September 11th, 2012

REGIONS TAKE THE REINS

Preserve Infrastructure, by Catherine Higgins.

Change at Central Maintenance is aimed at giving the four UDOT Regions an expanded role in setting the direction of maintenance functions.

Regional maintenance station personnel do the work to preserve the transportation system. Here, workers repair a longitudinal crack in asphalt pavement. Many maintenance workers have decades of accrued knowledge about area roads, structures, and even typical weather patterns.

Soon after taking charge in early 2012, Central Maintenance Director Kevin Griffin named two Deputies.  Method Engineers Tim Ularich and Shana Lindsey have been given the responsibility to spend more time working closely with the regions. Region personnel are the ones directly responsible for maintaining the state transportation system.

Ularich and Lindsay are part of a cultural shift at Central Maintenance that will let regions take a larger role in developing innovations, setting performance standards, and deciding on budget distributions.

Giving the regions more say makes sense – after all, regional maintenance station personnel work to preserve the transportation system and perform core functions like snow and ice removal.  Many maintenance workers have decades of accrued knowledge about area roads, structures, and even typical weather patterns.

Tim Ularich, Ken Berg, Jessica Andrews, Shana Lindsey, Lynn Bernhard, Lloyd Neeley.

That institutional expertise can be valuable if tapped. Each year, Central Maintenance conducts method studies that investigate new or better technologies. Those studies have typically been developed at the central level. Ularich says he and Lindsey will spend face time getting the region’s take on what is needed. “Then, we’ll bring it back and implement the studies.”

The role of the two deputies will not be limited to the method study process. Lindsey says she and Ularich are on hand for anything, including obtaining standards and specifications, putting contracts in place and procuring materials – “we are coordinating that help.” Both deputies know the UDOT organization and can provide adept support. Central’s role will be to insure consistency across the state, she explains.

Regions will also play a larger part in determining performance standards. And that new role will come with commensurate responsibility; each region will be accountable for the performance of its maintenance crews.

Along with organizational and process changes, two web-based tools are being developed to help the regions. A Performance Dashboard will show performance measures in real time and a procurement system will help maintenance crews acquire necessities, like plow blades and sand, more easily.

The new direction at Central Maintenance will help the regions “achieve the departments goals” with the help and guidance of Central Maintenance says Griffin. “We’re not going to tell them how to do their work; we’re here to work with the regions to set performance standards and to support them.”

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