Category Archives: Optimize Mobility

Black Sand

What black sand looks like.

What black sand looks like.

UDOT recently tested an innovative product used to help enhance the snow melting process during the clearing of mountain passes in the spring. The material is called “black sand” and was tested near Monte Cristo summit in Weber County as an agent to save future time and money.

Special Crews Supervisor, Kelly Andrew, conducted the study and ran tests, to see how effective the black sand would actually be. The result was extremely positive and indicated this method could save UDOT a significant amount of time in the snow removal process as well as in equipment costs.

Black sand has been a tried and tested method farmers have used for years in order to clear snow from the ground to plant their crops faster, rather than letting it melt on its own. Andrew noticed how effective it had been for them and thought, “Why wouldn’t it work for us on roads?” This led to acquiring the material and testing certain sections of snow to see which areas melted faster, those with black sand or those without.

Loading the black sand

Special Crews Supervisor, Kelly Andrew looks on as workers load the black sand.

So how does it work? Black sand uses solar energy to create heat that in turn helps melt snow faster. Vic Saunders, Region One communications manager, used wearing a black shirt as an example of how the black sand works.

Black Sand 2

Spreading the black sand at Monte Cristo Summit.

“If you were to go outside wearing a dark shirt, you would get warmer than you would wearing a white shirt… the black enhances the melting process because it is absorbing the solar rays rather than reflecting them.” Saunders said.

According to Andrew, the black sand is a fine powder-like substance that was lightly spread with a large snow machine. Utah State University conducted a study testing the components of the sand, which consists of 95 percent pure sand and the rest inert elements that are not harmful to the environment.

After a four-week testing period, Andrew and his team found that areas where black sand had been distributed showed significant progress in the melting process over the parts of snow that had been left alone.

The advantage of this new black sand is not only that it makes the process of clearing the mountain passes easier but it also saves taxpayers money. Money is saved on time because the more snow that has melted means less to remove and less wear and tear on expensive equipment that is costly to operate.

The black sand method would not replace salt that is used on highways and freeways to help remove snow and ice; rather it’s an additional agent to be used on closed roads with heavily packed snow.

“We didn’t use the black sand to help us open the road earlier but we did it to make ourselves more efficient,” Saunders said.

The sand will continue to be tested as an additional tool in the snow removal process for mountain passes in the upcoming winter months.

Photos were provided by Kelly Andrew and Vic Saunders from Region One. 

A Vision for UDOT’s Future

In the last two decades, UDOT has emerged as a national leader in transportation innovation.  In the coming years, UDOT intends to carry on that legacy, while continuing to adapt, adjust and improve. UDOT will continue to strive toward its Final Four Strategic Goals while embracing four new Guiding Principles to ensure the right work is being done in the right way.

Final Four Strategic Goals
Where we are going

Over the years, UDOT has laid out and refined the Strategic Goals that will continue to drive every UDOT project and serve as a standard by which to measure success. They are:

Preserve Infrastructure
UDOT is preserving Utah’s existing transportation infrastructure. The state’s multibillion dollar investment in roads, bridges and other assets must be maintained for future generations.

Optimize Mobility
UDOT works to optimize traffic mobility through a number of measures, including adding capacity, innovative design, managed lanes, TravelWise and signal coordination.

Zero Fatalities
UDOT remains committed to safety, and the goal to consistently improve safety on Utah’s roads can be summed up in two words: zero fatalities.

Strengthen the Economy
This goal recognizes UDOT’s role in creating and managing a transportation system that enables economic growth and empowers prosperity.

Guiding Principles
How we will get there

Just as important as where we are going is how we get there. UDOT must do the right work in the right way, and we will reevaluate how projects and programs are managed to reflect the following principles:

Integrated Transportation
UDOT will actively consider how to best meet the needs of trucks, bikes, pedestrians and mass transit when studying transportation solutions and ensure those solutions are applied to the most appropriate facilities. We will strive to provide Utahns with balanced transportation options while planning for future travel demand.

Local Collaboration
UDOT will team with local and regional entities to create transportation solutions that help them achieve success and meet local needs.

Education
UDOT will support STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) courses in Utah colleges and high schools. We will promote the safety of Utah students through the Zero Fatalities and School Neighborhood Access Plans (SNAP) programs.

Transparency
UDOT will strive to be the most transparent DOT in the country. Utahns will be able to track where their tax dollars go, understand how they are used and see the outcomes.  We will be honest and forthcoming in how and why decisions are made.

Results
The final destination

As we accomplish our Strategic Goals supported by Guiding Principles, UDOT is helping to enhance communities, improve the environment and cultivate a stronger economy.

For example, optimizing mobility through increased transportation options, like bike lanes, improves air quality, supports commerce through reduced traffic congestion and results in improved quality of life. All of the Goals and Principles work hand-in-hand to continue to make Utah one of the best places to live and work.

I-15 CORE Receives 2013 Partnered Project of the Year Award

IPI Award

I-15 CORE received the highest partnering award in its category (diamond level).

UDOT and its I-15 CORE partners, Provo River Constructors and partnering facilitator Tom Warne and Associates, were awarded the prestigious International Partnering Institute’s (IPI) John L. Martin Partnered Project of the Year – Diamond Level, at a ceremony in San Francisco, May 16.

“I-15 CORE demonstrated world-class partnering. The team focused on developing a collaborative project and program culture both within the project team and by integrating stakeholders throughout the entire process,” said Rob Reaugh, IPI Executive Director.

The ceremony was comprised of representatives from various state agencies and private companies from across the nation, and contractors, designers and architects and other firms associated with construction, partnering and facilitation.

“For UDOT, partnering is part of our culture and has been for years,” said Todd Jensen, I-15 CORE Project Director. “The partnering process enables decision makers from the Department and the contractor to come together to set common goals and expectations and to discuss openly any issues or challenges and how to overcome them.  It’s a collaborative process that can be difficult and time consuming.  Without a strong commitment to the partnering process, I believe UDOT would not be a national leader in the transportation industry that it is today.”

Springville Paving

Springville – To meet the aggressive construction schedule, crews paved during the summer and winter months. During the winter months, both I-15 CORE and PRC would meet daily to evaluate weather conditions and ensure each new pavement section would be properly protected, heated and monitored before paving could begin.

“In terms of project success, (I-15 CORE) was delivered $260 million under budget, 48 days early and processed more than 125 contract change orders without having a claim, and considering the number of man hours, was pretty successful from a safety standpoint,” Reaugh said.

According to Jensen, the project’s success was predicated on three keys: shared project goals, a commitment to continuous communication and a commitment to both following the formal partnering process and encouraging building relationships through informal partnering at all levels.

“With such a large project and PRC’s aggressive construction schedule, continuous communication was vital. We decided to co-locate the field offices as well as the main office to help foster face-to-face communications. Our priority was to encourage team members to talk with each other face-to-face first, followed by phone calls then email and finally letter,” Jensen said. “It was challenging and it placed people in uncomfortable situations at times, but the results of creating and encouraging a culture of communication speak for themselves.”

Provo RR Girder Placement

Provo – Crews set a steel bridge girder over the Union Pacific Railroad. Much of the construction was done at night to minimize travel delays.

During the initial partnering sessions, leadership from both teams established a shared set of goals of safety, quality, trust, truth and teamwork, budget and profitability, communication, upholding the public trust, schedule and enjoying the process. The leadership team then further defined what each goal meant. This helped keep members focused on what was most important. Like all projects, there were disagreements, differing interpretations of the contract documents, but these were overcome or managed by keeping the project goals at the forefront of employees minds and trying to address issues as quickly as possible.

“As part of our monthly partnering surveys, we required that names be attached to comments. Not to single anyone out but to know where challenges were, so that we could talk with our counterparts and work with that respective group to help get things resolved,” Jensen said.

American Fork 100 EAst

American Fork – Partnering was key in the decision to split the travel lanes on I-15 in Orem and American Fork. UDOT was able to keep lanes open and traffic moving while allowing PRC to finish building the middle sections of I-15.

Another key to success was the emphasis on informal partnering outside of the formal process.

“Relationships can make or break a project. We tried to foster a culture that it was okay to escalate items if the team couldn’t come to a resolution. We encouraged working groups to meet individually and get to know one another on a personal level. Challenges will happen but if you get to know the person across the table, it can help you get issues resolved quickly,” Jensen said.

According to Warne, accountability was the last key to building a successful project.  At each partnering meeting, the participants would discuss issues and develop action plans with responsible parties and timelines identified. In subsequent meetings, an accounting of progress for each action item had to be reported on.

“This team was particularly attentive to addressing the issues. Working together to solve problems and address issues strengthened the team and better prepared them for future challenges. Nothing short of an exceptional level of team work allowed them to deliver this project in record time,” Warne said.

Completed I-15

Pleasant Grove – Because both teams were committed to partnering and established shared project goals, I-15 CORE was completed ahead of schedule and under budget.

Because of the commitment to partnering, I-15 CORE never needed to use the assigned Dispute Resolution Board or the project sponsors to help resolve issues; all the project’s goals were met or exceeded; and a sense of achievement developed among project team members.

For more information about the International Partnering Institute visit: www.partneringinstitute.org.

This guest post was written by I-15 CORE team member Geoff Dupaix.

UDOT Leads at GIS Conference for Innovation and Progress

UPLANThe Utah Department of Transportation was recently recognized by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation (AASHTO) at a national conference held in Boise, Idaho May 6-8. UDOT has been acknowledged for the way we utilize Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in transportation.

UDOT stands out as a leader among the nation’s DOTs for our advancements with the highway mapping system known as UPlan. UDOT also received an honorable mention in the Transportation Publication division map competition for the Utah State Highway Map.

UDOT GIS Manager Frank Pisani attended the conference and said he was approached by nearly a dozen states who expressed interest in emulating UDOT’s implementation of UPlan.

So what exactly is UPlan and UGate?  “UPlan is an interactive mapping platform that supports UDOT by helping visualize our data, track our assets and strengthen our transportation planning with better analysis and collaborative information,” Pisani explained.

“UGate is the database and UPlan is the front end,” Pisani said. “UGate is behind the scenes as the engine that powers UPlan.”

The UPlan website is used as an information system where data can be tracked and recorded for both internal and public audiences. Due to it success, the federal government is also encouraging state to implement a similar system..

The Federal Highway Administration also highlighted UDOT as a model for other states for our Highway Performance Monitoring Systems and the approach we use with Linear Reference Systems.

Frank Pisani explains Linear Reference Systems:  “This is how UDOT coordinates with other state organizations like 911, highway patrols and local governments to collectively maintain 1 road network.”

Pisani said he was approached by a fellow conference attendee who claimed he had been coming to the conference for more than 20 years., “Three years ago UDOT wasn’t even here,” the man said. “And now you guys have taken over.”

UDOT has surpassed other state DOTs in the way we have been able to accomplish more with limited resources.

“UDOT has direction, support and good technology that is helping us capstone a lot of our efforts,” Pisani said. “We are trying to use technology to the best of our ability to inform the department and also the public that we are using this as an information tool and we are making the best out of the technology and data that is out there. UDOT is innovative in all aspects of the department and our technology focus is just one of them.”

Mileposts on Concurrent Highways

A few weeks ago we shared on Twitter and Facebook something that around here goes for common knowledge. To our surprise  a discussion followed and character limits made explaining things difficult.

It all started with a simple tweet, “Did you know milepost numbering begins in the south and west? So, MP 10 on I-15 is in the St. George area and I-80 Exit 115 is 115 miles from NV.” This has been such a handy thing to know, even away from our work environment, that we wanted to share it.

U.S. 6 and U.S. 50 are concurrent highways

Near the Nevada border U.S. 6 and U.S. 50 are concurrent highways.

This information on its own is pretty simple however there are a few places around the state that complicate things. In several locations we have highways that run concurrently like U.S. 89 and U.S. 91 between Brigham City and Logan. U.S. 6 is another good example. It runs concurrently with other routes in several places. There’s U.S. 50 near the Nevada border, I-15 in southern Utah County, U.S. 191 between Helper and Price, and I-70 from Green River to Colorado.

The surprising part to us was that our followers wanted to know what we do on these concurrent highways, what mileposts are used. To be honest, it’s kind of tricky.

The way it works is when a route joins another route the first route’s mileposts are used. Wait, what? That IS tricky. Let’s try it with an example. U.S. 91 begins at I-15 southwest of Brigham City and continues to the Utah-Idaho state line near Franklin, Idaho. U.S. 89 joins this route at 1100 South in Brigham City and then leaves the route at 400 North in Logan. For this distance U.S. 91’s mileposts are used but, U.S. 89 mileposts aren’t forgotten, we don’t pick up in Logan where we left off in Brigham City. Instead the mileposts include the 25 miles where U.S. 89 ran concurrent with U.S. 91, so, the milepost on U.S. 89 in Brigham City where it joins U.S. 91 is 433 and the milepost on U.S. 89 in Logan where it leaves U.S. 91 is 458.

There you have it, more than you ever wanted to know about mileposts. If you’re ever curious, we have highway reference reports for every interstate, U.S. Highway, and state Route on our website.

Southern Parkway Project Uncovers Ancient Ruins

Note from the administrator: This post was written by guest writer Stephanie Fulton and UDOT Intern Sarah Stephenson. 

Pit House

Excavation units from early archaic or possible Paleoindian site.

The Southern Utah Parkway is a 33-mile project that will eventually become an eastern belt route for Washington County. Eight miles are complete from I-15 to the new St. George Airport. The third segment of the parkway is currently under construction at Washington Dam Road, where more than 15 archaeological sites have been found.

Stairs

Archaeologists working on uncovering ancient Anasazi pit houses.

Crews have discovered prehistoric Native American ruins, one of which has been named one of the oldest sites investigated in Southwestern Utah. After significant research, scientists have discovered that the area has had continuous human habitation for up to 10,000 years.

UDOT has worked closely with local Native American tribes throughout the project. The Shivwits tribe, a native Utah tribe, was invited to the archaeological sites to search the ruins. They were also highly involved in the decision-making process regarding the preservation of the many ruins found.

Obsidian

Obsidian Lake Mojave and Bajada projectile points recovered from construction site.

Arrowheads, pottery, pit-houses and even prehistoric ruins including dinosaur fossils have been discovered throughout the project site and have been dated as far back as 400 B.C. During construction, 200-million-year-old fossils were also found, including the teeth from nine species, three of which could be new species. These were archived for future data and research.

Furthermore, UDOT has worked to protect threatened and endangered species throughout the project’s construction.

Overall the construction has gone fairly smoothly and the experiences during the archaeological findings have been incredibly valuable to UDOT as a whole. Dana Meier, project manager for UDOT, said, “We are an organization that learns,” which is what UDOT will continue to do throughout this project.

The project has received considerable public support because it allows for the future growth and expansion of St. George and its surrounding areas. Construction continues this spring and summer to extend the new highway another eight miles.

Photos were taken by Bighorn Archaeological Consultants, and Eric Hansen. 

West Davis Corridor Draft EIS

The West Davis Corridor Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is now available for review and public comment on the study website. The Draft EIS includes our locally preferred alternative. To help explain the process and the our recommendation the study team created the follow videos.

The Draft EIS will be available for public comment for the next 90 days, closing on August 23. Formal comments should be submitted to the study team on the website, by e-mail at westdavis@utah.gov or mailed to:

West Davis Corridor Team
466 North 900 West
Kaysville, UT 84037

There will also be three public hearings and open houses where comments can be submitted.

So, this is your chance to part of the process and to have your voice heard. Please get out there and check out the Draft EIS and submit your comments.West Davis Corridor Logo

Traffic Signal Amendments and Runaway Vehicle Ramp Requirements

Two bills passed by the state legislature this March will affect transportation in Utah, SB 123, Runaway Vehicle Ramp Requirements and HB 272, Traffic Signal Amendments. Both of these bills help to relieve traffic and make roads safer in Utah.

I-70 Runaway Truck Ramp

Runaway truck ramp on eastbound I-70 in Emery County.

SB 123, prohibits a person from using a runaway vehicle ramp unless the person is in an emergency situation requiring use of the ramp to stop the person’s vehicle; and prohibits a person from stopping, standing, or parking on a runaway vehicle ramp or in the pathway of a runaway vehicle ramp.

These ramps save lives by stopping vehicles, particularly semi-trucks, that have lost their brakes or are unable to slow down. When the ramps are blocked by vehicles-not using it for its intended purpose- runaway vehicles are left with very few safe options in stopping their vehicles. Not only is the driver in danger but the runaway vehicle puts many other motorists in danger. This bill will help to ensure that runaway trucks have a safe place to stop if their truck is unable to slow down.

HB 272, provides that under certain circumstances an operator of a vehicle facing a steady red arrow signal may cautiously enter the intersection to turn left from a one-way street into a one-way street.

Under this bill, motorists may only make this left turn on a solid red light when a sign at the intersection indicates that it is legal. Drivers are still required to stop at the red light and yield to oncoming traffic before cautiously entering the intersection, similar to any turn made on a red light. This bill, although not specifically designed for diverging diamond interchanges (DDI), will make these intersections more efficient and will allow traffic to move more quickly and safely.

Telling a Story

UDOT is using state-of-the-art mapping tools help communicate important information to road users.

Amanda Holm views the Top Ten Story Map.

Amanda Holm views the Top Ten Story Map.

Every spring, UDOT gives road users heads-up on road work by announcing the top road construction projects that may cause travel delay throughout the summer. Communicating the location and duration of those projects was made easier this year because of Geographic Information Tool that uses maps to communicate project details.

UDOT’s Geographic Information System team used the UPlan Map Center  to build a road construction story map that integrates several maps on an interactive web page. The result is a one-stop information site for ten of UDOT’s most high-impact road construction projects.

New GIS technology lets UDOT put map creation tools in the hands of many users where only analysts had access previously.  The UPlan Map Center site allows users to build a custom map, or several maps, quickly and easily. Those maps can then be combined to create a story map that can be viewed in a browser, shared on a blog or embedded in a website.

Better partnering

Maps are a good way to visually define project scope, see trends in space and time, and communicate with work groups or stakeholders. Grouping several maps together can help communicate a more complete story – such as where and when to anticipate road construction.

But road construction project details are not the only information that can be represented on maps. Basically, any feature that can be seen through a windshield while driving on a state route can be represented on a map. Signs, pavement, signals, culverts, all components of the state transportation system, can be mapped.

Other spatial data sets available on the UPlan site include crash data, which lists the number of crashes for each road segment, and crash severity and type, and Average Annual Daily Traffic, which lists level of traffic on state routes.

Cycling MapUDOT’s website currently features a Road Respect Story Map that shows a cycling map series. Together, the maps provide a great resource for cyclist to find popular cycling routes, information on cycling infrastructure, and even rules cyclists and motorists need to know to safely share the road.

GIS team members hope that the use of custom-built maps and Story Maps becomes wide spread at UDOT. GIS Manager Frank Pisani believes that using customized maps can lead to better partnering since maps allow people from different disciplines to reference information for a common interest, “GIS is the science of putting features on a map and solving problems,” says Pisani.

For more information about using customized maps and Story Maps, contact UDOT’s GIS team:

Frank Pisani, GIS Manager
Engineering Technology Services
Cell: (801) 633-6258
E-mail: fpisani@utah.gov

Becky Hjelm, GIS Specialist
Cell: (801) 386-4162
Office: (801) 965-4074
E-mail: bhjelm@utah.gov

This post was written by Catherine Higgins of the Project Development division.

2013 Top 10 Construction Projects

UDOT Logo udot.utah.govWith summer fast approaching, we would like to share our top 10 road construction projects for 2013.

While there will not be as many large road projects in 2013, there will still be more than 150 construction projects statewide that will require drivers to plan ahead. This season, we will continue to perform maintenance on our roads and bridges to ensure they remain in good condition and last as long as possible.

We will also use innovative technology to improve traffic flow with the installation of the fifth and sixth diverging diamond interchanges (DDI) as well as the 11th continuous flow intersection (CFI) in the state.

The following is a list of the top 10 projects statewide in 2013:

 

  1. I-80 Drainage Pipe Replacement, Salt Lake County. Crews will install new drainage pipe in Parleys Canyon to replace the existing system. Drivers should expect lane closures throughout the summer. Project completion is estimated for December 2013.
  2. I-15, South Payson Interchange to Spanish Fork River. This summer, crews will work to widen seven miles of pavement and bridges on I-15 from the South Payson Interchange to the Spanish Fork River. Most of the work will take place in the freeway median, and construction is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
  3. Southern Parkway, St. George. The Southern Parkway is a 33-mile project that will eventually become an eastern belt route for Washington County. Currently, eight miles are complete from I-15 to the new St. George Airport. Construction continues this spring and summer to extend the new highway another eight miles.
  4. S.R. 193, Davis County. Crews are extending state Road 193, the Bernard Fisher Highway, from 2000 West (S.R. 108) on 200 South in West Point to 700 South and State Street (S.R. 126) in Clearfield. Work scheduled this spring and summer includes earthwork, utility relocations, drainage and sound wall construction. Temporary road closures or blockages may happen from time to time on local streets and trails.
  5. I-15, St. George Boulevard DDI Interchange Reconfiguration. Reconstruction work will take place on the existing diamond interchange to install southern Utah’s first diverging diamond interchange. Work is expected to begin this summer and finish by the end of the year.
  6. U.S. 89/91 Repaving, Sardine Summit to S.R. 23, Cache County. The second phase of work continues from last season’s repaving of U.S. Highway 89/91. Maintenance work will take place from Sardine Summit to Wellsville to maintain a smooth road surface and prolong the life of the roadway. Daytime lane closures will be taking place throughout the summer.
  7. I-15, 1100 South (U.S. 91) DDI Interchange, Brigham City. Work to build the first diverging diamond interchange in northern Utah will begin this summer on the I-15 and 1100 South interchange in Brigham City. Traffic may be redirected around the project throughout its duration, but crews will work to minimize delays. This project is expected to be complete next summer.
  8. U.S. 89 Improvements, Orem to Pleasant Grove. Crews will make several improvements to State Street between Orem and Pleasant Grove this summer. The road will be widened to seven lanes, repaved with new asphalt, and upgraded with curb, gutter and new sidewalks in various locations. The project will improve traffic flow and reduce congestion in the area. Drivers should expect minor traffic delays due to lane restrictions.
  9. Bangerter Highway, 13400 South CFI Installation, Salt Lake County. Construction of a new continuous flow intersection (CFI) on Bangerter Highway at 13400 South will improve the flow of traffic in this fast-growing section of the Salt Lake Valley. Lane restrictions will occur throughout the project but will take place during non-commute and nighttime hours. Construction will be completed this year.
  10. I-215 Maintenance, S.R. 201 to North Temple, Salt Lake City. A heavily traveled section of I-215 will undergo concrete repair this summer for approximately two months with occasional lane and ramp closures. Work will take place during overnight and non-commute hours to minimize delays.

We are committed to continually looking for new opportunities to proactively communicate with the public about our projects. The following are available tools to plan ahead and stay informed about our projects:

  • “UDOT Traffic” App — The UDOT Traffic app delivers critical traffic information directly to drivers by incorporating the best and most up-to-date information from the UDOT Traffic Operations Center, including real-time traffic conditions, construction alerts, crash information and road weather conditions. The app now features TravelWise alerts, which provide us with a direct way to communicate with drivers at critical times. The alerts proactively communicate major traffic incidents, event traffic warnings, weather-related road conditions, construction and air quality information so drivers can plan ahead, reduce delays and arrive safely at their destinations. UDOT Traffic is free and available for download in the Apple App Store and Android Market for tablets and phones.
  • Interactive UDOT Traffic Website — The website features an interactive map identifying the locations of UDOT projects statewide. Additional information is provided for each project, including the construction schedule, expected travel delays and the project benefits. The website can be accessed from www.udot.utah.gov.
  • UDOT’s Twitter Account — Follow UDOT’s Twitter feed at twitter.com/UtahDOT to receive regular updates on road construction and traffic conditions.
  • 2013 Road Construction Guide – The guide is available for download and includes a list of the 10 most significant projects.