Monthly Archives: January 2015

BYU students get hands-on experience at UDOT

BYU asphalt test

Students from BYU’s Civil Engineering program get hands-on training on asphalt tests

A countertop with baking pans, spatulas and mixers is not something you’d expect to find when you think of UDOT. But they’re all important tools that help us preserve our infrastructure in Utah.

How, you ask? On Tuesday, Jan. 27, students from Brigham Young University’s Civil Engineering program found out during a trip to Region Three’s Materials Lab in Orem.

Using oil, water, a vacuum and a lot of ovens, the students took part in hands-on training on asphalt testing and verification of asphalt mix design by baking, scooping, calculating and compacting the material.

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BYU Civil Engineering students pose with William “Billy Bob” Larson, Region 3 Lab Manager (t-shirt) and Clint Tyler (far left).

Before paving occurs on a roadway, engineers determine the appropriate materials for the project, document the specifications for a concrete or asphalt mix and test the pavement design in the lab. These tests help ensure that the road surfaces we lay down are the most efficient, longest-lasting they can be. We believe that good roads cost less: less to build and less to maintain. Through quality assurance tests at our region labs, we maximize the value of taxpayer dollars.

 Lab Manager William “Billy Bob” Larson said his lab invites students from BYU and Utah Valley University to take part in hands-on learning on a regular basis to enhance what they learn in the classroom.

 “If you don’t actually get out and do it, all your learning is just words,” Larson said.

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BYU pride on one student’s asphalt core

To Corrode or Not to Corrode, a GFRP Question: GFRP Reinforcing Bars in Concrete Columns

Concrete bridge structures are typically designed to last 50 to 75 years, but seldom last half that time before needing major rehabilitation, due to degradation caused by corrosion of steel reinforcement similar to that shown in Fig. 1. Corrosion in commonly used epoxy-coated steel bars has raised concern with its use and has raised interest in the use of alternative reinforcement like fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) bars. Glass FRP (GFRP) bars are a cost-competitive alternative to epoxy-coated steel bars and have been found to not corrode (see UDOT Report No. UT-11.16).

Photo of bridge columns showing corrosion

Fig. 1. Typical corrosion found on bridge structures

Many transportation costs and user impacts associated with typical corrosion problems could be potentially eliminated with a proactive approach of using non-corrosive reinforcement (e.g. GFRP) in the original construction of concrete elements. Experimental tests were conducted recently at the University of Utah on circular concrete columns reinforced with GFRP and/or steel longitudinal bars and GFRP confining spirals to evaluate their behavior and viability as a potential construction alternative.

One set of columns was reinforced with GFRP spirals and GFRP longitudinal bars, another set of columns was reinforced with GFRP spirals and steel longitudinal bars, and a final set of columns was reinforced with double GFRP spirals and a combination of GFRP and steel longitudinal bars (see Fig. 2). Tests were performed on 12 in. diameter short (3 ft tall) and slender (12 ft tall) columns. These are the only tests known to the authors which have investigated the stability of slender FRP-reinforced concrete columns.

Photo of GFRP columns

Fig. 2. GFRP reinforcement using in column tests.

An analytical confinement and buckling model was developed and validated against the tests to provide a means to predict the behavior and capacity of FRP-reinforced concrete columns. This enabled the analysis of additional reinforcement scenarios utilizing FRP (glass or carbon) longitudinal bars and spirals.

In general it was found that FRP spirals and FRP longitudinal bars can be a viable method of reinforcement for concrete columns, particularly in corrosive environments. FRP spirals, however, need to be placed at a closer pitch spacing to provide confinement levels similar to steel spirals due to the lower modulus of elasticity of FRP composites. On the other hand, FRP longitudinal bars can provide increased deflection capacity as compared with steel bars due to the higher tensile capacity of FRP composites.

Additional research is needed to better quantify the confining capacity of FRP spirals and the required pitch spacing needed. Also research investigating the behavior of FRP-reinforced columns under seismic loading will be an important consideration.

This guest post was written by Thomas A. Hales, PhD, SE with the UDOT Research Division and Chris P. Pantelides, PhD, SE with the University of Utah and was originally published in the UDOT Research Newsletter.

An elevator message that saves lives

SALT LAKE CITY — In an effort achieve the goal of Zero Crashes, Injuries and Fatalities, the Utah Department of Transportation unveiled a new reminder for state employees last week. The message isn’t new, but the placement is, and people are noticing (and hopefully remembering to buckle up).

Elevators at the State’s Calvin Rampton Complex in Salt Lake now remind employees and visitors to buckle up their seat belts to save their own lives as well as the lives of those riding with them.
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“Convincing people to buckle up, not drive impaired, stop texting and stay awake while driving is no easy task,” said Zero Fatalities Program Manager Stacy Johnson. “These elevator doors grab your attention and, in a very creative way, encourage seat belt usage.”

Executive Director Carlos Braceras said while UDOT’s mission and goals  touch a variety of topics, one item is more important than any.

“Nothing that we do is more important than safety,” Braceras said recently to employees.  “Zero is our number one goal. Zero fatalities. Zero crashes. Zero injuries.”

Zero Fatalities’ seat belt statistics are eye-opening:

  • Ninety-three percent of all crashes are due to driving behavior
  • National traffic fatalities are the lowest they’ve been since 1958, but people who don’t buckle up represent more than half of those fatalities
  • Unbuckled passengers can become a projectile, and increase the risk of hurting or killing others in the car by 40 percent
  • People are 30 times more likely to be ejected from a vehicle during a crash
  • 75 percent of people who are ejected during a crash die from their injuries

While road engineering and law enforcement help to decrease fatalities, education is an important part of the road to Zero Fatalities as well. The education comes in a number of ways:

School Assemblies and Events: With programs like Zero Fatalities, Don’t Drive Stupid, and Click it or Ticket targeting soon-to-be-drivers and their parents, over 500,000 people have been reached in the first five years. In 2014 alone, Zero Fatalities did approximately 214 presentations to schools around the Beehive State.

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Commercial Public Service Announcements such as this one, which was originally shown during the 2014 Super Bowl.

Advertising: Using a variety of messaging,  like radio spots or posters, Zero Fatalities keeps messages about life-saving habits are always on the minds of people in Utah.

Social Media videos, Facebook posts, and tweets make it easier to share the message with more people daily.

 

Results: The number of traffic fatalities in Utah has dropped 22 percent since the Zero Fatalities program began in 2006. In the year 2000, Utah had 373 fatalities, but by the end of 2013, Utah had 221 fatalities. And awareness of the program is rising: public opinion research shows that 3 out of 4 Utahns (age 18 to 54) are aware of the Zero Fatalities message. Of course, awareness does not always translate to behavior modification, but of those who are aware of the Zero Fatalities message, an average of 51 percent admit that the Zero Fatalities program “definitely” or “probably” influenced them to avoid the five Zero Fatalities behaviors: driving drowsy, distracted, aggressive, impaired, or unbuckled.

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Zero Fatalities program has also become a model for other states: Arizona, Iowa and Nevada have embraced the Zero Fatalities message and are running similar programs at varying levels. We’re happy that Utah’s Zero Fatalities program is the state’s contribution to the national and international visions to reduce traffic fatalities, and we wanted to make sure the message started at home as well.

To learn more about the program, or to schedule a member of the Zero Fatalities Team to come and present to your division or group,  visit www.udot.utah.gov, or www.zerofatalities.com.

UDOT explains the 90s

One of the trending topics for today on twitter was #explainthe90sin4words. We here at UDOT got nostalgic thinking about the fashion, music and sports from the decade that brought us flannel shirts, boy bands, and the Utah Jazz in the NBA Finals.

An artist's rendition of what the "new" I-15 would look like

An artist’s rendition of what the “new” I-15 would look like

Our memory jogged back to 1997, when we started the Interstate 15 reconstruction project, which was UDOT’s first design-build procurement. The project involved the reconstruction of 16.2 miles of the interstate in the Salt Lake Valley, including the addition of new general-purpose lanes to go along with high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes. The project involved the construction or reconstruction of more than 130 bridges, the reconstruction of seven urban interchanges, and the reconstruction of three major junctions with Interstate routes 80 and 215.

The project was the largest ever undertaken by the State of Utah, and is still the largest single design-build highway contract in the United States. It cost $1.63 billion, with $448 million coming from federal funds and 1.184 billion coming from the state.  Construction was finished in the summer of 2001.

The reconstruction project presented the Department with significant challenges in scheduling and construction, especially with the goal of finishing prior to the Winter Olympics in 2002, and without prolonged traffic disruptions. The design-build approach allowed us to meet those demands while also benefitting from several private sector innovations and value-added features.

We’re happy with the effect this monumental project has had on the lives of Utahns, and those who have traveled in our great state. We’re also grateful for all of you who were patient with the process a decade and a half ago.

And thanks to twitter for taking us back to memory lane.

A photo from the I-15 reconstruction in the late 1990s.

A photo from the I-15 reconstruction in the late 1990s.

 

Highlights from the 2014 Annual Efficiencies Report

Efficiencies within UDOT often generate cost savings for the public and the Department through better utilization of resources and innovative technologies. At the end of each year, UDOT prepares an efficiencies report which summarizes key efficiency initiatives from the year. The annual report fulfills a requirement for UDOT to describe the efficiencies and significant accomplishments achieved during the past year to the State Legislature. UDOT Senior Leaders use the report in presentations during legislative committee meetings.

Following are the key efficiency initiatives summarized in the FY 2014 report:

  • SUCCESS Framework Initiative
    • Statewide Access Management Program
    • Preconstruction Project Scoping
    • Ports of Entry Truck Processing
    • Snow and Ice Control
    • Procurement System
    • Heavy Duty Truck Maintenance
  • Report Auto Generator for Roadway “As-Builts”
  • Uinta Basin Rail
  • Outdoor Advertising Control Map
  • Automated Queue Warning Detection System
  • Cement-Treated Asphalt Base
  • Citizen Reporter Program
  • Real-Time Winter Road Weather Index Performance Measurement
  • Variable Speed Limit in Parley’s Canyon
  • Snow Fencing Efficiencies

One example from the 2014 report is the SUCCESS Framework Initiative, a set of management principles from the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget, designed to boost the quality and efficiency of government services, with the goal of improving government operations and services by 25% by the end of 2016. One of the six major systems that UDOT is focusing on for the SUCCESS Framework is the Statewide Access Management Program. With a lot of hard work and collaboration, the Access Management Team reduced the time and labor cost required for processing access permit applications. As a result, the per-permit processing cost was lowered from $1,709 to $1,532 ($177 per permit), providing approximately $42,000 in annual cost savings to UDOT.

Citizen Report ScreenshotAnother example from 2014 is the Citizen Reporter Program, which enlists trained volunteers to report on road weather conditions along specific roadway segments across Utah. This citizen crowd-sourcing contributes to the quantity, quality and timeliness of traveler information, especially in rural areas. As a result, UDOT saves approximately $250,000 annually from the reduced need for road weather instrumentation, and from efficiencies in storm forecasting.

The UDOT Research Division coordinates each year with UDOT Senior Leaders and the Communications Office to collect and compile write-ups on the past year’s key efficiency initiatives. We appreciate all of the UDOT Regions and Groups that submitted FY 2014 efficiencies topics and write-ups on the key items. This process will start again in August for FY 2015.

The 2014 and earlier annual reports are available online at www.udot.utah.gov/go/efficiencies.

This post was originally published in the UDOT Research Newsletter.

New Mobile App: UDOT Click ‘n Fix

Photo of iPhone Click 'n Fix appDid you know that 630 UDOT maintenance employees take care of nearly 6,000 miles of highway around Utah? It’s true, and they do an excellent job of finding and fixing issues before most of us even notice. However, with that many roads, we can help them by keeping an eye out for problems and letting them know about it. To make submitting service requests as easy as possible, we’ve implemented a new iPhone and Android app called UDOT Click ‘n Fix.

UDOT Click ‘n Fix allows anyone to report an issue by dropping a pin on a map at the location of the problem. It also allows others to see everything that has been reported and to add their own comments or follow the issue to receive notifications.

Once the location is selected Click ‘n Fix asks a few follow up questions to help crews understand what needs to be fixed. Submitted issues are sent to UDOT crews and a response is posted as soon as possible.

Keep in mind, UDOT will only be able to help with issues on federal interstates and state highways like Bangerter Highway (S.R. 154) and State Street (U.S. 89). Also, while safety is our top priority, this tool is for non-emergency purposes.

To use UDOT Click ‘n Fix, download the iPhone or Android app or visit the UDOT website and use the embedded widget.

See the desktop tutorial:

See a mobile tutorial at KUTV.com: