Category Archives: Optimize Mobility

Integrated Transportation Improvements on Redwood Road

UDOT Region 2 will complete five maintenance projects on state Route 68 (Redwood Road) between S.R. 201 and the Davis County line during the 2013-2015 construction seasons. When complete, these projects will integrate different transportation options to create an improved corridor for all road users including motor vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists. A dedicated bike lane will span from S.R. 201 to North Temple and shared shoulders will allow more room for cyclists between North Temple and the Davis County line. The projects all reconstructed pedestrian ramps to meet current standards and radar detection has or will be added at several intersections. These improved project features increase safety, and allow for better traffic flow and access to transit and trails in northern Salt Lake County.

Photo of traffic on Redwood Road with a bike lane

Redwood Road near 500 North

UDOT is partnering with municipalities across the state to improve facilities and make more integrated transportation choices available to the traveling public. UDOT has worked closely with Salt Lake City’s Transportation Division throughout all phases of the S.R. 68 projects to include these improvements. According to Becka Roolf, Salt Lake City’s Bicycle/Pedestrian Coordinator, “having people be able to walk and bike, take public transportation, and/or drive are all part of the transportation choices for a city. UDOT has been a great partner on improving those choices.” UDOT is proud to implement strategies that improve safety and increase mobility to develop a world-class roadway network for all transportation users.

On the S.R. 68; I-80 to California Avenue project, Salt Lake City’s request was received later in the design process, requiring some re-design in order to accomplish the bike lane changes necessary. The team determined that integrated transportation was a high priority for the S.R. 68 corridor and were able to incorporate Salt Lake City design requests and still advertise the project on-time. Two other projects on S.R. 68 between S.R. 201 and California Avenue and between 250 South and 1000 North benefited from this decision and were able to coordinate with the City early to include these added features without any impacts to their design schedules.

During construction, the S.R. 68; I-80 to California Avenue project installed the new radar traffic detection system at the onset of construction so that it could be used to maintain traffic flow on S.R. 68 during construction. It had the added benefit of providing bicycle detection in an area that is heavily used by commuter and recreational cyclists alike. Project Manager Lisa Zundel explains that bike lanes “are a benefit for all road users because they separate slower moving cyclists from the motor vehicle traffic,” improving traffic flow across the facility. “UDOT’s improved radar system can detect bicycles in the roadway or bike lanes and give them the opportunity to have a green light,” she added.

Image showing the radard detection zone for cyclistsUDOT is reaching out to the cycling community to explain how radar detection works and to help cyclists position themselves appropriately in an intersection where radar is present. “In order to be detected by radar, cyclists need to be in a through or left-turn lane, behind the stop bar or near a painted bicycle symbol if one is present,” explained Robert Clayton, Director of the UDOT Traffic Operations Center. This positioning removes potential conflict between cyclists and right-turning vehicles at the intersection and triggers the radar if no motor vehicles are present. This will increase safety for cyclists at intersections and improve traffic flow throughout the system.

This guest post was written by the Redwood Road Project Team.

Nevada I-15 flooding required a multi-state response

A two-mile stretch of I-15 near milepost 91 in Nevada was washed away due to heavy rainfall that started on Monday, September 8th. In an unprecedented storm around 4 inches of rain fell in the space of 2 hours, flooding the road and washing away ground and asphalt leaving the interstate impassable. Record breaking numbers of rainfall were reported along streams in the area.

The Nevada DOT declared a state of emergency on Tuesday, September 9 due to the importance of passenger vehicle and commercial trucking flow on I-15. According to Arizona Department of Transportation, approximately 23,000 vehicles use I-15 each day between St. George, Utah and Las Vegas, Nevada.

Warnings on Utah’s freeway message boards were posted up and down I-15 letting drivers know that the freeway would be closed down and provided details for  alternate routes. These signs went as far east as Nebraska to provide enough time for travelers to change their routes.

Screen shot of tweet that says 'From nevadadot semi restriction lifted (except oversie w/o permit) on NV I-15Information was also available to drivers via the 511 phone line, the Utah Trucking Association, news outlets, Arizona and Nevada DOT’s, the UDOT Traffic website, the UDOT Traffic Twitter account and the UDOT Traffic app. UDOT’s social media channels proved very valuable during this event.

Travelers were directed to take S.R. 56 out of Cedar City to Nevada S.R. 319 and then to the U.S. 93 back to the freeway. UDOT and NDOT worked very hard to provide accurate and timely information to motorists traveling on this alternative.

State DOT’s had to work together. Although the closure was not in Utah UDOT was heavily involved in sending support to the affected areas. Due to increased traffic on S.R. 56 a UDOT Incident Management Team (IMT) was dispatched to assist. The IMT crews directed traffic, filled potholes and moved disabled semis out of traffic.

They also deployed a portable traffic camera trailer to the S.R. 18/S.R. 56 junction to monitor any potential problems and back-ups. UDOT’s Region 4 shared access to this camera with Nevada DOT. Region 4 was also able to respond quickly to a rockslide on the Arizona section of I-15 and sent snow plows to clear rock debris in the Virgin River Gorge area.

Southbound I-15 reopened to traffic on Friday, September 12th to one lane in each direction for passenger vehicles. Northbound lanes reopened on September 18.

Glenn Blackwelder a Traffic Operations Engineer at UDOT said “We could not have done it on our own. It took the communication and resources of the Traffic Operations Center, Region 4 and NDOT working together. We were pleased with how all agencies and divisions were able to work together to get I-15 back open as quickly as possible.”Screen shot of tweet and attached map showing detour route. The tweet reads "Reminder: Nevada I-15 closed due to flooding. So Cal and Vegas detour map:"

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

Bike Advisory Group Formed to Validate Region Three Bike Plan

Photo of bicyclists on Provo Main Street

Cyclists and motorists share Provo Main Street

More than 20 people attended the kick-off meeting for the Region Three Bike Advisory Group, a group of staff who have interest in better understanding the Region Three Bike Plan.

Craig Hancock, Region Three Engineering Manager, is leading the effort to become familiar with the bike plan and identify local government priorities.

“As part of UDOT’s emphasis on integrated transportation, we want to take a close look at the existing plan and validate that our staff and local governments support it,” Craig said. “We will work with local governments and Mountainland Association of Governments (MAG) to gain their buy-in so that together we have a commitment to implement the bike plan.”

Region Three staff expressed interest in the bike plan for a variety of reasons: some are bicyclists who ride for recreation or commuting. Others were interested because the bike plan affects their job and how projects are built. There was also a mix of on-road riders and trail riders. Some key considerations in implementing bicycle improvements that were discussed include:

  • Parking and bike lanes
  • Bicycle signal detection and routing of bicyclists through intersections
  • Pavement type; chip seal surfaces are difficult for bicyclists
  • Sweeping and snow removal or snow storage
  • Rumble strips

A core group from the 20 interested staff will meet monthly to work through the existing bike plan and coordinate with local governments and MAG. The larger group will be assembled for input and feedback at key points during the validation process. “In the end,” Craig said, “the goal is to have a region bike plan that we commit to make happen.”

Getting Active

Photo of people listening to a speaker.

Road Respect Tour representative addresses a crowd in Cedar City. Communities take the lead, with UDOT support, to develop active transportation plans and activities.

A flexible, non-traditional approach to planning provides a learning environment for UDOT and stakeholders and empowers community members to see active transportation opportunities.

Many know about the Road Respect cycling tour – it’s an outreach and education effort, started in 2011, that promotes bicycling and emphasizes safe, respectful cycling and driving. Road Respect has moved beyond annual tours and built on the good will generated by cyclist-ambassadors.

Today, Road Respect Community – an off-shoot of the annual Road Respect Tour – connects UDOT with communities and policy makers to plan and improve active transportation options.

Under the Road Respect Community Program, cities and towns throughout Utah are leveraging and building on what they already have in place to create comprehensive approaches to bicycle planning. The program begins with a forum that examines issues and solutions having to do with local bicycling. The forums bring together representatives from UDOT, local cities and counties, planning and law enforcement agencies, cycling advocates, and community members who have an interest in active transportation.

Photo of groups discussing cycling issues

Road Respect Communities connects UDOT with cyclists and policy makers to plan and improve active transportation options.

The initial forum centers on addressing the concerns of the community. Then community members are invited to take the ideas generated during the forum and work with local government leaders and UDOT to improve area active transportation in an ongoing process. “We have enjoyed a lot of success in our Road Respect Community program,” explains Evelyn Tuddenham, UDOT’s Bike-Pedestrian Coordinator. “The forums have put several communities on the fast-track to improving active transportation options.”

Example: Moab Main Street

An intense business, trucking and travel corridor, Moab Main Street is also a route cyclists use to get to the many trails that let tourists experience the beautiful, matchless red rock landscape. Business owners along the corridor are glad to accommodate the influx of tourists. But the community members, cycling groups and leaders were concerned with how to get cyclists around town and on and off trails safely.

Photo of facilitator hanging papers up with ideas written on them

A forum facilitator posts issues on a display board for all attendees to see.

The issues forum in Moab helped educate the stakeholder groups about available options along the multi-use corridor. “When we left Moab, there was a much better understanding by the locals about the mobility issues UDOT was faced with on a street that needed to accommodate a wide variety of users, from pedestrians and bicycles, to large trucks,” says Tuddenham. Together, the forum attendees came up with ideas for mapping and signs. UDOT is now looking at solutions for pedestrian crossings. These efforts will help improve mobility and safety for cyclists, pedestrians and motorists. Community members will continue to work with UDOT to find additional solutions.

Making connections

“With Road Respect Community forums, we are able to get people together in an informal, nonthreatening settng,” says Tuddenham. Such a setting can foster trust, enhance dialogue among disparate groups. Once citizens are able to voice their concerns and be trained about options, ideas for solutions inevitably follow. Road Respect Community forums have:

  1. Helped community groups, including local cities or county planning or law enforcement agencies, and cycling advocacy groups, understand how UDOT functions.
  2. Connected UDOT with communities to strengthen the relationship between UDOT regional offices and the public.
  3. Empowered communities to take the lead, with UDOT support, to develop active transportation plans and activities.

UDOT U is funding a report about the program so other UDOT programs can use the collaboration and training approach as a model.

Road Respect Community is a grass-roots effort that fosters education and action. The program has moved UDOT forward in the effort to unite with community groups and other government agencies to collaborate and develop active transportation plans across the state.

This guest post was originally published in the UDOT U Summer 2014 newsletter.

Incident Management Team celebrates 20 years of service

If you’ve ever had a flat tire, run out of gas, or driven by a crash on Utah’s roadways, chances are you’ve seen the white Incident Management trucks loaded with orange traffic cones, their electronic signs on the top with vital information. An integral part of how the state deals with time-sapping events on our roadways, UDOT’s Incident Management Team has 15 teams on call statewide for just about anything that can happen.

But it wasn’t always that way: After 20 years, it’s time to celebrate the service of the unsung heroes of the IMT team.

Incident Management Team

IMT members Billy Frashure, Nick Jarrett, Mark Whittaker, Jeff Reynolds and Alan Peterson are some of the professionals keeping Utah drivers safe. Photo by Adan Carrillo

In 1994, UDOT started a courtesy patrol — two trucks assigned to help drivers in the Salt Lake Area. But time and demand have increased the IMT’s role. No longer is the team looked at as a courtesy — but a necessity — in keeping Utah freeways safe and traffic moving from Logan to St. George and everywhere in between.

Consider this: since 2004, the IMT has helped more than 120,000 motorists in the Beehive State. With these professionals specifically trained in clearing crashes off the road quickly and then staying on the scene, emergency personnel and the Highway Patrol can focus on what they do best while knowing IMT is protecting them on the road.

Another important stat: with each minute saved by clearing a crash, five minutes of delays are prevented. Clearing crashes also helps prevent secondary crashes.

“Think of how many drivers have been helped since 1994, how many injuries have been prevented, or lives saved?” said UDOT Executive Director Carlos Braceras during a celebration on Monday. “IMT is a critical piece to help us reach our goal of Zero Fatalities.”

Braceras went on to give all of us safety tips to help IMT and UDOT out with the goal of Zero Fatalities on Utah roads:

  • Don’t stop on the freeway unless it’s an emergency
  • If you ARE involved in an incident, stay in your car with your seat belt on.
  • Slow down and move over to the next lane if you see a vehicle on the side of the road — it’s the law to do so for emergency vehicles.
  • Make sure you have enough fuel to make your trip safely
  • Check your spare tire to see if it’s in working condition
  • Prepare for the worst weather by keeping a blanket, food and water in the car.
  • Leave a lot of distance between you and the car in front of you.
Five Incident Management Team Vehicles offered the media ride-alongs to give them a better idea of what it’s like to be an IMT professional. Photo by Adan Carrillo.

Five Incident Management Team Vehicles offered the media ride-alongs to give them a better idea of what it’s like to be an IMT professional. Photo by Adan Carrillo.

I-15 Payson to Spanish Fork Project Wins Award

Photo of I-15 near Payson

This capacity project added a lane and shoulder in each direction

The I-15 Payson to Spanish Fork project was one of the largest construction projects in Region Three in 2013.

The ambitious $22 million, 6.5 mile design-build project recently received the “2014 Excellence in Concrete Award” in the category of Structures: Public Works for the concrete work on the bridges.

The project was fast-paced, with 7 months to widen 8 structures and extend pavement into the existing median for an extra lane and wider inside shoulder.

In addition to being widened, the existing bridge substructures were repaired to increase service life. The project also included constructing two miles of precast concrete post and panel noise walls on the east side of I-15 through Payson.

The I-15 Payson to Spanish Fork project improved a vital connection between the north and south half of the state for both commuters and the movement of goods and services. The rapid pace of the project and public coordination created little impact or inconvenience to the traveling public.

Grouted Splice Sleeve Connectors for ABC Bridge Joints in High-Seismic Regions

Photos and diagram of different kinds of GSS connectors

Figure 1. Two types of GSS connectors used: (a) FGSS, (b) GGSS, (c) FGSS-1, (d) GGSS-1

In recent years, the Accelerated Bridge Construction (ABC) method has received attention in regions of moderate-to-high seismicity. Prefabrication of bridge structural components is a highly effective method in this process and one of the ABC methods for Prefabricated Bridge Elements and Systems (PBES) advanced by the Federal Highway Administration. Joints between such precast concrete components play an important role in the overall seismic performance of bridges constructed with the ABC method. Research has been carried out at the University of Utah to investigate potential ABC joint details for bridges located in high-seismic regions. A connector type, referred to as a Grouted Splice Sleeve (GSS), is studied for column-to-footing and column-to-cap beam joints. Two GSS connectors commonly used in buildings were utilized in this study, as shown in Fig. 1. The column-to-cap beam joints used a GSS connector where one bar was threaded into one end and the other bar was grouted into the opposite end (denoted as FGSS), as shown in Fig. 1(a) and Fig. 1(c). The column-to-footing joints incorporated another type of GSS where the bars were grouted at both ends (denoted as GGSS), as shown in Fig. 1(b) and Fig. 1(d).

Drawings of the test specimen alternatives

Figure 2. Configuration of test specimen alternatives

Three precast alternatives in addition to one conventional cast-in-place half-scale model were constructed for each category, as shown in Fig. 2; the column-to-cap beam joints were tested upside down. The GSS connectors were placed in the column base (GGSS-1) or column top (FGSS-1) in the first alternative. The location of the GSS connectors changed to the top of the footing (GGSS-2) and bottom of the cap beam (FGSS-2) to study the performance of the joints when the GSS connectors were outside the plastic hinge zone of the column in the second alternative. The dowel bars in the footing and the cap beam were debonded over a length equal to eight times the rebar diameter (8db) for the third alternative in both categories, while the GSS connectors were embedded in the column base (GGSS-3) or column top (FGSS-3). The last specimen type was the cast-in-place joint, in which continuous bars from the footing and cap beam were used to build the columns with-out bar splices (GGSS-CIP and FGSS-CIP).

Photos of the speciment

Figure 3. Specimen GGSS-3 at a drift ration of 7%: (a) overall view; (b) footing dowel at joint interface

Experimental results under cyclic quasi-static loading showed that the performance of all joints was satisfactory in terms of strength and stiffness characteristics. However, the hysteretic performance and displacement ductility capacity of the specimens were distinct. Improved seismic response was observed when the GSS connectors were located inside the footing (GGSS-2) and the cap beam (FGSS-2) rather than the corresponding column end. The debonded rebar zone enhanced the ductility level and the hysteretic performance of the joints. This technique was found to be highly effective for the column-to-footing joint (GGSS-3), as shown in Fig. 3. As expected, the cast-in-place joints performed the best.

Even though AASHTO Specifications currently do not allow the use of connectors in the plastic hinge region, all joints tested in this research demonstrated acceptable ductility for moderate-seismic regions and some joints demonstrated acceptable ductility for high-seismic regions. The GSS connectors studied in this research were promising, especially when considering the time-saving potential of joints constructed using ABC methods; however, the different hysteretic performance and reduced displacement ductility of various alternatives com-pared to the cast-in-place joints must be accounted for in design.

Acknowledgments: This study is described further, including recent reports, on the TPF-5(257) website. The authors acknowledge the financial support of the Utah, New York State and Texas Departments of Transportation, and the Mountain Plains Consortium. The authors also acknowledge the assistance of Joel Parks, Dylan Brown, and Mark Bryant of the University of Utah.

This guest post was written by Chris P. Pantelides, Ph.D., University of Utah, M.J. Ameli, University of Utah, and Jason Richins, S.E., Research Engineering Manager and was originally published in the Research Newsletter

400 South Corridor Assessment

LRT Study

Figure 1. Roadway and LRT Study Network

This study evaluated current and future traffic and transit performance along the light rail transit (LRT) corridors within the University of Utah area, 400 South and Downtown Salt Lake City before and after an introduction of an additional LRT line. The analysis of different scenarios and on different network levels was performed using VISSIM microsimulation coupled with Siemens Next-Phase Software-in-the-Loop traffic controllers. The scenarios were evaluated for three different target years: 2013/2014, 2020 and 2025. Additional scenarios included alternative intersection configuration, with modified left turn operations at intersections of 400 South and Main, 400 South and State, and 400 South and 700 East.

Screenshot of the intersection simulation

Figure 2. Main Street and 400 South Intersection in Simulation

The analysis showed that the additional LRT line did not have significant impacts on traffic and transit operations. The highest impacts were experienced at intersections close to the Downtown area, mainly 400 South and State Street, and 400 South and Main Street, and North Temple and 400 West. The study also recommended potential signal improvements at these locations consisting of re-phasing, re-timing and modifying LRT preemption. The analysis also showed that it might be beneficial removing the shared lane sites at intersections along 400 South, since close to 70% of drivers are using the non-shared left turn lane, resulting in sub-optimal intersection operations.

This study was coordinated between UDOT, Utah Transit Authority, and other agencies.

This guest post was written by Milan Zlatkovic, University of Utah, Ivana Tasic, University of Utah, Marija Ostojic, Florida Atlantic University, and Aleksander Stevanovic, Florida Atlantic University, and was originally published in the Research Newsletter.

UDOT Citizen Reporter Program gathers volunteer data

Citizen Reporting LogoThe UDOT Citizen Reporting Program enlists volunteers to report on current road conditions along specific roadway segments across Utah. Since the program’s launch in November 2013, UDOT has received over 1,800 road condition reports on critical routes throughout the state. The accuracy rate of the reports continues to be very high, with only 0.03% of incoming reports determined to be inaccurate.

The long term goal of adding Citizen Reporters to UDOT’s weather operations road reporting is to supplement current condition reporting on segments where drivers are already traveling. The Citizen Reporter Program provides the traveling public with a conduit to report their observations directly to UDOT, saving time and money. UDOT employees also use the Citizen Reporting app to submit their reports.

Since the UDOT Citizen Reporter Program was launched volunteer reporters have submitted reports on 119 of the 145 road segments, helping to fill in gaps in locations where UDOT does not have traffic cameras or Road Weather Information System (RWIS) units.

Graph showing citizen reports by day. The most were received in Decemenger 2013.The volunteer reports are especially valuable during winter storms when conditions change rapidly. During a large winter storm that occurred in the beginning of December 2013, UDOT Citizen Reporters submitted over 130 reports, helping the traveling public as well as National Weather Service meteorologists and UDOT staff.

How do you become a UDOT Citizen Reporter?

In order to become a UDOT Citizen Reporter, you will need to complete a brief training (either online or in person), take a short quiz and complete a sign-up form. The training takes approximately 10 minutes to complete. Once a volunteer has completed these steps, they will be provided with a login and PIN, and can begin submitting reports. Reports are submitted through the UDOT Citizen Reporting app, downloadable for Android and Apple devices from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

If you would like to become a Citizen Reporter, please follow this link to take the online training: www.udottraffic.utah.gov/training/citizenreporter. For more information or to schedule an in person training, email UDOTCitizenReporter@utah.gov.

State Street Project adds Bike Lanes through Local Government Input

When Region Three began preparations for reconstructing State Street from 1860 North in Orem to 100 East in Pleasant Grove, the focus was on widening to three travel lanes in each direction plus a center turn lane.

The project team prepared plans for new asphalt pavement; traffic signal upgrades; curb, gutter, sidewalk and pedestrian ramp installations and reconstruction of the intersection at State Street and 400 North in Lindon. But what makes this project memorable was the partnership with the cities of Orem, Lindon and Pleasant Grove that brought about the addition of striped bicycle lanes to the project scope.

“We have been working with UDOT Central Planning and Mountainland Association of Governments to identify opportunities for bike improvements,” said Region Three Program Manager Brent Schvaneveldt.

“With UDOT’s emphasis on integrated transportation and these other bicycle connectivity discussions happening, we wanted to take the cities’ request for bike lanes seriously and take a hard look at whether they could be added into the design and construction.”

With the widening, repaving and re-striping already planned for State Street, the opportunity to reallocate space and stripe bike lanes made sense. But it wouldn’t have happened without the buy-in and support from local governments.

“Local government collaboration is key to making our transportation network work for the people who use it. Especially on a roadway like State Street that serves local trips as well as regional travel,” Brent said. “This is a great example of local government input helping us better serve the needs of a variety of roadway users.”