6 Steps to Help Prevent Cross Bores

Don’t take shortcuts when it comes to locating utility lines before beginning HDD work

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6 Steps to Help Prevent Cross Bores

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There’s no room on a horizontal directional drilling job site for shortcuts. That’s especially true when it comes to preventing cross bores. Doing so takes planning, time, attention to working conditions and the right tools. But failing to do so can have major consequences for HDD operators and residents and interrupt the function of private and public utility lines. 

A cross bore is an unintentional intersection between two or more underground utility lines. They can be dangerous and expensive, both during and after the job is completed. Preventing cross bores starts well before work begins. First, emphasize to operators and crew members that an HDD job site is no place for shortcuts with prior preparation or operation.

Follow these steps

Once operational protocols are set and crews commit to following them, the first step to starting a job is locating any existing underground utility lines. Start with these steps before you even turn a wheel:

  1. Call your state’s 811 center to have underground utility lines marked on the surface ahead of time.
  2. Consult with property owners — commercial, municipal or residential — to determine if there are any private utility lines on the job site.
  3. Use tools like Vermeer Projects to enable you to work with your operator to plan and map each job, and communicate progress, job logistics and operating conditions while on the job.
  4. Calibrate your drill head transmitter and allow ample space between underground lines.
  5. Conduct a job site walk-through to look for evidence of any other utility lines or infrastructure. If there are any signs of other potential buried utilities, use another locator system like ground-penetrating radar to confirm any other suspected lines.
  6. Double-check all utility locates before beginning work.

Watch closely during operation

Once you begin HDD work, the operator should remain watchful for any signs of cross bores, stopping to pothole where drilling could intersect with existing utility lines. Doing so is required by law and will help ensure the excavation is completed without issue. 

Upon completion of the job, document the bore path so it’s available for reference and future work crews can verify utility line locations prior to conducting any underground work.


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