30 Years of Subsurface Utility Engineering (SUE)

We are excited and proud to celebrate 30 years of providing Subsurface Utility Engineering services at T2 Utility Engineers. A lot has changed in the SUE industry over these past three decades including technology, new project delivery mechanisms, and much more. What has not changed is T2 Utility Engineers excellent team members, our commitment to safety, to quality management processes, and to innovation. We’re proud to provide unparalleled field investigations and professional advice to support the success of each project we are engaged with by reducing utility-related risks.

As mentioned, technology in many areas has experienced significant change, while in other areas some older technologies still remain part of our investigation best practices. The volume and level of detail of data and the speed at which data can be captured has increased exponentially. Our focus on SUE and related services means that we realize how important it is to continue to invest in acquiring the right technology and training our people so we retain our reputation of providing reliable, accurate information and advice. We plan to stay a leader in our industry. Experience does matter in a SUE provider.

In the rest of the article, we look back and share some of the equipment and technologies in use across the years and highlight a few of the notable projects and events that have fueled our company’s growth and our contributions to the industry. Tremendous thanks go out to our clients. We greatly appreciate and value our long-standing and new client relationships. Here’s to the next 30 years and beyond!

Origins of SUE

The growth and development of T2 Utility Engineers corresponds quite nicely with the development of Subsurface Utility Engineering in the United States. The Federal Highway Administration, which strongly supports the use of SUE, has an extensive history on their website- SUE Then and Now. Being responsible for roadway and highway funding and construction, the FHWA recognized that the common approaches to dealing with utilities surrounding highway projects in the 1980s were not working. The basic approach was to deal with utilities during construction. Imagine doing that now.

By the late 1980s a few states’ highway engineers were beginning to use geophysics  to learn more about subsurface utilities to minimize disruption to the roadways and buried infrastructure. No more digging with a shovel or backhoe. The Virginia Department of Transportation, Maryland DOT, Delaware and Pennsylvania DOTs began requesting subsurface investigations. SUE started to evolve as the interest and awareness of the value of SUE investigations grew and continues to grow to this day.

In 1995, the FHWA and ASCE requested the development of a Standard to present a system of classifying data and a consistent process for Subsurface Utility Engineering across the US. Started in 1995 and published in 2002, the ASCE 38-02 Standard was launched. Several members of our team were active contributors to developing that Standard. We’ve our continued our active support of the industry Standards through our membership on the ASCE UESI Standards Committee, which was responsible for the recent update to the Standard, ASCE 38-22, and ASCE 75. More detail and links are in the Timeline below.

Highlights from 30 Years of T2ue Providing SUE Services

  • 1993 – In Florida, T2 Utility Engineers was then known as Tampa Bay Engineers which later became TBE Group and eventually T2 Utility Engineers. Our first SUE client was the Florida DOT (FDOT). 30 years later, FDOT is still our client. Thank you!
  • 1993 – The truck that started it all. T2 Utility Engineers, then TBE, bought our first vac truck to support the SUE services we were providing for Florida DOT.
    1993 – Above ground, electromagnetic locating equipment helped find tonable utilities. In the early days, technology hadn’t evolved for the way we conduct utility investigations now. Below ground, non-destructive vacuum excavation technology resulted from customizing equipment used to clean out storm drains. Adjusting vacuum strength for use with soil work allowed this new equipment/technology to replace backhoes or people with shovels, providing a lot more precision and reduction in safety issues that remain a core benefit of professional Subsurface Utility Engineering services.
  • 1996 – Opened our Illinois office to support design of telephone relocations for GTE
  • 1997 – Opened our Indiana office, working for Indiana DOT
  • 1997 – When we started, there were no cell phones. Instead, our teams used nationwide pagers, that looked something like this, to communicate between offices. They worked really well!
  • 1998 – Opened our Nevada and Virginia offices
  • 1999 – Opened our Arizona and Georgia offices to further support DOTs, and engineering consultants
  • In 2000, we were retained by a Naval Air Station to conduct a GPR investigation to find voids after a jet went into a sinkhole on the taxiway caused by failed drainage pipes. Image shows an early Ground Penetrating Radar system.
    1999 – We were one of the first firms to innovate and transition radar equipment that was most often used for geologic investigations to the new field of “utility investigation”
  • 2000 – Began providing SUE services for all Port Authority of NY/NJ facilities. We continue to provide utility risk management services for PANYNJ, including JFK and LaGuardia airports, bridges, and tunnels.
  • 2000 – Began providing SUE services for Maricopa County (AZ) Department of Transportation supporting the tremendous growth in the valley, continuing to this day.
  • 2000 – Provided SUE services in England for the O2 Arena and the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, England (home of the Premier league Manchester City F.C.)
  • 2000 – We were called in to a Naval Air Station to conduct a GPR investigation to find voids after a jet went into a sinkhole on the taxiway caused by failed drainage pipes.
  • 2001 – Provided utility investigation for the design of the Las Vegas monorail expansion. Interestingly, part of the utility investigation was inside Bally’s casino to help with the design placement of the rail footers.
  • 2001 began working in Minnesota for MNDOT from our Michigan office
  • 2002 – ASCE 38-02, Standard Guideline for the Collection and Depiction of Existing Subsurface Utility Data is published. Our professionals were on the subcommittee that wrote the Standard.
  • 2002 – Canada begins offering SUE services from Whitby, Ontario through a Joint Venture of TSH Associates and TBE Group.
  • 2002-2003 – T2ue provided utility investigation services following the World Trade Center disaster. Our team worked in “The Bathtub” where the subway line and other underground infrastructure is located.
  • 2005 – Began providing SUE services at Chicago O’Hare International airport. T2ue continues to work at O’Hare providing utility locating services for geotechnical soil boring locations across the airport property.
  • 2000 – The trailer shows the early days of MCGPR, as GPR technology advanced using tomography to enhance our ability to find underground utilities in more detail and more efficiently.
    2007 – As Ground Penetrating Radar technology advanced, we continued to improve underground imaging technology, using tomography to enhance our ability to find underground utilities more efficiently and in more detail. This technology is now called MCGPR.
  • 2008 – Used Multi-channel radar and EMI to map a cemetery in Buckeye, AZ. We are still providing these services but using much more advanced equipment.
  • 2010 – We were involved with the London 2012 Olympics stadium construction project.
  • 2011 – Minnesota office opens to serve MN Department of Transportation SUE investigation needs.
  • 2012 Toronto Canada Basement Flooding Protection program project began with T2ue providing SUE services. That decades-long project is continuing based on the Phased approach the city is using to make extensive drainage improvements.
  • 2012 – Provided SUE and UC services for the Ambassador Gateway Bridge in Detroit, the largest international border crossing into Canada at the time.
  • 2014 – Expanded our Survey and SUE services in southwest Florida with the acquisition of Cooner & Associates.
  • 2014 – Part of the Design Build team on Florida I-4 Ultimate major highway reconstruction through Orlando providing SUE, Utility Coordination and survey for the 21 mile project. Managed 41 utility owners, 4,000 utility-design conflicts and much more.
  • 2015 – The Utility Engineering and Surveying Institute (UESI) is launched by ASCE to develop and advance industry standards. T2 Utility Engineers is proud to be a founding and sustaining member of UESI.
  • 2017 Began working on the Phoenix Valley Metro Light Rail on the owners rep planning team, providing extensive SUE services utilizing the ASCE 38 standard. With each new Phase, T2ue has been part of the team and is still supporting this project.
  • 2018 – Colorado passes legislation requiring signed SUE survey of underground infrastructure on most public civil engineering projects. T2ue is a trusted SUE advisor for CDOT and engineering consultants across Colorado.
  • 2018 – Our work on the Gordie Howe International Bridge project began. This was the first time T2 Utility Engineers in the US and Canada worked on the same project. Our teams provided SUE and UC services on both sides of the border for this major Design Build project and we continue to provide support during construction.
  • 2018-2022 – California office supports Build-LACCD $9.5B Sustainable Building Program by delivering full utility investigation and condition assessments for the eleven campuses.
  • 2022 – ASCE 38-22, Standard Guideline for Investigating and Documenting Existing Utilities is released, providing more detail on SUE best practices. Again, our professionals were on the subcommittee that wrote the new Standard.
  • 2022 – Began providing SUE services for Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA), supporting the Central Texas electric utility provider.
  • 2023 – Expanded into the Pacific Northwest with the acquisition of Applied Professional Services, Inc. (APS) which provides utility locating services in Washington and Oregon.

Of course, these are just a few highlights from past decades that point out the tremendous growth and expansion of T2 Utility Engineers that continues today. Thanks to the support of our clients and the work of our outstanding team members, we provide Subsurface Utility Engineering and related services for more than 2,000 projects each year from 26 offices in the US and 4 in Canada. We strive to be a trusted advisor, providing unparalleled service, the most reliable information, and sound advice based on our professional experience. Our objective is to ensure that T2ue adds value to each project we are privileged to work on. We look forward to the next three decades.

To learn more about our history, details about our services, and to see more project examples, explore our website or contact us.

T2 Utility Engineers Through the Years

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