What Goes Into a Land Surveyor’s Backpack?

Land surveying is one of the oldest professions in the world, dating back to ancient times. Surveying illuminates the features of a property, outlines property boundaries, locates underground utility lines, and so much more. So what type of equipment do surveyors usually take out into the field? We decided to ask our survey crew and here is what they had to say:

“We’ll start with our basic personal equipment. Unfortunately, as surveyors, we are constantly in the field so our survey attire isn’t always office-appropriate. Whether it’s a ragged shirt with torn jeans, or a t-shirt with holes, our field attire is not really ideal to wear in a professional office environment. The same could be said for wearing nice clothing while performing fieldwork. No one wants to survey in khakis and a button-down shirt. That’s why we always keep a spare change of work clothes, just in case we need to perform fieldwork in an emergency. This means we can dress respectably in the office and still have the option to change into field clothes.

As far as personal gear, safety is always a priority. We keep our orange vests in our packs as well as our hard hats and boots. Using proper footwear while surveying in the field is essential. There’s a lot of standing and walking, so a good pair of boots goes a long way. Additionally, we may have our own tool belts as well as safety glasses. Again, safety is always a top priority so you’ll always find these either in our backpacks or survey truck.

Shorts are not a recommended item of clothing because half the time we’re walking through tall brush and need to be cognizant of ticks. You’ll also find bug spray, sunblock, and sanitary hand wipes. Some other items you may find are a magnetic compass, a small mini-reflector prism, and a 25-foot steel tape.

As far as the typical surveying equipment, these are our surveying instruments:

  • The Nikon Nivo 2C; and
  • The Leica TCRA 1103 Plus robotic instrument.

These instruments are used by field crews on a daily basis for collecting data. However, the instruments are always brought inside at day’s end and are never left in the survey truck. Tripods, prism poles, and various other tools can be found in the bed of the survey truck."

All of these items are used in different ways but are essential to performing the duties of a land surveyor.

South Brooklyn Marine Terminal Surveying Project

KC performed a boundary survey for the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal (SBMT) located in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn. This survey consisted of surveying the 144-acre port, which is on the Gowanus Bay and includes 96 acres of dry land. This project required extensive record research to recover property records on the SBMT and adjoining properties. The survey work required KC to resolve the boundary of the property as well as locate all features on and adjoining the premises. The purpose of the survey was for the NYCEDC to have a proper survey of the property so it could easily lease portions of the terminal in the future.

In conjunction with the boundary survey, KC performed a topographic and utility survey for a portion of the SBMT for AKRF. This survey was for the purpose of SIMS Municipal Recycling to expand their state-of-the-art material recovery facility located at the terminal. KC was tasked with researching existing utility maps and working with a SUE contractor for locating said existing utilities. KC provided AKRF with a base map for the design of the extension of the SIMS facility.

NYCEDC East Midtown Greenway Survey Project

The East Midtown Greenway (EMG) is the second phase of a three-phase development known as the East Midtown Waterfront Project (EMWP). The intent of the EMWP is to construct a continuous public waterfront esplanade over the East River in Manhattan. The EMG’s southern and northern termini are East 53rd Street and East 61st Street. The project also includes a new pedestrian bridge, which will provide access the esplanade at 54th Street and Sutton Place South.

KC performed the topographic survey, utility survey, and easement survey for the project. Work associated with the production of these deliverables included a comprehensive investigation of all available record utility and government agency maps. KC also researched available design drawings, as-built drawings, and aerial maps spanning approximately 80 years to understand site conditions, both above- and below-ground. KC's survey crew also coordinated with an arborist to accurately measure, classify, and record all trees within the project limits.

KC assisted in providing an existing conditions report. Provided narratives entailed a detailed description of the project land use, ownership, and zoning. This report also included a written description of onsite utilities and important features, including an existing 11-foot gravity retaining wall and a comprehensive engineering investigation of an existing bridge located adjacent to the project area.

In addition, KC, the Engineer of Record for the new 54th Street pedestrian bridge, is actively coordinating with the New York City Economic Development Corporation and a bridge architectural firm to provide a bridge design that will be visually appealing, will meet the high expectations of the community, and will adhere to the design standards set forth by both the New York City Department of Transportation and the New York City Department of Parks and Rrecreation.