The Employee Advisory Committee met January 16, 2014. Items that were included in the discussion included:

  • An explanation of UDOT’s funding process
  • Employee recognition program
  • Market comparability adjustments
  • Employee communication

Notes from the meeting are available below.

EAC January 2014 Summary

Information from previous meetings has also been posted on the blog.

First Meeting of the UDOT Employee Advisory Council

 

 

AASHTO occasionally posts a video they call the “2 Minute Update”, featuring transportation leaders from different state DOTs across the country. This month’s video profiles UDOT’s Executive Director Carlos Braceras. Carlos explains his vision for UDOT and discusses our emphasis on integrated transportation and the importance of educating new engineers. AASHTO distributes the video to reporters nationwide, and a few have already filed stories, including this one from CE News.

 

The Utah Department of Transportation’s 2014 construction season will start soon. With more than 175 projects worth more than $800 million, UDOT is in for a busy summer.

A few large-scale expansion projects will help optimize mobility by adding new lanes and roads to accommodate Utah’s growing population. In addition, many preventive maintenance projects will help preserve the state’s infrastructure – keeping roads and bridges in good condition, and avoiding the need for more costly repairs in the future. The department will also continue to use innovative technology to improve traffic flow with the installation of the sixth and seventh diverging diamond interchanges in the state.

The following is a list of the top 10 projects statewide in 2014:

  1. I-15, South Davis County 
    UDOT will extend the longest continuous Express Lanes in the country with the reconstruction of I-15 in Davis County this summer. This project also includes the replacement of multiple bridges from North Salt Lake to Farmington in addition to new interchange configurations at 2600 South and 500 South, which will help improve traffic in those areas. A new pedestrian bridge at Parrish Lane and sidewalk improvements on 500 North and 500 South are also included in the project. Construction is scheduled to start in mid-April and is expected to be complete in 2015. Budget: $117 million
  2. S.R. 201 Reconstruction, Salt Lake County
    Crews will be placing new concrete pavement on S.R. 201 between 5600 West and 9450 West, and widening ramps at the 5600 West interchange. As part of this project, utilities, street signs, and traffic signals will also be upgraded. Work is scheduled start in late April and is expected to be complete in fall 2014. These improvements will prolong the life of the road and reduce congestion in the area. Budget: $20 million
  3. Bangerter Highway/Redwood Road interchange, Salt Lake County 
    UDOT will construct a new interchange at the Redwood Road and Bangerter Highway intersection, similar to the interchange at 7800 South and Bangerter Highway. Construction will start this summer and last for approximately one year. The completed project will improve the flow of traffic in a rapidly growing area of Salt Lake County and enhance safety. Budget: $42 million
  4. I-15, South Cedar City DDI, Cedar City 
    Crews will reconfigure the I-15 interchange at Exit 57, on the south end of Cedar City, as a Diverging Diamond Interchange (DDI) to improve the flow of traffic for cars, bikes and pedestrians. It includes new ramp construction and modifications to Main Street and the frontage roads. This will be the sixth DDI in Utah. The project is underway and is expected to be complete in fall 2014. Budget: $10 million
  5. Riverdale Road Reconstruction, Roy
    UDOT is reconstructing Riverdale Road between the I-84 interchange and S.R. 126 in Roy to improve traffic flow and reduce delays in the area. The project will replace the existing asphalt with new concrete pavement, add a northbound off-ramp and a southbound on-ramp at I-15, and construct two new intersections as well as a new bridge over the freeway. Construction is underway and is scheduled for completion in late fall 2014. Budget: $24 million
  6. I-15, 1100 South DDI, Brigham City 
    UDOT is converting the existing 1100 South interchange on Interstate 15 in Brigham City to a DDI – the seventh in the state, and the first in northern Utah. This innovative interchange will improve the flow of traffic for drivers traveling to and from Logan on U.S. 91. The north half of the interchange is under construction and will be completed in summer 2014. Once the north half is complete, traffic will be switched to the new bridge, crews will demolish the existing bridge, and the south half of the interchange in scheduled to be constructed by fall 2014. Budget: $$10 million
  7. I-80, Parleys Resurfacing, Parleys Canyon
    UDOT is resurfacing Interstate 80 in Parleys Canyon from the mouth of the canyon (near Foothill Drive) to the Ranch exit (exit 132).This maintenance project will replace several areas of rough pavement throughout the canyon with new durable asphalt. Construction scheduled to start this summer and is expected to be complete in fall 2014. Budget: $4 million
  8. State Street Resurfacing, Salt Lake County
    UDOT will perform regular maintenance repaving State Street from 400 South to 3300 South, removing the top layer of pavement and replacing it with new asphalt. In addition, crews will reconstruct pedestrian ramps and median islands. Construction is scheduled to start in late April and is expected to be complete by summer 2014. This project will prolong the life of the pavement and provide a smoother ride for drivers. Budget: $4 million
  9. I-80, Silver Creek to Wanship, Summit County
    This project will reconstruct a seven-mile section of Interstate 80, one of the most heavily-traveled highways in Utah, using new concrete pavement to prolong the life of the roadway. Crews will also replace the westbound bridge over Silver Creek. Construction is expected to start in June and is scheduled to be complete in 2015. Budget: $43 million
  10. U.S. 40 improvements, Wasatch, Duchesne, Uintah Counties 
    UDOT crews will be working in several locations along U.S. 40: extending passing lanes near Daniels Summit and Vernal; repaving near Fort Duchesne and Jensen; and upgrading lighting in Roosevelt. These projects will enhance safety for drivers and help traffic flow more smoothly between the Wasatch Front and the Uintah Basin. Construction is underway and is scheduled to be complete by fall 2014. Budget: $13 million

Construction activities, dates and times are subject to change because of weather or delays. For the latest information, download the free “UDOT Traffic” app on any iPhone or Android device or visit udottraffic.utah.gov.

UDOT 2014 Top 10 Road Construction Guide (745KB PDF Download)

Next week (March 17th-21st) state employees are encouraged to use public transportation to travel to and from work. This ‘Ride Public Transportation to Work Week’ represents a concerted effort by the state to increase transit ridership as a means of improving air quality and reducing congestion.

Photo of two representative of ride public transportation to work week at a Trax StationBy participating in this effort, employees have an opportunity to lead by example in using our innovative, accessible and efficient public transportation system to make Utah an even better place to live and work.

Representatives from UDOT’s TravelWise program and the Utah Transit Authority will be available at the North Temple and Salt Lake Central TRAX Stations on Monday, March 17th and Wednesday, March 19th from 7:00-9:00am to answer questions and distribute materials for participating employees.

In addition to public transportation, employees have been asked to use a combination of proven strategies that promote alternatives to driving alone. The UDOT TravelWise program strategies are aimed at optimizing mobility, reducing energy consumption and improving air quality. They include:

  • Carpooling and vanpooling
  • Taking public transit
  • Active transportation (walking or biking)
  • Teleworking (conference calling, video conferencing or working from an off-site location)
  • Trip chaining
  • Skip the trip (planning ahead to bring a lunch or grocery shop once each week rather than a few times for a few items)
  • Alternative and flexible work schedules

Many Utahn’s are already using TravelWise strategies such as trip chaining, they just don’t realize it. Research has shown that 87 percent of Utahns support a program that promotes these kinds of strategies. State employees can be part of the solution by incorporating these strategies into our daily lives.

For more information about TravelWise, visit travelwise.utah.gov and for more information about the Utah Transit Authority’s services, visit rideuta.com.

Recently Alta Mayor Tom Pollard reached out to Executive Director Carlos Braceras to express his appreciation for the Little Cottonwood Communication Tool. This tool was developed by the Traffic Operations Center and allows the Alta Marshal and other designated individuals to deliver impact and closure details regarding the road through Little Cottonwood Canyon.

“Our Marshal’s department has initiated over 160 alerts using this technology and has experienced a marked and meaningful improvement in the delivery of information related to the safety and efficient traffic flow for motorists using S.R. 210,” Mayor Pollard explained in a letter to Carlos.

UDOT leadership expressed their gratitude by presenting silver barrel awards to those involved with the project. Award recipients included:

Rob Clayton
Chuck Felice
Liam Fitzgerald
Paul Jencks
Robert Miles
Lisa Miller
Lee Nitchman
Brady Roberts

What does the future hold? That question is nearly impossible to answer unless we’re talking about ways to optimize mobility and reach zero fatalities. Then, we do have a few ideas. The U.S. Department of Transportation, state DOTs and automakers have been working on connected vehicles for several years and Google and some universities have been working on autonomous vehicles. Both of these efforts will allow for the safest and most efficient transportation system we’ve ever imagined.

Photo of an intersection

Connected vehicles can improve safety at busy intersections

So, what are autonomous and connected vehicles? Autonomous vehicles use sensors and photo imagery to drive themselves. Connected vehicles would assist the driver by providing information and resources. Blaine Leonard, Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Program Manager, explained it to me this way. When an autonomous vehicle approaches a signal it sees that it is green and that it can proceed. In comparison, a connected vehicle would have information from the signal including how long it will remain green as well as what the next signal phase is. It would even know what another unseen connected vehicle is doing down the road.

Recently the U.S. DOT National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced a rulemaking process which will ultimately mandate vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication as standard equipment in the future. This will allow these vehicles to share information and alert a driver in order to avoid a crash. This is just the first step though. As Blaine mentioned, the next step will enable transportation infrastructure to also communicate with vehicles. The Volpe National Transportation Systems Center estimates that these technologies could save over 5 million crashes a year.

There are concerns that transportation officials and automakers haven’t forgotten about, including privacy and security. For these technologies to work correctly they must be accurate and impenetrable to common problems we face such as hackers and viruses. There is also the question of privacy which is a sensitive and personal subject for each individual. At this time vehicle communication would be anonymous.

In Utah we have technology in place that makes us well suited for these advancements. One is the LiDAR data that includes a complete picture of roadway assets along state Routes and interstates. We also have an extensive fiber optic network that allows for statewide communication.

March 4th, 2014

IMT Receives Silver Barrels

No Comments, Employee Focus, by Becky Parker.

Group photo of IMT with CarlosIf you’re a long time reader of our blog you already know about our Incident Management Team (IMT) and how valuable they are. You especially understand this if you’ve ever been stranded on the side of the road and they came to your rescue. Yesterday Executive Director Carlos Braceras presented IMT with silver barrel awards. Award recipients included:

Todd Abbot
Brent Beach
Bill Frashure
Nick Jarrett
David Jean
Steve Johnson
Alan Peterson
Jeff Reynolds
Curtis Sanchez
Dave Stallworth (recently retired)
Dave Tuttle
Travis White
Mark Whittaker
Ron Williams
Robert Woolsey
Matt Zwemke

Thank you to these very deserving individuals and be sure to check out the reasons why we appreciate them so much:

Job Well Done
Managing Nicely
Incident Management Teams: UDOT’s angels in white trucks provide assistance to stranded motorists

February 6th, 2014

Region 4 Silver Barrel Awards

No Comments, Employee Focus, by Becky Parker.

We have great employees statewide but today we want to highlight a few from the southern part of our state, Region 4. Last week region director, Rick Torgerson, presented Silver Barrel Awards to six deserving recipients.

Dale Sellers from the Hanksville Maintenance Station has always been an excellent employee but last September while covering for his ill supervisor Dale excelled. A major flooding event closed S.R. 95 and caused unsafe conditions on S.R. 24 north and west of Hanksville. Dale mobilized the crew and was able to reopen most of the areas very quickly. Dale continued to work on the clean-up for the next two weeks as well as monitored work performed by a contractor brought in to repair S.R. 95.

Kim Manwill was the project manager on the recently completed Diverging Diamond Interchange (DDI) at milepost 8 (St. George Boulevard) on I-15. The project presented him with a new opportunity for involvement with a Design Build project. Prior to the project beginning Kim took advantage of opportunities to learn from other project managers in Region 3 in order to assure success on his project. The project included an aggressive schedule with a goal to have the interchange functioning prior to the Thanksgiving holiday. Kim not only met the goal but was able to beat it by opening a week early.

Monte Aldridge, Chet Johnson and Randall Taylor assisted researches from Utah State University with their study of wildlife use of various bridges and culverts. The result of the study includes design recommendations such as culvert length and fencing that will reduce wildlife collisions. Because of their assistance the State of Utah will see substantial cost savings due to the reduced number of collisions.

Nancy Jerome is project manager for a project on U.S. 89 from Kanab to Kanab Creek. There have been many obstacles up to this point including environmental, right-of-way, public, local and business concerns as well as roadway closures and difficult constructibility issues. Nancy has been able to rise above all of these issues to meet the needs of the Department as well as the needs of the affected entities.

Congratulations to all these well deserving employees!

January 27th, 2014

UDOT’s STEM Education Initiative

1 Comment, Employee Focus, by Kris Peterson.

In an effort to promote greater support for Science, Technology, Education and Mathematics (STEM) education, the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) has adopted a STEM Education Initiative to encourage more Utah students to consider careers in these fields.

STEM education generally supports the broadening of the study of engineering within each of the other subjects, and beginning engineering at younger grades, even elementary school. It also brings STEM education to all students rather than only those in so-called “gifted” programs. In recent years, education leaders in Utah and throughout the West have become concerned over the lack of growth in the STEM education fields. As an end-user of STEM graduates from the state’s universities and colleges and Governor Herbert’s emphasis on education as one of his “cornerstones,” UDOT is looking for ways to promote and encourage more people to consider this education path.

What are the STEM disciplines? They consist of natural science fields such as Astrophysics, Atmospheric Sciences, Biochemistry, Chemistry, Nuclear Physics, and Physics. The Computer industry is represented with fields such as Computational Science, Computer Engineering, Computer Science and Software Engineering. Traditional Engineering fields are represented by Aerospace Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Industrial Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Nuclear Engineering. There are potential careers in the technology sector, such as Biomechanics, Mathematical Biology, Nanotechnology, Neurobiology, Operations Research, Optics Mathematics, and Robotics. And Scientific Education is represented by opportunities in Applied Mathematics, Geographic Information Systems, Information Science, Instructional Technology, Psychology, and Statistics.

Employment projected through 2018 shows the computing industry (71%) making up the largest sector of STEM-related careers, with traditional engineering fields (16%) comprising the second largest career group. Mathematics-related careers (2%) are presently the smallest STEM sector.

Pie Charts showing Percentage of New STEM Jobs by Area Through 2018

UDOT presently has several efforts underway that are associated with its STEM Education Initiative. For example:

  • UDOT Engineers Dave Schwartz and Lisa Wilson have teamed up to participate in an afterschool program at Bennion Elementary in Taylorsville, Salt Lake County. They are teaching STEM based topics twice a week to 10-12 students with over 50 interested in becoming part of the program. Their lesson plans come from The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Roadways into Developing Elementary Students (RIDES) education outreach curriculum support program. UDOT also provides the materials to support this local after-school program, in conjunction with funding from the private sector.
  • The Weber School District has five teams participating in AASHTO’s National Bridge and Structure building competition. Part of AASHTO’s Transportation and Civil Engineering Program (TRAC), the student teams design and build balsa wood bridges based on the competition guidelines. The students prepare portfolios detailing their team’s efforts to design the bridges and build them. The portfolios are judged by a team of national experts. The top teams from across the country are selected to travel to the AASHTO Spring Conference (2014’s is in Louisville, Kentucky). Visit mmsd.transportation.org/trac_rides/awards.aspx for more information about this competition. UDOT sends our best wishes in this competition to our Utah bridge builders.
  • UDOT is partnering with the Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS) to facilitate a one day workshop on May 22, 2014 at the Region 2 Headquarters. The workshop will focus on helping grade school age girls on becoming excited about a career in Transportation related STEM fields.
  • UDOT employees are also participating in Career fairs throughout the state, encouraging all students to pursue careers in STEM related professions. UDOT engineers and staff are also spending time in classrooms to help students understand the excitement and satisfaction which comes from serving our community in STEM related fields of expertise.
  • STEM students from local high schools and higher-ed institutions have been participating in internships with various UDOT departments and regions. These internships give students opportunities to apply what they’ve learned, and demonstrate their potential in the various STEM career fields.

UDOT is looking to expand its experiences in STEM education and hopes you will consider how you can be a part of this initiative. Look for future blog entries about the experiences your colleagues are having, and how you might become involved in this important effort.

January 23rd, 2014

WASHTO Quality Award Winners

No Comments, Employee Focus, by Carlos Braceras.

I am pleased to announce that the WASHTO Quality Award winners for 2013 are the Ogden Canyon Fiber Project and Traffic Signal Operations teams. It became evident as our selection committee reviewed the nominations that these two groups distinguished themselves as leaders who have made significant contributions to the Department while simultaneously improving the quality of life in our communities.

Photo of Carlos Braceras and the Ogden Canyon Fiber Project Team

UDOT Executive Director and the Ogden Canyon Fiber Project Team

The Ogden Canyon Fiber Project Team members were Jesse Glidden, Lynne Yocom, Blaine Leonard, Brent DeYoung, Rex Harris, Matthew Smith, and Dave Moss.

As many of you know, Ogden Canyon (S.R. 39) is a narrow, winding 5-mile canyon road connecting the Ogden Valley with the metropolitan area. It is a critical transportation link but a difficult location for constructing projects due to its mountainous terrain.

Our Region 1 folks initially had asked our Traffic Management Division to install a VMS sign in the canyon that would warn motorists of frequent winter canyon closures. Lynn, Blaine and Matt were more than happy to do that but while they were visiting the site they noticed construction already happening in the Canyon.

Ogden City had recently started the installation of a waterline. The team knew that underground construction of this magnitude in the canyon rarely occurred. They successfully seized upon this opportunity to partner with the city and get a fiber communications line installed along the entire canyon corridor.

This vital link to Ogden Valley now provides fiber optic communications for traffic monitoring and public communications. In addition, Ogden City enjoys a fiber connection to their water treatment plant and residents have improved cell and broadband service.

Because our team members took the time to think beyond the limited scope of their own individual duties, they were able to see the bigger picture. This synergistic approach to finding a solution will benefit thousands of people for decades to come.

I commend them for their great work.

Photo of Carlos Braceras and the Automatic Signal Performance Measures Team

UDOT Executive Director and the Automatic Signal Performance Measures Team

The first place winning team is our Traffic Signal Operations group, consisting of Mark Taylor, Jamie Mackey, Matt Luker, Shane Johnson, Derek Lowe, Peter Jager, Eric Rasband, Adam Lough and Carrie Jacobson.

Tasked with providing “World-Class” signals operations and maintenance, our folks have risen to the occasion. Adopting best practices from our partners at Indiana DOT, they have developed eight different performance measures currently available for 750 intersections. The measures provide both real-time and historical data, with all of the information housed on the UDOT Traffic website.

The program works via FTP connections located throughout the network that provide information to our traffic signal controllers. Every 15 minutes TOC servers retrieve and store “packets” of time-stamped data. This process is overseen by software engineers Shane Johnson and Derek Lowe. Anyone can access this data, which is an approach that fosters transparency and information sharing. Because of their efforts, UDOT is now the national leader in real-time traffic signal performance measures.

It’s not hard to see why in June of this year UDOT received the AASHTO Technology Implementation Group (TIG) award for their efforts in this area. But this team isn’t stopping there. By the end of the year they plan to have additional performance measures to track elements such as historical travel times for arterials and overall operations system improvements.

Both teams’ efforts have served to further our Department’s Strategic Direction.

Our Ogden Canyon Fiber Team has strengthened the economy by providing fiber optic service to Ogden City’s water treatment plant and improved cell and broadband service to residents. They have optimized mobility via a vital communications link that will facilitate traffic management and public information. They have improved safety with the capability to more effectively manage traffic, thus keeping drivers safer and getting us one step closer to our goal of Zero Fatalities.

Our Traffic Signal Operations team has strengthened the economy by improving the efficiency of the signal system. This has made a huge impact on alleviating traffic congestion and consequently the movement of goods and services throughout the state. In addition, they have implemented signal timing plans to accommodate large events such as college football games and community parades.

The signals team has optimized mobility by closely monitoring and adjusting red and green time to allow for better progression along corridors. They have improved safety by partnering with our radar vendor to track approaching vehicle speeds at intersections. To preserve our infrastructure, they have devised a way to quickly find and replace deficient vehicle detectors.

These efforts do not go unnoticed. Congratulations to both teams for their exemplary work and dedication. Please join me in thanking them for their great work as they are well-deserving of the 2013 WASHTO Quality Awards.

Information about all of the WASHTO Quality Awards nominees is available in a previous post.