?

The school provided attendees with the knowledge and tools to conduct competent utility investigations in accordance with accepted national standards. James Anspach, chair of the ASCE 38 committee and a UESI past president, developed the school curriculum. The course covered geophysics, utility systems construction and configuration, ASCE 38 risk-based presentations and professional liability issues. In addition to the classroom lectures, a practical session was held where participants were offered hands-on experience with ground penetrating radar (GPR), pipe cable locator (PCL), and other technologies.

A total of 20 students attended this first session from A/I/DATA, Cobb Fendley & Associates, Ground Penetrating Radar Systems (GPRS), KCI Technologies, NTB Associates, Procimec, SJB Group, Stiffler McGraw, Surveying & Mapping (SAM), and Upper Trinity Regional Water District. Sensors & Software and ImpulseRadar US were the industry partners and sponsors for this school.

Life-Time Achievement Award

Vic Weston, who recently retired as president and owner of Tri-State Road Boring Inc., based in Baton Rouge, La., served as the TTC UIS banquet guest speaker. Weston has served on the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of Louisiana Board of Directors for more than 20 years, including a year as the organization’s state president. He was selected as the industry’s 2018 MVP (Most Valuable Professional) by the Underground Construction Technology Association (UCTA) and Underground Construction magazine.

Pictured, left to right, are Dr. Les Guice, Vic Weston and Dr. Tom Iseley

During the banquet Dr. Les Guice, president of Louisiana Tech University, and Dr. Tom Iseley, TTC founder and director of development, introduced Weston and presented a Life-Time Achievement Award to him. This award recognized Weston’s major leadership role in generating millions of dollars of industry support for construction education programs, something that has had significant impacts across the state and nation.

He has also been a strong supporter for innovations that institutions could bring to Louisiana’s construction industry, such as the support that he helped secure for TTC. Weston and the construction industry that he leads have been role models for industry/academia collaborations and support that are now being replicated by other industries and states.

He assisted in making the Contractors Educational Trust Fund (CETF) a reality. The LA CETF is funded through the fines imposed by the Louisiana State Licensing Board of Contractors to contractors’ violations inside of Louisiana. CETF is a private board whose primary mission is to identify and fund educational programs that support the goals of the Louisiana construction industry.

CETF was created by the LA Associated General Contractors (LAGC), through the state Licensing Board for Contractors. Iseley held the CETF professorship for six years at Louisiana Tech University. •

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