TRG Promotes New North Texas Leadership

Fort Worth, TX (September 9, 2021) The Rios Group (TRG) has announced the promotion of several team members into leadership positions this September. These individuals will continue their dedication to TRG by leading the firm into the future and ensuring consistent, high quality Subsurface Utility Engineering and Utility Coordination services to our clients throughout North Texas.

“With these promotions comes an opportunity, not only for strategic growth, but also the ability to elevate current TRG team members in recognition of their commitment and hard work throughout the years.” said TRG President, Rosa Navejar.

Branch Managers

Tim Habenicht, PE - Fort Worth Branch Manager, has been with TRG for over 6 years and has 8 years of experience in the civil engineering field.  Mr. Habenicht will manage the Greater Fort Worth Area and has extensive experience working for the City of Fort Worth, Trinity River Authority (TRA), and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). Some of his favorite projects he provided SUE services for include City of Fort Worth’s Harmon Road, TxDOT’s FM 1886, and Trinity River Authority’s Bear Creek Interceptor Relief.


Eric Webb, PE - Dallas Branch Manager, has been with TRG for over 4 years and has 14 years of experience in the civil engineering and civil construction fields.  Mr. Webb will manage the Greater Dallas Area and has experience working with TxDOT, North Texas Tollway Authority (NTTA), DFW Airport, TRA, City of Dallas, and Kaufman County. Some of his favorite projects include 35 Express, Southern Gateway, and LBJ (I-635) East.


Utility Coordination Managers

Chad Muckle - Texas Utility Coordination Manager, has been with TRG for 9 years and has over 30 years of Utility experience, 19 of those years as a Utility Coordinator. Mr. Muckle will be managing Utility Coordination throughout the State of Texas and has extensive experience with TxDOT and NTTA. Some of his favorite projects include IH 35 at Oltorf in Austin, George Bush Eastern Extension for the NTTA, IH 820 at SH 121 in Fort Worth, SH 79 in Austin, and SH 121 for the NTTA.  


Paul Ashby - North Texas Utility Coordination Manager, has been with TRG for 3 years and has over 8 years of experience as a Utility Coordinator.  Mr. Ashby will be managing Utility Coordination projects in North Texas, West Texas, and the Pan Handle.  He has extensive experience working with TxDOT. Some of his favorite projects include SH 302 in Odessa and IH 20 in Midland with Oncor.


Meet our summer intern, Grant Jackson

As summer ends and students head back to school, we say farewell to our summer intern, Grant Jackson, who is currently studying Civil Engineering at Abilene Christian University. Grant joined our team this summer to learn more about Subsurface Utility Engineering (SUE) and AutoCAD, a computer software program used for designing and drafting deliverables that require technical accuracy. We asked him some questions about his time at The Rios Group.


How has your experience at TRG been?

“During my time as an intern for The Rios Group, I have learned so much. Working with many diverse team members has allowed me to gain a well-rounded knowledge of how the different aspects of the company work. Everyone I have worked with has treated me with respect and professionalism, and I have learned more from the different conversations that I have had than I could have ever hoped to learn.”


What is your favorite aspect of AutoCAD?

“My favorite aspect of AutoCAD is the opportunity for creativity. With AutoCAD, I can design and create anything that I can imagine. While learning AutoCAD during my internship, I saw the sheer power of the tool and the different ways in which it can be implemented.”


What are your aspirations going forward?

“Moving forward I aspire to graduate college with a degree in Civil Engineering and obtain a job in the Subsurface Utility Engineering field. I also plan to get my professional engineering license. Ultimately, I would like to use the skills I’ve learned as an engineer to help those in need around the world.”


What is something you learned over the summer?

“I have learned so much, but most importantly, I have learned the cooperative spirit. As an intern, I have been able to see how the different aspects of a company combine to get the job done. As a future engineer, I must cultivate the skill of effective communication in order to function in a professional environment.”


We wish Grant the very best with his studies, future ambitions and hope to see him back next summer.

A Brief History of SUE

Often when we tell people that we provide Subsurface Utility Engineering (SUE) services we are greeted with a “what is that” or “I’ve never heard of SUE”. SUE is still an up-and-coming aspect of civil engineering that only just began in the early 1980s. Let’s look into a brief history of Subsurface Utility Engineering and how it has evolved through the years.

Before SUE began, the common practice was to design projects without consideration of underground utilities, leaving them to be dealt with during the construction phase. The utility conflicts caused delays in construction, unexpected and potentially risky situations, increased cost for the client, and in-accurate records. There needed to be a way where underground utilities could be found and mapped with accuracy to be utilized during the design of infrastructure; enters Subsurface Utility Engineering.

SUE, originally called Designating and Locating, began in the early 1980s and was primarily used in highway design by different State Transportation Departments (DOTs) and utility companies. It was discovered that the combination of the technologies Vacuum Excavation and Surface Geophysics could gather data on the precise locations of underground utilities. In fact, the industry terms “designating” and “locating” were developed to differentiate the two technologies, i.e., “Surface Geophysics” and “Air/Vacuum Excavation”.

As the value of SUE became known between different highway engineers in the late 1980s, the Virginia DOT was the first state agency to adopt SUE and regularly utilize it on transportation projects. Not far behind were the DOT’s of Maryland, Delaware, and Pennsylvania. SUE continued to evolve and became more than just a designating and locating service. The service of providing Subsurface Utility Engineering started to include Survey, Data Management, Sealed Deliverables, and the need to obtain liability insurance turning SUE into a professional service instead of a contractor service. Then, in 1989 at the First Annual National Highway Utility Conference in Cleveland, “Designating and Locating” was introduced nationally as “Subsurface Utility Engineering”, later shortened to “SUE”.

SUE continued to grow in the 1990s as the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) promoted the value of SUE around the country. A value study was completed by Purdue University on the cost savings of SUE, and they found that a total of $4.62 was saved for every $1.00 spent on SUE. The practice was proven to reduce costs by reducing claims, delays, and unnecessary utility relocations. These costs savings added up and on many projects the savings were significant.

In 2003 the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) then established a national standard (CI/ASCE 38-02) that defined the different responsibilities of engineers, project owners, contractors, etc. for collecting Subsurface Utility data, Standard Guideline for the Collection and Depiction of Existing Subsurface Utility Data. The standard established four Quality Levels of accuracy for SUE investigations (Quality Level D, C, B, and A) to be used when depicting existing utility information on engineering plans.

Now, SUE is used in nearly every State DOT and many utilize it as a routine part of their project delivery process. SUE has also expanded to include other sectors, including, municipal roadway, airport, transit, commercial development, water, and wastewater. The ASCE Standard defines SUE as a process, a branch of engineering. SUE has continued to evolve from a combination of two technologies, into a full-blown process with its own set of guidelines and standards. What will SUE be like ten years from now?


Want to learn more about what SUE can do for your company? Give us a call and The Rios Group will host a lunch & learn for you and your team.



Get to know our Administrative Professional, Maria Huizar

April 21st is Administrative Professional’s day and we wanted to take the opportunity to spotlight our hard working and talented Administrative Professional, Maria Huizar. Not only does she work in our Fort Worth location, but she also manages administrative tasks for all five of our offices! We sat down with Maria and asked a few questions about herself and working with TRG.

A few interesting facts about Maria are that she did not get into the job market until she was in her mid-forties, she has a 34 year old parrot named Cotorrito and she loves to travel but has not been overseas yet.

Maria’s favorite aspect of working as an Admin is getting to interact with all of our team members in some way. “Whether it’s in our home office in Fort Worth or any of our four other locations, getting to interact with them all makes my job interesting” stated Maria.

She enjoys the family atmosphere at The Rios Group and that everyone gets along and cares about one another. Maria mentioned, “We are a team, and everyone contributes to the success of the company. We also have a leader that we all look up to.”

Get to know our Senior Project Manager, Tommy Franke

Tommy Franke has been with The Rios Group since March of 2017. As a Senior Project Manager at our San Antonio (Universal City) office, he helps grow our business and maintain relationships with clients and local utility owners. He works on a vast range of projects providing Subsurface Utility Engineering and loves the challenge of locating utilities. When he is not in the office, Tommy enjoys spending time with his daughter and wife, fishing, and going hunting. We asked Tommy some questions about his experience with The Rios Group and being a project manager.


Tommy wasn’t always a Project Manager for SUE, in fact he started off at an electrical engineering firm.  “I joined an electrical engineering firm in 2000 where I helped with overhead & underground power lines and substation design. I then pursued a local firm and joined them as a Customer Service Manager where I performed numerous tasks including CAD, records research, business development and marketing. That position grew into an Assistant Project Manager roll and then to a Project Manager position” Tommy said. With each position he pursued he gained more experience to become the Senior Project Manager he is today at TRG.


Tommy enjoys the challenging projects and being able to provide answers to utility questions that others have been unable to obtain. He stated, “TxDOT projects are very satisfying as well. Being able to drive down the road knowing you were an intricate part of the design for the layouts of these roadways and bridges is a unique experience”. By using Subsurface Utility Engineering, Mr. Franke has helped numerous clients save money and time. Tommy shared, “When working for a small non-profit we were tasked with identifying utilities within an expansion area for their school. During our investigation, we identified a lot more utilities than what the school believed was in the area. Our SUE work helped the design team adjust the building footprint to minimize the impact of utility relocations which ultimately saved the non-profit company from potential utility damages, construction delays and most importantly injuries.” Tommy, as well as all our Project Managers, take great pride in the work they do and take satisfaction in helping our clients.


The San Antonio (Universal City) office is TRG’s newest addition and the best place to work according to Mr. Franke. He stated, “Being the newest and fastest growing office in the company, the San Antonio office has a great work environment, and all the employees enjoy coming to work every day”. In Tommy’s eyes, the best aspect of working with TRG is being a part of a team of professionals that knows what it takes to get the job completed on time and under budget for our clients. “TRG is unique because of our overall combined experience in years from our Project Managers, Professional Engineers and Field Staff. Even though we are a relatively younger company, the experience from our senior leadership shows in our final products and deliverables” stated Mr. Franke. If Tommy could sum up The Rios Group in one word, it would be Quality.


At The Rios Group we offer expert Subsurface Utility Engineering and Utility Coordination services. We identify potential issues and bring awareness to them so that there are no delays or hefty unplanned costs added to our client’s projects. If you are interested in learning more about The Rios Group or would like to join our team, contact

The Rios Group - 8 Years and Counting

It has been 8 years since The Rios Group was founded, and we have been growing ever since. Today, TRG has 5 offices throughout Texas and employs a team of 75 employees. We have helped clients across the vast state of Texas from running into utility conflicts. TRG has provided Subsurface Utility Engineering (SUE) and Utility Coordination (UC) services for numerous industry sectors, such as, transportation (roadway - including 22 of the 25 TxDOT districts, airports, rail), electric and water transmission, municipal streets, drainage, water, wastewater, hospitals, universities, schools, and other facilities. We pride ourselves on providing responsive and reliable results and we continue that responsibility for each and every project.

Our Director of Utility Engineering Services, Joe Anderson, PE, has been with The Rios Group from day one. Joe has worked in the civil engineering and civil construction fields for more than 35 years. In his current role at TRG, Joe is responsible for the management and oversight of SUE investigations for both public and private clients, coordination and reimbursement of utility adjustments in rights-of-way, preparation of cost proposals, preparation and maintenance of project schedules, cost tracking, project staffing, negotiation and management of subcontracts, procurement of project materials and supplies, and interaction with client representatives. Mr. Anderson has been the Engineer of Record on hundreds of Subsurface Utility Engineering projects throughout the state of Texas for various clients including TxDOT, DART, City of Fort Worth, City of Houston, DFW International Airport, and George Bush Intercontinental Airport.

We asked Joe some questions as we look back over the past eight years.


  1. You have been with The Rios Group since Day 1, looking back what, if any, advice would you give yourself 8 years ago?


“Always be looking for quality field and office personnel. We did not anticipate the rate of growth that we’ve experienced over the past 8 years.”


  1. What excites you the most about the future of The Rios Group?


“The SUE industry is still growing and there is a high demand for quality SUE work. The younger field and office personnel that we’ve hired over the past 8 years have stayed with us and many are now holding key positions within the company. These individuals are the future of TRG and the future is in good hands.”


  1. As a leader in the SUE industry in Texas, what makes us stand out?


“Two things. One, TRG is the largest engineering firm in Texas that exclusively provides SUE and UC services. Two, TRG has an excellent track record of retaining both field and office personnel.”


  1. Any advice for someone just starting their career in the SUE or UC fields?


“Spend time in the field and learn everything you can from field personnel. Spending a few days working on a vac truck goes a long way.”


  1. What do you think will be some challenges or innovative solutions our industry will meet in the next few years?


“I think our biggest industry challenge is, and will remain to be, finding qualified field personnel to keep pace with the demand for SUE and UC services while maintaining high quality standards.TRG is committed to retaining our experienced leaders and to hiring individuals and training internally.”


  1. How has your role as Director of Utility Engineering Services evolved during the last 8 years?


“In the beginning I wore a lot of different hats and my role included directly managing the majority of the SUE projects being performed at TRG. As we’ve grown and hired a number of additional project managers, many that are Professional Engineers, the number of projects that I directly manage has decreased significantly. I now spend a significant amount of time working with office and field personnel to maintain and improve our standard operating procedures.”


The Rios Group continues to provide quality Subsurface Utility Engineering and Utility Coordination services to our clients and continues to grow as a company. Raise a glass for the past 8 years of success and to many more years to come! The Rios Group would like to thank all our employees, clients and individuals who have contributed to the past 8 years of achievements. We would not have been able to make it this far without your dedication and passion.

Get to Know Our North Texas Area SUE Field Manager, Craig Miller

Craig Miller has been with The Rios Group for six years and is our North Texas Area SUE Field Manager. He works hard every day to lead our North Texas SUE field team to success. We sat down with Craig and asked him some questions about himself and his experience while working with The Rios Group.


If Craig could describe The Rios Group in one word, it would be “Awesome”. He mentioned that the best aspect of working at The Rios Group is the teamwork. Everyone works hard towards one goal, providing reliable and high-quality services for our clients. But what makes The Rios Group unique? Mr. Miller said it is the President, Rosa Navejar. Rosa cares about each and every employee and makes sure they are taken care of.

We asked Craig what he enjoyed most about leading our North Texas SUE field team and he said he enjoys that there is never a dull moment and each day is always different. When Mr. Miller is not in the Field or in the Office, he enjoys camping and fishing.

For someone just starting in the SUE/UC field Craig gave some advice, “Sometimes it can be overwhelming so don’t get discouraged. There is a lot to learn and people just starting in the business need to understand that they won’t be able to learn it overnight.”


At The Rios Group we offer expert Subsurface Utility Engineering and Utility Coordination services. We identify potential issues and bring awareness to them so that there are no delays or hefty unplanned costs added to our client’s projects. If you are interested in learning more about working for The Rios Group or would like to join our team, contact Check our LinkedIn page for open positions.

Get to Know Our Central Texas Area Manager, Travis Isaacson, P.E.

Travis Isaacson, P.E. has been with The Rios Group for 4 years. He started in the SUE/UC (Subsurface Utility Engineering/Utility Coordination) field as a Utility Coordinator on the State Highway 130 toll road project in Austin in 2002, and today, he serves as our Central Texas Area Manager, managing our Austin & San Antonio teams. Not only is he a valuable leader at The Rios Group, but he is also the current President of the ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineers) Austin Branch and has an avid presence in the community. We sat down with Travis and asked him some questions about himself and his experience working for The Rios Group.


We started by asking Mr. Isaacson what he enjoys most about leading our Central Texas team. He said, “The challenge of putting our resources (field crews, project managers, CAD staff) in the right places to get the work done and meet the needs of our clients.” His favorite projects to work on are TxDOT highway projects. Travis mentioned, “Identifying utilities and mitigating utility impacts is such an important component to TxDOT roadway jobs, that it makes it challenging and exciting to be a part of them from start to finish.”

What excites him most about being an engineer is building the civil infrastructure that makes the world work, like our roads, transit systems, water systems, and buildings. When he is not at the office, he enjoys being with his three young kids, running, playing soccer, reading and home improvement projects.

We asked Travis if he could describe The Rios Group in one word and he replied, “Excellence”. He enjoys working for a small company that is successful, growing, and constantly providing great opportunities. Mr. Isaacson told us that The Rios Group is unique because of the family atmosphere and because of our great owner, Rosa Navejar. He mentioned that the office culture, in his main office in Austin, is hard working and goal driven but they also like to have fun and joke around.

Since Travis is involved in several organizations including being the current President of the ASCE Austin Branch, we asked him about the value he gains from his involvement in these organizations. He stated, “ASCE has had a very positive impact on my career.  Professional organizations like ASCE are a great place to network with fellow engineers, build leadership skills, and they provide a way for engineers to volunteer in the community and teach others about our profession.” We also asked Mr. Isaacson if he had any advice for someone just starting in the SUE/UC field. He said, “Make sure you get out in the field and see how SUE work is done (designating & vacuum excavation) and see how utility systems are built.”


At The Rios Group we offer expert Subsurface Utility Engineering and Utility Coordination services. We identify potential issues and bring awareness to them so that there are no delays or hefty unplanned costs added to our client’s projects. If you are interested in learning more about working for The Rios Group or would like to join our team, contact Check our LinkedIn page for open positions.

Get to Know Our North Texas Area Manager, Perry Burnett

Perry Burnett, our North Texas Area Manager, has been with The Rios Group since the company was founded, in 2012. He is an invaluable part of our team, so we decided to sit down with him and ask a few questions about his experience while working at The Rios Group. Who is our fearless leader for our North Texas Region? You’re about to find out. 


Mr. Burnett started in the Subsurface Utility Engineering (SUE) and Utility Coordination (UC) fields while working at TxDOT. He found that he really enjoyed SUE and UC work because it gave him the valuable information he needed, knowing where the utilities were, for his other projects. Flash forward to the present at The Rios Group, he now manages our North Texas Team. We asked Perry what he enjoyed most about leading our North Texas Region, in which he replied that he enjoys the challenge and not only solving issues but also teaching his team how to be leaders. Mr. Burnett likes working with and coaching the younger generation. He stated, “It’s just amazing to me how smart and how trainable the younger generation is. I enjoy coaching them, they are just awesome people to work with.”

Coming from TxDOT, Perry’s favorite type of projects are highway projects. Although he does enjoy water and sewer projects as well. His favorite projects outside the office include fishing, hunting and he enjoys working in the yard.

We asked a few questions about what it is like to work with The Rios Group. When we asked if he could describe The Rios Group in one word, he said it would be “family”. He also spoke to our office culture. Mr. Burnett mentioned, “It’s a great team to be a part of and it’s mainly because we care about one another beyond work.” Another question we asked was, what makes The Rios Group unique? Mr. Burnett spoke to how we are a smaller company, now having 65 employees.

Lastly, we asked if he had any advice to give someone who is just starting their career in the SUE/UC fields. Perry responded, “Don’t let your failure to communicate be the problem. Pick up the phone and if you get a chance to see someone face to face, don’t ever turn those opportunities down, even if you think it might be a tough meeting to go to.”


At The Rios Group we offer expert Subsurface Utility Engineering and Utility Coordination services. We identify potential issues and bring awareness to them so that there are no delays or hefty unplanned costs added to our client’s projects. If you are interested in learning more about working for The Rios Group or would like to join our team, contact Check our LinkedIn page for open positions.

Goodbye to our wonderful Intern, Alicia

This summer we have had the pleasure of having Alicia Ortega intern with The Rios Group. Alicia is one of the most impressive 21-year-olds you will ever meet. In addition to interning at TRG, she also interned with the City of Fort Worth in the Mayor’s office. Before she heads back to school in College Station, we asked her a few questions to reflect on this past summer.


What did you learn about Marketing and/or for an Engineering firm while at TRG? 

I learned how marketing for an engineering firm is different and more complex than other brands or services. The differences in marketing a single product versus an entire company and service that involves so many different facts and terminology was interesting for me to learn over my time.

With two internships, what differences did you observe while working with a public entity vs a private entity? Any similarities? 

Working with a public entity that is constantly under the microscope and answer to many people, especially citizens I constantly had to think 5 times over before deciding or posting something. Working with a private entity gave me more freedom to post what works best for The Rios Group and its clients. Both were similar in maintaining a good image, but I felt less pressure and could express more of my ideas and content.

What surprised you most working with the Mayor and Rosa over the summer? 

What surprised me most about working with the Mayor and Rosa is how involved Rosa is with the Fort Worth community. It was a treat when both of my internships were involved with the same event and it allowed me to get a taste of both perspectives. Also, how important it is for local businesses to be involved with our local government and give back to the community. Rosa and the Mayor's great relationship is what allowed both of my internships to be so successful, how they allowed me to participate in all types of events throughout the summer.

What did you discover about yourself this summer?

This sounds cheesy but, this summer I feel like a learned a huge part of my identity and what next steps I want to take with my career. I learned discipline, time management while I worked long hours with both internships and running across Fort Worth for different events. I now understand what motivates me in my career and how excited I am to do something I genuinely enjoy and love. The opportunities and experiences I had this summer were amazing and I will forever be grateful to two groups of amazing people who let me have the best working girl summer ever.


National Professional Engineers Day

August 7th is National Professional Engineers Day! The Rios Group is proud to have Caitlin Bullen, EIT and Jose Zuniga, PE join our team this year, these team members have added great knowledge and skills to TRG projects and today we are happy to celebrate them.


Caitlin graduated from Louisiana State University and is a part of the LSU and National American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society and the LSU Chapter of Transportation (ITE). She works in our Woodlands office while pursuing her Professional Engineer license and is a valued team member at TRG!


Jose received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin and has his Texas PE license. He conducted undergraduate and graduate research at the Construction Materials Research Group laboratory on rapid repair materials and fly ash concrete focusing on early age strength development and durability issues such as alkali silica reaction, freeze-thaw resistance and sulfate attack. Jose works in our Round Rock office and we love having him a part of the TRG team!


Thank you, Caitlin and Jose for all your hard work here at The Rios Group!

The Rios Group Inc. 7-Year Anniversary

Today marks the 7-year anniversary of The Rios Group Inc. headquartered in Fort. Worth, Texas. With additional offices in Dallas, Houston, Austin, and San Antonio, TRG maintains a team of more than 55 people. From the start in 2012, TRG has been committed to providing excellent service and work to its wide range of clients throughout Texas. The Rios Group’s focus on Subsurface Utility Engineering is important because it provides a smart and solid foundation for future developments and projects crucial to the Texas economy. TRG goes the extra mile to ensure every project, no matter how big or small, is done thoroughly and correctly. A lot of The Rios Group’s success stems from its President, Rosa Navejar for her vast business knowledge and attention to detail. On this important day, we asked Ms. Navejar a few questions in celebration of The Rios Group’s anniversary. 


1. Today, The Rios Group is celebrating its 7-year anniversary. What thoughts and emotions come to mind when you think about that?


“Excitement and cannot believe that we are 7 years old, it seems like just yesterday we became The Rios Group in 2012 and here we are 7 years later and the growth we’ve had has been phenomenal”


2. What was it like when you first got started?

“Scared, nervous, anxious, excited, the good and the bad contemplating if I made the right decision purchasing this division. Can we do this? Can I do this? People’s support from the community helped tremendously to push away the self-doubt and begin this new venture.”


3. Describe The Rios Group in one word.



4. What do you look forward to with the future of The Rios Group?

“The continued growth and the growth of our employees within to see them develop themselves and our company to the next level.”


The Rios Group would like to thank all our employees, clients, family members and individuals who help contribute to our mission and passion throughout Texas that make what we’ve done the past seven years possible.

The Importance of SUE - Part V

Water is one of the most important substances on earth. Yet, many of us take for granted how the water we drink and use daily actually reaches us. While water and wastewater projects are typically performed within roadways full of crossing utilities, the design of potentially new water pipelines may involve rural locations with many property owners and right of way impacts, all of which pose potential challenges during design and construction. Wastewater systems designed for gravity flow rely heavily on a continuous, downward sloped pipe to maintain flow. Existing utilities will play a major role in the design of gravity flow systems, especially if the design is through a heavily congested area. Are you factoring in the potential impact of the existing utilities into your design or project?

The Problem

How do you properly design a gravity flow system to weave through a maze of crossing and parallel underground utilities, all at different elevations? What if you are 95% complete with construction and encounter a 48” Reinforced Concrete Cylinder Pipe waterline that, according to records, was “supposed” to be at a different elevation? Or more likely, what if you encounter a massive fiber duct during construction of a waterline that you had no records on at all?

Existing utilities are often an afterthought, and the responsibility is often dumped on the contractor to “deal” with them during construction, which will undoubtedly lead to change orders and construction delays. Not fully accounting for existing utilities during design is both inefficient and highly expensive, so utilities often cost more by not performing SUE during the design phase.

The Solution

Luckily, there is a proven solution to help mitigate these unforeseen conflicts with utilities. Having knowledge of the existing utilities, both horizontally and vertically, during the design phase of waterlines and especially gravity flow wastewater systems can help eliminate conflicts and reduce change orders during construction due to utility conflicts. TRG recently provided SUE services on the Beck Branch Wastewater Interceptor Improvements project for the North Texas Municipal Water District. After QL “B” SUE field work was completed, and a conflict analysis was performed, TRG excavated over 30 test holes. This work confirmed that there were several major storm lines in direct conflict with the proposed interceptor. Based on TRG’s findings, the entire alignment of the interceptor was adjusted to avoid those conflicts. Our SUE services were used by the City of Austin to help choose an alignment of a proposed 24 inch Onion Creek Reclaimed Water Line. The proposed alignment traversed the Roy Kizer Golf Course, the Onion Creek Soccer Complex and several adjacent residential subdivisions. TRG provided QL “B” services within 25 feet on each side of the project.

Applying SUE

TRG recommends that the proper steps are taken, according to ASCE publication CI/ASCE 38-02 Standards, to ensure that both Quality Level “B” and Quality Level “A” SUE are completed during the design phase and incorporated into the design decisions. Once QL “B” SUE (the horizontal designating of utilities) has been completed in the field, a full conflict analysis will be conducted and potential conflicts will be identified. QL “A” SUE test holes (the uncovering of utilities that provides precise vertical and horizontal data) will confirm the utility elevations of the potential conflicts so the existing utilities can be factored into the design.

Let The Rios Group provide responsive, reliable, results on your next project before it is too late. We are happy to host a Lunch and Learn on SUE and Utility Coordination for you and your team. Feel free to contact us in North Texas at 817.345.7500 or in Central Texas at 512.580.5440.

The Importance of SUE - Part IV

Subsurface Utility Engineering = More Power

Though usually overhead, electric transmission projects significantly benefit with Subsurface Utility Engineering (SUE) data incorporated in the design. Whether installing a new transmission line, or rerouting an existing line, power transmission companies must make difficult decisions on where to place overhead tower structures.

Drill shafts for electric transmission towers could damage underground utilities if existing utility information is not known or is inaccurate. SUE, performed in accordance with the recommended practices and procedures described in ASCE publication CI/ASCE 38-02 “Standard Guidelines for the Collection and Depiction of Existing Subsurface Utility Data,” is the most accurate method to help determine transmission line routing and structure locations.

It’s also not uncommon to expand existing transmission substations to keep up with increased demand of electric services. Design engineers can determine where future expansion is possible with the use of accurate SUE data. TRG recommends performing Quality Level (QL) “B” for substation expansion projects and design of new transmission tower locations. QL “D” utility record information can be utilized when working on preliminary routing for transmission lines, but should not be relied upon for design decisions.

Vacuum excavation and hydro-excavation are also utilized on many electric transmission design projects to perform test holes (QL “A”) on nearby underground utilities to identify potential conflicts. In some cases, L-shaped or X-shaped trenches are excavated at proposed tower drill shafts to ensure that there are no underground utilities crossing through the excavation area.

Applying SUE on Electric Transmission Projects

TRG has performed SUE services for the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) on numerous electric transmission projects. In Central Texas between Smithville and Winchester, TRG performed utility records research and designating QL “B” SUE services at 18 proposed tower locations along an existing transmission corridor. TRG designated underground utilities within a 30-foot radius at each of the proposed locations. TRG crews also performed 2-man active sweeps with electromagnetic designating equipment to search for unknown utilities within the project limits. This underground utility data helped the LCRA determined where to place the towers. This project required that TRG crews coordinate with LCRA for property access and provide land owner notifications.    

TRG recently performed SUE for a substation project at the LCRA substation near Evant, Texas. QLB SUE services were performed surrounding the existing substation for a proposed expansion. During the field investigation, TRG crews had to perform due diligence to differentiate between the installed grounding grid and the existing underground utilities. Close coordination with LCRA staff was required for access to certain areas within the substation.

Electric transmission is just one sector where SUE information can help keep projects on budget and on schedule. Keep an eye on this blog for updates. This is the fourth installment in an 8-part series on SUE, in which we will touch on the importance of SUE in several different markets, including transportation, water & wastewater, campuses and facilities design, and more.

Our experts are happy to answer your questions or lead your team in a more in-depth “Lunch & Learn” on SUE. Feel free to contact us at / 817-345-7500 or 512-580-5440.

The Importance of SUE - Blog Series, Part III, Airports

Airports are complex multi-modal transportation facilities that are typically served by a network of underground utilities, some of which might be operated by the airport itself. Unreliable record information for these underground utilities is common, and airport providers, their consulting engineers, and contractors are faced with this risk during airport development projects. The likelihood of a utility damage on an airport improvement project is high for a number of reasons. The first is that airports contain a highly complex civil infrastructure system in a relatively small space, creating a relatively large number of potential utility conflicts. The second is that standards and procedures for management of underground utilities on airport properties varies widely, creating a lot of unknowns and uncertainty.

The FAA has identified this problem and recommends the use of SUE to mitigate this risk, stating in an Advisory Circular that SUE should be performed to reduce conflicts with utilities, reduce delays in construction schedules, and reduce added construction costs due to unexpected utility adjustments.


FAA Advisory Circular

In 2009 the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued an Advisory Circular (AC) titled General Guidance and Specifications for Submission of Aeronautical Surveys to NGS: Field Data Collection and Geographic Information System (GIS) Standards. This AC provides the specifications for collection and submittal of field data in support of airport projects, and it includes a detailed specification for the use of Subsurface Utility Engineering (SUE).

The AC refers to the ASCE 38-02 Standard Guidelines for the Collection and Depiction of Existing Subsurface Utility Data, and specifies the four SUE quality levels. The Circular even details the use of utility designating (QL B) and utility test holes (QL A) and recommends their use in specific situations. The FAA highly recommends using the guidelines and standards in this AC, and in fact, the use of these guidelines is mandatory for the collection of geospatial airport and aeronautical data funded under the Federal grant assistance programs.


Applying SUE on Airport Projects

Airport projects can range from major terminal expansions, to runway extensions, to simple drainage or utility installation projects. The size and scope of the individual project really defines the need for SUE and the level of service required. The Rios Group is currently working at multiple airports around the state of Texas, and these experiences provide excellent examples of the application of SUE on airport projects.

At Austin-Bergstrom International Airport TRG is currently providing SUE services in support of design for the TRACON Building site drainage improvements. Services have included QL A test holes on various crossing utilities, and CCTV services of existing storm sewer using a remote crawler camera system.

At Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport TRG is part of an existing on-call engineering contract, and has provided SUE services on numerous work authorizations over the last year. Projects have included a new cell phone lot, end-around taxiways, runway extensions, and a de-icing drain line.

Keep an eye on this blog for updates. This is the third in an 8-part series on SUE, in which we will touch on the importance of SUE in several different markets, including rail, water & wastewater, campuses and facilities design, and more. In the meantime, let us know if you and your team are interested in a more in-depth “Lunch & Learn” on SUE. You may contact us at / 817-345-7500 or 512-580-5440.

The Importance of SUE - Blog Series, Part II, Transportation

The Problem – Existing Utilities

The identification and adjustment of existing utilities is a key component to every roadway project, from major highway expansions to subdivision street reconstruction. Existing underground utilities are prevalent in our public right-of-way. These utilities are owned by various companies, installed at various depths, made of different materials, and vary in size and complexity. This is a major project risk, and lack of attention to these utilities within the limits of your roadway project can be detrimental to the project schedule and budget.

Utility owners are notorious for having poor record maps, no as-built information, and poor responsiveness to data requests. A roadway engineer that uses this substandard information coupled with 811 “One Call” tickets when completing a conflict analysis will make important design decisions based on unreliable utility information. In roadway design, decisions on critical items such as a bridge drill shaft location or storm drain flow line can be very difficult to change if a utility conflict is identified late in the design process.

Utility relocations can also be a major cost and schedule concern on a roadway project. Relocating a high-pressure pipeline or a major telecommunications duct bank is by no means a fun or cheap experience. Failing to plan appropriately for major utility accommodations or relocations could cause potential risks for project delays and contractor claims to go up exponentially.

The Solution – Subsurface Utility Engineering

Subsurface Utility Engineering (SUE) is a proven solution to identifying existing subsurface utilities on roadway projects. By identifying existing utility conflicts early in the design life of a project, the engineer may be able to mitigate or eliminate utility impacts. The use of SUE has been endorsed by numerous industry organizations, including the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), and the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). The ASCE standard that defines SUE practices, CI/ASCE 38-02 “Standard Guidelines for the Collection and Depiction of Existing Subsurface Utility Data”, has become the industry standard for transportation engineers around the country.
SUE has become a routine requirement on highway projects for numerous State departments of transportation, including the Texas DOT, Florida DOT, Virginia DOT, Pennsylvania DOT and many others. It is important that the roadway design engineer become familiar with the ASCE standard and the SUE quality levels, so he/she can walk into a project scoping meeting with the client and correctly recommend the need for SUE and the level of the investigation needed.   

Applying SUE on Highway/Roadway Projects

Quality Level D (QL “D”) SUE investigation is completed by performing thorough records research and obtaining all existing utility records and as-builts available for the limits of the roadway project. QL “D” SUE is the lowest level of accuracy and is recommended for use during the planning or schematic design phase of the roadway project, but is not recommended for use during detailed PS&E design.
Quality Level C (QL “C”) SUE investigation incorporates surveyed above-ground utility features from topographic survey and reconciles it with QL “D” record information. This level of accuracy is recommended for rural, FM roadway projects with low utility congestion, few utility crossings, and few roadway intersections. The roadway design engineer may even review the QL “C” data and request further investigation in specific areas, such as intersections or areas of drainage improvements.

Quality Level B (QL “B”) SUE investigation is completed by performing a surface geophysical investigation, also known as “designating”, and providing two-dimensional horizontal information for existing utilities. This level of accuracy is recommended for more complex roadway projects in urban and suburban environments, where utility congestion is high, along with the potential risk of utility conflicts. The finished QL “B” product is a 2D file in Microstation or AutoCAD format, with existing utilities owners and types identified by specific level, color and linestyle. The engineer is then able to reference utility data into working roadway design files and an accurate conflict analysis can be completed.
Quality Level A (QL “A”) SUE test holes are completed using non-destructive vacuum excavation equipment and provide highly accurate three-dimensional horizontal and vertical information. It is recommended that the test holes be performed at precise utility conflict locations, based on a detailed conflict analysis with roadway improvements. QL “A” should be completed by 60% roadway design so that the utility elevation data can be used to make design decisions with roadway and drainage profiles.
Keep an eye on this blog for updates. This is the second in an 8-part series on SUE, in which we will touch on the importance of SUE in several different markets, including rail, water & wastewater, campuses and facilities design, and more. In the meantime, let us know if you and your team are interested in a more in-depth “Lunch & Learn” on SUE. You may contact us at / 817-345-7500 or 512-580-5440.

The Importance of SUE - Blog Series, Part I

Nearly every civil infrastructure project is impacted by existing utilities. By using SUE to accurately map existing utility facilities civil engineers can mitigate these impacts, and reduce unnecessary utility relocations and delays. The results are measurable project cost savings, a reduced schedule, and a safer working environment for the contractor. 

There have been several case studies on the impact SUE can have on your project. The studies confirm that SUE can save you 3 to 4 times your investment (or more!) by eliminating conflicts and delays. Please don’t take our word on it, read the case studies for yourself here:

Case Studies:

January 2000 FHWA/Purdue Case Studies

  • A total of 71 projects from Virginia, North Carolina, Texas and Ohio were studied.
  • “The total savings on a typical project may range from 10% to 15% compared with costs from a project not supported by professional SUE.” 

2005 University of Toronto Study

  • $3.41 Return on $1.00 Investment

April 2013: Utility Investigation Study by Texas A&M Transportation Institute

  • Highlights TxDOT’s use of SUE on highway projects
  • Recommends basic SUE training and utility impact analysis training ??

What is SUE? 

Subsurface Utility Engineering, or SUE, is a sub-discipline of civil engineering, that combines technologies and design methodologies to deal with the problems of underground utilities on civil infrastructure projects. 

Professional SUE services should be completed in accordance with the recommended practices and procedures described in ASCE publication CI/ASCE 38-02 “Standard Guidelines for the Collection and Depiction of Existing Subsurface Utility Data.” As described in the publication, four levels have been established to describe and depict the quality of subsurface utility information. 

The four quality levels are as follows:

  • Quality Level D (QL “D”) – Information obtained from existing utility records.
  • Quality Level C (QL “C”) – Surveyed data depicting visible above-ground features supplemented with QL “D” information.
  • Quality Level B (QL “B”) – Two-dimensional horizontal information obtained through the application and interpretation of non-destructive surface geophysical methods. Also known as “designating,” this level incorporates QL “C” and QL “D” information and provides surveyed horizontal positioning of subsurface utilities.
  • Quality Level A (QL “A”) – Three-dimensional horizontal and vertical information obtained through non-destructive vacuum excavation equipment to expose utilities at critical points. Also known as “locating,” this level incorporates QL “B” information and provides precise horizontal and vertical positioning of subsurface utilities.

The Rios Group are experts in SUE. If you have additional questions about the SUE process, would like to understand how to better utilize SUE on your current or next project, or if you and your team are interested in a more in-depth “Lunch & Learn” presentation on SUE, you may contact us at / 817-345-7500 or 512-580-5440.

Keep an eye on this blog for updates. This is the first in an 8-part monthly blog series in which we will touch on the importance of SUE in several different markets, including: transportation, water & wastewater, campuses and facilities design, and more.

TRG Honored by Oncor as Rising Star Company of the Year

TRG was honored this week by Oncor as the Rising Star Company of the Year for their Supplier Diversity program. The award ceremony, which was scheduled for March 29th, had to be postponed due to storm related power restoration efforts. The award ceremony was worth the wait. We are so honored. Thank you, Oncor!

2017 National Small Business Week is May 1st - 7th

TRG was honored to be featured in the Texas Workforce Commission's video highlighting small business in Texas. President and Owner, Rosa Navejar, was joined by Project Manager Tim Habenicht, PE.  It really is a great time to do business in Texas!

Check out the video here:

TRG announced as Overall Winner at NCTRCA's Annual Awards Dinner

TRG was honored and humbled to be named the recipient of the Overall D/M/WBE Business of the Year at the NCTRCA Awards Gala last night. It's with the support of NCTRCA and their member entities' programs that TRG has been able to flourish. Thank you to NCTRCA for your commitment to D/M/WBE businesses!

Tommy Franke Joins TRG as Senior PM and Lead Over San Antonio

TRG Celebrates Grand Opening of Round Rock Location


Rios Group Launches New Website

TRG launched a new website to kick off 2017, and this year is poised to be the the most exciting year yet. We're planning a Grand Opening celebration for our new office in Round Rock next week, and in July we'll celebrate 5 years of service to our partners. As we continue to be your experts in SUE and UC, we thank you for your confidence in our ability give you responsive, reliable results.  

TRG President Rosa Navejar Honored with Minority Leaders in Business Award

Rosa Navejar, President and Owner of TRG, was honored to recieve the Minorities in Business award from The Fort Worth Business Press. 

Don't let Unknown Utilities Derail Your Next Project!

TRG President on air with PlayMakers Talk Show

Rosa Navejar, President of TRG, sat down with Steve Klien, of the PlayMakers Talk Show, to share her experiences as a CEO.   

Catch Rosa on  Friday, 9/4/15 @ 3 pm and Saturday 9/5/15 @ 2 pm on 770 KAAM.  

Can’t break away to hear the show live? The podcast should appear on the station’s website by Monday 9/7/15 at