Why are there multi-colored paint lines across my yard?

small_max_call before you dig

Max is here to remind you to call 811 before you dig*

As we spring forward early Sunday morning on March 10 (you’ll remember to set your clock one hour ahead, right?) and the days become longer, it’s time to restart those home improvement projects that have been hibernating during the dark, cold days of winter.

But before you put shovel to dirt to build a new fence or plant a tree, be sure to call 811 a few days before your digging project to identify underground utilities. After calling, a locator will come to your property, FREE OF CHARGE, to properly identify underground utilities.  Even if you think you know where all utilities are, don’t take a chance and start a project without calling 811 first.  If you unexpectedly hit something, you may be subject to fines, injury, and major inconvenience.

You’ve probably even noticed this when walking in the neighborhood: multicolored collages of spray paint on a roadway or in your yard. These marks are a critical first element in safely identifying underground utilities for transportation projects or any project that mandates digging or excavating (which is 99.9% of them).

So what does this color-coding actually mean?  A uniform color code developed by the American Public Works Association (APWA) and used nationwide, removes uncertainty and guesswork around what is lurking beneath the surface.

Utilities Color Code

It’s equally important for the City to call 811 when starting projects.  Knowing where existing utilities are and which type they are guide the design, construction, and maintenance of projects. 

UPDATED (3/12/13): Transportation has received some concerns recently that these locate lines are taking away the beauty of the neighborhood.  Please remember that the paint is only temporary and will wash away.  Tempting as it may be, please note that it is illegal to remove the paint and/or flags used to locate underground utilities. They exist to provide safety for you, your neighbors, and crews working on the project. 

So next time you see painted lines on the ground, you’ll know what’s beneath your feet and that a project may be coming to your neighborhood!

More information:

*Image source: http://www.callbeforeyoudig.org/
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2 Responses to Why are there multi-colored paint lines across my yard?

  1. bill says:

    This is great. There are still many people who do not know about the 811 service, and posts like this are helping to create awareness.

  2. june says:

    great point… it is extremely important to call 811 prior to digging for any reason

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