A new AASHTO video released today showcases UDOT”s cutting-edge solutions to deliver a 24-mile, $1.725 billion interstate improvement faster, safer, and cheaper.
A new AASHTO video released today showcases UDOT”s cutting-edge solutions to deliver a 24-mile, $1.725 billion interstate improvement faster, safer, and cheaper.
Smart staffing changes have improved efficiency and provided better customer service at Traffic Operation Center.
The UDOT TOC is the nerve center for managing traffic flow across the state. Operators view real-time traffic cameras and computer models that show traffic movement and how signals operate. When problems arise, operators make quick and important decisions to prevent delay, un-snarl traffic and improve safety.
Making a few smart, customer focused changes in the way the group operates has helped improve efficiency at the TOC and in turn, helped reduce delay and improve safety for the traveling public. For improving the TOC, managers Glenn Blackwelder, Chris Siavrakas, Michael Evans have earned a WASHTO Award.
First, managers decided to staff the control room 24 hours a day, 7 days a week so customers can always reach someone an operator. Managers also defined very precise hand-off procedures to maintain communication and consistency from shift to shift. “By instituting shifts with defined hand-off procedures, we created small, cohesive groups that were selected to work well with each other,” according to Blackwelder.
Managers also increased the number of operators working each shift to three instead of two. With more operators insures that there is always someone to take action – like posting a warning message on the freeway signs – during a crash or other incident that causes delay. One of the three operators is an engineer/operator that helps out with operator tasks as needed but also does engineering work.
“We made the system work better,” says Blackwelder. Making the TOC Control Room work better has helped increase capacity by managing traffic during incidents, and helped improve safety by getting more effective warning messages out to the public more quickly.
Signals that communicate with each other and adapt in real time are improving travel time in Heber City.
Adaptive traffic signals were installed in Heber City, Utah this summer. While most signals are synchronized by time of day with an internal clock and operated through UDOT’s centralized Traffic Operations Center, the new computerized signals adjust automatically to real-time traffic demand. The sophisticated system is providing a corridor with less delay for road users.
Called ACS Lite, traffic signals on the system are optimized automatically as traffic patterns change. Signals at each intersection communicate with each other electronically to provide more green light time or other adjustments as needed. As the system detects more or less traffic, changes are made gradually so road users can benefit from improved travel time in the peak travel direction.
Before installation, traffic on the corridor was over capacity at peak times with waits of 7 to 10 seconds but those wait times have decreased. “It’s almost surprising” to get this degree of improvement in travel time, explains Jamie Mackey, Assistant Signals Engineer for UDOT.
The corridor was working fairly well before the system was installed – signals were adequately spaced and optimized. But data shows that travel time on Main Street (U.S. 40) “has benefited by about 7 percent in every time period” without drastically hurting the cross streets. “A 7 percent gain is pretty impressive,” says Mackey.
The project received funding from FHWA as part of a program to provide systems that improve signal operation and travel time. UDOT is learning from operating the system to gain experience to possibly use ACS Lite for other appropriate locations.
This is a follow-up to a previous post.
The hard working Signals Maintenance Team took on increased responsibilities and has delivered improved safety, efficiency and value to UDOT customers.
WASHTO lends support to transportation agencies that have a quality improvement program. Each year, state agencies choose winners according to how those employees support the mission of the agency. UDOT has a committee that judges nominations and selects the team or employees that are most deserving. UDOT’s program is called Achieving Great Performance. This week and next, blog posts will highlight award winners.
The four-person Signals Maintenance Team from UDOT Region one has responsibility for optimizing and maintaining 325 signals and traffic sensors in the northern part of the state. Keeping signals optimized and operational is demanding and important work. Signals that are not operating correctly can cause delay, inconvenience and sometimes confusion for road users.
Despite the important responsibility to take care of nearly 30 percent of all signals statewide, the Region One Signals Maintenance Team took on the additional responsibility of replacing or updating lighting on all Region One interstates. By performing both areas of responsibility expertly, the Region One Signals Team has earned a Quality Award.
A bright idea
Because of team only consists of four members, a strategic approach was necessary. Team members too stock of the talents and abilities of each group member and executed a divide-and-conquer approach. Two team members took on lighting and two tackled signals. Each service call was handled strategically as well. In order to provide the best use of time per call, team members took care of immediate needs first and then performed additional work if warranted and if time allowed. By taking thoughtful, deliberate approach, team members eliminated a backlog of signal and lighting work.
Darin Fristrup, Region One Traffic Operations Engineer nominated the team. Fristrup points out those team members “spent over 766 hours on the lighting issues, replaced or repaired 256 luminaires and other lighting hardware, and pulled nearly 15,000 feet of copper wire.”
“They did all this while continuing to be on call to repair, replace, or maintain Region One’s 325 traffic signals, and provided numerous hours of assistance to local government agencies in the maintenance of their signals, as needed,” said Fristrup. “There is no group more dedicated to their responsibilities than the Region One Signals Maintenance Team, who is highly deserving of this award.”
Congratulations to team members: Dale Lake, Scott Harris, David Townsend, Jereme Fullmer
This post is based on a press release written Leigh Dethman, I-CORE Public Relations Manager.
UDOT’s I-15 Corridor Expansion Project will be completed in December.
I-15 CORE, the largest highway project in Utah history, has entered the final year of construction and is on schedule for completion.
“We’re delivering a complete reconstruction of the freeway that will meet traffic demand through the year 2030, while at the same time we’re using innovation to minimize delays for the traveling public,” according to Todd Jensen, UDOT I-15 CORE project director. The project adds two additional lanes in each direction from Lehi to Spanish Fork, extends the HOV lane from University Parkway to Spanish Fork, rebuilds or replaces 63 bridges and 10 freeway interchanges and places new 40-year concrete pavement throughout the project.
“Construction crews are out working hard every day in order to wrap this project up in an unprecedented 35 months,” said Todd Jensen, UDOT I-15 CORE project director. “Although the end is in sight, there is still a lot of work left to do and we appreciate everyone’s patience.”
Plenty of work has been done already. As of Nov. 30, I-15 CORE crews had:
Crews will be busy in the coming months. The section of I-15 CORE between Lehi and Lindon is scheduled for completion in early June. Interchanges at 1600 North, 800 North and Center Street in Orem are being reconstructed. A new I-15 overpass at 500 West in Provo is nearing completion. A Continuous Flow Intersection is being constructed at University Parkway and Sandhill Road in Orem and two pedestrian undercrossings are being completed near Utah Valley University.
Drivers can stay informed about I-15 CORE construction activities by signing up for weekly email updates, following the project on facebook.com/i15core and twitter.com/i15core and receiving text updates by texting “i15core” to 53535.
An AASHTO smart-phone app that provides access to real-time traffic conditions and news is now available on Android operating systems.
AASHTO introduced a smart phone app for iPhone in July of 2011. The popular app provides easy access to the daily Transportation Update and weekly AASHTO Journal. Both versions of the app were developed by iENGINEERING of Chantilly Virginia.
Ten stories from 2011:
1. The Sam White Bridge was moved into place using Self Propelled Modular Transporters on March 26. Part of UDOT’s I-15 Corridor Expansion Project, the football field long structure was built on the east of the freeway in a “bridge farm.”
2. UDOT’s biggest ever I-15 CORE project passed the halfway to completion point in September. The project is on schedule to be completed by December of 2012. The corridor expansion adds 2 additional lanes in each direction from Lehi to Spanish Fork, extends the HOV lane from University Parkway to Spanish Fork, rebuilds or replaces 63 bridges and 10 freeway interchanges and places new 40-year concrete pavement throughout the project.
3. Four statements that define UDOT’s responsibilities as custodian of the state transportation system were been re-tooled to meet the current technological, political and economic climate. The goals were introduced by Director John Njord at UDOT’s Annual Conference in November.
Preserve Infrastructure — Our primary goal is to take care of the transportation infrastructure. The most effective way to preserve the transportation system is to maintain a regular schedule of up-keep to prevent deterioration.
Optimize Mobility – UDOT will make improvements that reduce delay on freeways, at intersections and along major corridors and judiciously expand system capacity.
Improve Safety — Safety will always be a core responsibility, and includes improving safety on roads as well as work sites.
Strengthen the Economy — While prosperity is the role of the private sector, “government can however facilitate, enable and in some cases, stimulate and in the case of our business, we can actually strengthen economic prosperity,” said Njord.
4. A major landslide that closed State Route 14 put a massive rebuilding effort in motion at UDOT. A team of UDOT engineers, along with local design and construction experts, is conducting preliminary investigations and use an innovative contracting method to accelerate the removal of the landslide material in a safe manner, re-establish the stream bed and construct a new road. UDOT has selected General Contractor Kiewit from proposals submitted by construction companies to bring private construction expertise to the design table. Their services include determining risks and costs associated with this unique project as well as providing expedited construction solutions to the design team.
5. The Mountain View Corridor project, a freeway, transit and trail system under construction in western Salt Lake County and northern Utah County earned the 2011 Excellence in Utility Relocation and Accommodation Award from FHWA. The construction area includes about 900 separate impacts to existing utility facilities and crosses 13 municipalities, difficult terrain and a 300-foot-wide power and gas corridor.
6. UDOT completed Bangerter Highway 2.0 , an expansive mobility upgrade from the Salt Lake City Airport to 13400 South. The effort has reduced travel delay on Bangerter Highway by incorporating innovative intersections and improved pavement.
7. The Black Ridge to Iron County project improved safety and traffic mobility on I-15 north of Cedar City. An extra lane was added to provide better mobility. Wildlife fencing was installed along both sides of I-15 from the lower part of the Black Ridge to the overpass west of Kanarraville, providing protection for over 12 miles of freeway. “This area has long been plagued with high numbers of collisions between vehicles and deer, particularly during the late fall to early spring period,” according to Randall Taylor, UDOT Resident Engineer.
8. Utah’s first ThrU-Turn Intersection was built at 12300 South and State Street. UDOT has adapted a Michigan U-Turn, commonly built from scratch in the mid-west, in an innovative retrofit improvement to upgrade the safety and function of the busy intersection. The TTI provided significant relief from traffic delay on the first day of operation and well past 20 years, according to UDOT traffic studies. The budget for the project was relatively small at just under $5 million. During the first year of operation, road users will save almost $1 million–a lot of user-cost savings for the money spent.
9. UDOT received a coveted national award for developing a cutting edge Geographic Information System based web application. uPlan, an online map that integrates data from many different sources, was recognized by Esri with a Special Achievement Award for as being in the top tier of web GIS applications in the United States. UDOT was one of only 100 to be recognized from a field of over 100,000 projects. “Getting this award indicates that UDOT is in-step with the world in employing the latest GIS technologies,” said John Thomas, Director of planning at UDOT.
10. Visiweb is a new, easy to use web-based photo log that merges images and data to provide a better view of UDOT’s roads. Visiweb provides high resolution pictures of the road along with data such as IRI, GPS with elevation and cross-slope. The new view of state roads will help UDOT maintenance workers and engineers identify problem spots and plan for future improvements, all from the comfort of an office PC. While it has taken some time to develop, the new tool was worth the wait, says Russ Scovil, UDOT Pavement Condition Engineer. “It enhances what we had before,” says Scovil. The application allows users to configure the operation to meet their needs when it comes to accessing information about the road.
UDOT optimizes mobility by reducing reoccurring traffic delay.
Heavy directional commuter traffic is the primary source of reoccurring delay in Utah’s urban areas. Reoccurring delay can be minimized by strategies that help ease traffic flow. Here are some ways UDOT improves mobility:
Improved signal timing – UDOT Signal Operation Engineers are continually watching traffic and adjusting signals to work more efficiently. Signals are equipped with detectors, computerized timing and variable phases. Modern signals include devices that have the ability to “see” traffic and change when needed. Signals that can change depending on traffic needs are called “actuated signals.”
Sometimes, timing needs to be adjusted to fit current traffic patterns. In urban areas, almost everyone encounters traffic signals on a daily basis. If signals are not operating correctly, it causes delay and frustration, and often minor, inexpensive improvements, such as providing more green light time in the peak travel direction, can reduce delay significantly.
Freeway ramp meters – UDOT uses ramp meters to even out traffic flow on the freeway. Metering works by breaking up bottlenecks, smoothing out surges and diverting some traffic to other ramps or nearby arterials. In other words, it keeps traffic on an even keel.
Managing traffic flow – Traffic Using cameras and weather sensors, operators in the TOC can monitor traffic, detect incidents, and take action to return traffic flow to normal. UDOT’s CommuterLink website is the public face of the system, and road users depend on the website to steer clear of traffic delay by getting up to the minute information about weather, road construction and crashes. UDOT leaders have charged managers at the Traffic Operations Center with creating a world class Advanced Traffic Management System.
Travel Demand Management – UDOT encourages road users to make wise travel choices to avoid delay and reduce demand on busy roadways. Shifting a work schedule to avoid peak travel times, taking public transportation or trip chaining, for example, can make a difference to individuals and if enough people make wise travel choices, travel demand can be reduced.
AASHTO’s new President promotes innovation as a way to manage during lean times.
State Departments of Transportation will need to employ the latest technologies, innovation and smart management practices to save resources during lean economic times, according to an AASHTO press release detailing the top 10 transportation topics for 2012. New AASHTO President for 2012, Kirk T. Steudle, P.E. will focus on accelerating the implementation of innovative solutions during his one year term. In a new Presidential Profile video, Steudle discusses both his priorities and the challenges that lie ahead for AASHTO, the industry, and state departments of transportation.
UDOT’s smart roads “see” traffic.
Fiber optic cable is made up of fine strands of glass bundled together and wrapped with a reflective jacket. Hundreds of miles of fiber optic cable, buried along freeways and major surface streets, sends information to a sophisticated computerized system at the speed of light. The system lets UDOT monitor and manage traffic flow and communicate in real time.
UDOT leaders have charged managers at the Traffic Operations Center with creating a world class Advanced Traffic Management System. Reaching that goal depends on expanding the fiber optic system.
Fiber Optic Network Manager Lynne Yocom is up to the task. She has successfully expanded UDOT’s fiber optic network during 2011 to include the following connections:
Yocom has partnered with local telecommunications companies to expand fiber optic connectivity through trading access to UDOT right of way for use of excess fiber optic cable capacity.
UDOT’s CommuterLink website is the public face of the system, and road users depend on the website to steer clear of traffic delay by getting up to the minute information about weather, road construction and crashes. And, smart phone users can have convenient access to the same information by using UDOT’s new smart phone app, UDOT Traffic.
New fiber optic connections are helping employees in Region Four use work time more efficiently. Region Four serves rural and urban roads in the southern one third of the state and covers more area and has more road miles than the other three regions combined. Building and maintaining those roads takes a lot of travel and time. Video conferencing equipment is helping staff make fewer trips and improve productivity.
“We are extremely progressive with what we are doing compared with other states,” says Yocom. She gives credit to UDOT’s Director John Njord and Deputy Director Carlos Braceras for being very forward thinking when it comes to using available technology. UDOT will continue to press forward to acquire new fiber optic connections to improve ATMS capabilities.