811 System Upgrade Will Boost Public Safety

DENVER – A Ray Scott (R-Grand Junction) bill that cleared the Senate Transportation Committee Thursday will help improve public safety by putting more teeth behind 811 rules requiring builders, excavators and others to “call before you dig” in proximity to buried energy or utility lines.

Scott attributed the bill's success to 2 years of work building broad stakeholder support. “After 20 months of work involving 58 stakeholders, Senator Kerry Donovan and I passed the 811 reform bill out of Senate Transportation Committee with a 4-1 bipartisan vote,” Scott said Thursday. “This has been the most difficult and technical measure I have worked in in my 7 years in the building.”

The bill aims at improving compliance with existing 811 rules by boosting the financial penalties that can be assessed against builders, excavators, agricultural operators or others who don’t use the system to check for buried infrastructure before breaking ground. SB-167 also creates an Underground Damage Prevention Safety Commission, made up of a cross section of stakeholders, including local government representatives, which will field complaints and take remedial action against offenders.

Perhaps most importantly, SB-167 will bring Colorado into compliance with new damage prevention enforcement rules issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration in 2015.

In late 2017, Senator Scott and Donovan held town halls across Colorado in an effort to raise public awareness of the 811 System and build support for the bill. And the effort seems to be paying-off in early success for SB-167

The bill now moves to the Senate Finance Committee for consideration.

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