Some underground utility flags ("call before you dig") appeared in my front yard. A couple of days later there was some work done in the road in front of my house. A few days after that I removed the flags. The very next day they were back again. That was a week ago.

How do I know who requested them and when I can remove them? It could be any one of several utilities or four departments at two levels of government.

I know from experience these flags are never removed unless I remove them. They are on thin metal stakes that rust, fall into the lawn, and get sucked into lawn and snow equipment.

I am in NJ. I wrote to the agency that handles this, and if I get an answer I'll add an answer here.

  • 5
    Are they in your yard or in there easement? That can make a difference depending on the jurisdiction you are in.
    – Gil
    Dec 29, 2022 at 13:51
  • 3
    @FreeMan I found the search tool (see my answer) and you are correct: Their re-appearance was the result of a second independent call for a different job by a different company, that happened to be marked out hours after I removed the flags from the first job!
    – jay613
    Dec 29, 2022 at 15:27
  • 4
    It may be that the flags are not usually removed because work is being done by different groups who don't talk to each other. Water company calls for marking to do work. Water company digs a hole and replaces a pipe. Water company then calls another company (or department) to do some basic repaving. Since repaving can require a bit of digging to do it right, water company leaves the flags up. Since repaving company didn't order the marking, they don't know the full scope - i.e., what else may be planned - so they leave the flags. Dec 29, 2022 at 15:38
  • 1
    This varies a lot by location. In my area (Montgomery County, MD) I hardly ever see the flags - almost everything is done by colored paint - a different color for each utility, which takes weeks or sometimes months to fade away. Dec 29, 2022 at 15:39
  • 2
    @Harper-ReinstateMonica ok I'll call my insurance company and ask the Philippine/polish/Indian help desk person when they think I can remove PSE&G's markers from my lawn, and I'll follow up here. If you don't hear from me in 48 hours please send a search party. With food and coffee. And Valium.
    – jay613
    Dec 30, 2022 at 20:08

3 Answers 3


I received an answer from the New Jersey One Call center, in less than an hour! There is an online search tool. It's not obvious how to find or use it, so here are their complete instructions:

  • Visit http://nj.itic.occinc.com.
  • Don't log in, click "Search and Status"
  • On Search page enter ONLY your county and street. Select the county and type in your street name with suffix, e.g. "Ave".
  • Don't fill in house number, don't fill in anything else.
  • Find your address in the results.

Other States: I tried replacing "nj" in the URL with other state two-letter mnemonics. I only tried a few. Some don't exist, and of the ones that do exist only NJ has a Search button outside the login wall. I didn't try very many. Texas is an interesting case of perverse incentives from unique legislation. You can look it up. I'm not including a link because the full story is on the software vendor's web site and produces a security warning when you load it.

  • I don't see any security warning for tx.itic.occinc.com/tx/LS-Letter-Modified-Final-4-23-2019.pdf, beyond the usual struck-out padlock indicating that it's an HTTP rather than an HTTPS link. (FWIW, the site does work over HTTPS too, but their certificate has apparently expired, which does give a scary-looking security warning.) Dec 30, 2022 at 19:16
  • 1
    This is very specific to a single state. The generic version is to just search for the utility locator in your state and ask them (Google searches for "[state] utility locator" for a few random states all seem to turn up some form of One Call or 811 website with contact info).
    – Herohtar
    Dec 30, 2022 at 19:25
  • (substituting random states) Probably because the company who runs that service aspires to contract to every state and created the namespace to do so... but has only secured contracts with a few - or perhaps one. Dec 30, 2022 at 20:01
  • @Herohtar please post that as an answer
    – Tim
    Dec 30, 2022 at 22:01
  • @Harper their webpage has Iowa and Missouri listed too, with dead links to case studies!
    – Tim
    Dec 30, 2022 at 22:03

New Jersey One Call FAQ

How do I know who requested them?

Who marks the lines? Facility operators are responsible for marking out their facilities; often, they will have a third party company do their markouts. The New Jersey One Call center does not do mark outs.

When I can remove them?

ROUTINE: A regular locate. Must wait three business days for a markout, begin digging within 10 business days, ticket expires in 45 business days.

But, they will almost certainly remove the flags upon work completion. You can guess at what company placed what flags based on you local utility providers.

  • 1
    There is a different web site for searching. I put it in a new answer. The utilities here seem to all use one contractor to do all the marking at once, and I've never seen anyone remove them in 20 years except when I remove my own.
    – jay613
    Dec 29, 2022 at 15:25

In the US, no matter which state you are in, you can contact your local 811 center, which is literally as simple as dialing 811. They may be able to give you information about the marked area themselves, or at the very least they will be able to get you in contact with the contractors responsible for marking so you can check with them.

My personal anecdote: I had utility flags showing up in my yard when no work was scheduled. I left them for a week or so in case it was something from the city, but nothing happened, so I eventually removed them. Some time later they showed up again, I waited again, nothing, removed them. The third time they showed up, I called the utility locator service and asked what they knew about it; they were able to tell me which company had requested utility marking and I got in touch with them and found out that they were trying to do some work at another location and some miscommunication had resulted in the utility marking contractor coming to my address instead!

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