What do these utility markings mean exactly?

I came home today to find some spray paint on my sidewalk. I have been able to determine it has something to do with a telecom line because the spray paint is orange, but I am curious as to what the symbols actually mean. There are 4 of them in a row. If you are standing in the road and looking at my yard they are at the edge of the sidewalk touching my grass and in order they are:

  1. A triangle with a dot in the middle
  2. The number 1
  3. An arrow pointing towards my yard
  4. the number 5 with a hash mark (I assume this means 5 feet?)

Also, they put a small stake in my grass. Why??? Can I remove it? I don’t want to forget it is there and run it over with the mower. It is down pretty low. :mad:

I don’t know what the marks mean, but are they planning on doing any street/sewer/etc. construction in your area?

put something taller next to the small stake so you will notice it when you need to.

Is the stake about five feet from the markings, in the direction of the arrow? Or maybe along a line parallel to, and five feet from, the sidewalk?

They re-did the whole road about 2 years ago and the sidewalk about 5-6 years ago, so I wouldn’t think so. It was a major project at the time so I don’t think anything would need to be done so soon after.

Yes, the stake is about 5 feet from the tip of the arrow in a straight line perpendicular to the sidewalk.

OK, so some of the mystery solved, but why all the spray paint if they were putting the stake in at the same time. And what about the Triangle with the dot and the number 1…hmmm.

Got me then, usually the only time we see those type of markings around here is if there is going to be some sort of street construction.

Are your power/cable lines overhead? Could they be working on burying them? Within the last few years, they buried all the overhead utility lines in the town I live in.

From various stuff I found through Googling, looks like the triangle with the circle marks the spot for a “surveyor’s reference.” Must be where they put their viewfinder thingy (on a tripod) and then maybe line up a plumb bob with the dot, if they have to get the viewfinder out again.

A triangle usually indicates a lateral where the exact location is unknown (for example, a sewer lateral that runs from the street main to your house). This doesn’t seem to fit, however, with the orange color, which as you noted is typically for telecommunications.

There are a lot of reasons they might be marking utilities besides construction. It could be utility maintenance/relocating as Kimballkid noted. There could be an environmental investigation involving collection of soil or water samples. Someone might be planting a tree along the street. By law, any excavation deeper than a foot or two requires notification (it varies depending on your state, purpose, and location).

If it wasn’t for the stake they put right in my yard, I might not have given the spray painting a second thought. I don’t even know who to contact about it. I suppose my town, but they are pretty useless from past experience.

Starting with your town is good, but the underground system is shared among sewers, water lines, electricity & gas, cable, telephone, and maybe 20 other organizations that I’m not bringing to mind. There are central information sources about this work in some areas but I don’t know about yours.

Your deed undoubtedly allows for easements for the various utilities. That allows them to come onto your property to do the work. I’d assume that the stakes and markings are considered part of the work product but I can’t cite law on that. You can pull up the stakes but you may become liable or at least not get redress if somebody winds up digging in the wrong place and breaks a pipe or does other damage as a consequence.

IOW, they’re important and for your long-term benefit. Co-operation is a good idea.

Because residents persist in pulling up the stake (like you mentioned you were considering).
Then when the diggers follow the locators during the time (15 days here) that they have, the marks telling them where not to dig would be gone.

(According to my brother, who is a locator for a utility company.)

And an outside chance that they are creating or updating the maps of all the utilities. I have been a part of that cluster **** because we were making the maps. If you see a lot of air markers, that will be a clue also. They can do a lot with no markers now. GPS has gotten mind blowing good in some areas of mapping.

Not a direct answer, especially as the article is about the UK, but here’s a recent piece on various street markings.

My suggestion would be to call not the town government, but the town police. Tell them honestly that[ul]
[li]you’re worried that it might be from criminals who are planning to rob your house[/li][li]you do realize that it is probably from a local utility, even though you don’t remember ever being informed about work they might be doing[/li][li]and in any case, you’re worried about damaging the stake, and damage that the stake might do to the lawnmower.[/li][/ul]I hope their reaction will be to tell you which utility to call.

I’m not going to pull up the stake, but a note on the door would be nice telling me why they decided to do that.

Don’t bother the police. Call 811 - this is the newish universal number for utility location services. They should be able to tell you what’s going on.

Is it paint or chalk? I would think they weren’t going to use paint unless they were going to remove part of the sidewalk.

Utility markers use paint almost exclusively. It has to last for a few weeks through rain, traffic, etc. It does wear away eventually after a few months, depending on weather.

ETA: Or they use flags if marking lines in a field.