Author: Lisa Miller

UDOT Citizen Reporter Program gathers volunteer data

Citizen Reporting LogoThe UDOT Citizen Reporting Program enlists volunteers to report on current road conditions along specific roadway segments across Utah. Since the program’s launch in November 2013, UDOT has received over 1,800 road condition reports on critical routes throughout the state. The accuracy rate of the reports continues to be very high, with only 0.03% of incoming reports determined to be inaccurate.

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. The Citizen Reporter Program provides the traveling public with a conduit to report their observations directly to UDOT, saving time and money. UDOT employees also use the Citizen Reporting app to submit their reports.

Since the UDOT Citizen Reporter Program was launched volunteer reporters have submitted reports on 119 of the 145 road segments, helping to fill in gaps in locations where UDOT does not have traffic cameras or Road Weather Information System (RWIS) units.

Graph showing citizen reports by day. The most were received in Decemenger 2013.The volunteer reports are especially valuable during winter storms when conditions change rapidly. During a large winter storm that occurred in the beginning of December 2013, UDOT Citizen Reporters submitted over 130 reports, helping the traveling public as well as National Weather Service meteorologists and UDOT staff.

How do you 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 10 minutes to complete. 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.

Traffic Management Division Celebrates Employee of the Year, Leader of the Year and Career Achievement

The opportunity to recognize excellent, dedicated and forward-thinking UDOT employees officially comes once a year, and the UDOT Traffic Management Division (TMD) was happy to identify several deserving staff through this process. It is important to pause and recognize outstanding employee achievement and celebrate the employees who continually go above and beyond to ensure great customer service to the public.

Headshot of Kelly Burns

Kelly Burns

This year, Kelly Burns was selected as the TMD Employee of the Year. Kelly is currently managing a project to develop freeway performance measures for congestion monitoring. She also supports UDOT’s four Regions for traffic modeling. Because of Kelly’s hard work and dedication, the new Speed Profile report for I-15, which identifies bottlenecks, was completed. The Speed Profile report will also be an excellent resource for effective future planning efforts. Kelly demonstrates a commitment to her job, co-workers and the traveling public every day. Congratulations, Kelly!

Headshot of Jeff Williams

Jeff Williams

Jeff Williams was selected as the TMD Leader of the Year. Jeff manages an exceptional team of meteorologists. His group is responsible for several innovations that contribute to safer roads, less materials costs and better service to the public. The new winter road weather index uses data from UDOT’s Road Weather Information System (RWIS) network to determine the intensity of a storm and the effectiveness of UDOT’s snow removal efforts. The efforts of Jeff and his team keep UDOT in the national spotlight for traveler information weather operations. Congratulations, Jeff!

Headshot of Keith Wilde

Keith Wilde

The TMD Career Achievement Award goes to an employee who has a longstanding history of excellency. This year, Keith Wilde was the award recipient. Keith has over thirty years of experience and leads the traffic signal field technicians. Keith has been instrumental in ensuring UDOT’s traffic signals are truly “world-class”. Keith is the resident expert on electronics for traffic signals. Utah residents may see Keith at a signalized intersection nearby a large special event helping with traffic flow. The UDOT TMD is very fortunate to have Keith and appreciates all of his hard work. Congratulations, Keith!

UDOT Traffic Alerts

Screen shot of the My Alerts webpageThe Utah Department of Transportation Traffic Management Division has enhanced the UDOT Traffic Alerts program. Now, motorists can receive customized email, text or push notifications to help them stay informed regarding lane closures due to construction, crashes and weather.

The new UDOT Traffic Alerts program allows motorists to customize their profile and receive alerts for specific routes and times of day. In addition to lane closure information, a profile can be customized to receive seasonal road closure information, Amber Alert notifications, TravelWise Alerts for major impacts and Emergency Alerts for critical closure information.

To customize your profile and start receiving alerts, visit www.udottraffic.utah.gov and click on the “MY  UDOT Traffic Alerts” tab in the upper right corner. Then, register your device and begin selecting your notifications. If you have questions, please contact askudottraffic@utah.gov.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Why must I register?

  • Registration gives you the ability to fully customize your experience within our website. As a registered user, you may choose the maps you wish to display, along with a host of other options to give you the information you need, right now. Note: both your username and email address must be unique.

How does the system work?

  • Once you have specified your My UDOT Traffic settings, you have the option to view your custom page rather than the default view. Users may change their options at any time.

Will my email address be given to any third parties?

  • No! Your email address is gathered for the sole purpose of uniquely identifying your account, and will not be disseminated to any third parties under any circumstances.

Additional Information:

  • Cell phone numbers and cell phone service providers are needed for sending UDOT Traffic Alert text messages to My UDOT Traffic users. Signing up for UDOT Traffic Alert text messages is optional.
  • UDOT does not provide personal information about our website visitors to any third parties for any purpose.

Silver Barrel for Life Saving Efforts

Photo of Executive Director with Thomas and LorenAt 2:30 p.m, Friday April 25, 2014, two UDOT Advanced Traffic Management System (ATMS) maintenance crew members were pulling communications cable at 2600 South and 700 East in Salt Lake City. This project is being coordinated with Salt Lake City in an effort to establish radio communications with some of Salt Lake City’s traffic signals.

While performing this routine duty, Thomas Hammon and Loren Jackson noticed an eldery man in distress. Thomas and Loren were not the first good Samaritans on the scene, however when they arrived, they were able to take charge of the situation and assist the man. Thomas spoke with the 911 dispatch operator while Loren attended to the elderly man who was now laying on the ground. Loren was able to give vital signs to Thomas who relayed the information to the 911 operator. Shortly after arriving at the scene, the elderly man did not have a pulse, so Loren checked the airway for obstructions and began CPR. Loren and Thomas tag-teamed the CPR for 7 to 10 minutes before United Fire Station #101 and Gold Cross Ambulance arrived on the scene. After being relieved from CPR, Thomas and Loren gave statements of the incident to Salt Lake Police and resumed their job duties.

Loren and Thomas have both taken advantage of the free CPR training offered through UDOT and put it to good use. Loren and Thomas acted quickly and took control of this situation. JT Dziatlik supervises Loren and Thomas and said, “Loren and Tom went above and beyond their job descriptions trying to save a life. They are an excellent example of UDOT employees who make a difference in everyday life.”

UDOT Traffic Operations Center celebrates its 15 year anniversary

Map image showing the Salt Lake Valley with colors indicating how CommuterLink would expand through 2002

The original expansion plan for the UDOT CommuterLink system (now known as “UDOT Traffic”)

April 27, 2014 marked the 15 year anniversary of the UDOT Traffic Operations Center (TOC) opening its doors. The UDOT TOC was built to manage congestion and traffic during the 2002 Olympics. While managing traffic for this important special event was a catalyst for building the TOC, UDOT fully understood that there would be significant benefits to operating the TOC long term.

As Utah continues to grow, so does the challenge of mobility. To address Utah’s transportation challenges, the Utah Senate passed a Senate Bill in 1995 and established a Traffic Management Committee which consisted of representatives from Salt Lake City, Wasatch Front Regional Council, Mountainland Association of Governments, Salt Lake County, the Department of Public Safety and the Utah Department of Environmental Quality. This committee recognized the benefits of a Traffic Operations Center to manage traffic and improve roadway efficiency.  The Utah Transit Authority and Federal Highway Administration also partnered with the committee. The committee determined that a TOC was necessary and shortly after, planning started on where the TOC would be built, what components it would have and how the information would be distributed to the public.  A common ITS architecture was established, which now allows all Utah jurisdictions with ITS devices to share resources.

Screen shot of a map of Utah from the UDOT Traffic website. The map has several images on it indicating the location of traffic cameras and variable message signs.

The UDOT Traffic network today. Each blue icon is one traffic camera and every yellow or black rectangle is a VMS. There are also congestion, construction and weather layers available on the UDOT Traffic app and website.

When the doors opened in 1999, the TOC was staffed Monday – Friday 5:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m. and covered a limited number of routes on the Wasatch Front. Utah’s ITS system was given the name “CommuterLink” because it was largely commuter-centric traveler information and congestion management for Salt Lake City. Today, the TOC is staffed 24/7/365 and manages traffic statewide. To reflect the statewide approach, the system is now known as “UDOT Traffic”.

Over the years, the TOC has grown its traffic management capabilities and has added extra equipment to keep up with Utah’s transportation demands. In 1999, UDOT had deployed 150 traffic cameras and 57 Variable Message Signs (VMS). Today, UDOT has a sophisticated statewide network that includes over 900 traffic cameras and over 150 VMS! These valuable tools can be viewed on the UDOT Traffic smartphone app and website. Traffic camera images are also shared with the media and can help commuters make travel decisions while watching the morning news. UDOT’s fiber optic network is also robust – with over 1800 miles of fiber optic cable deployed, UDOT has one of the most complete and useful fiber optic networks in the nation. This network helps to establish lightning-fast communications with traffic signals, VMS, traffic detectors and other equipment throughout the state. From the TOC, UDOT can manually operate over 85% of the traffic signals throughout the state… as far away as St. George, Moab, Vernal and Logan!

Table showing the number of Traffic Cameras in 1999 as 150 and today as over 900, number of variable message signs in 1999 as 57 and today as over 150, number of traffic signals in 1999 as 550 and today as over 1400, number of fiber optic communcations in 1999 as 298 and today as over 1800 and the area of focus in 1999 as the Wasatch Front and for today it is statewide.

The UDOT Traffic Operations Center has deployed a statewide traffic management network.

From its first years of operation, the TOC has proven its effectiveness. The system has helped to increase peak-hour freeway speeds, reduce freeway delays and improve traffic signal efficiency. Traffic management is an important component of a healthy transportation network. UDOT’s TOC supports other UDOT divisions to successfully build, maintain and operate Utah’s highways. UDOT’s TOC also helps to support UDOT’s Strategic Goals: Preserve Infrastructure, Zero Fatalities, Strengthen the Economy and Optimize Mobility.

For a tour of the TOC or for more information, visit www.udottraffic.utah.gov.

Photo of the grand opening celebration with dignitaries preparing to cut a cake.

UDOT TOC Grand Opening – April 27, 1999

 

Photo of the TOC building under construction with scaffolding surrounding a brick structure.

The UDOT TOC building under construction

 

UDOT and UHP host a Traffic Incident Management Workshop

Graphic outlining Traffic Incident Management BenefitsThree injury crashes occur every minute in the United States, putting nearly 39,000 incident responders potentially in harm’s way every day. Congestion from these incidents often generates secondary crashes, further increasing traveler delay and frustration. The longer incident responders remain at the scene, the greater the risk they, and the traveling public, face.

Photo of TIM Training group with Colonel Daniel Fuhr in front addressing the group.

UHP Colonel Daniel Fuhr giving welcoming class participants.

To minimize delay and improve responder safety, UDOT and UHP hosted a Traffic Incident Management (TIM) workshop on April 9 – 10 in Salt Lake City. Participants from UHP, Unified Fire, Unified Police, UDOT, trucking companies, the St. George Police Department and other agencies were in attendance. UHP Colonel Daniel Fuhr and UDOT Traffic Management Division Director Rob Clayton welcomed the participants with information on crash statistics, our responsibility to the public, and the importance of protecting first responders from harm.

Photo of TIM Training table top exercise on scene management

TIM Training attendees participated in a table-top exercise on scene management.

The National TIM Responder Train-the-Trainer (TtT) program provided participants the knowledge and materials necessary for them to conduct TIM training for TIM responders in their area. The TtT is a 1½-day course that covers the fundamentals of Traffic Incident Management, safe crash scene set-up, quick incident clearance and on-scene coordination.

Participants were able to learn from course instructors who were former first responders. Participants were also able to participate in a tabletop exercise as well as learn about proper accident scene set-up.

Traffic incidents, including crashes, disabled vehicles and debris on the road create unsafe driving conditions, put motorists and responders at risk, and account for approximately 25 percent of all traffic delays.

Photo of Incident Managment truck with compartments open so Supervisor Jeff Reynolds can show what is in them.

UDOT’s Incident Management Team Supervisor Jeff Reynolds showing TIM class participants the equipment on his vehicle during the outdoor scene setup exercise.

For each minute that a freeway travel lane is blocked during peak use, an estimated 4 minutes of delay result after the incident is cleared. This estimate accounts for 4.2 billion hours per year in delays. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Transportation reports that Americans burn more than 2.8 billion gallons of gasoline every year while stuck in incident-related traffic. TIM Training can give us the tools to clear incidents more quickly, saving time, money and lives. More information can be found on the National Unified Goal for Traffic Incident Management website.

The training was made possible through a Federal Highway Administration Strategic Highway Research Program.

Behind the Scenes at UDOT – November 22, 2013 Wind Storm Response

Photo of UDOT personel receiving an update regarding the weather

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

Photo of the portable RWIS stations next to I-15 in Centerville

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.

Photo of UDOT maintenance technician J.T. Dziatlik is foul weather gear

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.

UDOT Launches a new Citizen Reporter Program

Diagram showing all of the different data sources for weather operationsCurrent 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.

Traffic Signal Performance Measures announced as a 2013 AASHTO Innovation Initiative

Engineer Mark Taylor working in an open traffic signal cabinet

Engineer Mark Taylor working in a traffic signal cabinet.

Managing traffic is an effective way to reduce congestion, save fuel costs and improve safety. One of the most visible components of the traffic management landscape is traffic signals. Day-to-day traffic challenges keep the staff at the UDOT Traffic Operations Center (TOC) very busy- especially during winter weather, special events and during the morning and evening commutes. The operators at the TOC have the ability to remotely operate nearly 80% of Utah’s traffic signals, which can be a very helpful way to alleviate traffic congestion. Each signalized intersection has a metal cabinet adjacent to the intersection that holds the equipment needed to operate the traffic signals. The equipment that operates the traffic signal can be programmed for specific traffic patterns along a corridor in an effort to better manage traffic.

Every year, the American Association of State and Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO) identifies innovative projects that have been successfully adopted by transportation agencies across the country. One of the 2013 AASHTO Innovation Initiatives was UDOT’s Traffic Signal Automated Performance Measures program. The program developed a structure that will allow UDOT to actively manage, in real-time, its traffic signal systems which will help traffic flow as efficiently as possible along any given roadway corridor. “When we have a maximum number of vehicles arriving at a traffic signal when the light is green, traveler delay is minimized,” said Mark Taylor, UDOT’s Traffic Signal Engineer. Other benefits to well-timed traffic signals are reduction in vehicle emissions and reduction in crashes. Since traffic management needs to occur every day of the week and at all times of day, the Performance Measures program helps to monitor and improve traffic flow even when a traffic signal engineer is not available.

UDOT is moving forward with an AASHTO Technology Implementation Group (TIG) which will work to document the techniques, benefits and technologies UDOT is using for Traffic Signal Performance Measures so other interested transportation agencies can begin their own program in this important area. More information about the AASHTO Innovation Initiatives selected for 2013 can be found on their website.

UDOT assists with traffic management for Draper Sergeant Derek Johnson’s funeral procession

Photo of the funeral processon on I-215

The beginning of Sgt. Johnson’s funeral procession on I-215.

On September 1, 2013, Utah lost Draper Police Sergeant Derek Johnson in the line of duty. This tragic loss brings grief and heartfelt sadness, but also patriotism, gratitude and remembrance from whole communities. Nearly 4000 law enforcement, family and citizens joined the memorial service at the Maverik Center and tens of thousands of thankful citizens lined the procession route.

UDOT’s Traffic Management Division collaborated with many law enforcement agencies to ensure that traffic flow to and from the Maverik Center and along the procession route moved as smoothly as possible. UDOT’s traffic signal operations staff were deployed to key intersections throughout the Salt Lake Valley to assist with traffic control, while UDOT’s Traveler Information Manager was using the @UDOTTraffic

Photo of wall of images from the Traffic Operations Center

Staff at the Traffic Operations Center monitored the procession route on cameras throughout the Salt Lake valley.

Twitter account to update the public on lane and ramp closures. UDOT was listening to the police radio event channels to monitor the traffic flow along the procession route.

Photo of flags along and citizens lined up along 12300 South.

Citizens lined up along 12300 South in Draper to honor Sergeant Johnson. Photo courtesy of Mark Taylor.

UDOT worked with the Unified Police Department, Unified Fire Department, Salt Lake City Police, Draper Police, the Utah Department of Emergency Management and the Utah Highway Patrol for traffic management during the funeral and procession. Several other agencies not mentioned here came together honor Sgt. Johnson – an awesome tribute to a dedicated public servant.