Category Archives: Optimize Mobility

TRAILBLAZER AWARD

Dr. Kyle M. Rollins, researcher and Professor of Civil Engineering at BYU has won the UDOT Research Division’s annual Trail Blazer Award.

UDOT Director of Research Cameron Kergaye, Trailblazer award recipient Dr. Kyle Rollins and workshop organizer Kevin Nichol pose after the award ceremony. Rollins is known in Utah and around the country for research on pile foundations.

Rollins was honored at the annual Research Workshop lunch. Last year’s winner, Blaine Leonard praised Rollins for his contribution to a broad range of research topic areas and for the innovative and creative ways he has accomplished that research.

“The Trailblazer Award is recognition of long time contributions to transportation research in Utah,” said Leonard. The honor is given to people who “start new paths for the rest of us to follow.” Rollins is known in Utah and around the country for research on pile foundations and load testing and is one of the few researchers that “does a fair amount of full scale load testing on piles,” said Leonard. Some of Rollins’ resent research includes evaluating and predicting corrosion rates of piles, evaluating the interaction between soil-abutment-bridge structures for seismic performance based design and field testing of colloid silica grouting for mitigation of liquefaction risk.

A “creative guy,” Rollins does dynamic testing using a tool called a statnamic – it’s basically a rocket engine, explained Leonard. This means, not only is Rollins geotechnical engineer, “he’s also a rocket scientist,” joked Leonard.

Rollins also partners effectively with the private sector, said Leonard, and often finds funding and other resources needed to carry out testing thoroughly and cost effectively. He stays on the cutting edge of research and also has the ability to develop research projects that produce practical solutions for the real world – “stuff that has been really useful.”

Rollins gave credit to UDOT’s innovative and accepting culture and to smart, hardworking students at BYU. “I have had success “because of the situation I have been in… UDOT is a pretty innovative organization.” His colleagues around the country “don’t always have that situation.”

Rollins appreciates UDOT’s acceptance of innovative testing methods, such as using small explosive charges to liquefy soil and sand boxes on a table top, and notes that some of his testing methods have received international recognition.

FRENCH CONNECTION

Engineers from Utah and Idaho recently took a close look at UDOT’s innovative interchanges during the Tour de DDI.

Engineer Gilbert Chlewicki, far right chats with Robert Miles, UDOT Region Two Area Engineer and David Stevens, UDOT Research Project Manager on the Tour de DDI.

A group of engineers gathered for a lessons-learned discussion and tour of UDOT Diverging Diamond Interchanges. Participants met at the Calvin Rampton Complex for review of the UDOT DDIs, then traveled to the SR 201, Pioneer Crossing and SR 92 DDIs stopping briefly at each location.

The event was held to coincide with a visit by Gilbert Chlewicki, a nationally known expert and proponent of the DDI. Chlewicki designed what he believed to be the first DDI in graduate school, then was surprised to find that a similar design was in operation in Versailles, France. Chlewicki spoke briefly about what circumstances make the DDI a better choice than a traditional Single Point Urban Interchange and about how to promote public knowledge and acceptance.

Though it’s “not a silver bullet” that will solve any traffic problem, Chlewicki believes the design is best used in an urban or suburban environment. In fact, Chlewicki predicts that the design should be considered first in an urban or suburban environment and will “make the SPUI extinct.”

Public perception of the DDI can be positive when communication stresses two messages, according to Chlewicki. Communicators need to explain how the DDI can reduce delay and make life better for road users and focus on how the design can actually improve safety. “As long as you explain it well” public acceptance is high.

Other presenters included:

  • Richard Miller, with Parsons Transportation Group lead designer of the Pioneer Crossing DDI
  • HG Kunzler with Lochner Engineering who designed the retrofit DDI at SR 201 and Bangerter Highway
  • Michael Lasko with CH2M Hill who designed the SR 92 DDI
  • Glenn Blackwelder, UDOT who discussed operations in Region Three
  • Marjorie Rasmussen, UDOT who discussed operations in Region Two

Designers gave an overview of the DDI design process and discussed lessons learned along the way, reviewed issues associated with “retrofit” DDIs, discussed “wrong way fear” and mitigations to help the driving public.  Glenn Blackwelder and Marjorie Rasmussen discussed current operations.

Blackwelder said the DDI is “the sportscar of interchanges,” because it’s fast, flexible and well-tuned. As a traffic engineer, he finds DDIs “fun to operate.” Although initial coordination can be tough and time consuming, operational changes make improvements and improve traffic flow.

Engineers from Idaho attended the event to prepare to design and construct a DDI in Chubbuck, Idaho. “We took some valuable information from the events of the day,” wrote Jesse Barrus in an email thank-you to UDOT following the event. “Being the engineer of record on this project I really appreciate the confidence I got from the operational standpoint of these innovative designs.”

MAP IT

By Catherine Higgins and Daniel Kuhn

A small map is a big deal for commercial truckers who drive through Utah.

The New UDOT Truck Parking Map is a schematic showing the location of commercial truck stops and UDOT rest areas along I-15 as well as the other Interstate Highways in Utah. UDOT is not aware of any other state producing a similar map.

The schematic shows the number and location of parking spaces in Utah for commercial truckers. That information is important for two reasons:

First, Utah is strategically significant to North America’s commercial trucking industry, and it is easy to see why by just looking at a highway map of the United States. I-80 is the backbone of routes crossing the middle section of the nation, on which freight moves to, from, and through Utah en route to points all across the USA and Canada. Northern Utah is the junction of two of I-80’s most important feeder routes – I-84 from the Pacific Northwest, and I-15 from Las Vegas and southern California.

The UDOT Truck Parking schematic shows the location of truck stop and rest stop parking.

A large percentage of the trucks traveling through Utah, particularly in the summer and fall, are refrigerated “reefer” trucks carrying perishable, time and temperature-sensitive foodstuffs. A large portion of what America eats passes through Utah in reefer trucks every day. On I-80 east of the junction with I-84 in Echo, Utah, reefer trucks amount to more than 50% of total truck traffic, which averages about 5000 truck per day during the western growing season.

Because of Utah’s crossroads status, UDOT’s highways handle a disproportionately high amount of freight for the entire country as well as Canada. This result in a correspondingly high number of distribution warehouses being located in the Beehive State. Several refrigerated truck companies are headquartered along the Wasatch Front, including the world’s largest, C.R. England, Inc.

Utah’s crossroads status for highway freight is further reinforced by our having the highest percentage of truck traffic of all 50 United States. According to the latest federal highway data, 23% of total traffic on Utah highways is trucks, compared to a national average of only 12%. While Utah roads are used to move a myriad of products from all over the continent, only 10 to 12% of the freight moving on Utah highways is actually consumed here in Utah.

The second factor that makes the new Utah Truck Parking Map a useful tool has to do with federal rules that govern rest breaks for truck drivers. Hours of Service laws are meant to keep our highway system safe by preventing crashes caused by driver fatigue. Drivers of commercial motor vehicles such as trucks and buses are required to take mandatory rest and sleep breaks. However, there is currently a shortage of long-term parking for trucks across much of the nation, making it difficult for drivers to find places to park to get their required rest.

The UDOT Truck Parking Map provides truck drivers a compact source of information about the location of long-term truck parking, as well as what amenities are found at each truck stop or rest area. This allows drivers to better plan their rest stops and reduces the number of drivers who “park on off ramps or on the side of major freight highways,” explains Vern Keeslar, Senior Planner with InterPlan. Daniel Kuhn, UDOT’s Railroad & Freight Planner, and Keeslar worked together to develop this useful tool for commercial truckers.

Funded by a federal grant, this effort included interviews with more than 400 truck drivers, as well as the managers of commercial truck stops along the I-15 corridor.When truckers were asked what tool would be most helpful, a durable map or parking locations was number one on their list. The Utah Truck Parking Map was the result, which is printed on waterproof, tear-resistant paper, and allows drivers to avoid using electronic communication technology while driving which can create distractions, safety hazards, and is forbidden by law in many states.

The Utah Truck Parking Map is being placed at commercial truck stops, UDOT Ports of Entry, selected distribution warehouses, and 2000 copies will be distributed by the Utah Trucking Association through their in-house magazine.

Keeping freight moving safely and efficiently on Utah highways is a key element in supporting and maintaining robust economic activity here in Utah, at the Crossroads of the West.

UDOT DIRECTOR TO RECEIVE DISTINGUISHED ALUMNI AWARD

John Njord received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Utah Department of Civil Engineering.

UDOT Director John Njord

Njord received the Distinguished Alumni Award and was inducted into the CE Academy. The award is given to an “alumnus that has been influential in education, industry, business, government, or construction,” according a Department of Civil Engineering newsletter.

Njord’s leadership has “made this transportation agency the envy of transportation agencies across the country and in fact, around the world,” says UDOT Deputy Director Carlos Braceras. “John is one of those exceptional leaders that allowed every employee in this agency to be their best.”

Njord joined the Utah Department of Transportation in 1988 after graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering degree from the University of Utah. He worked as a Field Engineer, Local Governments Liaison Engineer, Engineer for Urban Planning, Director of Olympic Transportation Planning and Deputy Director before becoming Executive Director in 2001.

Braceras credits Njord’s “natural leadership and his caring for the employees” for making UDOT “a productive place to make a difference.”

Njord said he was “shocked” and “obviously honored” on learning of his selection, especially in light of previous recipients and their accomplishments in this community. “I realize that in many ways I am the face of the department – I am the front guy,” he said. Njord believes that the  accomplishments made by department employees “has drawn recognition to me.”

Under his direction, Njord has led the effort to use innovative solutions to improve the transportation system in Utah. UDOT leads the nation in Accelerated Bridge Construction. Thirty-seven bridges associated with interstate highways have been built off-site and moved into place. The agency has pioneered the design and construction of innovative intersections and interchanges that have enhanced traffic mobility.

His role as he sees it is “to provide an environment where folks feel like they can solve problems.” Njord seeks to foster “a healthy environment where the best ideas can come forward.”

While some think of engineers as professionals who seek to work strictly by the book, Njord takes exception to that view. “True engineering begins as textbook engineering,” said Njord. “When you depart from ‘chug and plug’ engineering, all the innovation lights can turn on.”

Njord believes that any engineering problem can be solved when employees are willing to explore any idea. “And in the end, we are doing a great service for the citizens of our state.”

“I believe most of our employees go home and think ‘we’re doing good things.’”

The other CE Academy inductees are:

C. Ross Anderson
David Eckhoff
Paul Hirst
Jim Nordquist
Ron Reaveley

DDI DESIGNER

National DDI expert and advocate Gilbert Chlewicki will give the keynote address at the UDOT Research Workshop on May 10.

Gilbert Chlewicki

Chlewicki developed the design for the Diverging Diamond Interchange as a graduate student. After designing the innovative interchange, he visited France and on a bus tour, was surprised to see that the design was already in existence.  While disappointed that he was not the first, he continued to work on the DDI. Chlewicki has pioneered other designs as well, including the Continuous T Intersection, which he will discuss in detail at the workshop.

As a forward to his keynote address at the workshop, he answered some questions about non-traditional transportation designs.

What prompted you to want to develop non-traditional designs?

“I’ve been designing roads since I was a little kid.  I used to draw long stretches of highway on old dot-matrix computer paper that had each sheet of paper attached to the next.  I used to make the lanes wide enough for my hot wheels to drive on my roads.  The drawings had full signing and traffic controls.  When I would finish a drawing, I would stretch it out across the house and have my younger sisters drive on them to find certain destinations.  In high school, I made my lanes narrower so that I could fit more into a drawing and eventually created a new highway (which I called I-74) that went from New Jersey, through southern Pennsylvania, Ohio and finally to Indiana.

My drawings were always in pen, so when I would make a “mistake”, I would incorporate the mistake into the final design.  Anytime I drew a more complex design, I would always try to figure out how both the geometrics and traffic operations would work and then think about what I could do to improve the design for the future.  I came up with several designs on my own before I even knew they existed such as a roundabout and a single point urban interchange (SPUI).  There were other designs that I still believe are original concepts.  So I’ve been developing unique geometric designs for nearly 30 years now and am still continuing to come up with new designs.”

Are transportation agencies/engineers initially resistant to the DDI or other non-traditional designs? Why, and what has to happen for that resistance to be dropped?

“There has been a lot of resistance to non-traditional designs.  Just as an example, the modern roundabout has been around

An aerial photo of I-44 / Kansas Expressway Diverging Diamond Interchange in Springfield, Missouri. First of its kind in the U.S. Photo from Missouri Department of Transportation.

nearly 50 years but it has only gained partial acceptance in the US over the past 10-15 years even though it is a great design.  There are over 40 unique documented non-traditional designs but about half of these designs have never been constructed even though they show promise.  Of the 20+ designs that have been constructed, many of those you can only find sporadically in the country (ex. one echelon in Florida) or prominently in one state (ex. the jughandle in New Jersey, the median u-turn in Michigan).

The DDI has been very fortunate to gain acceptance very quickly across a lot of the transportation world and my hope is that the DDI will be the main example that helps stimulate building other non-traditional designs.  However, there is still resistance to the DDI in a large part of the transportation world.”

“There are many different reasons for the resistance of non-traditional designs.  Some are due to not wanting to change when a more well-established design could work almost as well.  Some are due to consultants not thinking that their clients will accept something different and “unproven”.  Some don’t want to try something new.  Some are worried about liability.  Some are scared to fail.  Some think that these designs cost too much.  Some don’t even know that these designs exist and most of those that know they exist don’t understand which design is best.  And some are scared of the politics and/or community acceptance.

I think three big things need to happen for this resistance to change.  One, we need to educate every one of these designs.  There’s enough information out there now and the more people know and understand, the more willing they will be to try these designs.  Two, we need champions of non-traditional designs in both the consulting world and in transportation agencies.  When we have the right people promoting these designs, the resistance will begin to fall.  And three, we need to create a more innovative culture in the transportation industry.  When we promote innovation, we will be more likely to accept it.”

How has the driving public accepted DDIs?

“For the most part, the public has been very accepting of DDIs, perhaps even more accepting than the transportation industry.  When the public sees how easy it is to navigate in the DDI and then they see the benefits of the design in terms of the traffic operations, costs, and safety improvements, it becomes a no-brainer to most of the public.

I worked on a planning project back in 2005, where we had a DDI as one of our options.  This might have been the first project that was considering a DDI in the country.  All of the alternatives had the interchange operating at a LOS A or B in the design year, so there was little benefit from an operations point of view of the DDI versus any other alternative.  The public still voted for the DDI over the other alternatives.  Ultimately the DDI was not selected because the agency did not think it was the proper location to put the first DDI in the state and since it was a new interchange, the DDI did not show any inherent benefit over the other alternatives in terms of traffic operations or costs.”

In your opinion, what is the future of the DDI in the US?

“The future is extremely bright for the DDI in the US.  I wrote a paper that was published in Transportation Research Record last year that showed that the DDI will likely be the best option for a multi-lane arterial of any diamond form regardless of turning movements, when considering costs and traffic operations.  I think the DDI will replace the need to build any more SPUIs, except in a few situations where it might be better geometrically.

In my opinion, the DDI should be considered as an alternative for all interchange projects because of the many benefits of the design.  It may not be the best solution in every case, but it has enough benefits to merit consideration.  We have a similar policy in Maryland concerning roundabouts.  All projects in Maryland must consider a roundabout for any intersection improvement.

I can easily see there being over a hundred DDIs across the country by the end of the decade.  And when you consider that the DDI on average costs roughly $10 Million less than the next best alternative, the country should be saving over $1 Billion in transportation costs!”

Your new Continuous T sounds interesting! Can you send an explanation and maybe refer me to some information online?

“The Two-Way Continuous-T Intersection allows non-stop flow of thru traffic in both directions of a T-Intersection without any grade-separation, while at the same time vastly increasing the percentage of green time for the left turn movements.  How is this possible?  The design takes concepts from three other innovative intersections (the Continuous-T Intersection, Continuous Flow Intersection, and Double-Wide Intersection) to create this new design.  You can get more information on this design from the materials in the 2012 TRB annual meeting where you can find my paper and poster that I presented.  If time permits, I will be talking about this design during the keynote address as an example of how innovation is developed.”

DIVIDE AND SPONSOR

The UDOT Research Workshop allows participants to prioritize research projects. Register by May 3 to participate.

Cameron Kergaye speaks at 2011 UTRAC

Usually held yearly, the Research Workshop is organized by the UDOT Research Division as a way to allow researchers and transportation experts from UDOT, FHWA, universities, private sector firms and other transportation agencies meet, network, share solutions and most importantly, prioritize research topics.

The May 10 2012 Research Workshop is approaching quickly and Kevin Nichol, Research Project Manager and workshop organizer hopes all who can be involved in the process will register  by May 3 to participate. Good participation – that is having a broad cross section of experts and a high number of participants makes for a healthy process – all involved can bring a different point of view or expertise to the table.

For researchers, that participation means presenting problem statements that detail proposed research. It’s a way for researchers to “engage their expertise,” says Nichol. This year, research problem statements are being accepted in six specialty areas:

  • Structures and Geotechnical
  • Environmental and Hydraulics
  • Construction and Materials
  • Maintenance
  • Traffic Management and Safety
  • Pre-construction

Problem statements need to be submitted by April 26.

A national expert on the Diverging Diamond Interchange will be the keynote speaker at the Research Workshop. Pioneer Crossing was UDOT's first DDI.

UDOT employees can participate in the workshop by registering for one of the specialty areas. At the conference, groups will meet separately to hear and prioritize problem statements.

It’s always exciting to see how the groups view and prioritize the research problem statements, according to Nichol. The Workshop draws a vibrant, intelligent community of transportation experts who take an important step in putting research in motion.

Ultimately, the knowledge and understanding gained by research will make for a better transportation system. For example, the 2011UTRAC Workshop produced studies that examined cost effective snow plow blade selection, sign management, and design of integrated abutment bridges.

General session

This year, workshop attendees will have a chance to hear from Gilbert Chlewicki — a national Diverging Diamond Intersection expert and advocate. Chlewicki is a leading expert on DDIs with respect to “geometric design, signal placements, traffic design, driver acceptability, pedestrian and bicycle issues, and locations for implementation,” according to his website.

NEW ENGINEERS

UDOT Engineers In Training are finding their work at UDOT challenging and rewarding.

Greg Merrill is an Engineer in Training in UDOT's Rotational Engineer Program

Short bios on the newest engineers at the agency describe some of the experiences and knowledge that are being gained by UDOT Rotational Engineers and Interns as they work to design, build and take care of the transportation system. The bios are a way to introduce the Engineers in Training to others at UDOT and associated private sector firms.

UDOT’s Rotational Program gives engineers a chance to “understand the overall role of the department,” says Richard Murdock, who has managed the program for 7 years. The program has existed for more than 20 years in a similar organizational form. UDOT gains by welcoming in enthusiastic, newly graduated engineers who view the world of transportation with new eyes. The Rotational Engineers come from diverse backgrounds and varied experiences.

Engineers apply to the program right out of college. Once at UDOT, EITs work under the supervision of Professional Engineers and rotate from one UDOT department to another about every six months. UDOT has a reputation for providing a good EIT experience, so more candidates apply that the program can accommodate. UDOT also offers a number of year-round internships that include full state benefits.

The EITs like the opportunity to work in the different specialty areas and gain broad experience. The rotations allow new engineers “to see how each [department] works and functions and how they each tie together,” says Greg Merrill who is assigned to Region One Construction. Rotations provide “a chance to find your niche” in preparation for later specialization.

Mandatory rotations include construction, design, maintenance and traffic and safety. Many of the EITs mention design as being particularly challenging. “I had no idea what went into a project from either the design or construction side, so I had to ask a lot of questions and do a lot of research,” writes Megan Leonard, “ Being able to actually design projects is an amazing process and learning how many little details go into each project was an eye opener.”

Many of the Rotational Engineers appreciate the chance to network and learn from others at UDOT. “I have had great supervisors that have provided plenty of guidance whenever I have needed assistance understanding a concept or completing a project,” writes Aaron Pinkerton.

Leonard appreciates the respect she is shown at work. “I recommend this program to everyone who can apply for it. I feel like I’m trusted and treated like an actual staff member and not just a glorified intern.”

Read the bios:

Brian Allen

Zack Andrus

Jeremy Bown

Eric Buell

Scott Esplin

Ryan Ferrin

Alex Fisher

Megan Leonard

Greg Merrill

Ryan Nuesmeyer

Phillip Peterson

Aaron Pinkerton

Kayde Roberts

Brandon Weight

KWKW

Know Where Know Why is a communication effort that’s aimed at helping motorists avoid construction-related delay.

The KWKW website shows pop-up descriptions of projects that may cause delay to the traveling public.

A printed guide, interactive website, radio and TV spots and now, a traffic app – all are components of “the overall communication campaign for construction information for the general public,” according to UDOT Public Information Officer Nate McDonald.

Twenty high-impact projects are featured in UDOT’s new Know Where, Know Why 2012 Road Construction Guide. New this year, the guide has been distributed to auto repair and oil change shops along the I-15 corridor. UDOT is hoping that motorists who are preparing for a road trip will notice and pick up the guide. Guides have also shipped out to hotels, motels and truck stops across the state.

KWKW also includes television and radio spots that highlight the highest impact projects for weekend travelers.

UDOT Traffic is a new smart phone app available at the iTunes Store and Android Market and includes:
• A Google Maps display
• Traffic conditions
• Crashes, construction and hazards
• Special events
• Road weather and forecasts
• Seasonal road closures
• Traffic camera images
• Roadway sign messages

NJORD ON RESEARCH

The role of transportation researchers is to be continually “scouring the river looking for those valuable gems of truth that will enable us to be even better.”

“Our business is dynamic and it’s changing all the time,” according to UDOT Director John Njord. In the constantly shifting world of transportation, it’s important for leaders to understand the leading edge. To set the stage for progress, Njord prefers taking a step forward to the “bleeding edge.” In a recent interview Njord explained the bleeding edge, how UDOT has benefited from research and what the future holds for transportation.

Conservatism dominates the world of civil engineering; transportation delivery has not changed radically over the last fifty years. Leading safely will produce a good transportation system, but “the bleeding edge is where you’re cutting new territory,” explained Njord. He believes that leaders need to be willing to say “ok, nobody has done this, we don’t know if it will be successful, but we’re going to try it anyway.”

To reach the bleeding edge, executives need to create an environment where failure is not punished. Njord hopes researchers and others at UDOT feel comfortable enough to “step out on the edge” while weighing risks against benefits and doing as much as possible to ensure success.

Recent success

Research has helped UDOT’s efforts to improve system mobility and reduce construction related delay. When many intersections along the Bangerter Highway in Salt Lake County were facing operational challenges, UDOT engineers “launched out to Juarez, Mexico” to investigate Continuous Flow Intersections. UDOT has since built many CFIs. With design changes that make operation better suited to Utah locations “they are tremendously efficient,” explains Njord.

The Sam White Bridge replacement was the longest bridge to be moved into place in the Western Hemisphere. UDOT has rolled more new bridges into place than all other states combined.

Bridge moves allow road users to collectively realize savings in the millions of dollars by avoiding construction related delay. Nearly a decade ago, Njord and others from UDOT traveled to Florida to learn about accelerated bridge construction.

Today, UDOT has rolled more new bridges into place than all other states combined, he explains. “The time savings we’ve been able to generate for people who travel on the highways is worth finding new ways to work; we’re on that bleeding edge,” said Njord.

Great expectations

Njord looks forward to seeing new research generate products that will make the transportation system safer and more reliable. SHRP 2, a Transportation Research Board effort, is focusing on developing ways to improve safety at intersections, rehabilitate highways and bridges without disrupting traffic, minimize unpredictable traffic congestion and expand highway capacity while also considering the natural and built environments.

As chair of the USDOT Executive Committee for the Connected Vehicle Program, Njord sees a day when “your children and grand children will be able to purchase a car that will never crash.” Connected vehicle technology will make use of smart roads integrated with other systems to anticipate and eliminate collisions. “That’s pretty awesome, said Njord. “ We don’t see the whole picture today but we will.”

UDOT LEADER OF THE YEAR

Lee Theobald, Business Analyst Supervisor in Systems Planning and Programming is UDOT’s 2011 Leader of the Year.

UDOT Leader of the Year Lee Theobald spoke to employees gathered to honor the nominees. He gave his co-workers all of the credit --"They make me look good," he said.

Eight UDOT leaders and their guests gathered for lunch, great conversation and to be honored for their service by UDOT Director John Njord and UDOT Deputy Director Carlos Braceras. “We do have some very talented people that work here here at the department of transportation — men and women that are leading this organization into new realms,” said Njord.

Kudos to all who were nominated for UDOT Leader of the Year:

Troy Esterholdt – Region One
Lee Nitchman – Region Two
Kurtis Park – Region Three
Ray Bentley – Region Four
Ron Butler – Operations
Stacy Frandsen – Project Development
Tim Rodriguez – Administration / Risk Management
Lee Theobold – Systems Planning and Programming

UDOT Leader of the Year, Lee Theobald: A highly respected leader and mentor, Theobald is famous at UDOT for his expertise, infectious and upbeat personality and his let’s-get-it-done attitude. Theobald’s leadership has helped transform his team into a model of efficiency and accuracy that has earned praise from UDOT leaders, team members and the Federal Highway Administration.

“Over the last thirty three years, Lee as worked his way up through the Planning ranks by being a leader who is dedicated to his work, staff, UDOT and is an inspiration to all those who know him,” according to nominator Stan Burns, UDOT Engineer for Asset Management who nominated Theobald. “Lee knows how to lead, manage and mentor multiple successful teams simultaneously.”

After a recent reorganization, Theobald took on new duties and staff and became responsible for collecting traffic statistics and road data, the Linear Referencing System and the uber important Highways Performance Monitoring System which is tied to more than half of UDOT’s Federal Funding. Theobald faced the challenge by inspiring employees and leading with vision. Within a few months, the disparate groups were transformed into a cohesive, collaborative team.

And, FHWA noticed, according to Burns. “Folks at the federal government said that HPMS report was some of the best they had seen from any state.”

Perhaps the best indicators of Theobald’s leadership ability are the statements made by those he leads. Here are a few statements made team members:

“Lee Theobald is one of those people who make it easy to come to work. Because of his even and pragmatic approach towards the execution of his responsibilities, Lee makes the challenges of work less burdensome, the problems less dramatic, and the successes more rewarding. Lee’s appreciation for his co-workers breeds cooperation, respect, and pride among his teams. Lee is one of those wonderful people that make a difference.” — Toni Butterfield

“Lee has given me the opportunity to use my skills and talent to do the job. He also provides me with plenty of assistance when the need arises. Also he is a very good boss and is there to help you keep focus on the job at hand.” — Doug Malone

“I have worked with Lee for seventeen years now. He is a leader that leads by example. He has always been the easiest going guy. He is always the one to go to for the answer to most questions. He is always willing to help and finds the best way to make the job less stressful. When I need advice he is the one I go to. He is one of those people that everyone has only good things to say about him. Lee will listen to your wants and needs and if he can help or make it happen he usually does. He is a leader that leads by example. Everyone that knows Lee knows that they can trust him and be confident in the answers and advise he gives.” — Pete Bigelow