Subsurface Utility Engineering (S.U.E.)


Since HBK’s founding in 1998, we have been committed to developing and protecting our nation's infrastructure through the combination of traditional engineering practices with cutting edge technology. In the design of underground infrastructure projects, HBK is a proven leader. We have successfully performed design services for electrical, telecommunications, transportation, gas and water distribution facilities throughout the Midwest and East Coast regions of the United States.


HBK’s methodology begins with the policies and procedures set forth by the American Society of Civil Engineers' "Standard Guideline for the Collection and Depiction of Existing Subsurface Utility Data", and goes beyond the basics with the use of the latest Geographical Information Systems Software (GIS) and survey-grade Global Positioning Systems (GPS) technology and Three Dimensional Point Scanners.


Putting Cutting Edge Technologies to Work

Combining our extensive knowledge of the underground utility environment with both available historical data and modern technology, HBK continues to develop new techniques and methods to create more accurate depictions of the often congested and intertwined infrastructure beneath our nation’s streets.


HBK’s team of professional engineers, designers and surveyors takes a forward approach to the methods used in the creation of utility base plans, employing new technologies to continuously improve the safety, efficiency and accuracy of field data collection procedures, and new tools to portray, analyze and design within the utility environment.

Security Infrastructure Design

HBK offers a full suite of services in support of the installation of Surveillance Video and Security systems, from the routing of outside and interior infrastructure to the layout of MDF racks and the mounting of camera equipment. With our extensive experience in the design of underground, interior, street lighting, utility pole and bridge attached infrastructure, HBK provides cost effective solutions for integrating new security equipment placements into existing systems.


Infrastructure to feed data and power to security installations can be a major cost and schedule driver within a security / surveillance system installation. HBK’s applies its understanding of utility infrastructure to this problem, analyzing the needs of each installation and applying creative and cost effective solutions, from the development of efficient network routing, to the investigation of existing infrastructure for future use and the design of innovative mounting solutions.

We have modeled our design process to fit the needs of the installation, providing many levels of details for multiple aspects of the project including:

  • Data and Power Infrastructure Routing and Design
  • Fiber Splicing and Termination Diagrams
  • Equipment Installation and Mounting Design
  • Structural Calculations and Design
  • Equipment Configuration Design
  • MDF / IDF Rack Design


Our engineers and designers are experienced in working in some of the most challenging of environments. To date, our surveillance infrastructure design locations have included building interiors and exteriors, streetlight installations in busy commercial districts, expressway exit and entrance ramps, and raising bascule bridge installations. Additionally, HBK has designed camera infrastructure on Police and Fire Boats with the ability to design an efficient and cost effective installation while adhering to the strict codes as determined by the system owner.


In each case, HBK places our focus on providing a high level of detail in our designs to provide our client and their contractors’ constructible plans in any environment. For designing security and camera infrastructure in high profile areas, HBK’s services offerings include the production of concept renderings which assist owners in determining the visual impact of installations prior to pursuit of any given design concept. In each of these cases, our designs take into account the aesthetic impact of proposed infrastructure.

Structural / Geotechnical Engineering

HBK Engineering is a Licensed Structural Design Firm that employs an in-house staff of structural and geotechnical engineers. Using their combined experience, HBK provides designs for various structures to satisfy their Client’s needs while maintaining the requirements of applicable industry standard codes.  In an effort to create safe and efficient installations of the proposed designs, HBK’s engineers work closely with the Client’s contactor to develop effective means and methods based on individual project constraints.


HBK takes a practical approach to their structural designs. The designs created are based on their sound understanding of the principles of structural systems, construction materials, and installation procedures. The staff provides extensive experience with various construction materials including concrete, steel, and timber which they apply to their designs. By applying this formula, HBK is able to develop effective designs for both public and private sectors in cities throughout the country.  The range of structural projects in which HBK is routinely involved includes the design of permanent and temporary structures including manholes, vaults, and shoring structures.

The experienced staff of geotechnical engineers provides the company with unique insights into the installation of underground infrastructure. By utilizing the collective experience of these engineers, HBK has the ability to create designs that are efficient and accurate. The responsibilities of the engineers range from the design of temporary earth retention for trenches, shafts, or tunnels to providing onsite observations for tunnel inspections. HBK’s engineers also provide services for creating exploration plans and procedures, dewatering, and settlement plans.


The clients that HBK most closely work with employ a vast network of infrastructure in cities throughout the nation. Maintaining this infrastructure is critical to the long term success of these institutions.  In an effort to extend the service life of the existing infrastructure, HBK provides design services for the modification of existing structures. HBK’s experienced staff also provides onsite inspections of these structures to determine their condition and provide repair recommendations as required


Designing underground utility infrastructure in congested urban areas is accompanied by many challenges, such as working around extremely high levels of existing utilities, subsurface transportation infrastructure, elevation changes, expressways, rivers and railroads.


Combining our extensive experience in underground infrastructure and geotechnical/structural design, HBK has successfully engineered and designed tunnel solutions for many large infrastructure projects, from hand-excavated and mined box tunnels to reinforced concrete pipe and steel casings installed via tunnel boring machines. HBK provides turn-key services including:

  • Soil Borings / Soil Evaluation
  • Structural Calculations
  • Grout Designs
  • Shaft Designs
  • Tunnel Alignment Design
  • Tunnel Lining Design
  • Tunnel Inspections
  • Tunnel Appertances Design ( platforms, utility supports, ladders)
  • Conduit / Pipe Bore Spacer Designs


From river crossings to railroad crossings to bridge abutments and expressways, HBK’s designs have seamlessly transitioned from surface trench to tunnel and back, taking many factors into consideration, starting always with safety and damage prevention and including soil conditions, surface conditions, existing infrastructure vibration monitoring, conduit, pipe and cable limitations, thermal characteristics, ampacity calculations, shaft construction space limitations (horizontal and vertical, alignment), construction logistics and impact to surroundings.


Our engineers and designers have designed both casings and hand-mined box tunnels for power HPFF pipe and dry cable conduit, water main and telecommunications infrastructure as well as have vast experience working in and designing modifications for existing tunnel infrastructure.

Planning and Land Development

Through our work in the industry, HBK has the unique capability of understanding the impacts that site design and stormwater management can have on new or rehabilitated planned developments, parks and public / private use facilities.


Our planning and engineering teams work together to provide a holistic approach ranging from the development of a comprehensive plan to the integration of contemporary site design elements with the stakeholders and governing and/or regulatory entities. This provides us with the ability to work seamlessly with zoning requirements, permitting entities and construction schedules. We believe this strategy provides a design that suits the needs of the owners and the community while making certain that the project is completed on time and within budget.


  • Strategic and Master Planning
  • Comprehensive Plans
  • Rezoning and Variances
  • Financial Analysis
  • Funding Assistance including Grant Writing
  • Downtown Revitalization
  • GIS implementation


Site Design

Our engineers and planners understand the layouts of all manner of infrastructure installations, from parks to large-scale commercial developments to utility substations. Each site is unique and we work closely with our clients to make sure each design element meets the requirements of the clients’ needs, associated code requirements, building infrastructure, anticipated future development, footprints and equipment on the chosen site.


  • Concept Layouts
  • Site Geometrics
  • Building Utility Services and Site Infrastructure
  • Area Lighting
  • Site Plans
  • Area Lighting
  • LEED Compliant Design
  • Preliminary Plats
  • Final Plats
  • Grading and Paving Plans
  • Construction Drawings and Specifications
  • 3D Renderings and Fly-throughs



HBK has developed site designs for urban, suburban and rural facilities and has a team that can quickly recognize the appropriate stormwater Best Management Practices (BMPs) for each of these scenarios. Our team has often been the first to apply new local or state stormwater regulations to a site and has done so with success. These site design principles are scalable and applicable to smaller projects as well as to erosion and sediment control plans for maintenance or replacement projects for entire towns and cities.


  • Stormwater Management Plans
  • Low Impact Development
  • Sustainable Design (Infiltration Practices)
  • Hydrologic and Hydraulic Modeling
  • Detention/Retention Basin Design
  • FEMA Letters of Map Amendment
  • Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plans (SWPPPs)
  • GIS implementation

Utility Locating

Utility marking, watch and protect

As part of our full complement of subsurface utility engineering services, HBK performs utility locating for both the purposes of infrastructure mapping and record data collection as well as for the protection of existing utility infrastructure. We take a different approach to utility locating, using utility locate technologies as another tool in our arsenal for accurately identifying and depicting the location of underground facilities.

Used in combination with atlas data and physical field survey methods, geophysical data can be a powerful tool for the verification of underground facility positions. For the past ten years, HBK has used this method to accurately collect the location of installed underground facilities.

HBK combines our subsurface utility engineering approach with the suite of full locate services that we provide for multiple utility service providers,  including utility locating and marking, record data collection, locate ticket clearing, joint field meets, emergency locate response and line patrolling.  We apply the same due diligence to our locating as we do our designs and our locate staff is cross trained in topographic and GPS survey methods.

HBK has developed a culture where our locate staff is vested in the career of infrastructure locating and protection. We place the highest importance on knowing how to use the technology and developing a thorough understanding of the systems we map, mark and protect.



Since 1998, HBK has successfully permitted for over 5,000 projects throughout the City of Chicago and surrounding suburbs.  Driven by a history of strong Design/Build partnerships, HBK has developed a deep understanding of the elements of utility infrastructure work and their respective impacts on both Public Ways and Private Premises. Our approach to permitting involves minimizing that impact by determining how to balance the needs of the Client and their Contractors with the requirements of the Municipality or Facility Owner for each project.  HBK Engineering's Permitting Services include:

  • Underground and overhead construction and maintenance permitting:
  • HBK's Permitting Team is led by Nicole Espinoza and supported by Miriam Summers. Together they perform daily interaction with City of Chicago’s Permitting Department and the Office of Underground Coordination (O.U.C.) including :

-         Preparation and Submittal of Information Retrievals for Utility Information

-         Preparation and Submittal of designs for Existing Facilities Protection review by Board of Underground Utility members

-         Tracking of progress during reviews and coordination and conflict resolution.

  • Public Way Openings and Occupation:

-         Construction Access and Closures

-         Maintenance/Manhole Access

-         Traffic Lane Closures/Traffic Control Design

  • Chicago Freight and Trolley Tunnel Access Agreements and Permits
  • Licensing
  • Grants of Privilege to Occupy and Operate Facilities in the Public Right of Way.
  • Overhead Permitting:

-         Coordinate with Pole Owners perform Records check

-         Prepare and submit pole attachment applications

-         Prepare and submit make-ready applications:

  • Make-ready engineering and design

-         Meet and coordinate with Pole owner’s representatives to review information and resolve any potential conflicts


Construction Support Services


From conceptual design to detailed design to project completion, HBK Engineering offers turn-key project support. Our over thirteen years of experience working in the utility environment combined with our hands on approach to the engineering and design of utility infrastructure has given our staff unique experience in the construction process. Over the years, our engineers have performed construction observation, oversight and support for telecommunications, power, gas, and surveillance infrastructure construction. This experience has given our staff the insight and direct feedback to further develop our approach and design for increased constructability, safety and added value.

Our personnel have worked as Resident Engineers on a multitude of projects, acting as liaisons between contractor field personnel and owner’s representatives, performing a number of tasks such as manhole and running line layout, adjustments in proposed running line location and depth, coordinating removal of abandoned utilities, resolving permit/parking issues, and determining installation of conduit configurations. In addition, HBK personnel have managed the tracking of material and equipment tickets and laborer and service provider hours tracking, maintaining daily logs of all activity on the worksite.

CADD/GIS/Database Management

Custom Application Development

HBK specializes in combining our expertise with utility and network infrastructure with the latest in technology for collection, depiction and delivery of client data. Using GIS, webservers and in-house software development, HBK has built a framework for the collection, depiction and management of large amounts of utility network data.


With our unique combination of knowledge of how the physical infrastructure of a network (manholes, vaults, conduit, poles) interact with the system elements of a network (cables, splices, transformers, joints, racks, netpops), HBK has developed methods of data collection and depiction that focus not only on the aspects of a network, but its spatially accurate location in the street.

With macro / micro levels of detail scalability, HBK has built single customer sites which can satisfy both the data needs at the Executive Summary level as well as the drill down capabilities needed for the day to day duties of engineering and operations. Our applications are purpose built for each customer’s needs and are developed with the flexibility to evolve with the projects and programs they accompany.


HBK’s GIS Applications have ranged from inspection and repair tracking applications to Geo-referenced Record Drawing / As-Built Document repositories and Network Management Systems. In each case, HBK designs our programs such that the data collected and stored is made and kept ready to hand over to the utility owner upon request for use with their own internal systems.


Electrical Engineering

120V to 345kV, HBK’s scalable design approach provides for the same standard of quality and level of detail across all projects, large and small.

HBK offers a wide range of engineering design services utilizing AC voltage system requirements from 120V to 230kV substation installations, DC battery and UPS power systems. Our Electrical design team has extensive knowledge and experience with the ComEd (Commonwealth Edison) system and its associated design parameters, commercial power and distribution system requirements, power generation and substation facilities.

HBK’s Electrical Engineering service offering includes design of 120 V– 480 V distribution systems, medium voltage (4160V) switchgear and distribution equipment, emergency power generation, DC and UPS power, grounding, raceway systems, preparation of electrical equipment design and specification documents and associated purchase orders, upgrading downstream Medium Voltage electrical service from substation and distribution centers, Electrical subterranean Vaults and transformers (480V - 4160V) , Overhead/Underground service drops for large commercial/industrial users, design of distribution circuit reinforcement , Cable replacements, Mid-Circuit reclosers, automatic load transfer switching, utility performance and reliability evaluation, and electrical equipment condition assessment.


Combining HBK’s deep understanding of civil infrastructure with our electrical design experience has been a key factor in the success of our projects, setting us apart from the industry standard. With the understanding of how the utility environment can impact a project’s design and timeline, our engineers take a comprehensive approach, identifying the time and cost intensive factors within a project relating to civil construction and balancing those aspects with the client’s timelines for line-cuts, outage schedules and in-service commitment dates.

HBK’s electrical design staff has a combined experience of over 100 years in the design of overhead distribution facilities ranging from 34kV (and below) primary and secondary services in congested urban areas as well as suburban and rural areas and offers design services including, but limited to:

  • Multiple Circuit Pole Design
  • Overhead to  underground relocations
  • Vertical and Horizontal Primary Line Design
  • Mid Circuit Reclosers
  • Spacer and Aerial Cable Installation design
    • Reduced clearance design
    • Transformer and Capacitor Design
  • Automatic Transfer Switching
  • Services  (Commercial / Residential / Street Lighting)


Telecommunications Design


Since our beginning, HBK Engineering has performed design services for many major telecommunications and bandwidth providers including shortest path fiber optic routing and detailed design services. Our telecommunications outside plant services include fiber optic splice diagrams and installation plans, conduit and manhole installation and building penetration designs. HBK has performed some of the most mission critical fiber optic infrastructure designs within major urban centers connecting bandwidth providers to major financial institutions such as the Chicago Board of Trade and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, as well as designs for connections to major data centers such as 350 E Cermak, widely considered to be one of the largest data centers in the world.  With each design, HBK applies to its expertise to designing for the shortest physical path and time to market.

We Know Telecom Inside and Out

Few understand telecommunications outside plant as well as HBK. In our firm's history, we have designed hundreds of miles of conduit and manhole systems, tunnel conduit and junction box systems, large count and long range cable pulling plans and penetrations into some of the world's largest and most complex buildings. We have crossed rivers, railroads and highways and have traversed the busiest, most congested urban areas the world has to offer.

For inside plant applications, HBK offers a full range of professional engineering services, including: the design of data and power conduit and junction boxes for building interiors; building foundation penetrations; conduit routing; and CMU wall and floor cores. We have extensive experience in bringing fiber optic infrastructure into Data Centers and Customer Presences from the public right of way, whether the facilities enter from street, tunnel or bridge attachment. HBK’s Interior Infrastructure and Net-POP design services include:

  • Foundation Penetration Design
  • Interior Conduit Routing Design
  • Riser Diagrams and Design
  • Rack Layout and Raceway design
  • MDF / IDF Layout Design
  • Wiring Diagrams
  • Termination Panel Diagrams
  • Fiber Splicing Trees and Diagrams
  • HVAC / Mechanical

Professional Land Surveying

HBK Engineering is a Licensed Professional Land Survey Firm. HBK field crews and CAD design staff; led by our in house Professional Land Surveyors, combine their expertise and knowledge using state-of-the art tools and instruments to provide reliable survey services for land development, construction and utility projects. HBK maintains multiple field crews, professionally equipped to provide accurate and responsive surveying services across a diverse range of fast-tracked projects for both public sector and private sector clientele.

Services include:

  • Above and below grade construction layout
  • Settlement monitoring
  • Boundary surveys
  • Control networks
  • Data collection
  • Topographic Survey
  • Record Survey
  • GIS management
  • ALTA surveys
  • Condominium surveys
  • Plats of subdivision, vacation, easement and dedication
  • 3D Laser Scanning
  • Vertical subdivision
  • FEMA Elevation Certificates
  • Peer Reviews

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