Category Archives: Employee Focus

Employee Advisory Council August 2015 Meeting

The Employee Advisory Council met August 10, 2015. Items that were included in the discussion included:

  • Employee Survey
  • Lack of Pay Raises for Supervisory and Level IV Positions
  • Make Staff Meetings More Memorable/Use for Team Building
  • Internal Supervisor/Employee Disputes or Disagreements
  • Hand Tools for Trades and Crafts Policy
  • Administrative Leave in Lieu of Cash-Based Incentive Awards
  • Across Group Awards
  • Status of the Behavior-Based Safety Awareness Program / Incentives for the Program
  • On-Boarding Process
  • ASI Status

Notes from the meeting are available below.

EAC August 2015 Summary

Information from previous meetings has also been posted on the blog.

Employee Advisory Council

Formidable Phragmites

UDOT Region One is using a GIS app to help control an invasive weed that makes Utah wetlands inhospitable to native plants and waterfowl.

When phragmites get a foothold, it crowds out native plants like cattail, bulrush, and saltgrass – native species that provide food sources and cover for birds. Randy Berger, Wetland Manager with Utah Department of Natural Resources doesn’t have a single good thing to say about the weed. Berger manages wetland areas in northern Utah.

Phragmites in Northern Utah

Phragmites in Northern Utah. Photo by Lindsey Durtschi

UDOT manages the area beyond the pavement within the right-of-way, which involves regular mowing and getting rid of invasive weeds, including phragmites. UDOT Region One Area Supervisor Kelly Andrew, along with maintenance crews, has been using a GIS app that tracks the location of phragmites. He and Berger have been working together to fight weeds for years.

Andrew needed a way to keep track of the location of big patches of phragmites. Getting rid of the stuff is a three-year endeavor, and locating, spraying and tracking the spread of phragmites is time consuming. The new weed spraying app, in its second year of use, has made UDOT’s weed abatement effort more effective and efficient.

Kelly Andrew of Region One

UDOT Region One area supervisor Kelly Andrew

The app was developed by Seth Anderson of AECOM. He modified the ArcGIS collector app to create the easy-to-use tool. The app works on a smartphone or a tablet. Users simply choose the weed on a pick list, add comments, and create a point on an online map.

“The app automatically stores the date and username when the point is created,” says Anderson. “The Collector app allows for collecting and editing points even when the device does not have a data connection, too.  He just has to sync the data when he gets back to his office and has Wi-Fi connection.” Andrew introduced the app to Berger, who is now using the app to track phragmites treatment areas.

GIS mapping apps are a simple and effective way to collect and track and store data. Andrew recommends others at UDOT consider using an app. “If you think you have a problem that can be solved with a GIS tool, don’t hesitate to ask.”

Weed Sprayer Rig

For more information, contact the GIS team at udotgis@utah.gov

For more posts about putting GIS to work, see the following links:

Getting it Right

GIS Apps to Improve Safety

Employee Advisory Council May 2015 Meeting

The Employee Advisory Council met May 20, 2015. Items that were included in the discussion included:

  • Performance Plans
  • Team Building Exercises
  • Mechanics’ ASE Certification Bonuses
  • Policy Limiting the Length of Time Plowing
  • Reimbursements for CDL Physicals
  • Lack of Pay Raises for Supervisory and Level IV Positions
  • Clothing Allowance for Paint Crew
  • Communicable Diseases and Trash Pick Up
  • Color of Safety Clothing
  • Make Staff Meetings More Memorable / Use for Team Building
  • Rest Areas
  • Hiring Panels
  • Internal Supervisor / Employee Disputes or Disagreements
  • Equipment Replacement
  • Hand Tools for Trades and Crafts Policy
  • Cash-Based Incentive Awards

Notes from the meeting are available below.

EAC May 2015 Summary

Information from previous meetings has also been posted on the blog.

Employee Advisory Council

Vote Early, Vote Often for Brigham City DDI in Transportation Awards Competition

BRIGHAM CITY — UDOT’s 1100 South/U.S. 91 DDI project in Brigham City has been selected as a Top 10 finalist in America’s Transportation Awards, sponsored by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO).

The northern Utah project is competing against projects from eight other states to win first place in the competition, which includes a cash prize that will be donated to a deserving charity in Utah.

An aerial shot of the project. White substance is geofoam

An aerial shot of the project. White substance is geofoam

“This Top 10 project is one more example of why UDOT has a reputation for being a national leader in quality and innovation,” said UDOT Executive Director Carlos Braceras. “I extend my congratulations to everyone who is associated with the project.”

Braceras suggested that anyone who would like to support the Brigham City project in the competition for best transportation project in the United States can participate in the voting for America’s Transportation Awards. “You can vote as many as 10 times per day per email address,” Braceras said.

Voting is currently underway online for the People’s Choice Award in the America’s Transportation Awards competition. To vote, go to http://nominate.americastransportationawards.org/Voting.aspx.

Voting will continue through Sept. 11.

A worker helps place geofoam, which helped "float the DDI" on geotechnically difficult terrain

A worker helps place geofoam, which helped “float the DDI” on geotechnically difficult terrain

The UDOT project is among 10 finalists in the competition. It is competing against projects from Florida, Kentucky, Indiana, Texas, North Dakota, New Mexico, South Carolina and Montana.

The Brigham City project qualifies in two top categories. One is the National Grand Prize, honoring the nation’s top transportation project as determined by a panel of industry experts and professionals. The other is the People’s Choice Award, which is voted on by the public through online balloting. The winner in each category receives a $10,000 donation to a charity or scholarship fund.

In order to be selected as a Top 10 project, it first had to be selected as a regional winner. The project won in the “Under Budget” category for an innovative design that could have cost as much as $100 million, but through out-of-the-box engineering and sensitivity to geological issues around the area, cost only $14 million.

With more than 20,000 vehicles a day — many of them trucks — originating throughout the region, this old, inefficient interchange was reducing the flow of the economic lifeblood of local communities to a trickle.

The 40-year-old interchange would frequently clog when vehicles at its ramps tried to enter the traffic flow.  The predominant west to south-bound traffic on US-91 was so steady during the day that it was nearly hopeless for other movements to occur.  This prompted risk-taking by trapped motorists at the ramps, and frequent crashes when they did.  Regional special events, like local university football games, would bring traffic to a complete halt.

UDOT traffic planners needed a solution, but the answer was elusive.  Soils adjacent to the Great Salt Lake were saturated by surface groundwater, making the interchange increasingly unstable.  Engineers wondered how to upgrade it without a massive redesign to accommodate the increasing pounding from trucks.  Similar rebuilds had cost upwards of $100 million – prohibitive under state budgets.

The answer: innovate.  Engineers used an innovation to solve the water issue — geofoam — which allowed the new interchange to “float” on soggy soils.  Another innovation — advanced bridge construction — replaced the interchange’s old bridge over I-15 while adding a completely new span in a little more than 10 months.  Finally, the innovative diverging diamond traffic pattern was added to the design to solve the problem of congestion and safety.

The result of all this innovation was an efficient interchange that allows all traffic movements to occur safely and congestion-free, and all for less than $14 million.

The first car goes through the Brigham DDI.

The first car goes through the Brigham DDI.

The America’s Transportation Awards competition is co-sponsored by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the American Automobile Association (AAA) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The top two national winners will be announced in September at the AASHTO Annual Meeting in Chicago.

Maintenance crew awarded Silver Barrel for saving Cottonwood Canyon homes

Crews from the Cottonwood Maintenance Shed 2433 and members from the South Valley Maintenance Shed 2427 are being awarded a Silver Barrel for going above and beyond the call of duty to save homes and and roadways after a landslide in Little Cottonwood Canyon in May.

233 Landslide 01

After finding out that an embankment was starting to slide toward homes near Alta, the crew surveyed the problem and came back quickly to address it. Working in driving rain and extreme weather conditions, the crew took three days to remove mud, rock and debris  to keep it from sliding into homes and onto the road. The crew also spoke with concerned homeowners and caretakers about what they were doing to save the homes, and helped everyone feel comfortable, even during the trying circumstances.

“[The crew] worked hard in extreme conditions, and they never complained once,” said Jake Brown, the Cottonwood Station supervisor. “They really made it happen with a good attitude even with longer shifts.”

Ultimately, they were able to stabilize the hill and install a barrier so no further damage would occur.

233 Landslide 03

“The crew made a quick response and resolution to a possibly serious situation. UDOT was very approachable and willing to communicate with all parties involved,” said Frank Perkins of Canyon Services, a property management company in Alta. “It’s a real treat to have the open communication with UDOT in dealing with problems in Little Cottonwood Canyon.”

Executive Director Carlos Braceras was present to give the Silver Barrels to crew members.

“These men are the face of UDOT for the public. No one knows what I do, or what your region director does. But they know what you do. And you carry a fine balance between keeping the canyon clean and safe while also maintaining the area’s other major roadways.” Braceras said.

081915 02 Carlos Awarding

The Silver Barrel Award started in 2012 by then-Executive Director John Njord. It is meant to recognize those who go above and beyond the call of duty to give exemplary service to the citizens and infrastructure of Utah. Much like college football players, who receive stickers to put on their helmets for a job well done on the field, UDOT employees who receive this award get Silver Barrel sticker for their hard hats, a pin, and a certificate.

081915 04 pin and sticker

The members receiving the Silver Barrel award are:

  • Jake Brown, Cottonwood Station Supervisor
  • Shawn Wright, Cottonwood Station
  • Keith Trott, Cottonwood Station
  • Michael Johnson, Cottonwood Station
  • Semi Tuiatua, Cottonwood Station
  • Tyler Connor, Cottonwood Station
  • Whitikei Lutui, Cottonwood Station
  • Sean Lewis, Cottonwood Station
  • Kirby Peacock, South Valley Station
  • Jared Thomas, South Valley Station
UDOT Executive Director Carlos Braceras and other Region Two leaders with the crews.

UDOT Executive Director Carlos Braceras and other Region Two leaders with the crews.

A golden milestone for a Utah County Employee

OREM — He stood there, shielded from the blistering heat, surrounded by buddies on the paint crew he works on. Executive Director Carlos Braceras had come to pay him a visit, and deliver congratulations straight from the Governor of Utah himself. For Region Three’s Mike Sabey, though, he would have much rather been outside painting lines on a road.

Recently, Sabey completed 50 years on the job at the Utah Department of Transportation — a golden anniversary no employee at UDOT has ever achieved. It was for that reason that Braceras, Deputy Director Shane Marshall, Region Three director Terri Newell and others had come to celebrate: five decades working on Utah roads.

“This is phenomenal. I don’t even know what to say,” Sabey said as he was presented with his award.

Mike Sabey with his paint crew

Mike Sabey (middle) with his paint crew

A lot was happening back in 1965: the space race was at a fever pitch, and American soldiers were on the ground in Vietnam. Martin Luther King, Jr. led a brave march to Selma, Ala., which brought about the Voting Rights Act, while race riots ripped through Watts, Calif. Oh, and Muhammad Ali beat Sonny Liston in one round.

In 1965, Hillary Rodham was a senior in high school, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was a 17-year-old kid named Lew Alcindor. Winston Churchill died, JK Rowling was born, and Lyndon Johnson became president.

While all this was going on, Mike Sabey was beginning a career at UDOT.

A Utah County native, Mike left his station attendant job at Premoco Gas Station in Lehi to come to UDOT. On May 17, 1965, he was hired as a Light Equipment Operator at Shed 17 in Lehi, where Sabey says he was a “highway weed whacker”. Since then, he’s performed jut about every task in Region Three. He spent 29 years working various jobs in Lehi, and then south to the Provo/Orem area, where he’s spent the last few years on the paint crew.  Mike said he joined the paint crew in order to “try something different”, a motto he’s lived by his entire career.

Executive Director Carlos Braceras honors Mike Sabey after 50 years with UDOT.

Executive Director Carlos Braceras honors Mike Sabey after 50 years with UDOT.

Sabey’s peers say he is the first to give up personal priorities — whether it’s a vacation, a hunt, or even a doctor appointment — because he knows “my guys are counting on me.” He tends to rearrange his life to get a project finished, and is known throughout Region Three as someone who can fix just about anything.

Sabey said the key to his longevity was proper safety and a little bit of luck: in his time at the Department, Mike has never been in an accident caused by him.

 

Mike Sabey's award from Utah Governor Gary Herbert and Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox

Mike Sabey’s award from Utah Governor Gary Herbert and Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox

 

Monte Aldridge Receives Governor’s Award for Excellence

Region Four’s Monte Aldridge received the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the category of leadership on Tuesday, May 5, 2015. The following nomination was submitted by Rick Torgerson, Region Four Director.

Photo of Monte Aldridge

Monte Aldridge

Monte Aldridge is leading a cultural shift with long-term business implications by developing relationships of trust and influencing his peers and other stakeholders in the implementation of several key UDOT initiatives. He continually aligns people and processes in the use of Geographic Information System (GIS) tools, implementation of 3D design and advancement of wildlife connectivity/vehicle collision reduction.

The use of GIS tools has been a remarkable breakthrough for UDOT and allows for making better decisions while improving efficiency in delivering projects that address each of UDOT’s Strategic Goals and the governors SUCCESS Framework initiative. While GIS has a sophisticated infrastructure, under Monte’s leadership his team has embraced the new technology to understand and develop its capabilities.

Monte has helped keep UDOT moving into the future with 3D design, which is a national effort within Departments of Transportation and the Federal Highways Administration. This quickly developing technology is revolutionizing the design, construction and communication of roadway projects. Monte’s continuous incorporation of 3D Design into team processes, problem-solving scenarios and public settings has seeded a synergy that is moving his peers to forge ahead developing higher quality products while also achieving significant taxpayer savings.

Region 4's Monte Aldridge stands with Executive Director Carlos Braceras (left) and Governor Herbert with his award.

Region 4’s Monte Aldridge stands with Executive Director Carlos Braceras (left) and Governor Herbert with his award.

Monte’s leadership in connecting state and federal agencies, counties, landowners and sportsmen’s groups to a clear vision and fostering collaborative solutions has led to innovative products, financial partnerships, new agreements and most importantly, trusting relationships resulting in a reduction of nearly 1,050 yearly vehicle/wildlife collisions in Southern Utah.

Congratulations Monte! Thank you for your excellent example and leadership.

Silver Barrel Awards: Scott Fugate, Tyler Rasband and Joseph Burns

The following Silver Barrel nomination was written by Corey Coulam, UDOT Traffic Operations Center Control Room Manager.

On the night of March 22 around 8:30, the control room received a message from Salt Lake County dispatch describing a report from a Utah Highway Patrol Trooper of a loud popping noise at 2100 South and 900 West. Operators, Scott Fugate, Tyler Rasband and Joseph Burns, took action to use a traffic camera to try to locate what the trooper had reported. They quickly identified the flames of a fire started by transients that threatened a structure.

Photo of the live camera feed of the fireThe operators provided the live stream video feed to Salt Lake County UHP dispatch and gave them a detailed description of the incident and location. Dispatch then contacted the Fire Department with precise information and visual confirmation readily available. Because of these quick reactions, the Fire Department was able to respond quickly to this incident. The Fire Department is noted in a news article saying that these quick reactions and the availability of a camera feed prevented this from becoming a larger fire with the potential for serious infrastructure damage.

This was reported without exact confirmation and, at the time of the incident, there were no traffic impacts whatsoever however these operators relied on their experience and skills to help emergency responders. Scott Fugate, the shift supervisor and his familiarity (from almost 8 years of working in the control room) with UHP, dispatch, and situational awareness provided him the ability to realize that this had the potential to become a large scale incident. In addition, operator skills with control room software and camera use played a large role in helping them to locate this incident on a surface street location where camera coverage is poor. What makes this more impressive is the fact that the call came at night, when the difficulty of locating incidents by camera is significantly increased.

 

Members of the Traffic Operations Center receive their Silver Barrel award from Executive Director Carlos Braceras

Members of the Traffic Operations Center receive their Silver Barrel award from Executive Director Carlos Braceras

Traveler Information Manager Lisa Miller receives a Silver Barrel award.

Traveler Information Manager Lisa Miller receives a Silver Barrel award.

Preconstruction honored with regional quality award

UDOT Region Four’s Preconstruction Team has developed GIS tools that support and enable communication and better decisions, and charts a path for other work groups at UDOT to exploit GIS capabilities more fully.

The team won a WASHTO award recently for developing and employing GIS tools. Here’s an overview of some of the team’s efforts. Click here to read the full WASHTO award nomination.

DesignCompareAppScreenShot

This screen shot shows an image of an app that compares the phases of design for the Bluff and Sunset project located in St. George.

GEO-referencing design files

A Design-to-UPlan app displays the design files on a UPLAN map. Multiple design options can be displayed to facilitate discussion among UDOT and stakeholder groups. All three phases of a project, concept, plan-in-hand and PS and E, can be viewed simultaneously on one screen with multiple windows.

Mapping right-of-way survey files

The team has also built tools to convert Right-of-Way (ROW) survey data from CAD to GIS, and graphically display the UDOT ROW lines on a UPLAN map. Certified section corners, complete with tie sheets, are also linked to the map and accessible to the public. A ROW Type Map app displays property in one of three categories, ROW, Limited Access or No Access.

A pilot project, when fully implemented, will pull information from ePM each evening, and display individual parcels within a project area on a UPLAN map. The parcels will be color-coded to show the acquisition status of each parcel. Hosting the maps on UPLAN allows public access with security controls to insure the integrity of the data and to regulate sensitive information.

Mapping utility conflicts

By displaying utility data and infrastructure via UPLAN, project teams can work to quickly resolve potential conflicts with utility companies. Ultimately, Region Four’s vision is to create a database of all utilities within the region and statewide.

Mapping sensitive environmental areas

Region Four Preconstruction has been working with the State Historic Preservation Office to develop protocol to ensure the secure use of sensitive environmental data.  The team also standardized a GPS data dictionary for use in managing mitigation for Utah Prairie Dog surveys.

GIS tool benefits

GIS tools provide value to project teams and stakeholders. Maps help solve communication gaps among disparate groups, including the general public, commercial land surveyors, land owners, policy makers, and contractors. For example, UDOT Project Managers can help local leaders and the general public visualize project options and outcomes, and help facilitate a better decision-making process. And sharing an online map can allow productive work sessions with participants in various remote locations.

GIS maps and apps can support complex environmental processes. Region Four is home to most of Utah’s cultural sites and threatened and endangered species, and GIS tools help UDOT staff reduce or mitigate protected areas and avoid animal habitats.

While GIS has a sophisticated infrastructure, Region Four’s Preconstruction department has embraced the new technology to understand and develop its capabilities and has pioneered GIS tools for the benefit of all of UDOT.

Congratulations to Region 4 Preconstruction!

Team Members: Wendy Nez, Jared Beard, Ted Madden, Riley Lindsay, Bill Mecham, Don Johnson, Kelly Hall, Gernice White, Eric Hansen, Pam Higgins, Jared Barton, Randall Taylor, Cameron Gay, Silvia Barbre, Devin Monroe, Sam Grimshaw, Josh Peterson, Brandon Weight, Jeff Bunker, John Fraidenburg, Paul Damron, Monte Aldridge.

Mtn View Corridor team receives Silver Barrel for $500k recycling decision

Executive Director Carlos Braceras recently awarded the Mountain View Corridor project team, Cedar City and Granger-Hunter Improvement District with a Silver Barrel award for their partnering efforts in saving taxpayers $500,000. Award Recipients included:

  • Brad Paxman, Granger-Hunter Improvement District
  • Johnathon Stathis, Cedar City Water Dept.
  • Josh Vanjura – UDOT
  • Barney Mekkmellom, UDOT
  • Jessie Barton, MVC team member (Parsons Brinkerhoff)
  • Mayor Maile Wilson, Cedar City Mayor
  • Joe Kammerer, UDOT

MVC Silver Barrel

UDOT and Granger-Hunter Improvement District (GHID) worked together to relocate a 2 million gallon water tank to Cedar City that was moved to make way for the Mountain View Corridor (MVC). By recycling existing resources, UDOT, GHID and Cedar City saved taxpayers $500,000.

UDOT is currently preparing for the next phase of construction on the Mountain View Corridor from 5400 South to 4100 South in West Valley City. The project needed to relocate an older steel water tank near 4300 South. The water tank held 2 million gallons of water that proved to be too small for the growing area. UDOT and GHID worked together to build a new 4 million gallon concrete water tank and built it in the neighborhood adjacent to the future roadway.

Instead of disposing of the old water tank material, UDOT and GHD researched ways to re-use it. Cedar City was in need of a new water tank and contacted GHID. The water tank was dismantled and transported to its new location for reassembly.

This water tank in Cedar City was once in the Mountain View Corridor project path in Salt Lake County.

This water tank in Cedar City was once in the Mountain View Corridor project path in Salt Lake County.

“We are always looking for ways to create positive outcomes during the construction process,” said Joe Kammerer, MVC Project Director. “This is a great example of government and utility companies working together to save taxpayer money.”

Mountain View Corridor consists of two lanes open in each direction from 16000 South to 5400 South. MVC will eventually be a 35-mile freeway from I-80 in Salt Lake to Lehi Main Street.

If you would like to learn more about the Mountain View Corridor project, visit udot.utah.gov/mountainview. To learn more about Granger-Hunter Improvement District, visit http://www.ghid.org/. To learn more about Cedar City, visit http://www.cedarcity.org/.

This post was written by Crystal McMillan, associate account manager on the MVC project team.