Author: Eileen Barron

First yellow flashing right turn arrow arrives in Utah

LEHI — Northern Utah County is developing at a rapid pace, emerging as a new frontier of the high-tech industry. In addition to retail attractions such as Cabela’s and the Outlets at Traverse Mountain, the area around I-15 at Timpanogos Highway (SR-92) has been dubbed the “Silicon Slopes,” attracting businesses who want affordable office space, a reliable talent pool from area universities and the high quality of life Utahns enjoy with a variety of outdoor recreation options just minutes away.

With all this development, UDOT continually evaluates how to improve traffic flow through the I-15/SR-92 interchange.

The latest update to the interchange is also a first in Utah: crews installed the state’s first flashing yellow right turn arrow at the northbound I-15 off-ramp to eastbound SR-92 in Lehi. You have probably driven through dozens of flashing yellow left turn arrows, where turning traffic yields but may make a left if there is no oncoming traffic. So why does the flashing yellow right turn arrow work at this interchange?

A flashing yellow arrow on a right hand turn on SR-92 allows traffic to flow more freely in a fast-growing part of Utah County.

A flashing yellow arrow on a right hand turn on SR-92 allows traffic to flow more freely in a fast-growing part of Utah County.

 

“The right turn goes into a lane that takes people to the SR-92 commuter lane, but a lot of people want to make a left into Adobe or Cabela’s,” said UDOT Region Three Signal Engineer Adam Lough. “We were seeing traffic back up and drivers getting frustrated because people who wanted to cross traffic to get to the left lane would be stopped on a green light. The flashing yellow signals a yield condition for drivers who want to move to the left lane on SR-92 as well as for the queue of traffic on the ramp.”

Now when the light is green, there is no eastbound traffic for drivers to weave through to move left; and during the flashing yellow, drivers who want to move left must wait for a safe opening in the traffic flow. Drivers who want to access the SR-92 commuter lanes from the I-15 northbound off-ramp still get impatient at times, but Lough said the flashing yellow right turn arrow has improved the traffic flow. “This provides a safer condition and has reduced the amount of backing on the ramp.”

Lough developed the idea of using a flashing yellow right turn arrow to address the traffic problems at this interchange ramp. Although UDOT had never installed anything like it, Lough suggested that it would be the best solution and worked with Traffic Operations Center staff to implement it. So far, he is pleased with the results.

“I am always looking for better ways to do things,” he said. “It is rewarding to see how changes like this make people’s commute a little better.”

Lough said the signal is almost always green or flashing yellow, but it briefly turns solid yellow and red as part of the signal’s cycle. The pedestrian button also triggers the red arrow.

“There is quite a bit of pedestrian traffic between the employment centers and retail outlets on either side of I-15 in this area,” Lough said. “Drivers really need to be on the lookout for pedestrians and bicyclists moving through this interchange.”

Warm winter provides opportunity for maintenance work

Editor’s Note: This post was written by Eileen Barron, Region Three Communications Manager. You can follow the news from the region by following @UDOTRegion3. 

It’s something we can all relate to: that long list of things you’d like to do, if only you had time. The good news for UDOT’s maintenance crews is that the light snowfall and warm temperatures in January and February have allowed us to get a jump-start on our to-do list. UDOT’s crews in the six-county area of Region Three have performed more than half a million dollars of maintenance during the first eight weeks of 2015. Here’s a sample of what we’ve been up to:

Crack sealing: UDOT prolongs the life and quality of our pavement by sealing cracks with an asphalt sealant. Sealing cracks reduces the amount of moisture getting underneath the pavement that can damage the subsurface of the roadway. Crews have done more than $50,000 of crack sealing, including sections of Nephi Main Street, Redwood Road west of Utah Lake, Timpanogos Highway in Highland and SR-113 in Midway. Crews have also performed $50,000 in pot hole patching.

UDOT Crews perform a crack seal on a portion of SR-92 in Utah County.

UDOT crews perform a crack seal on a portion of SR-92 in Utah County.

Road sweeping and litter pick-up: UDOT has a regular schedule of sweeping roads and shoulders to remove debris. The mild winter has allowed crews to do some extra clean-up in terms of litter control and sweeping. More than $100,000 has been expended cleaning up Utah’s roads. Crews have also performed almost $10,000 in tree trimming.

Sign repair and replacement: Crews have replaced or repaired signs and sign posts throughout the region in locations such as I-15 in Utah County, US-40 north of Heber and near Duchesne as well as SR-32 south of Jordanelle Reservoir near Francis. We installed all new milepost signs on Pioneer Crossing in Lehi and Saratoga Springs and on SR-129 North County Boulevard in American Fork. Region-wide, the total spent on signs the first two months of 2015 is nearly $90,000.

Cable barrier, guardrail and fence repair: We have repaired or replaced cable barrier and guardrail in places like Provo Canyon and the Mayflower area of US-40. These repairs help maintain safety on the roadway. We have also repaired snow fencing on SR-92 and right of way fencing on I-15 between Springville and Lindon. These fences help the functionality of our roadways by minimizing blowing snow and keeping animals off the interstate. Fencing has also been repaired on US-6 in Spanish Fork Canyon and US-89 near Thistle. Attenuators that act as crash cushions and delineators that help mark driving lanes have also been replaced and repaired along several routes, including a stretch of US-40 near Strawberry Reservoir. More than $100,000 has been spent on repairs of these roadside features.

A truck passes by a cable barrier on the interstate.

A truck passes by a cable barrier on the interstate.

Cleaning out culverts and drains: UDOT crews have also been cleaning out culverts and drainage features in areas such as I-15 from Springville to Lindon, SR-132 in Salt Creek Canyon, SR-191 south of Duchesne and SR-87 north of Duchesne. This is a regular spring maintenance activity that we are able to initiate earlier this year due to mild temperatures. Drainage for water run-off is designed as part of our projects and maintenance crews make sure these drains and culverts are clear from debris so they function properly. Nearly $40,000 in drainage activities have been recorded in Region Three during January and February.

Our Orem crew cleans drains along a part of I-15.

Our Orem crew cleans drains along a part of I-15.

Accident response and repairs: UDOT crews are called upon to make repairs and clean-up the roadway after a crash. Activities may include repair of fence or barrier, signs and sweeping. These are often recoverable expenses for the department paid for by drivers’ insurance. More than $60,000 in accident repair has taken place in Region Three in 2015.

UDOT Participated in MAG Transportation Fairs

MAG Transportation FairMountainland Association of Governments held its annual Transportation and Community Planning Fairs during October.

MAG invited member cities to provide information about community plans and utilized the fairs to invite public input on the Draft Regional Transportation Plan.

UDOT participated by providing information about upcoming construction on The Point project, seat belt safety highlighted by the Zero Fatalities team, and TravelWise information. Region Three displayed their Interactive Projects map and a looping video using photos from the 2014 photo contest. They also shared information about the region bike plan and invited response to a quick questionnaire to help prioritize potential bike projects.

MAG is launching an interactive website called Exchanging Ideas as part of the Regional Transportation Planning process. Kory Iman, GIS Analyst with Region Three and MAG, had an integral role in developing the site to facilitate public input. MAG staff demonstrated the site at the three fairs in October and will accept comment through April 2015.

This guest post was orginally published in the Region Three Fall 2014 Newsletter.

Bike Advisory Group Formed to Validate Region Three Bike Plan

Photo of bicyclists on Provo Main Street

Cyclists and motorists share Provo Main Street

More than 20 people attended the kick-off meeting for the Region Three Bike Advisory Group, a group of staff who have interest in better understanding the Region Three Bike Plan.

Craig Hancock, Region Three Engineering Manager, is leading the effort to become familiar with the bike plan and identify local government priorities.

“As part of UDOT’s emphasis on integrated transportation, we want to take a close look at the existing plan and validate that our staff and local governments support it,” Craig said. “We will work with local governments and Mountainland Association of Governments (MAG) to gain their buy-in so that together we have a commitment to implement the bike plan.”

Region Three staff expressed interest in the bike plan for a variety of reasons: some are bicyclists who ride for recreation or commuting. Others were interested because the bike plan affects their job and how projects are built. There was also a mix of on-road riders and trail riders. Some key considerations in implementing bicycle improvements that were discussed include:

  • Parking and bike lanes
  • Bicycle signal detection and routing of bicyclists through intersections
  • Pavement type; chip seal surfaces are difficult for bicyclists
  • Sweeping and snow removal or snow storage
  • Rumble strips

A core group from the 20 interested staff will meet monthly to work through the existing bike plan and coordinate with local governments and MAG. The larger group will be assembled for input and feedback at key points during the validation process. “In the end,” Craig said, “the goal is to have a region bike plan that we commit to make happen.”

I-15 Payson to Spanish Fork Project Wins Award

Photo of I-15 near Payson

This capacity project added a lane and shoulder in each direction

The I-15 Payson to Spanish Fork project was one of the largest construction projects in Region Three in 2013.

The ambitious $22 million, 6.5 mile design-build project recently received the “2014 Excellence in Concrete Award” in the category of Structures: Public Works for the concrete work on the bridges.

The project was fast-paced, with 7 months to widen 8 structures and extend pavement into the existing median for an extra lane and wider inside shoulder.

In addition to being widened, the existing bridge substructures were repaired to increase service life. The project also included constructing two miles of precast concrete post and panel noise walls on the east side of I-15 through Payson.

The I-15 Payson to Spanish Fork project improved a vital connection between the north and south half of the state for both commuters and the movement of goods and services. The rapid pace of the project and public coordination created little impact or inconvenience to the traveling public.

Interactive Projects Map Being Prepared for Public Launch

Screen shot of the interactive map show details about the Pioneer Crossing Exension

A new interactive projects map will utilize existing GIS layers and add project specific detail for use in meetings with local governments and stakeholders

UDOT Region Three is developing an interactive map to display project information in a GIS format.

Region Three will develop and test its use with plans to launch the GIS map as a statewide resource in the future. Internal staff and technical staff may be accustomed to using GIS, but this map is targeted for use with local government officials and other key stakeholders so that people not familiar with GIS can easily find meaningful information in a public-friendly format.

The map will utilize existing GIS layers and add project-specific details, such as concept and final design, for use in meetings with local governments and stakeholders. A limited number of layers will be pre-selected to keep the map interface simple and easy to use for non-GIS users.

The Interactive Projects Map development team is working toward a June launch date in order to begin using this resource through the summer. As we use the map, we will gather feedback from stakeholders and internal staff alike to refine the map and its functionality. An updated version of the map based on initial feedback is targeted to be launched in November. Link to the map from the UDOT Region Three homepage www.udot.utah.gov/go/region3.

Rural Utah Guardrail Replacement Program Improves Roadside Safety

Photo of guardrail end section

This new Type G end treatment replaced an old Texas-turndown style end treatment on S.R. 87

Region Three’s Traffic and Safety staff focus on improved roadside safety by replacing guardrail and guardrail end treatments.

Griffin Harris, Region Three Traffic Engineer, led the effort to replace aging infrastructure with an eye toward safety. He managed the funding and installation of almost 3 miles of guardrail and the replacement of over 60 outdated Texas-turndown style guardrail end treatments with new Type G end treatments on six different state routes in Region Three.

For example, one project installed 2.25 miles of new guardrail in Indian Canyon on U.S. 191 between Helper and Duchesne. This area has steep drop-offs and the guardrail installation is a great safety improvement.

For more information about UDOT’s Barrier End Section (Crash Cushion) Program check out our website.

State Street Project adds Bike Lanes through Local Government Input

When Region Three began preparations for reconstructing State Street from 1860 North in Orem to 100 East in Pleasant Grove, the focus was on widening to three travel lanes in each direction plus a center turn lane.

The project team prepared plans for new asphalt pavement; traffic signal upgrades; curb, gutter, sidewalk and pedestrian ramp installations and reconstruction of the intersection at State Street and 400 North in Lindon. But what makes this project memorable was the partnership with the cities of Orem, Lindon and Pleasant Grove that brought about the addition of striped bicycle lanes to the project scope.

“We have been working with UDOT Central Planning and Mountainland Association of Governments to identify opportunities for bike improvements,” said Region Three Program Manager Brent Schvaneveldt.

“With UDOT’s emphasis on integrated transportation and these other bicycle connectivity discussions happening, we wanted to take the cities’ request for bike lanes seriously and take a hard look at whether they could be added into the design and construction.”

With the widening, repaving and re-striping already planned for State Street, the opportunity to reallocate space and stripe bike lanes made sense. But it wouldn’t have happened without the buy-in and support from local governments.

“Local government collaboration is key to making our transportation network work for the people who use it. Especially on a roadway like State Street that serves local trips as well as regional travel,” Brent said. “This is a great example of local government input helping us better serve the needs of a variety of roadway users.”

Region Three Traffic Signal Update nearly Complete

Photo of the State Street and 1320 South intersection in Provo

New signals at Provo State Street and 1320 South.

Existing traffic signals have been updated to newer equipment that includes controllers that send real-time data about the signal operations to the Traffic Operations Center.

With the upgraded controllers, UDOT can troubleshoot issues remotely such as noticing a stuck pedestrian button or verifying signal timing.

Traffic engineers can track data that used to require manual labor such as traffic speeds, traffic volumes and percent arrival on green.

Photo of the inside of a signal cabinet

A signal cabinet at State Street and 1320 South. The cabinet contains a controller that gathers and transmits real-time traffic data for remote analysis and optimization of the system.

Out of 249 signals operated by UDOT in Region Three, 211 have been upgraded to gather this real-time traffic data for analysis and optimization of the system. “Small adjustments can sometimes make a big difference for our traffic operations,” said
Adam Lough, Region Three Engineering Manager.

“The upgraded signal controllers allow us to make these adjustments and monitor how the intersection is operating without being on-site.”

Uinta Rail & Roads Project Underway

Photo of a tanker truck going down the road.

A tanker drives through a pavement project on U.S. 40 in Vernal — one strategy to meet future transportation needs in the Uinta Basin is to define a standard cross section for consistent lane widths and shoulders.

UDOT Region Three has a leadership role in planning for the future transportation needs of the Uinta Basin, including Uintah and Duchesne counties.

With planned growth in the Basin, the Uinta Rail and Roads project was initiated to look at different transportation options to enhance economic development.

Craig Hancock, Region Three Engineering Manager, is leading the roads analysis, which is scheduled to be complete late-summer. The project team has been evaluating data including traffic volumes, crash data and pavement conditions in order to prioritize future projects. The results of the study will be incorporated into UDOT’s Long Range Planning process.

John Thomas, Region Three Engineering Manager, is leading the rail EIS project team, which is preparing to publish a Notice of Intent later this year to formally begin the environmental study.

As a rail project, the study will have a different joint-lead than FHWA and likely follow different guidelines and procedures from typical UDOT environmental studies. A draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is anticipated in 2016.