UDOT Wind Event Weather Briefing
Weather events can have a huge impact on traffic and traveler delay. The UDOT Traffic Operations Center (TOC) handles routine day-to-day rush hour congestion and traffic signal timing smoothly after years of practice. But what about a large winter storm or wind event?
A significant amount of planning and consideration is needed to ensure that UDOT’s response to a storm is thorough and serving the needs of the public. For the high winds event that affected interstate and highway routes from Woods Cross to Centerville on Nov.21–22, 2013, TOC coordination started with a weather briefing. Weather briefings are generally held 24 to 48 hours before a storm to ensure that the incoming weather data is as accurate as possible. Many UDOT departments attend the weather briefings. The briefings are an essential tool to ensure that the UDOT response to an event
UDOT Portable RWIS Station (Photo by Cody Opperman)
is coordinated and timely. “The weather briefing discussed what we anticipated, what steps they would take when certain thresholds were met, and a detailed schedule of who would be in charge throughout the event,” said Jason Davis, UDOT’s Director of Operations.
UDOT Maintenance Technician J.T. Dziatlik
Following the weather briefing, UDOT employees sprang into action. UDOT began strategically deploying equipment and personnel to assist with equipment malfunctions and outages due to the storm. The Traffic Operations Center had an event coordinator and meteorologist on staff around the clock for the duration of the event.
One of the most valuable pieces of equipment during a wind storm are the Road Weather Information System (RWIS) stations. A portable RWIS was deployed at the epicenter of the wind and communicated wind speeds and gusts back to the TOC. Over the course of the storm, the UDOT weather group posted dozens of Road Weather Alerts on the UDOT Traffic app, website and 511 phone line. The weather group was also in near-constant communication with UDOT’s region offices and maintenance sheds providing storm updates.
Current and forecast weather conditions are a critical part of traveler information in Utah. Utah has many high mountain passes and rural routes that frequently experience hazardous winter weather, and accurate road condition information for these routes is vital for traveler safety and route planning.
The UDOT Citizen Reporting Program enlists volunteers to report on current road conditions along specific roadway segments across Utah. The volunteers can be UDOT employees, law enforcement, truck drivers, plow drivers, experienced commuters, or other volunteers. The long term goal of adding Citizen Reporters to UDOT’s weather operations road reporting is to supplement current condition reporting on segments where drivers are already traveling.
All of the incoming data is compiled with carefully crafted logic to determine the condition of the road surface. Reports from plow drivers, law enforcement and other experienced reporters may be utilized in a different way than volunteer citizen data, however all data is immensely valuable and helpful in determining the condition of the road surface.
How do I become a UDOT Citizen Reporter?
In order to become a UDOT Citizen Reporter, you will need to complete a brief training (either online or in person), take a short quiz and complete a sign-up form. The training takes approximately 30 minutes. Once a volunteer has completed these steps, they will be provided with a login and PIN, and can begin submitting reports. Reports are submitted through the UDOT Citizen Reporting app, downloadable for Android and Apple devices from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.
If you would like to become a Citizen Reporter, please follow this link to take the online training: www.udottraffic.utah.gov/training/citizenreporter. For more information or to schedule an in person training, email UDOTCitizenReporter@utah.gov.
Since 2009, the UDOT SNAP team has been teaching Utah students the importance of safe walking and biking practices. To encourage more students to walk and bike to school, the SNAP, Walk ‘N Roll assembly was created. Featuring professional performers and catchy, upbeat songs, the SNAP, Walk ‘N Roll assembly is a highly-sought after coveted production that covers what to do in construction zones and how regular exercise can improve a student’s focus and health.
With the new school year comes another round of SNAP, Walk ‘N Roll assembly performances. This year SNAP was pleased to bring the assembly to 30 schools across the state. To date, more than 100,000 Utah students have seen the SNAP, Walk ‘N Roll assembly.
The SNAP assembly is available to elementary schools in the Alpine, Canyons, Davis, Granite, Jordan, Murray, Nebo, Ogden, Provo, Salt Lake and Weber school districts. Elementary schools outside of the listed districts can request a free SNAP, Walk ‘N Roll DVD, that features the entire assembly performed on a professional sound stage.
The music from the SNAP assembly is available for free on the UDOT SNAP website.
To see more pictures and learn about the SNAP performers, visit the SNAP Facebook page.
This guest post was written by Cherissa Wood UDOT’s School and Pedestrian Safety Program Manager.
The Student Neighborhood Access Program, or SNAP, is committed to promoting safe walking and biking habits for Utah’s elementary and middle school age children. Every year, SNAP holds a competition that encourages Utah students to walk and bike to school instead of being dropped off by a parent.
The fifth annual Walk More in Four challenge, held every September, was once again successful in encouraging Utah students to walk and bike safety to school. The WMIF challenge awarded 600 prizes to students all across the state who walked or biked at least three days a week during the four weeks of September. Prizes included bikes, scooters, helmets and more.
At this year’s WMIF kickoff event at Dilworth Elementary in Salt Lake City, UDOT Executive Director Carlos Braceras spoke to students, parents and teachers about the importance of safe walking and biking practices.
New to the challenge this year were online progress charts. Students and parents could log on to the WMIF website and track their walking and biking progress. The online progress charts allowed SNAP to collect more accurate information about the students who participated, as well as provided a paper-free way to turn in charts. More than 45 percent of students who participated in this year’s challenge took advantage of the online progress chart and SNAP hopes to see even more use the online charts next year.
This year the WMIF challenge had a record 160 schools participate in the challenge, and a record $8,500 was collected in donations from Walmart locations across the state.
And check out these lucky winners.
Daisey Allen, a student at Kanab Elementary in Kanab, Utah, showing off her new bike and helmet.
UDOT School and Pedestrian Safety Program Manager Cherissa Wood poses for a picture with scooter winner Arianna Kerr and bike winner Holden Anderson at Middle Canyon Elementary School in Tooele, Utah.
Bates Elementary kindergarten student Brock Berry smiles with his scooter and helmet in his classroom.
This guest post was written by UDOT School and Pedestrian Safety Program Manager Cherissa Wood.
At a time when one in six Utahns are at risk of going hungry, UDOT and its contractors are working to make a difference.
During the 2013 annual UDOT conference four teams of engineers from CH2MHILL, HDR, UDOT and Michael Baker Corporation/Wadsworth Construction showed off their design skills during their first ever Canstruction design/build competition.
“I’m so proud of this year’s Canstruction event participants and want to thank each of them for making this a successful first year. These donations will help several families in need over the coming holidays,” said CH2M HILL engineer and event organizer Brian Michels. “I’m looking forward to next year’s event and hope that we can exceed this years donation.”
Each engineering team constructed sculptures using thousands of cans of donated food. Each of the designs took four to six hours to construct, and the results were impressive. Check out of this time-lapse video of the engineers in action:
The following awards were presented to the engineering teams:
- UDOT – Structural Ingenuity
- HDR – Juror’s Favorite
- CH2M HILL – Best Meal
- Michael Baker/Wadsworth – Best Use of Labels & People’s Choice
The Canstruction event was made possible thanks to company food drives and generous monetary donations from sponsors including WCEC Engineers, Hunt Electric and Perkins Engineering. At the close of the conference 11,250 cans of food were collected and donated to the Utah Food Bank with the help of UDOT’s West Jordan Maintenance Shed, along with over $2,200 in cash donations. Thanks to everyone who made this year’s Canstruction event a huge success.
This guest post was written by Mary Rice with Penna Powers Brian Haynes.
In August, I announced a number of changes the leadership team would be implementing to better recognize our employees and their concerns. Based on feedback from surveys and focus groups earlier this year, we understood that our employees felt we could improve on providing dialogue between employees and leadership.
As a result of what we heard, we have created an Employee Advisory Council (EAC), which includes representatives from every group and region who will meet with Shane Marshall and me each quarter. The EAC will provide a direct avenue for employees to share concerns, ideas and feedback with the leadership team.
The EAC met for the first time on Oct. 3, and based on the number of topics we discussed, we decided to increase the length of our meetings from one and a half hours to two. I am excited to hear so many ideas and topics from our employees that can help make our organization even better.
During our discussion, the EAC decided to make all our meeting minutes available here on the blog, so all employees can be aware of the issues and questions we address. Also available is the full roster of EAC members, so if you have a question or concern you can pass it along for discussion at our next meeting.
Some of the topics we discussed were:
- Employee Morale – Increase recognition for the good work being done by our employees.
- Performance Plans – Consider changing plans so supervisors can adequately rate those who exceed expectations.
- Performance Recognition – Promote and expand recognition program, which employees feel is not consistent or as robust as it could be.
- Outsourcing – Address the concern that the amount of work given to consultants threatens job security for UDOT employees. Employees will not lose jobs because of outsourcing.
- Policy Explanations – Provide information about the reason(s) for policy changes instead of just announcing that change has occurred.
- Market Comparability Adjustments (MCAs) – Give more background and context with the annual MCA report from Human Resources so it is easier to understand.
- Employee Communication – Improve communication by offering more one-on-one access to the leadership team, for example by conducting regular visits to maintenance.
These are just highlights, but more detailed notes are available in the minutes. I encourage you to download and read the more detailed version for this meeting and those that follow. The next meeting has been scheduled for January, and all employees will receive an email from me as soon as those minutes are available.
We hope that all employees will engage the EAC and take part in our continual effort to improve as an organization. I look forward to hearing from you!
Employee Advisory Council Roster
October 2013 EAC Minutes
Carlos and Shane took time to speak to all of the Annual Conference attendees during the general session on Wednesday. The director and deputy director speeches have always been one of the most important parts of the conference. This is a chance for them to set a direction and energize us for the coming year and to let us know how we’ve been doing.
Carlos was first up and took us through the process he went through applying for the job as executive director. It was a multi-step process that led to a great life lesson we can all learn from. The process, or journey, itself was the important part. This gave him time to reflect and plan for UDOT’s future. Without that time, he admitted, things would be very different. The end result was the vision document we wrote about back in August. He also explained that his job is not to be the one with all the ideas but instead to provide an environment for employees to come up with, and implement, innovations that will improve how we do business. And, he’ll be right there in front, cheering us on and doing what he can to help.
Shane was up next and gave us a brief introduction of himself, shared some of the results from the annual survey and employee interviews and explained a few areas we need to improve in. Coincidentally several of the concern areas the survey and employees brought up are also part of Carlos’ vision. The big one though was transparency. The public felt this was an area we needed to improve and employee interviews echoed.
Another concern that was brought up was a need to improve communication between senior leaders and employees. To help with this an advisory committee has been formed and the first meeting has taken place. The Employee Advisory Council (EAC) will meet quarterly and Shane asked that any concerns be taken to one of the members for discussion at their next meeting.
Shane also took a minute during his presentation to clear up a rumor that has been floating around. He reassured employees that their jobs are not in jeopardy due to privatization and asked station supervisors to take that message back to their sheds.
Shane wrapped up the general session by thanking everyone and expressing his excitement and optimism for the upcoming year.
The leaves have turned, the first snow has fallen on the mountains, and the 2013 construction season is nearing an end. UDOT and contractor crews have completed more than 200 road construction projects statewide in 2013. By the end of the year, 216 projects will have been carried out state roads and Interstates from Plymouth to St. George and from Wendover to Vernal. Each one of these projects was designed to help accomplish one or more of UDOT’s strategic goals:
In 2013, most construction projects fell under the goal to Preserve Infrastructure. These repaving and rehabilitation projects will keep Utah’s roads in good condition and prevent the need for more costly repairs in the future. Maintaining our highways helps them last as long as possible, and benefits the economy by keeping people, goods, and services moving throughout the state.
In 2012, UDOT completed 229 projects with a total value of $2,783,444,049, which included the I-15 CORE and Mountain View Corridor projects. By comparison, the total value of projects scheduled for completion in 2013 is $631,489,082. To make the best use of a much smaller budget during the 2013 construction season, the department focused on maintaining and making minor improvements to Utah’s roads, rather than major expansion or reconstruction efforts.
During the 2013 construction season, UDOT has resurfaced or repaired pavement on more than 400 miles of Utah highways and roads, and has completed 12 bridge repair or replacement projects. Some notable projects that have been completed or are scheduled for completion this year include:
Moving forward in 2014, UDOT will widen I-15 at the Point of the Mountain and in Davis County, as well as continue its aggressive focus on maintaining existing roads.
This guest post was written by Leigh Gibson from the UDOT Traffic team.