Monthly Archives: March 2012


Mechanic Ron Grundy is the 2012 Employee of the year.

Employee of the Year Ron Grundy speaks to a UDOT audience while Exemplary Employees and guests look on.

Eight people named Exemplary Employees and their guests met at the Calvin Rampton Complex to share lunch and conversation with each other and to be honored for their service by UDOT Director John Njord and Deputy Director Carlos Braceras. “We have tremendous employees at the department of transportation.” Hard working, dedicated employees at UDOT make the organization vibrant, responsive to customers and help the organization to continually “change into a better place to be.”

This year’s Exemplary Employees are:

  • Pam Wilcock – Region One
  • Shane Bushell – Region Two
  • Jacob Merryweather – Region Three
  • Ron Grundy – Region Four
  • Kim Banks – Operations
  • Denis Stuhff – Project Development
  • Penni Taylor – Administration Group
  • Daniel Kuhn – Systems Planning and Programming

Njord honored each employee individually and then presented the Employee of the Year Award to Ron Grundy. A Roving mechanic for UDOT, Grundy is a self starter who consistently performs above expectations and serves as a great mentor and trainer for other employees and mechanics.

Grundy’s dedication to always keep up with an increasingly more complex and technical work environment has made him a valuable resource. Grundy is well trained through taking advantage of offered courses and spending many hours studying.  He is always in high demand by his customers who have confidence that his work will be completed quickly and correctly. A top notch diesel and heavy equipment mechanic, Grundy is proficient at repairing hundreds of pieces of equipment.

Grundy also focuses on fostering teamwork. The Chip-seal teams, which provide important cost-saving maintenance, count on him to be on-hand to provide quick repairs to maintain productivity.  Grundy is always available to problem-solve when tough mechanical issues arise. He also has great personal work relationships with everyone he serves.


Lighting maintenance on I-15 in Salt Lake County is nearly complete and nighttime drivers should notice that the freeway is brighter.

A worker raises the high-mast light fixtures after completing maintenance.

One of the most common reasons people call the UDOT main office is to express concern about freeway lighting. Appropriate lighting is important to safety. According to numerous studies (see NCHRP Project No. 5-19, P. 73)  night time crashes can be reduced by over 20 percent at some locations by adding lighting. System to system interchanges and other places where the freeway is complex having many directional signs indicating interchanges or exits benefit from good lighting. For example, on the I-15 to I-80 interchange in Salt Lake County, lighting helps assist state-to-state motorists head in the right direction.

Work on high-mast lights on I-15 is almost complete.

UDOT has been working hard to replace centerline lighting on I-15 through the Salt Lake Valley.  High mast fixtures, ballasts and fuses need to be replaced about every four years. Starting from 106th South and proceeding north, crews have been working on Sundays to re-lamp the freeway.

Good news – the work is nearing completion. “There are a few poles along there with circuit problems, but we will get that addressed soon,” according to Richard Hibbard, UDOT Traffic and Safety Signal and Lighting Engineer. “The I-215 South Interchange gore areas still need some work as well.”

Shane Killen with Black and McDonald of Sandy, Utah has been managing the project. “It’s been a pretty routine process,” says Killeen, who has been working with crews on successive Sundays to avoid heavy traffic. Other than a few snow days and some underground power issues, the work has gone well. Killeen anticipates that the work will be completed before the end of March.


UDOT’s Estimate Support Team scrutinizes all associated project costs for better pre-bid estimates. 

The team also lends expertise to project teams to appropriately price change orders. The process, called cost-based estimating, is a departure from using average historical costs. Project costs, such as materials, can be subject to fluctuation due to market forces and project location, so an average of historical costs may not provide a good representation of specific project costs. Estimates that are close as possible to market costs allow UDOT to:

  • Allocate funds more wisely – high estimates leave money on the table when bids come in lower than expected. Better estimates mean funds can be shifted to other projects an average four months sooner.
  • Minimize re-advertizing – pre-bid cost estimates that are too low result in bids that may not be subject to approval. Re-advertizing is costly and delays improvements to the transportation system.
  • Be wise stewards of public funds during construction – pricing change orders correctly keeps the construction budget under control and allows UDOT to get the most out of every project dollar.

Chris Wilson, Abdi Fatemi, Jason Henrie and George Lukes are the Estimate Support Team. The team's cost based approach is producing estimates closer to the expected bid amounts.

Since June 2011, the UDOT Estimate Support team members George Lukes of UDOT and Jason Henrie, Abdi Fatemi and Chris Wilson of Stanley Consultants have been integrating with project teams. The team’s cost based approach is producing estimates closer to the expected bid amounts — the percentage of estimate funds awarded at bid opening jumped from 77 percent in 2010 to 91 percent in 2011.

Working together

Estimating project costs is more than just taking a look at market values. Estimators need to be experienced in the contracting world – “It takes a long, long time to be a good estimator,” says Fatemi. He has over three decades of experience working as a contractor and pricing projects.

Randall Taylor, UDOT Region Four Constructability and Environmental Engineer, has been working with the team since September 2011. He appreciates Fatemi’s extensive background and thinks cost based estimates give project teams “greater confidence that the budget is sufficient” and that the bids will come in near the expected range.

Fatemi knows the contracting world and Taylor knows the characteristics of region projects and local material sources. “We make a good team,” says Taylor. The two have come up with ways to save costs. For example, a Region Four project will re-use milled off tailings where possible instead of purchasing new material  – “energy savings and savings to the project” will result explains Taylor.

Taylor believes the present approach is an advantage. “We’re getting better estimates. We know better where our costs are going to be and we’re in a stronger position to negotiate change orders.”


LED fixtures installed near the Salt Lake International Airport will provide low maintenance, energy saving bright light.

Mike Bishop with UDOT's Light and Signal Crew holds one of the new fixtures.

UDOT crews will install LED fixtures on highways in Region Two, starting with fixtures on the I-80-Bangerter Highway Interchange near the airport. LEDs emit white light that “Produces far more color within the color spectrum” which allows drivers to see roadway objects more clearly at night, explains Richard Hibbard, UDOT Traffic and Safety Signal and Lighting Engineer. LEDs have been installed in several locations along the Wasatch Front, including Foothill and 7th East in Salt Lake City, on 13th East in Sandy City and on 6200 S in Holladay.

The more efficient, long lasting fixtures will save costs. A typical 400 Watt HPS fixture costs UDOT about $10 per month. Considering that Region 2 alone has about 1,000 400W fixtures on the Rocky Mountain Power grid, anticipated savings could be as $5 thousand per month. LED fixtures are expected to last 20 years or longer with no maintenance at all. Standard fixtures need to be replaced every five years.

High mast fixtures are still in development. “When manufacturers begin producing viable, cost-effective LED fixtures for high-mast, then we will begin a replacement program for that system,” according to Hibbard. “I don’t anticipate that happening for at least two to three years.”


Planners at the Wasatch Front Regional Council are finalizing the 2012-2017 Transportation Improvement Program or TIP, a six-year program of highway and transit projects for Salt Lake, Ogden and Layton.

Projects included in the program will help meet the transportation needs of the area. Updated yearly, the systematic process of putting together the TIP is designed to be continual, comprehensive and cooperative. WFRC works closely with UDOT, the Utah Transit Authority elected officials and the public to finalize the TIP.

The program lists priority projects for the Wasatch Front region that are developed and approved by the WFRC Board and local elected officials, and presented for public review and comment.

The process starts in the fall of each year when WFRC invites project sponsors to submit letters of intent. WFRC planners evaluate each project and determine conformity to the air quality standards. The Technical Advisory Committee, Councils of Governments and the Transportation Coordinating Committee and WFRC planners approve and rank projects.

The projects are incorporated into UDOT’s Statewide Transportation Improvement Program  after approval by the UDOT director as the governor’s designee. The STIP is also submitted to Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Transit Administration for approval and adoption.

The projects listed in the TIP are incorporated into UDOT’s Statewide Transportation Improvement Program


Highways for Life is a Federal Highways Administration funded program to promote the use of new technologies to improve the transportation system.

Geo synthetic Reinforced Soil, layers of "fabric" and soil, allows settlement to occur more quickly and speeds up construction time.

Nationwide, our transportation system is facing increased ADT which can cause greater than anticipated wear on roads and bridges. Transportation research has lead to safer practices and new features that can save lives. With increased traffic, construction that shuts down highways becomes very inconvenient for the traveling public.

New tested technologies that can extend the life of highway infrastructure or improve safety are ready for widespread use – that is, if transportation agencies know about the technologies and have access to funding needed for deployment.

HfL provides up to twenty percent of the total project budget and expertise needed so transportation agencies can adopt market-ready technologies. Projects must serve at least one or all of three main goals: improve safety during and after construction, reduce congestion caused by construction, and improve the quality of the highway infrastructure. The performance goals are meant to serve road users and represent “the best of what we can do,” according to the HfL website.

This year, HfL will support 17 projects being built in the next several months, including an pre-cast bridge in Idaho, an ACS signal system in New Jersey and a DDI in Wyoming. Many of the projects will involve showcase events that will allow people from other transportation agencies to see the new technologies being employed.

UDOT received support for a HfL project using Geosynthetic Reinforced Soil – Integrated Bridge System on I-84 over the Echo Frontage Road. UDOT is a leader in using accelerated bridge construction to reduce inconvenience and delay caused by construction. However, this project is different than other ABC projects UDOT has employed, according to Bridge Design Engineer Rebecca Nix. “The design removes the traditional concrete abutments and the superstructure bears directly on GRS. Using GRSwill allow the bridge to settle uniformly with the adjacent roadway providing a smooth transition onto the structure.”

Construction of the project will be phased to allow traffic to use the roadway during construction. The superstructure will be built in the median, and traffic will be routed over the structure to allow for the construction of the modular block wall foundations. Once the foundations are completed, the superstructure will be slid into place.