July 19th, 2012
SIGNAL REORGANIZATIONOptimize Mobility, Strengthen the Economy, by Catherine Higgins.
A reorganized Signal Team is helping UDOT engineers share best practices and improve traffic flow.
UDOT is putting more resources into keeping signals working well by adding more resources and reorganizing the statewide signals team. The change is part of an aggressive preventative maintenance program that ultimately will help UDOT be more proactive and less reactive.
Well managed signal systems can have a cost benefit ratio as high as 40 to 1 – a much higher benefit than new construction. But keeping signals working requires an investment of funding and staff to execute preventative maintenance strategies.
“We want to be preventing the fires from occurring in the first place,” says Mark Taylor, UDOT Traffic Systems Operational Engineer. With the new organization changes, he says the public “will see reduced delay and smoother flow of traffic.”
Taylor works in the Traffic Management Division, which is responsible for traffic signal timing on all state roads at the Traffic Operations Center. The UDOT TOC is the nerve center for managing traffic flow and the facility plays a key role in helping UDOT manage signal systems and reduce delay.
According to a recently completed UDOT Quality Improvement Team report and FHWA, departments of transportation need sufficient staff to manage and maintain the signal systems effectively and efficiently. National best practice standards call for one traffic engineer to keep every 75 to 100 signals maintained and operational and one signal technician for every 40 to 50 signals.
Changes at UDOT reflect best practices
Now each of the four UDOT regions has a Region Traffic Engineer, with regions three and four sharing one position. Region Traffic Engineers report to the central Signal Operations Management Engineer at the Traffic Operations Division. Signal crews at the region level report to the Region Traffic Signal Engineer and to Traffic Operations Division.
The organizational change reflects a Matrix management structure that integrates the Traffic Management Division and operations engineers at the four UDOT Regions. The change is intended to aid organizational cohesion and uniformity, improve operations and maintenance practices, and facilitate increased knowledge transfer of best practices from one region to another.
With improved preventative maintenance, signal detection systems, for example, should fail less often. “We have a goal to keep signal detection operational – ninety-five percent is the goal,” says Taylor.