January 22nd, 2014

WASHTO Award Nominees

Employee Focus, by Carlos Braceras.

Every year the Western Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (WASHTO) awards individuals or groups in their member states that have shown exemplary work in improving the quality of their respective organizations.

We received a record number of nominations from UDOT teams this year and the submittals were truly impressive. Their talents and ingenuity are a testament to the high caliber of employees we have here at UDOT. I wanted to take the time to highlight this year’s nominees and briefly outline their submissions.

Our maintenance folks do a remarkable job. For example, our maintenance team in Parley’s Canyon has worked to upgrade lights to LEDs and efficiently used the fill dirt from an area construction project in parts of the Canyon that need it most. When this summer’s flooding had the potential to cause road damage, our Huntington Canyon maintenance crews went above and beyond to create a rebar/riprap fix that prevented additional damage from occurring.

When a better data collection process was needed for the Maintenance Management Quality Assurance Program, our Region Two folks helped to support it. When we had to think creatively about how to best maintain our assets, Region Four’s asset management group adopted the motto, “Take Care of What we Have” and implemented a three year plan for Level II road maintenance that focuses on crack sealing and lane leveling.

I am constantly amazed at how dedicated our maintenance folks are at ensuring our transportation system investments are well cared for and our shop employees are no different.

The Region Three Mechanic shop employees collectively have over 200 years of experience between them. This has given them the skills and expertise needed to repair state-owned equipment using best practices and the latest technology. Their experience has helped the region to successfully meet the Department’s goals.

In Region One, the equipment shop team retrofitted five older snow plows with saddle tanks to give them the same pre-wetting capabilities that newer vehicles have. This ingenuity is essential to maintaining UDOT’s reputation as a national leader.

Our Signals Operations folks have made significant strides in innovation and national leadership. They have been tasked with creating a World-Class Signals system and are well on their way to making it happen. We now have over 750 intersections bringing real-time data to the Traffic Operations Center.

Managing data can be a significant undertaking- something our GIS group knows very well. Working closely with other divisions, they have helped to create an inventory system with real-time information regarding outdoor advertising along state routes. In addition, they have been an asset in producing interactive maps for Transportation Commission meetings, mapping bike routes, and creating a UPLAN Safety Index.

Another group that understands management is our Project Management team. Now with just a few clicks of the mouse a project can be set up, tracked, updated and the status communicated. ePM has been improved in the way it handles financial information for our project managers, and our Program Finance folks have developed a way to release excess funds earlier in the project process to allow for timely reprogramming on new projects.

Communicating information is key, not only in project management, but also when it impacts the public.

We now have a Little Cottonwood Canyon Communications Tool (LCCCT) for communicating information to the traveling public and our Travelwise program has improved our air quality messaging on overhead VMS boards to encourage motorists to drive less or carpool.

Our employees coordinated a partnership with Ogden City to install fiber in Ogden Canyon. They took the time to go beyond their normal responsibilities, finding a synergistic solution to an otherwise seemingly insurmountable task. They showed that proactive planning really makes a difference.

Our structures planning team has adopted “Plan for Every Structure” as their goal. The Treatment Matrix and overhaul of The Critical Bridge List are two examples of how they’ve done exactly that. Not only are we at the forefront of thoughtful structures planning but also of innovative bridge construction.

Representatives from around the country descended on Echo Junction this past summer as our project team pioneered the combination of Geosynthetic Reinforced Soil (GRS) and Accelerated Bridge Construction (ABC).

At UDOT, quality work happens not only on the roads but off them as well.

For example, the Seeley Burn Scar left quite a mark. Our folks worked collaboratively with the Utah Geological Survey to install a Road Weather Information System in the scar’s watershed that helped anticipate flooding before it happened.

Our avalanche team successfully installed a release system near avalanche slide paths. This system can be operated remotely to set off snow slides in a controlled environment that reduces the likelihood of larger, more destructive avalanches.

The central materials group proactively reached out to precast suppliers and revised the current specifications to allow limited amounts of specific items to be saved ahead of time. As a result, we now have high-demand items when an unexpected need arises.

Our research team initiated a new transportation innovation breakout group this year that generated new ideas about special types of concrete pavements for urban areas and laser striping for more accurate lane delineation.

UDOT University has made literally hundreds of courses available to UDOT employees, trained approximately 850 individual participants, and provided approximately 1500 hours of training to department personnel.

As you can see, the selection pool for this year’s WASHTO Quality Award was very competitive. All of these groups’ accomplishments are impressive in their own right and collectively represent the quality work we do here at the Department. I want to express my appreciation to all of the nominees for their hard work and dedication.

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