Why Does “USA” Get Written on the Street?

On recent walks, I’ve noticed “USA” spray-painted on the asphalt, along with markings for utility companies. What does it mean? —E.

You may have heard of DigAlert, the service that tells property owners and utilities where they shouldn’t excavate. Before digging on a property, everyone is supposed to delineate the proposed dig area with white markings, so that DigAlert knows where to focus its efforts. People write “USA” because DigAlert’s official name is actually Underground Service Alert of Southern California, or USA/SC.

DigAlert describes its subsequent process thus: “We will notify all our members (i.e. the utilities) that own and maintain underground lines in the area. They will only mark the lines they own and maintain (usually up to the meters), they will not mark any private lines, such as: lines going to fire pits, BBQ’s, pool heaters, spas, etc. Each utility company will mark their lines using paint, chalk, flags or whiskers using a standard color code.” 99% Invisible has an interesting article about how DigAlert came to be.

P.S. Once you start seeing “USA,” you’ll see it all over.

P.P.S. “E.” is me, because if no one else is going to ask questions, I’ll answer my own.

Got a question? Email [email protected] or text 917-209-6473 and I’ll do my best to get an answer.

Previous Burning Questions:
••• What Are Those Poles in the Ocean Near the Ritz-Carlton Bacara?
••• Are People Really Allowed to Set Fires in the Middle of Montecito?
••• What’s the Story With the Half-Finished Lot Next to the Montecito Country Mart? 
••• Is the Bridge Over San Ysidro Creek Ever Going to Get Repaired?