Category Archives: Optimize Mobility

WELCOME VISITORS

The Utah Office of Tourism and UDOT partner to help support the state’s economy.


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Over 13 million visitors per year arrive in Utah by car, and for many of those travelers, a Utah Welcome Center is the first stopping place. Welcome centers are a safe spot to take a rest break and learn about what Utah has to offer.

UDOT and the Office of Tourism operate six welcome centers at gateway locations close to freeways or highways and near state borders. The Utah Office of Tourism headquarters at Council Hall in Salt Lake City also serves as a welcome center. All centers are staffed with friendly travel consultants that provide free information, maps, brochures, and travel guides. Restrooms, vending, and parking areas are located on-site, and most offer free Wi-Fi.

Having a place that provides information and assistance to visitors is an important service that supports the local economy. “Our front doors are our airport and our roads,” said Chad Davis, the State Welcome Center Coordinator. Davis gave a presentation about the facilities at the 2012 National Safety Rest Area Conference hosted by UDOT. Tourism brings in over $8 hundred million to the state, and that number is going up, said Davis. That revenue offsets over one thousand dollars per tax payer per year.

Economic research indicates that positive outcomes can occur when visitors stop at a welcome center. A Rhode Island study found that tourists spend more money and an Iowa study found that tourist spent more time. And tourism generates jobs as well. Partnering with the Utah Office of Tourism helps UDOT accomplish one of four core goals, to strengthen the economy.

Good design sells

The Utah Office of Tourism and UDOT also partnered to produce and place beautiful new Welcome to Utah signs in 2010. The signs serve as ‘high art’ and feature images of attractions with the Utah Office of Tourism’s Life Elevated slogan.

The beautiful designs were created by landscape illustrator David Meikle who grew up in Utah. He was excited to create images that reflect what he loves about the state. UDOT estimates that over 31 million vehicles could pass the welcome signs each year.

The NSRA is part of AASHTO’s Maintenance Sub Committee, and responsibility for organizing the conference is accomplished by state transportation agencies. This year, UDOT takes the lead with support from the Kentucky Department of Transportation.

READY FOR WINTER

The extensive and careful work done in the Body Shop and Heavy Equipment Shop prolongs the life UDOT’s fleet and conserves funding.


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Mechanics and auto-body workers at UDOT are getting heavy equipment ready for winter. Even though last winter was relatively mild, workers in the shop have plenty to do. With around forty two hundred pieces of heavy equipment in the fleet, work is non-stop.

“Right now, we are doing the things we can’t do in the winter,” says Steve McCarthy, UDOT’s Fleet Manager. By mid September, “mountain areas can get snow any time.” His crew is working with maintenance station supervisors to make sure each crew has the equipment needed to remove snow and ice.

UDOT’s fleet is valued at about $200 million, a significant investment of taxpayer money. Besides repairing fleet vehicles, strategies are being employed to conserve funding and work as efficiently as possible by:

  • Keeping fleet vehicles longer; most are kept between sixteen and eighteen years and some up to twenty.
  • Purchasing trucks with larger motors and tag axles that can handle tow plows and adding wing plows to the 10-wheeler fleet. Tow plows and wing plows remove a wider swath of snow from the roadway and boost efficiency.
  • Using larger sanders to spread de‐icing materials and applying brine, high performing salts and other liquid anti‐icing solutions to remove snow and ice more efficiently.
  • Leasing or renting some heavy equipment which can save repair costs while employing new more efficient technology.

By employing smart fleet strategies, UDOT has been able to maintain high performance standards and eliminate the need to purchase 25 percent more equipment.

JOB CORPS WORKS AT UDOT

Newly trained mechanics are getting work experience at UDOT.

Raymond Bentor, Job Corps Intern at UDOT, rebuilds the a rear suspension in the heavy-duty shop.

Job Corps students that have reached the end of their training program need real-world work experience before they begin their careers. Two young mechanics are getting that opportunity at UDOT’s Central Heavy Duty Shop where they serve as interns. For those interns and the UDOT mechanics that provide supervision, the experience has been very positive.

The success of the UDOT-Job Corps association is due to the excellent training program at Job Corps and the variety and complexity of the work load at Central Maintenance. “Their training is really top notch,” says Rod Andrews, UDOT Heavy Duty Shop Supervisor.  The trainees come to the site ready to do more than busy-work and can be assigned to a variety of big or small tasks. “You find that they fill a little niche that you need,” says Andrews.

Johnnie Brandt removed the transmission from this road grader. “I don’t like just standing around,” says Brandt.

Intern Johnnie Brandt says he is ready and willing to do anything he can get his hands on. “I don’t like just standing around,” says Brandt.  He works with all the mechanics at UDOT to quickly move repair jobs through to completion. Brandt has done jobs ranging from changing oil to removing a transmission from a road grader.

UDOT’s shop is great for providing diverse work experiences.  “Just look at the variety of stuff we have in this shop,” says John Service, UDOT Journeyman Mechanic, as he points to the assortment of heavy equipment undergoing repair. Service has worked closely with Brandt and appreciates his great attitude and willingness to learn.

Intern Raymond Benter has been at other work sites besides UDOT’s shop. He says moving from site to site helps build his skill sets, learn to adapt and “really know what it’s like to work.”

Benter is willing to “get right in there and do his job,” says Truck Shop Supervisor Jeff McCleery. “He’s willing to learn, listen and he has a good skill level and good attitude.”

Interns will spend about six weeks at UDOT before moving to another work site.

FLEETS MOVE FORWARD

A new national performance metric will help fleet managers make decisions about retaining core equipment.

Departments of transportation are facing many of the same issues, including limited budgets, new emissions and mileage regulations and the need to manage life-cycle costs. At the same time, equipment costs are increasing, making it challenging for departments of transportation to replace aging vehicles.

AASHTO’s Equipment Management Technical Services Program recently sponsored the First National Equipment Fleet Management Conference. The event brought experts together to share the best practices from the nation’s departments of transportation. An important outcome of the conference is the development of a national metric that will provide “a high-level snapshot” of how departments of transportation are managing equipment life cycles, according to a problem statement issued by the EMTSP.

Departments of transportation are facing many of the same issues, including limited budgets, new emissions and mileage regulations and the need to manage life-cycle costs. At the same time, equipment costs are increasing, making it challenging for departments of transportation to replace aging vehicles.

UDOT’s Fleet Manager Steve McCarthy is the Vice Chair of the EMTSP. He attended the conference, participated in development of the metric, and is optimistic about what the metric data will provide over time — “more data about whether or when to replace equipment.”

The metric identifies and tracks fleet utilization standards, preventative maintenance compliance, and fleet availability. Departments of transportation from across the nation have different standards and practices. Using one metric to collect data across the nation will help departments of transportation compare agency against agency and identify the most effective strategies for managing fleet life cycles.

The EMTSP is already a resource for best practices and a clearing house for comprehensive, up‐to‐date information about fleet management. With data from the new metric, departments of transportation should be able to further fine tune fleet performance to effectively review life cycle costs, develop funding requests based on real-world needs and readily identify best-practice methods.

FEATURING FLICKR

UDOT’s Communication Office uses Flickr to share photos of the state transportation system. 


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Flickr is an easy to use photo platform that provides a way to share visual essays of how UDOT improves the state transportation system.  UDOT’s Flickr photostream contains images of media events, conferences, construction and maintenance projects and equipment.

One great feature of Flickr is that photos can be arranged in ordered sets with captions. Those sets can explain a process or show progress on a construction project. For example, this set contains images of the Telegraph Street Bridge replacement in St. George.

Flickr also integrates well with other forms of social media. Slide shows on the UDOT Blog are Flickr sets. Links to photos or photo sets are easy to share by email.

The UDOT Communications Office would like to expand the use of Flickr to include a wider range of photos from across the state so a variety of UDOT activities can be shared among employees, private sector partners, media and the general public.

Send in your photos

Here are some general guidelines for sending in photos:

  • Make sure the images are high quality JPEG images that are 1200 x 800 pixels.
  • For subject ideas, choose subject matter that shows UDOT’s four areas of focus: Improve Safety, Optimize Mobility, Preserve Infrastructure and Strengthen the Economy.
  • Show candid shots of events or work processes. Real life scenes are the most interesting.
  • Take photos from different perspectives to get a good overall view of an event or construction or maintenance project.
  • Send in photos taken recently.
  • Send in a series of photos or a single photo.
  • Anyone can send in photos as long as the subject relates to UDOT.
  • Photos will be used on Flickr at the discretion of the UDOT Communications Office.

Photos can be sent by email or delivered on a disk or other storage device to the Communications Office at the Calvin Rampton Complex. Please include photo descriptions and your contact information.

OUT OF SIGHT

I-15 CORE project concrete drainage pipes were installed under the freeway without shutting down traffic lanes. 

Provo River Constructors installed drainage pipe using by using augers or a tunneling machine with a cutting head to excavate under the freeway while lanes stayed open.

Some of the ways UDOT keeps lanes open during construction are easy to see – for example lane shifts that allow work to occur safely next to traffic. And, UDOT is famous for moving already-built bridges into place. But some lane-saving construction takes place out of the public eye.

The I-15 CORE contractor, Provo River Constructors, used a method of installing drainage pipe that avoids open cuts that require lane closures. Called jacked pipe, the system uses augers or a tunnel boring machine with a cutting head to excavate under the freeway while simultaneously pushing pipe segments through to the other side. I-15 CORE recently won a Project Achievement Award from the Concrete Pipe Association for the jacked pipe installation.

Minger Construction of Chanhassen, Minnesota installed over two miles of pre-cast reinforced jacked pipe. The innovative construction methods used by the sub-contractor made for accurate and efficient installation.

Additionally, the project used long -rebar as reinforcement in small-gauge pipe, which is not common. “The rebar keeps the pipe straight,” according to Randy Whalen, Marketing Engineer of Oldcastle Precast, producer of the pipe. Keeping pipe “dimensionally accurate,” is more critical with smaller pipe since “pipe that is even one eight inch off can induce a curve.”

Given the maintenance of traffic constraints coupled with the aggressive schedule, the process of jacking pipe under the freeway was very important to the overall project. Provo River Constructors was required by UDOT to keep traffic lanes open during construction, explains Robert Stewart, I-15 CORE Deputy Project Director. “I don’t think you could have built this project without jacking and boring.”

For a more detailed description of jacked pipe construction methods, read an article posted by Concretepipe.org. Scroll down to the previous post to see a slide show of the work on the I-15 CORE project.

JACKING PIPE

These slides show pipe jacking operations on the I-15 CORE project.

Concrete drainage pipes were installed under the freeway using a augers or a tunnel boring machine to excavate. Pipes were then pushed through segment by segment to the other side.

To see photo descriptions, click the large image. To select images, place the cursor in the black portion at the bottom of the show.


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WALK MORE 2012

The “Walk More in Four” challenge offers the chance for schools to win $500,
and for students to win bikes and scooters.

The UDOT Student Neighborhood Access Program (SNAP)™ is a fun and comprehensive program for walking and biking safely to school

Any parent who has a school aged child has probably observed traffic congestion around a school drop-off point.  Too many cars can increase the risk of fender-benders and make watching out for pedestrians and cyclists more difficult.

UDOT’s Student Neighborhood Access Program (SNAP)™ “Walk More in Four” challenge is an annual month-long event designed to encourage more Utah K-8 students to walk or bike safely to school at least three days each week during the month of September. This is the fourth Walk More in Four event, and the messages of the campaign seem to be reaching Utah students according to Cherissa Wood, UDOT SNAP Coordinator.

A voluntary survey of participants indicates that most students rarely walked or biked to school during the previous year. “By encouraging students to walk or bike to school at least three times each week during September, SNAP positively changed the travel behaviors of Utah students and provided the means for develop a lasting, safe and healthy habit,” says Wood.

And, student participation in Walk More in Four is increasing. About 1000 participated statewide during the first two years. Last year, that number shot up to 4000. Wood expects that more students will chose to take part in the 2012 Walk More in Four promotion.

To participate, students should track their trips to school by using the Walk More in Four progress chart. Each student who turns in a completed chart by Wednesday, October 3 will be eligible for a chance to win prizes including helmets, bikes and scooters.

The school with the highest percentage of participating students will win $5oo for its safety committee, along with The Golden Tennis Shoe traveling trophy. To participate, schools must register by September 7 by visiting the  SNAP website.

SNAP is a fun and comprehensive program engages and educates students, parents, school administrators, crossing guards and communities. As part of the federal Safe Routes to School program administered by UDOT, SNAP focuses on student safety as its first priority.

More tips and resources are available to parents and school administrators on the SNAP website.


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BLOG SURVEY

The UDOT Blog is intended to inform a transportation audience.

The UDOT Blog debut was April 21, 2010, and since then, 371 articles have been posted. The topics range from safety to geo-tech, and the intended audience is UDOT employees, private sector partners and members of the general public.

The blog is designed to allow readers to share ideas and find out about programs, projects and practices at UDOT. The format is based in part on an initial survey of UDOT employees. A total of 803 employees answered the survey, and provided feedback that became guidance for the blog.

The UDOT Communications Office invites you to take another survey so the blog can be improved.

THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES

To all those who sent in photos for the Faces in Transportation – Thanks!

Faces in Transportation is an annual competition that solicits photos that show the people who build, maintain and use our nation’s transportation system. UDOT employees sent in many great photos and two were selected by Director John Njord and Deputy Director Carlos Braceras.

Prizes of the contest include awards that go to the entering agency: first Prize, $500; People’s Choice Prize, $500; Three Prizes in each of three categories, $125 each.

Voting for the People’s Choice award is open. Follow this link to see UDOT’s photos and vote!


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