Category Archives: Optimize Mobility

Riding along for traffic data

You’ve used the app. You’ve seen the traffic cameras on TV or online, and you might have even seen the Traffic Operations Center in person. But have you ever wondered what exactly goes into getting the information? We’ll take you on a “ride along” and show you how.

Through the technology and data of the Advanced Traffic Management System (ATMS), UDOT can Keep Utah Moving. Recently, a critical part of the system was updated along the I-15 corridor, as newer controllers were installed and programmed. The controllers gather volume and speed data from passing vehicles. Although no identifying information is collected, it does give a wealth of data on the speed of traffic, the density of traffic, weather conditions, etc.

The replacement process starts when the new lane controllers are programmed with the proper software to collect the data. The controllers run on Linux-based command prompts and also use custom software add-ons. The base software is programmed at the UDOT Traffic Operations Center.

Kent (left) and David (right) are in charge of maintaining and upgrading the ATMS systems along the Wasatch Front.

Kent (left) and David (right) are in charge of maintaining and upgrading the ATMS systems along the Wasatch Front.

Once the controllers are programmed, they are ready to be deployed into the field. The first set to be replaced was along southbound I-15 at 3300 South.

Kent and David working in an ATMS cabinet alongside I

Kent and David working in an ATMS cabinet alongside I-15.

The new controllers are wired in and turned on. They also have to be programmed once they are in the cabinet by using data from a controller at a different location. This process requires time, patience and many command prompts.

atms crew 3

The lane controllers are installed as a pair, in case one fails while in the field. One acts as the primary and one as a secondary. They both have ability to function independently, but also as a pair.

Once the new controllers are field-programmed, they are brought online and tested to make sure that they are working properly. Once they are tested and confirmed to be working, the ATMS crew moves on to calibrate and install the next set of lane controllers. The whole process of removing the old boxes and installing and testing the new ones takes just under an hour per cabinet.

An overhead sensor that collects data from Express Lane users.

An overhead sensor that collects data from Express Lane users.

UDOT also uses in-pavement “pucks” that collect traffic data. All of this information is sent to a nearby traffic cabinet and then to the UDOT Traffic Operations Center. The information is used to create the congestion layers on the UDOT Traffic app and website, so travelers can know about delay and congestion information for their trips.

An in-pavement "puck" that collects speed data from passing vehicles.

An in-pavement “puck” that collects speed data from passing vehicles.

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

Local Utah reporter wins top transportation journalist award

TAMPA, Fla. — The American Traffic Safety Services Association has chosen Jed Boal, reporter and anchor for KSL-TV in Salt Lake City, as the winner of the ATSSA National Media Award. This award goes to “A reporter/news organization, blogger or freelancer who has been fair, balanced, and informative in reporting transportation related issues on radio, television, newspaper and the web”.

KSL-TV's Jed Boal (left), and UDOT Public Information Officer John Gleason pose with Boal's plaque.

KSL-TV’s Jed Boal (left), and UDOT Public Information Officer John Gleason pose with Boal’s plaque.

Boal, who has worked for Utah’s NBC station for 16 years, has the tenacity and skepticism that a good reporter needs to “dig deep” and combines that with a skillful blend of transparency, relationship building, and storytelling. He’s always looking at new ways to tell a story and inform the public — whether it’s riding along with an Incident Management Team, purposely depriving himself of sleep to conduct a study for a story, or pulling out rumble strips to help the public see what they do.

“There are very few journalists in the entire country that are more fair, balanced, and informative than Jed Boal of KSL-TV,” UDOT Public Information Officer John Gleason said.  “Jed is the kind of journalist who turns the stereotype of reporter on it’s head, all while making sure he’s still got the public’s right to know in mind.”

ATSSAaward

The ATSSA chose KSL-TV’s Jed Boal as its recipient of its 2014 National Media Award.

We’re grateful to work with professionals like Jed Boal in the Utah media. It’s obvious Boal not only loves being a community watchdog, but also cares just as much about letting the public know what amazing things UDOT is doing for the state. This attitude makes it very easy for UDOT to get the word out to the public, knowing Jed will give UDOT a fair shake regardless of whether the story is a positive one or a negative one for the department.

 

 

A gallery of maps shed light on STIP process

The STIP Workshop Gallery, now available through UPlan, enhances planning, decision-making and transparency.

The projects on the map are showing UDOT’s Statewide Transportation Improvement Program, or STIP, a four-year plan of funded state and local projects for the State of Utah.

The STIP is updated and published annually after a yearlong cycle of events that includes input from other government agencies, fiscal analysis, and public meetings and comments. The STIP serves as UDOT’s official work plan for developing projects from conception, through design, to advertising and construction.

A screen shot of Region One's STIP map gives the public a look the status of projects and how much is being spent.

A screen shot of Region One’s STIP map gives the public a look the status of projects and how much is being spent.

Before UDOT’s GIS team produced maps showing the STIP, the list of projects were published as static hard-copy maps or as a list of projects. The new STIP maps are web-based and dynamic, and change as UDOT makes changes to the program. The data on the maps are obtained from ePM, UDOT’s electric program management system, and are refreshed nightly.

Policy makers, program managers and the public

The maps will be used at the Utah Transportation Commission Workshop in April. “It gives them a view of the planned and recommended projects in the regions they represent,” says William Lawrence, UDOT Director of Program Finance. Lawrence will use the maps to zoom in to see the exact location, scope, planned schedule and budget of each project at the workshop.

The maps help “open a conversation up among groups at UDOT,” says Lawrence. Portfolio and project managers can use the maps to coordinate or combine projects. For example, a bridge program manager and a pavement program manager can coordinate projects to reduce impact to the public.

The maps help UDOT’s goal to be a transparent public agency. “In a nutshell, it basically says here’s the funding we have and here’s where we’ve planned to spend it,” says Lawrence. It lets the public see “exactly what’s coming in their direction.”

To find the maps, start from the UPlan Map Center website, enter STIP in the search field and select “search for apps” in the drop down box.

This post was written by Catherine Higgins of the UDOT Project Development division. It will also appear in the GIS bi-monthly newsletter.

Bridging Borders: UDOT engineer featured in AZDOT video

With hundreds of miles of interstate weaving through Utah, have you ever wondered how UDOT deals with transportation issues where highways and interstates cross state lines? This video, produced by our friends at the Arizona Department of Transportation, shows what happens on a project in the Virgin River Gorge, which Interstate 15 runs through. Our own Dana Meier, a UDOT Program Engineer assigned to Washington County in Southern Utah, is featured in it.

The Gorge is a main thoroughfare for those seeking to get between Salt Lake City and Las Vegas, and is a huge connection point for those moving on to Los Angeles and Phoenix. A shutdown of this 29-mile section of road in Arizona can have wide-reaching effects nationally.

In the video, Region 4’s Meier, a 16-year veteran of the department, explains why interstate collaboration is so important.

“That little stretch of I-15 is a critical link for commerce from the port of Long Beach to the rest of the nation,” Meier said. “Maintaining the continuity and communication is critical for the entire system to function. It doesn’t just affect Utah. It affects Nevada and Arizona. It affects all of us.

At UDOT, collaboration is one of our valued emphasis areas. Teaming with local and interstate partners helps meet local and out-of-town traveler needs by providing a better product, and helps various entities share much-needed knowledge and skill. Collaboration also saves time and taxpayer dollars by avoiding costly arguments, claims and litigation.

 

 

Highlights from the 2014 Annual Efficiencies Report

Efficiencies within UDOT often generate cost savings for the public and the Department through better utilization of resources and innovative technologies. At the end of each year, UDOT prepares an efficiencies report which summarizes key efficiency initiatives from the year. The annual report fulfills a requirement for UDOT to describe the efficiencies and significant accomplishments achieved during the past year to the State Legislature. UDOT Senior Leaders use the report in presentations during legislative committee meetings.

Following are the key efficiency initiatives summarized in the FY 2014 report:

  • SUCCESS Framework Initiative
    • Statewide Access Management Program
    • Preconstruction Project Scoping
    • Ports of Entry Truck Processing
    • Snow and Ice Control
    • Procurement System
    • Heavy Duty Truck Maintenance
  • Report Auto Generator for Roadway “As-Builts”
  • Uinta Basin Rail
  • Outdoor Advertising Control Map
  • Automated Queue Warning Detection System
  • Cement-Treated Asphalt Base
  • Citizen Reporter Program
  • Real-Time Winter Road Weather Index Performance Measurement
  • Variable Speed Limit in Parley’s Canyon
  • Snow Fencing Efficiencies

One example from the 2014 report is the SUCCESS Framework Initiative, a set of management principles from the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget, designed to boost the quality and efficiency of government services, with the goal of improving government operations and services by 25% by the end of 2016. One of the six major systems that UDOT is focusing on for the SUCCESS Framework is the Statewide Access Management Program. With a lot of hard work and collaboration, the Access Management Team reduced the time and labor cost required for processing access permit applications. As a result, the per-permit processing cost was lowered from $1,709 to $1,532 ($177 per permit), providing approximately $42,000 in annual cost savings to UDOT.

Citizen Report ScreenshotAnother example from 2014 is the Citizen Reporter Program, which enlists trained volunteers to report on road weather conditions along specific roadway segments across Utah. This citizen crowd-sourcing contributes to the quantity, quality and timeliness of traveler information, especially in rural areas. As a result, UDOT saves approximately $250,000 annually from the reduced need for road weather instrumentation, and from efficiencies in storm forecasting.

The UDOT Research Division coordinates each year with UDOT Senior Leaders and the Communications Office to collect and compile write-ups on the past year’s key efficiency initiatives. We appreciate all of the UDOT Regions and Groups that submitted FY 2014 efficiencies topics and write-ups on the key items. This process will start again in August for FY 2015.

The 2014 and earlier annual reports are available online at www.udot.utah.gov/go/efficiencies.

This post was originally published in the UDOT Research Newsletter.

New Mobile App: UDOT Click ‘n Fix

Photo of iPhone Click 'n Fix appDid you know that 630 UDOT maintenance employees take care of nearly 6,000 miles of highway around Utah? It’s true, and they do an excellent job of finding and fixing issues before most of us even notice. However, with that many roads, we can help them by keeping an eye out for problems and letting them know about it. To make submitting service requests as easy as possible, we’ve implemented a new iPhone and Android app called UDOT Click ‘n Fix.

UDOT Click ‘n Fix allows anyone to report an issue by dropping a pin on a map at the location of the problem. It also allows others to see everything that has been reported and to add their own comments or follow the issue to receive notifications.

Once the location is selected Click ‘n Fix asks a few follow up questions to help crews understand what needs to be fixed. Submitted issues are sent to UDOT crews and a response is posted as soon as possible.

Keep in mind, UDOT will only be able to help with issues on federal interstates and state highways like Bangerter Highway (S.R. 154) and State Street (U.S. 89). Also, while safety is our top priority, this tool is for non-emergency purposes.

To use UDOT Click ‘n Fix, download the iPhone or Android app or visit the UDOT website and use the embedded widget.

See the desktop tutorial:

See a mobile tutorial at KUTV.com:

Mountain View Corridor Project Update

Photo simulation of the future corridor between 5400 South and 4100 South.

Photo simulation of the future corridor between 5400 South and 4100 South.

Mountain View Corridor (MVC) currently runs 15 miles from 16000 South to 5400 South.

Funding and Schedule – Funding has been allocated to extend MVC from 5400 South to 4100 South. UDOT is using design-build construction for the next phase. A Request for Qualifications (RFQ) will be released in April 2015, followed by a Request for Proposals (RFP) and a contractor selection later in the year. Major construction is anticipated to start in 2016. Future funding is needed to extend MVC from 4100 South to SR-201.

Utility Work – UDOT continues to prepare for the next phase of construction for the Mountain View Corridor. Rocky Mountain Power and Kern River are relocating utility lines from 4700 South to 3500 South in preparation for future phases of MVC construction. Recently Rocky Mountain Power installed a 138 kV line from 5400 South to 4100 South. Crews are currently pouring the foundations for the rebar cage for a 345 kV line between 4100 South to 3500 South in the future MVC construction area.

Photo of rebar base for new powerline

Crews assemble a new power line in the MVC project area.

Water Tank – The MVC project needed to relocate an older, steel water tank near 4300 South. The water tank held 2 million gallons of water that proved to be too small for the growing area. UDOT and Granger-Hunter Improvement District (GHD)
worked together to build a new, 4 million gallon concrete water tank and built it in the neighborhood adjacent to the future MVC roadway.

Instead of disposing of the old water tank material, UDOT and GHD researched ways to re-use it. Cedar City was in need of a new water tank and contacted UDOT. The water tank was dismantled and transported to its new location for reassembly, saving taxpayers approximately $500,000.

Hillside Elementary and Future ROW – As part of the property acquisition process on MVC, the project team worked with Hillside Elementary to rebuild their playground. The newly construction playground is now complete.

UDOT is continuing to acquire properties in the future construction area. If you would like to learn more about the Mountain View Corridor project, visit udot.utah.gov/mountainview.

This guest post was originally published in the Region Two Fall 2014 Newsletter.

Unified Police and Fire Conduct SWAT and Training Exercises at Homes Slated for Demolition

Photo of emergency responders outside abandoned houseOn Tuesday, July 8, 2014, the Unified Police and Fire Departments took advantage of a special offer and did what came naturally: knocked down doors, set off smoke grenades and shattered windows.

UDOT Region Two’s Bangerter & Redwood Road Interchange Improvement Project invited both the Unified Police and Fire Departments to conduct SWAT and rescue response exercises at vacant homes scheduled for demolition. The vacant homes allowed for Unified Police and Fire to create real-life scenarios and practice response methods in the event of an emergency.

More than 60 individuals participated in these training exercises. Decked out in full gear in 90-degree heat, Unified Police engaged in tactical training while Unified Fire simulated rescue efforts for individuals trapped in a home during a fire.

Photo of SWAT outside abandoned home“We recognized an opportunity to partner with Unified Police and Fire in a unique way. They make a great contribution in keeping our communities safe and we were happy to be able to support that,” said Marwan Farah, UDOT Region Two Resident Engineer.

The vacant homes had been acquired by UDOT in order to accommodate road widening for the Bangerter & Redwood Road project. Region Two is constructing a grade-separated single-point urban interchange (SPUI) for the intersection at Bangerter Highway and Redwood Road. Construction will be complete in spring 2015.

This guest post was taken from the Region Two Fall 2014 Newsletter.

Raising Bangerter

Map of the temporary road

Crews have opened a new, temporary road that will move the majority of traffic out of the work zone and away from construction activities.

As part of a proactive effort to address immediate and long-term traffic needs, we are currently constructing improvements at Bangerter Highway and Redwood Road. This $42 million project includes a grade-separated single point urban interchange (SPUI) similar to the interchange of 7800 South and Bangerter Highway.

“We’re excited for the arrival of an interchange in this location,” said UDOT Region Two District Engineer Troy Peterson. “The communities located in the south valley of Salt Lake County continue to grow at an accelerated pace and these improvements are part of a long-range plan to accommodate immediate and future traffic demands. We will also increase mobility and improve safety for those commuting through the area by reducing conflict points.”

Schedule – Since the project received funding in September 2013, we have operated on an accelerated time table. The environmental study was conducted in fall 2013, Wadsworth Brothers Construction was selected as the contractor in April 2014 and construction began shortly after in June. The project will be complete in spring 2015.

The aggressive schedule has become the cornerstone for the project and has fostered an innovative approach. Bangerter Highway and Redwood Road are vital commuter routes and serve a large residential population with an emerging commercial area.

According to Resident Engineer Marwan Farah, “We have many stakeholder groups who will be impacted by construction activities and because of this we placed a high value on building the new freeway-style interchange as efficiently as possible. The project has many challenges to overcome, but we are finding ways to stick to our goals and meet milestones within the allotted timeframe.”

Innovation – In order to complete construction by spring 2015, innovative steps are being implemented. Perhaps the most unique approach is the introduction of a new, temporary road located at 13920 South (also known as Market View Drive) about a half block south of the Bangerter Highway and Redwood Road intersection. 13920 South was an access road to The Bluffs Apartments, which has been expanded to provide a direct east-west connection between Bangerter Highway and Redwood Road. During construction, many of the intersection’s turn movements have been relocated to the new, temporary road and Bangerter Highway’s through traffic has been shifted to the outside lanes. This allows the contractor to build the grade-separated overpass and accompanying tie-ins quicker because the majority of traffic is removed from the work zone.

As part of the new, temporary road, a temporary continuous flow intersection (CFI) has been constructed on Bangerter Highway, which will be in place until project completion. The temporary CFI has a traffic signal and dedicated turn lanes at Bangerter Highway, which provide direct access to the temporary road.

Another innovation that was implemented is the introduction of the Lump Sum Relocation Program, which allowed for residents of properties being purchased for the project to receive relocation monetary benefits in one payment. This program for Right-of-Way relocation was piloted on Bangerter Highway and Redwood Road to determine if it would assist in expediting the project’s relocation needs and overall schedule.

“We have been very happy with the Lump Sum Relocation Program on this project. Overall, it was productive, efficient, lowered costs and saved time,” said Farah.

Public Involvement – Even with innovation like the temporary road, not all impacts can be eliminated through construction. The project team is committed to completing the project with as little inconvenience to the public as possible. We have a robust public involvement approach to connect with drivers and stakeholders impacted by the project. Outreach efforts have included public meetings, mailer and flier distribution, media coverage, city presentations, in-person meetings and a dedicated project website, email and hotline. Our public involvement team has worked closely with the project team and contractor to understand the needs and benefits of the project and how best to communicate them to the public.

Both Bluffdale and Riverton cities have expressed deep appreciation for the planned improvements and the contribution it will make to their communities. They see this as a major step to continued development in the area. According to Riverton City Mayor Bill Applegarth, “This project is a significant improvement that will help increase efficiency and ease of travel for our growing population and people who commute through the southwest valley. UDOT’s preparation and communication regarding this project, as well as many others, has been extremely helpful.”

This guest post was originally published in the Region Two Fall 2014 Newsletter.

I-80 Crash Silver Barrel Awards

Executive Director Carlos Braceras awarded twelve Region Two employees with a Silver Barrel Award for their efforts related to a semi crash on I-80 that closed the road for several hours. Details of their efforts are below and the recipients included:

  • Shane Bushell
  • Rick Debban
  • Nick Jarrett
  • Robert Miles
  • Cody Moore
  • Stuart Ovard
  • Rick Potter
  • Bryant Richins
  • Jason Richins
  • Layne Thornton
  • Dottie Weese
  • Ron Williams

On July 16, 2014, Summit County Dispatch called Bryant Richins the Echo Station Supervisor around 5 a.m. and asked him to respond to a semi crash on I-80 westbound in Echo Canyon.

Due to the severity of this crash and with both semis on fire, I-80 was closed in both directions.

Bryant and his crew provided the traffic control and set up a left lane closure from the Echo Port of entry to the maintenance turnaround at milepost 183. This provided emergency vehicles a way to travel westbound if they needed to get past the crash scene.

I-80 eastbound was opened to one lane of traffic around 8 a.m. The crew was then asked for material to contain the water and hazardous runoff from fighting the fire. Two trucks from the Wanship Station hauled material up and contained the runoff.

The crew then started to assist in the clean up of the crash but the fireman in charge was concerned with the possibility of the loads flaring up. They discussed several possibilities and it was decided the UDOT crew would tip the loads over with their loader so they could get water on it to better extinguish the smoldering fire. This alone was estimated to save a couple of hours in the clean up of the accident.

The UDOT Echo Crew then worked with the tow company and firemen and offered to use their four UDOT ten wheel dump trucks and loader to haul the debris to the landfill. The Summit County Fire Department tried to cut up the burnt semis with their chop saws but it was taking too much time. Bryant offered to have his equipment operator go in with the loader and smash and roll up the debris and then load it in to UDOT’s ten wheelers. This saved an estimated four hours. Bryant then proposed his plan with the UDOT Area Supervisor and called Morgan Asphalt around 9 a.m. to notify them he would need their services in Echo Canyon to rotomill and repave the damaged/burnt asphalt. The crash debris was cleaned up and Morgan Asphalt was able to start rotomilling and paving around 2 p.m. The interstate was repaved and all lanes open to traffic by 5:45 p.m.

This is a great example of successful partnering with Utah Highway Patrol, Summit County Law Enforcement, Summit County Fire Department, Summit County Health Department, Moores Towing, the UDOT Incident Management Team, the UDOT Region Safety Manager, the UDOT Area Supervisor, UDOT Wanship Station 236, and UDOT Echo Station 238! Due to this successful partnering they were able to safely reopen Interstate I-80 and estimated 6 hours early.

This guest post was taken from the Silver Barrel nomination written by Todd Richins, UDOT Region Two East Area Supervisor.