Next week (March 17th-21st) state employees are encouraged to use public transportation to travel to and from work. This ‘Ride Public Transportation to Work Week’ represents a concerted effort by the state to increase transit ridership as a means of improving air quality and reducing congestion.
By participating in this effort, employees have an opportunity to lead by example in using our innovative, accessible and efficient public transportation system to make Utah an even better place to live and work.
Representatives from UDOT’s TravelWise program and the Utah Transit Authority will be available at the North Temple and Salt Lake Central TRAX Stations on Monday, March 17th and Wednesday, March 19th from 7:00-9:00am to answer questions and distribute materials for participating employees.
In addition to public transportation, employees have been asked to use a combination of proven strategies that promote alternatives to driving alone. The UDOT TravelWise program strategies are aimed at optimizing mobility, reducing energy consumption and improving air quality. They include:
- Carpooling and vanpooling
- Taking public transit
- Active transportation (walking or biking)
- Teleworking (conference calling, video conferencing or working from an off-site location)
- Trip chaining
- Skip the trip (planning ahead to bring a lunch or grocery shop once each week rather than a few times for a few items)
- Alternative and flexible work schedules
Many Utahn’s are already using TravelWise strategies such as trip chaining, they just don’t realize it. Research has shown that 87 percent of Utahns support a program that promotes these kinds of strategies. State employees can be part of the solution by incorporating these strategies into our daily lives.
For more information about TravelWise, visit travelwise.utah.gov and for more information about the Utah Transit Authority’s services, visit rideuta.com.
Recently Alta Mayor Tom Pollard reached out to Executive Director Carlos Braceras to express his appreciation for the Little Cottonwood Communication Tool. This tool was developed by the Traffic Operations Center and allows the Alta Marshal and other designated individuals to deliver impact and closure details regarding the road through Little Cottonwood Canyon.
“Our Marshal’s department has initiated over 160 alerts using this technology and has experienced a marked and meaningful improvement in the delivery of information related to the safety and efficient traffic flow for motorists using S.R. 210,” Mayor Pollard explained in a letter to Carlos.
UDOT leadership expressed their gratitude by presenting silver barrel awards to those involved with the project. Award recipients included:
What does the future hold? That question is nearly impossible to answer unless we’re talking about ways to optimize mobility and reach zero fatalities. Then, we do have a few ideas. The U.S. Department of Transportation, state DOTs and automakers have been working on connected vehicles for several years and Google and some universities have been working on autonomous vehicles. Both of these efforts will allow for the safest and most efficient transportation system we’ve ever imagined.
Connected vehicles can improve safety at busy intersections
So, what are autonomous and connected vehicles? Autonomous vehicles use sensors and photo imagery to drive themselves. Connected vehicles would assist the driver by providing information and resources. Blaine Leonard, Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Program Manager, explained it to me this way. When an autonomous vehicle approaches a signal it sees that it is green and that it can proceed. In comparison, a connected vehicle would have information from the signal including how long it will remain green as well as what the next signal phase is. It would even know what another unseen connected vehicle is doing down the road.
Recently the U.S. DOT National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced a rulemaking process which will ultimately mandate vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication as standard equipment in the future. This will allow these vehicles to share information and alert a driver in order to avoid a crash. This is just the first step though. As Blaine mentioned, the next step will enable transportation infrastructure to also communicate with vehicles. The Volpe National Transportation Systems Center estimates that these technologies could save over 5 million crashes a year.
There are concerns that transportation officials and automakers haven’t forgotten about, including privacy and security. For these technologies to work correctly they must be accurate and impenetrable to common problems we face such as hackers and viruses. There is also the question of privacy which is a sensitive and personal subject for each individual. At this time vehicle communication would be anonymous.
In Utah we have technology in place that makes us well suited for these advancements. One is the LiDAR data that includes a complete picture of roadway assets along state Routes and interstates. We also have an extensive fiber optic network that allows for statewide communication.
If you’re a long time reader of our blog you already know about our Incident Management Team (IMT) and how valuable they are. You especially understand this if you’ve ever been stranded on the side of the road and they came to your rescue. Yesterday Executive Director Carlos Braceras presented IMT with silver barrel awards. Award recipients included:
Dave Stallworth (recently retired)
Thank you to these very deserving individuals and be sure to check out the reasons why we appreciate them so much:
Job Well Done
Incident Management Teams: UDOT’s angels in white trucks provide assistance to stranded motorists