Utility locating is about eliminating surprises because those surprises often come with a hefty price tag, work stoppages, and risk of injury to work crews, businesses, and neighborhoods.
Every job site is unique and presents challenges you can’t always anticipate. For instance, scanning a school playground is a very different task than investigating a downtown intersection. Every job requires the same care and attention to detail, regardless of their unique demands.
This is what happened at Knott's Berry Farm, where GPRS was able to tailor our services to address the client’s specific needs.
Project Managers Ronaldo Medina, Josue Torres, and Jorge Colin were initially called into the 100-year-old amusement park to locate and map existing utilities in preparation for a significant remodeling project. Over the course of a week, the trio – with assistance from Area Managers Alfredo Espinal and Mike Newell – meticulously scanned a 2-acre portion of the park during off-hours.
Located in Buena Park, California, just ten minutes from the Anaheim resort area, Knott’s started as an actual berry farm in the early 1920s. The property’s first expansion was a tearoom that quickly became a restaurant specializing in fried chicken. This addition proved so popular that various attractions – including a faithful recreation of an old west ghost town – were gradually introduced to entertain the large crowds of guests waiting for tables.
In leaps and bounds, the berry farm eventually became a full-fledged amusement park. Knott’s was home to the first log flume ride and “cycle coaster” in the United States, as well as the world’s first modern, 360-degree roller coaster. Ohio-based amusement park operator, Cedar Fair, purchased the park in 1997. Today it boasts a diverse collection of attractions catering to every level of thrill seeker.
Because of the unplanned nature of the park’s expansion over the last century, the challenges to mapping its utility infrastructure required meticulous attention and unusual methodology.
The fluid nature of amusement parks in general can make accurate and detailed subsurface information hard to come by. This was the case at Knott’s, where GPRS used ground penetrating radar (GPR), electromagnetic (EM) locating, and electromagnetic induction (EMI) technologies to navigate and map a labyrinth of utility lines servicing both active and disused attractions and facilities. The Project and Area Managers collected precise, up-to-date subsurface information to aid in the planning phase of the construction project.
“Every single one of the rides, every single one of the buildings, had sewer, storm, electrical, power, and gas lines, and site lights, and they all kind of go out in like a spiderweb,” Medina said. “You can imagine how many utilities there are, and how much harder it was for us to be locating and using only very small marks late at night.”
Additionally, the client requested that the team not mark the locates with anything more permanent than sidewalk chalk, as they understandably did not want the markings to be visible to guests visiting the park the next day.
While challenging, the request was far from unique. GPRS Market Segment Leader, Rhett Teller, explained that our company has seen an uptick in clients requesting fewer and less permanent markings during utility locates.
“For example, we work at the White House a bunch and they don’t want any markings, no flags, nothing,” Teller said. “The way we mark out utilities there is we put a stake in the ground and take a ribbon and kind of continue marking and just take out that ribbon. Then when we’re done, we take all the ribbons out and we go.
“It’s kind of almost a white-glove service,” Teller added. “We’ve had not only the theme park sector, but we’ve also had universities talk about that too, because at any given point you have potential incoming students that come in and want to visit that campus. We’ve had to come up with strategies to appease our clients in that way.”
With their job complete at Knott’s, Medina, Torres and Colin were ready to move on to their next project. Then they heard that the sewer company hired to inspect the park’s water systems had pulled out at the last minute due to the size and complexity of the job. Knott’s was in a bind. They needed their systems inspected prior to the installation of new facilities such as additional kitchens and restrooms.
Fortunately, GPRS’ Project Managers also provide Video Pipe Inspection (CCTV) services in addition to utility locating. This technology – which includes cameras attached to remote controlled rovers as well as push lines – allows for thorough, yet non-destructive assessment of underground water and sewer mains. And because our VPI Project Managers are certified by the National Association of Sewer Service Companies (NASSCO), we’re able to provide the highest quality reporting so that our clients know exactly what is going on with the pipes under their feet.
Our local VPI team was able to conduct an inspection at Knott’s, thus helping the client save money and time they otherwise would have spent finding another company to do the work.
“We found out how their sewer runs for what they were going to tap into for the remodeling construction,” Medina said. “We were able to inspect that pipe where they were going to add more restrooms and a couple more kitchens in that area. It’s a big thing knowing whether you need to upgrade the pipe’s size or not, and the condition since, again, who knows how old that system is?”
Teller said that no matter the size or type of client, GPRS strives to create a collaborative atmosphere.
“I think the main thing is the communication factor, going out to the site; being able to assess and truly being a partner with that facility and letting them know that we do have a wide range of core services that we can provide and be your easy button. It’s just our way of saying ‘Hey, we can do all of these different things for you to give you the full picture of what’s going on with your subsurface infrastructure, instead of you having questions or gaps in the information around your campus.’”
From college campuses to amusement parks, a busy downtown intersection, or the White House, GPRS has the people, the equipment, and the knowledge to help you Visualize The Built WorldTM while keeping your projects safe, and on time and budget.
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