Many excavators have been affected by CenturyLink Inc.’s transition to a new locating company to mark the location of CenturyLink underground facilities in Minnesota as of April 1, 2019. CenturyLink has provided Gopher State One Call with the following list of questions and answers from an excavator’s forum teleconference hosted by CenturyLink on May 6, 2019:
Q: What caused the issue?
A: As of April 1, we changed locate contractors. CenturyLink recognizes we need to address the speed in which locates are fulfilled and has committed a large number of our technicians in order to address this issue. We are working as quickly as possible to address the current backlog. We apologize for the impact to excavators and customers.
Q: Why did you switch locate vendors at the start of construction season rather than at a less busy time of year?
A: We had no reason to believe the new vendor would encounter these problems. The vendor selection was made at the end of 2018 to allow for ample transition time prior to the 2019 dig season.
Q: What should the public do if they call 811 and no one shows up to mark their facilities?
A: We are working as quickly as possible to address the current backlog. If your locate has not been cleared by CenturyLink, it means that CenturyLink facilities are likely in conflict with the planned excavation. All locate requests will be fulfilled as quickly as possible – digging cannot commence until after a locate.
Q: I cannot wait for CenturyLink to locate their facilities. What if I choose to proceed without confirmation or a locate from CenturyLink.
A: CenturyLink provides public and government services in addition to our residential and business customers. Excavators who dig without positive confirmation risk civil and criminal penalties associated with 911 and government communication infrastructure outages. If CenturyLink has not yet provided an “all clear” confirmation or physical locates, you cannot proceed with excavation.
Q: I see CenturyLink listed multiple times on my locate ticket. If only one is cleared or located, does this mean I can proceed with excavation?
A: No. CenturyLink has two separate locates that need to be confirmed: local facilities and national fiber facilities. National fiber facilities are designated as “Level 3 (now CenturyLink)” and located either by CenturyLink technicians or Sunbelt Telecommunications. Local facilities are designated as “CenturyLink” and are located by DirectSat.
Q: What is CenturyLink doing to proactively communicate to excavators if a locate will be delayed?
A: Not all locates are delayed. Beginning May 1, DirectSat implemented a process to have a dispatcher call the excavator contact on the locate request if a delay is expected. For meet requests, if a delay is expected, an automated message is sent to the excavator, explaining that there will be a delay and providing the number for the DirectSat dispatch center, should the excavator want a specific status.
Q: When will CenturyLink be caught up?
A: Based on current and expected staffing levels, along with forecasts of locate requests, we anticipate clearing the backlog and staying current on locate requests by mid-June. We will continue to provide updates as we progress.
Q: What should an excavator who wants to file a claim for costs associated with downtime for delayed locates against CenturyLink do?
A: We understand the inconvenience this is causing to excavators and we are working diligently to address the backlog. Filing claims against CenturyLink will not help expedite the resolution. If an excavator feels compelled to file a complaint against CenturyLink, our legal team (email@example.com) will review for consideration.
Q: I have been unable to get ahold of DirectSat field managers—either their voice mails are full or they do not call back. How do I get in touch with someone if I have an urgent locate issue that needs to be addressed?
A: DirectSat opened their dispatch center (1-800-667-9963) to handle ticket inquiry, rescheduling, and escalations starting the week of April 15th to help alleviate many calls that the field managers were receiving. The dispatch center should be the primary point of contact for excavators with ticket inquiries. The dispatch center will forward any issues that need to be addressed in the field to the appropriate field manager for follow-up.
Q: I have tried contacting DirectSat’s dispatch center, but have experienced excessive hold times or been unable to get through. What is being done about this?
A: DirectSat doubling dispatch center resources as of May 10.