Category Archives: Optimize Mobility

How GIS Improves Data Quality

Quality Data

Screenshot of UPlan

Screenshot of UPlan Map Center

State routes and associated features, like mile markers, structures, and even fiber optic cable, can be represented by geo-located points or lines. The UPlan Map Center  provides a way to put data sets on a map, which makes the location of projects and features easy to find. A map can highlight errors and aid quality control. GIS also helps facilitate feedback from decision makers and the public by connecting data owners with data users to.

While putting data on a map sounds simple, “going from a non-visual data environment to a visual one is a complete transformative game-changer,” explains Rod McDaniels, Outdoor Inventory Control (OAC) Manager. For decades, the Department’s Outdoor Advertising Control Program struggled to consistently and quickly identify which routes in the state required billboard control and to pinpoint the exact location of permitted billboards on those routes. Records for the program were kept in individual online or hard copy files which had written descriptions of billboard locations.

UDOT recently combined all route and billboard data into the Outdoor Advertising Control Map. GIS has vastly improved the OAC program’s data quality. “GIS allows users to gain a visual understanding the geographic distribution of permitted billboards in the state. It quickly tells a story that cannot be told through endless spreadsheet rows.  It has exponentially improved QC/QA activities, and it has revolutionized service delivery to a broad spectrum of stakeholders.”

A bridge too far

Putting GIS data on a map also highlights location errors. “It’s like shining a light on something that can otherwise get buried,” says Sarah Rigard, UDOT GIS Program Manager. When the UDOT Structures Division data was put on a map, some of the bridges showed up in the wrong location – one was in Nevada. “A slight typo in a lat-long coordinate will cause the point to be in the wrong location.” Checking for errors on a map can be easier and more effective than checking a spread sheet line by line.

Making decisions

The purpose of the annual Utah Transportation Commission Workshop is to develop funding strategies and identify upcoming projects for the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP). UDOT’s GIS team supports the workshop by developing presentation materials such as PDF maps, tables, and storymaps on UPlan. Developing presentations has spurred discussion of what information from the Electronic Program Management (ePM) database is the most useful and helpful to convey, and how that information should be presented to provide a thorough representation of transportation needs.

GIS tools provide another way review data, which improves the quality. As a result, UDOT has better information for making decisions and better tools for presenting information to stakeholders.

I-215 Reconstruction Ranks No. 1 on UDOT’s 2016 Top 10 Projects list

Major projects will widen freeways, maintain highways and build new roads to keep Utah moving

Today we announced our Top 10 Projects list for the 2016 construction season. At the top of the list is the $105 million reconstruction of I-215 in western Salt Lake County, which is scheduled to begin in May and to be completed late next year.

More than 150 projects are scheduled this season statewide to improve mobility now and in the future. These construction projects are designed to enhance safety for drivers and pedestrians, improve the flow of traffic and keep Utah’s roads in good condition.

Three projects in this year’s Top 10 are in western Salt Lake County, an area that has seen tremendous population growth. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, three western Salt Lake County cities are among the fastest growing municipalities in the state (South Jordan, West Jordan and Herriman).

The following are UDOT’s Top 10 Projects for 2016:

#1 I-215—300 East to S.R. 201, $105 million (Construction starts May 2016; scheduled completion fall 2017) 

UDOT’s top project this season will reconstruct the I-215 west belt with new concrete pavement from S.R. 201 to 4700 South. Crews will repave the westbound lanes with new asphalt from 300 East to Redwood Road. In addition, this project will widen the freeway to add auxiliary lanes from S.R. 201 to 4700 South, and will reconstruct the two bridges over S.R. 201. All four lanes will remain open in the peak travel direction during commute hours, but motorists should plan for delays and consider alternate routes such as Bangerter Highway and I-15.


#2 I-15—The Point Project, $252 million (Construction continues from last season; scheduled completion this fall)

Crews continue widening the freeway and placing new concrete pavement on I-15 from 12300 South to S.R. 92. Major construction this season will happen primarily between 12300 South and Bangerter Highway, with finish work taking place at the southern end of the project area from Bangerter Highway to S.R. 92.


#3 Mountain View Corridor—5400 South to 4100 South, $180 million (Construction started in March; scheduled completion fall 2017)

UDOT is extending Mountain View Corridor farther north to 4100 South. This new construction will include two lanes in each direction, separated by a wide median (similar to the current open segment of Mountain View Corridor).

#4 I-15—Farr West to Brigham City, $52 million (Construction started in March; scheduled completion this fall)

Crews are widening a 13-mile section of I-15 to add a lane in each direction from 2700 North in Farr West to U.S. 91 in Brigham City. Most work is taking place in the freeway median, and traffic delays are expected to be minimal. This widening will improve traffic flow in the area.

#5 Bangerter Highway—600 West Interchange, $48 million (Construction starts this month; scheduled completion spring 2017)

UDOT is constructing a new freeway-style interchange on Bangerter Highway at approximately 600 West. This new interchange will enhance safety and reduce traffic congestion in the area near Bangerter Highway and I-15. UDOT is in the middle of a multi-year process to upgrade Bangerter Highway by replacing many of its existing intersections with interchanges, which will improve traffic flow.

#6 I-15—Hill Field Road Interchange and TTI, $28 million (Construction continues from last year; scheduled completion summer 2016)

UDOT is reconstructing the I-15 interchange at Hill Field Road, converting it to a single-point urban interchange to improve traffic flow and reduce delays in Layton. Last season, UDOT constructed new ThrU Turn Intersections on Hill Field Road on each side of I-15.


#7 I-15—St. George Blvd. to Green Springs Drive, $24 million (Construction starts this summer; scheduled completion late 2016)

Crews are adding two lanes in each direction to I-15 in St. George and building new underpasses to connect Red Cliffs Drive with Red Hills Parkway near Mall Drive. These new lanes will help meet the needs of the growing population in the St. George area, and make it easier for drivers to enter and exit I-15.


#8 I-15—Riverdale to Farr West, $14 million (Construction starts this summer; scheduled completion fall 2017)

UDOT is repaving I-15 in Weber County from the I-84 junction to 2700 North in Farr West. This new pavement will prolong the life of the freeway and provide a smoother ride for drivers.


#9 U.S. 189—Deer Creek Widening, $13 million (Construction starts this month; scheduled completion summer 2016)

Crews are widening a six-mile segment of U.S. 189 near Deer Creek Reservoir to two lanes in each direction, plus a center turn lane. Currently, U.S. 189 consists of one travel lane in each direction in this area. Adding these lanes will reduce congestion and enhance safety, specifically for recreational travelers.


#10 U.S. 6—Repaving near I-70, $6 million (Construction starts this summer; scheduled completion this fall)

UDOT is repaving a 10-mile section of U.S. 6 near the I-70 junction to improve the road condition for drivers and extend the life of the road surface.

Construction schedules are weather-dependent and subject to change. For the latest information on traffic restrictions during construction, visit udottraffic.utah.gov or download the UDOT Traffic app for iPhone or Android. Drivers can also follow UDOT on social media including Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

 

Improvements in Layton resume with traffic shift, bridge demolition

LAYTON — With Layton Improved construction resuming after a brief winter hiatus, the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) is advising motorists to be aware of traffic pattern changes in Layton around I-15 and the Hill Field Road interchange beginning Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016.

The Hill Field Road project will move forward with the demolition of existing interchange bridges and construction of a new single-point urban interchange (SPUI). Workers will also finalize improvements to Hill Field Road.  Crews will be working 24 hours a day, six days a week, to finish the project as quickly, efficiently, and as safely as possible while maintaining traffic movement through the area. All traffic lanes will remain open on I-15, and speed limits will not be reduced through the construction zone. Please stay alert and use caution as you drive through the area.

Traffic Shift

Beginning Wednesday, construction crews will shift I-15 traffic in the area onto a detour bridge on the west side of the interstate. Southbound traffic will shift onto the detour bridge on Wednesday morning, Feb. 17. Northbound traffic will make the shift on Thursday morning, Feb. 18. The traffic shift will be in place in both directions through mid-April.

HillBridge_Phase1_V2

HillBridge_Phase2

Left turns on the off-ramps will be closed from now through July 2016, so motorists will need to follow the detour signs to turn right and travel through the ThrU Turns.

HillBridge_NoLefts_V2

Trucking companies that normally use Hill Field Road to access businesses west of Layton should plan to use the Layton Parkway Interchange (Exit 330) or Antelope Drive (Exit 332) to access those businesses and industries through July.

Bridge Demolition

Following the traffic shift, the section of Hill Field Road underneath I-15 will be closed on the evenings of Feb 20-21 so crews can demolish both bridges. It is suggested that motorists pay particular attention to  signage that day for detour routes. The new SPUI bridges are being constructed offsite and will be moved into place through UDOT’s innovative accelerated bridge construction process. The northbound part of the bridge will slide into place in early March, and traffic will switch onto the northbound bridge in mid-April. Crews will then complete the southbound bridge and will slide it into place in April.

What to expect when it’s completed

Once the project is completed in Fall 2016, congestion in the area will be reduced by five minutes, thanks to:

  • Four ThrU Turn intersections (already completed)
  • Three additional lanes on Hill Field Road
  • Wider bridges on I-15 over Hill Field Road
  • A single-point urban interchange (SPUI) that will merge traffic at the off-ramps, controlled by one traffic signal.

Since the completion of the ThrU Turns, traffic flow has improved and delays reduced in the area. UDOT and Layton City are working together to tailor solutions that meet the city’s unique traffic challenges, and we’re excited to see the full project benefits realized when all the improvements are completed in fall 2016.

For more information, call the Layton Improved team at (801) 904-4064, e-mail laytonimproved@utah.gov, or visit www.udot.utah.gov/LaytonImproved

HillField_BridgeClosure_Detour_V2

Local Eagle Scout supports IMT Teddy Bear program

When Clark Fox decided to collect stuffed animals for his Eagle Project,  he was totally surprised with the result. The high school junior from Riverton, Utah collected roughly 600 stuffed animals, which were then given to UDOT’s Incident Management Team, the Utah Highway Patrol, and various homeless shelters for distribution to children who find themselves in traumatic situations.  He delivered the animals to the Traffic Operations Center in December and was thanked on behalf of the organizations that will receive the stuffed animals.

Jeff Reynolds, the Roadway Safety Manager and first responder from the IMT department, told Clark stories of the happiness, joy and calming effect he sees firsthand when the stuffed animals are given to children after an incident on the highway.

Clark and his family were then given a tour of the TOC by Wayne Jager to show all the areas that the TOC covers. Clark has a love of “robotics”, so maybe someday we’ll see Clark back at UDOT working on a drone project in the future.

L-R: somebody, IMT manager Jeff Reynolds, Clark Fox, ___ and TOC Director Rob Clayton pose after Fox delivered hundreds of stuffed animals to the IMT for distribution

L-R: Richard Shelley, IMT manager Jeff Reynolds, Clark Fox, Clark’s mom, and TOC Director Rob Clayton pose after Fox delivered hundreds of stuffed animals to the IMT for distribution

This post was written by Richard Shelley of the UDOT Traffic Operations Center.

UDOT Advises Bowl Game Travelers to Plan Ahead for Out-of-State Delays

Heavy traffic, construction projects expected this weekend on I-15 and I-84 

SALT LAKE CITY  – The Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) advises travelers driving to the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl or the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl this weekend to allow extra time due to heavy traffic and road construction in Arizona, Nevada and Idaho.

Las Vegas Bowl

Drivers traveling south on I-15 to Las Vegas should be aware of expected delays from 30 minutes to an hour on Friday evening, Dec. 18, and Saturday morning, Dec. 19, in the Virgin River Gorge between St. George and Mesquite, Nev. Drivers returning from the bowl game should plan for similar delays on Saturday night, and up to two-hour delays on Sunday morning, as I-15 is reduced to one lane in each direction for bridge construction in the Virgin River Gorge.

121615 Virgin River Gorge.jpg
In addition, construction delays are expected along a 30-mile stretch of northbound I-15 between Las Vegas and Mesquite. The freeway is reduced to one northbound lane in various locations throughout this construction zone.

121615 NVroads

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
Fans planning travel on I-15 and I-84 to Boise should also plan ahead for construction in southern Idaho. I-84 is reduced to one lane in each direction for approximately 11 miles between the I-86 junction and Burley. Crews are replacing two bridges over the Snake River.

121615 IdahoITD

More information about these projects is available online at the following websites:

The Departments can also be contacted on social media:

For information on UDOT projects, visit udottraffic.utah.gov or download the UDOT Traffic app, available for iOS or Android devices. For real-time traffic and road information outside of the state, there are several smart phone applications available for download, including the Waze navigation app.

Incident Management adds softness to gritty job

A new friendly face is riding along on Utah’s highways with the UDOT Incident Management Team drivers: A soft, warm, fuzzy face of a teddy bear.

The teddy bear is part of a new program focused on helping those with young children cope in the face of accidents.  IMT drivers are now carrying teddy bears to give away to those affected by a crash, especially since it can be a frightening experience for young children.

A mother holds her child and a new teddy bear while the IMT provides assistance.

A mother holds her child and a new teddy bear while the IMT provides assistance.

 

“The Utah Highway Patrol started handing out teddy bears to young children that had been involved in an accident. It seemed to help the child take his or her mind off the accident and get them something to comfort them,” UDOT  state IMT manager Jeff Reynolds said. “The Incident Management Team has adopted the same program, due to limited space in police cruisers. In its short time, we have seen a meaningful impact on those we have been able to help.”

Reynolds said a citizen donation program is being considered in the future. UDOT and the Department of Public Safety will have more news when it becomes available.

 

IMT Bear 1

A variety of teddy bears and other plush animals await their ride with the Incident Management Team.

The first goal of the IMT team is to make sure those involved in an accident and working an accident scene are safe and then clear the roads for other drivers to prevent secondary crashes. You’ll find them helping to change a tire, putting warning signs up to protect officials at an accident scene, giving a gallon of gas to a stranded motorist, or cleaning up after an accident. After the crash scene is secure, they want to help those in the crash feel safe and get the drivers on their way.

Please remember to give IMT and Highway Patrol adequate room when you see them passing and slow down to decrease the possibility of a secondary accident.

This post was written by Adam McMillan, Traffic Operations Center Intern.

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.

Gov Herbert says updated Walking School Bus app is a SNAP

On Thursday morning, August 13, Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert put on his sneakers and joined UDOT’s Student Neighborhood Access Program (SNAP) to walk to school with a group of Sugarhouse families. The short stroll was part of UDOT SNAP’s kick-off to celebrate the new-and-improved Walking School Bus mobile app.

While accompanying the students to school, Gov. Herbert praised UDOT SNAP for creating the free, forward-thinking app, which empowers parents to allow their children to walk and bike to school.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert walks with school children in Sugarhouse to celebrate the new "Walking School Bus" app

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert walks with school children in Sugarhouse to celebrate the new “Walking School Bus” app

“Walking and biking to school makes our neighborhoods safer, our air cleaner and our children healthier. It also helps to build a greater sense of community,” Gov. Herbert said. “I encourage all parents who live within walking distance of school to download the free UDOT Walking School Bus App, join or organize a walking group and start the school year off right by making walking and biking to and from school a habit.”

During the walk, Gov. Herbert also encouraged the young students to continue their studies.

Parents were interested to learn that the updated Walking School Bus app now included easy tutorials, a way to invite their friends via text and social media, and that the app appears to be more navigable. They also remarked on how important the safety features on the app are to them.

Kids like the app, too.

“I feel safe, and I like walking with my friends,” nine-year-old Alex Beasley said. “And it also saves gas because you’re not using your cars.

UDOT developed and launched the free app in August 2014 to help make walking and biking to school safer and easier. With the app, parents can create and join walking groups, send messages within the app to coordinate walks, and even notify other parents when students have arrived at school. In its first year, more than 500 walking school bus groups were created across the state, and parents and students using the app reduced 91,000 car trips and 37 million grams of CO2 emissions, walked 88,000 miles and burned 8.8 million calories.

The free Walking School Bus App is available for download for iPhone and Android devices. For more information, visit http://www.udot.utah.gov/walkingschoolbus.

MEDIA STORIES ON THIS EVENT:

Gov. Herbert backs UDOT’s ‘Walking School Bus’ AppABC News 4 Utah

UDOT aims to reduce pollution, increase child safety and exercise with ‘Walking School Bus’ appFox 13 News

Herbert, students trade wheels for sneakers on ‘walking school bus’ Deseret News

Reserve family gets walking with Utah governor – Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System

UDOT Walking School Bus app aims to improve safety KSL5 News

Guv encourages Utah parents to ditch the school carpools in favor of walkingThe Salt Lake Tribune

Governor says kids should ditch carpools and walk to schoolThe Daily Herald

 

 

 

 

New Long-Range Plan released for rural roads

Projects planned over next 25 years will enhance Utah’s economy, quality of life

RICHFIELD —  The Utah Department of Transportation today released its long-range plan forecasting transportation needs in rural Utah over the next 25 years.

The department updates its long-range transportation plan every four years with an eye toward keeping traffic moving now and into the future. The plan focuses primarily on rural areas of the state and identifies a list of projects that will strengthen Utah’s economy and enhance the state’s quality of life.

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Transportation needs for Utah’s urban areas are developed in cooperation with metropolitan planning organizations like the Wasatch Front Regional Council and the Mountainland Association of Governments. These long-range plans, along with UDOT’s Long-Range Plan, are combined to create Utah’s Unified Transportation Plan, which will be published this fall.

“UDOT follows a fiscally responsible approach to maximize the value of Utah’s infrastructure investment,” said Jeff Harris, UDOT planning director. “The department leverages limited resources in a way that will provide the greatest benefit.”

Harris said the Long-Range Plan considers the unique needs and strengths of rural Utah, including tourism, the energy sector, interstate freight movement, access to recreation opportunities, and the need for enhanced connections between communities. It employs sophisticated travel demand modeling software to anticipate future transportation needs, taking into account projected population growth as well as employment data forecasts.

The plan also reflects the predicted quantity and timing of future funding, as well as public input accumulated during a series of public meetings focused on the draft project list last spring.

Projects listed in this plan include projects to widen roads, add new passing or climbing lanes, modify interchanges and make other needed improvements throughout the state. You can view the Long-Range Plan here http://www.udot.utah.gov/go/lrp.

MEDIA STORIES ON THIS EVENT:

Road projects revealed by UDOT for next 25 years – Taylor Hintz, Ogden Standard-Examiner

UDOT releases long range plan for rural roads” – ABC4Utah

 

A google doodle with a Utah link

Whether you’re sitting at a red light or passing through on green, the traffic signal is one invention that revolutionized the world. And because of that, Google has taken to honor the anniversary of the first installation with a “doodle”.

August 5, 2015's Google Doodle

August 5, 2015’s Google Doodle

On August 5, 1914, the first traffic light was installed in Cleveland, Ohio, on the corner of 59th and Euclid. With 20,000 cars being sold per month in 1914, and horse-drawn wagons, street cars, and carts still in play, city streets in America were woefully congested, and a need arose for traffic management. Police used to stand in the middle of intersections and wave their arms to control traffic, and just before the turn of the century, England tried a gas-lit stoplight, but they had a tendency to explode.

But what does that have to do with Utah?

One of the solutions to the traffic management problem came when Lester Wire — a Salt Lake City policeman — created a traffic light out of a hand-made wooden box that had red and green lights whose wires were attached to light wires above. Right in the Beehive State, a solution was born. 

This replica of Lester Wire's first traffic light greets visitors to the UDOT Traffic Operations Center.

This replica of Lester Wire’s first traffic light greets visitors to the UDOT Traffic Operations Center.

We’ve come a long way since 1914, and UDOT is proud of what our employees at the Traffic Operations Center have done to create a state-of-the-art traffic management system. Instead of mechanical lights and wooden boxes, we use sophisticated computers that gather traffic and weather data to manage 60% of the 1,927 traffic lights statewide. We use that information to give you the best data, sent right to your smart phone, and we also have one of the few in-house DOT weather rooms, staffed with two full-time meteorologists and 8 weather professionals.

Next time you’re sitting at a red light or passing through on a green light, you can thank a fellow Utahn for coming up with a traffic solution. Thank you, Google, for giving us a chance to walk down memory lane!