Category Archives: Optimize Mobility

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.”

UDOT’s Incident Management Team participates in Emergency Vehicle Training

Photo of all of the IMT trucks lined upUDOT’s Incident Management Team (IMT) vehicles exist to help motorists when they have car trouble and to support the Utah Highway Patrol (UHP) during any roadway incident. UDOT is focused on quick clearance of traffic incidents to minimize the risk to the first responders and to have travel lanes reopened as soon as possible.

UDOT’s IMT program has 14 trucks operating in all four of UDOT’s regions. The trucks carry a variety of equipment, including jacks, gasoline, air compressors, battery packs, oil dry, first aid kits and various tools for minor roadside repairs. UDOT chose to operate larger vehicles than some other states for the IMT program. The benefits are better visibility to passing motorists and the ability to carry more equipment.

Image of Twitter comment thanking an IMT driver for help chaning a tire.

A thank you received by UDOT Traffic on Twitter

IMT drivers are required to attend several trainings per year including training on hazardous material spills, emergency traffic control, medical and FEMA classes. Recently, the IMT drivers completed their certifications in emergency vehicle operations at the UHP training track near Camp Williams. The drivers learned about proper backing techniques, defensive driving, their vehicle dynamics and proper emergency traffic scene safety.

Image of a tweet sent thanking IMT for they help while stranded on I-80 near the airport.

Thank you recived by UDOT Traffic on Twitter.

The IMT program has helped hundreds of motorists over the last several years. Some people refer to the IMT drivers as “professional good samaritans.” Disabled vehicles on a freeway create a safety hazard, especially when the disabled vehicle is blocking a travel lane. The likelihood of a secondary crash resulting from congestion increases by almost 3% for every minute that the lane is blocked. Approximately 20% of all crashes are called secondary crashes, or a crash that can be traced to an original incident.

This guest post was written by Jeff Reynolds, Roadway Safety Manager.

Highlights from the 2013 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 2013 report:

  • Bicycle Detection and Pavement Markings
  • Flashing Yellow Arrow for Left Turns
  • Reflectorized Yellow Tape on Signal-Head Back Plates
  • Portable Weather Station for Advance Warning of Debris Flows
  • Audio Over IP Highway Advisory Radio in Utah County
  • Commercial Vehicle Bypass (PrePass)
  • Partnered Fiber-Optic Cable Installations
  • Resolving Utility Conflicts through a Preserve and Protect Approach
  • Utah Prairie Dog Programmatic Agreement
  • Performance-Driven Programming
  • Energy-Efficient LED Lighting Upgrades in Department Facilities
  • iMAP GIS Tool
  • Improved Decision Making Using Mobile Data Collection
  • MMQA Data Collection Teams
Photo of a flashing yellow signal

Flashing Yellow Arrow left-turn phasing

One example from the 2013 report is the improved safety at intersections that are changed from Protected/Permissive to Flashing Yellow Arrow left-turn phasing. UDOT and other jurisdictions throughout Utah are among the first in the nation to implement flashing left-turn arrows. Potential annual public cost savings per installation ranges from $17,745 to $2,769,000 from reduced crashes.

Photo of rock and mud covering the highway

Debris flow across S.R. 31 in Huntington Canyon

Another example from 2013 is the use of a portable weather station to provide advance warning of debris flows and flooding at the Seeley burn scar near S.R. 31 in Huntington Canyon. Using the station contributed to over-all safety, minimized equipment losses, reduced response time, and minimized impact to commerce. An estimated $50,000 was saved through reduced risk to field crews, motorists, and equipment.

UDOT Research Division staff coordinate each year with UDOT Senior Leaders and the Communications Office to collect and compile write-ups on the past year’s key efficiency initiatives. This process will start again in August for FY 2014. We look forward to receiving “game changing” efficiency topics from all Regions and Groups that will potentially be included in the annual report.

The 2013 and earlier annual reports are available online at www.udot.utah.gov/go/efficiencies.

This guest post was written by David Stevens, P.E., Research Project Manager, and was originally published in the Research Newsletter.

Region Three Traffic Signal Update nearly Complete

Photo of the State Street and 1320 South intersection in Provo

New signals at Provo State Street and 1320 South.

Existing traffic signals have been updated to newer equipment that includes controllers that send real-time data about the signal operations to the Traffic Operations Center.

With the upgraded controllers, UDOT can troubleshoot issues remotely such as noticing a stuck pedestrian button or verifying signal timing.

Traffic engineers can track data that used to require manual labor such as traffic speeds, traffic volumes and percent arrival on green.

Photo of the inside of a signal cabinet

A signal cabinet at State Street and 1320 South. The cabinet contains a controller that gathers and transmits real-time traffic data for remote analysis and optimization of the system.

Out of 249 signals operated by UDOT in Region Three, 211 have been upgraded to gather this real-time traffic data for analysis and optimization of the system. “Small adjustments can sometimes make a big difference for our traffic operations,” said
Adam Lough, Region Three Engineering Manager.

“The upgraded signal controllers allow us to make these adjustments and monitor how the intersection is operating without being on-site.”

Results of the 2014 Research Workshop (UTRAC)

Photo of session attendees listening to speaker

Traffic Management & Safety breakout session

Projects have been selected for FY15 funding from the 2014 UDOT Research Workshop held on April 30th.

Fifty-nine problem statements were submitted this year for the UDOT Research Workshop. Of these, 16 will be funded as new research projects through the Research Division. Some submitted problem statements will be funded directly by other divisions.

The workshop serves as one step in the research project selection process which involves UDOT, FHWA, universities, and others. UDOT Research Division solicited problem statements for six subject areas: Materials & Pavements, Maintenance, Traffic Management & Safety, Structures & Geotechnical, Preconstruction, and Planning.

At the workshop, transportation professionals met to prioritize problem statements in order to select the ones most suitable to become research projects.

After the workshop, UDOT Research Division staff reviewed prioritization and funding for each recommended problem statement with division and group leaders and presented the list of new projects to the UTRAC Council.

The selected new projects include:

  • Asphalt Mix Fatigue Testing using the Asphalt Mix Performance Tester (CMETG)
  • Developing a Low Shrinkage, High Creep Concrete for Infrastructure Repair (USU)
  • Prevention of Low Temperature Cracking of Pavements (U of U)
  • Review and Specification for Shrinkage Cracks of Bridge Decks (U of U)
  • Incorporating Maintenance Costs and Considerations into Highway Design Decisions (U of U)
  • Unconventional Application of Snow Fence (UDOT)
  • Statistical Analysis and Sampling Standards for MMQA (U of U)
  • National Best Practices in Safety (UDOT)
  • I-15 HOT Lane Study – Phase II (BYU)
  • Characteristics of High Risk Intersections for Pedestrians and Cyclists-Part 3 (Active Planning)
  • Safety Effects of Protected and Protected/Permitted
  • Left-Turn Phases (U of U)
  • Development of a Concrete Bridge Deck Preservation Guide (BYU)
  • TPF-5(272) Evaluation of Lateral Pile Resistance Near MSE Walls at a Dedicated Wall Site (BYU)
  • Active Transportation – Bicycle Corridors vs. Vehicle Lanes (BYU)
  • Investigating the Potential Revenue Impacts from High-Efficiency Vehicles in Utah (UDOT)
  • Developing a Rubric and Best Practices for Conducting Bicycle Counts (Active Planning)

At the April 30th workshop, Dr. Michael Darter of Applied Research Associates gave an inspiring keynote ad-dress on collaboration between state DOTs and academia in developing innovative ideas. Also at the workshop, Barry Sharp, recently retired from UDOT, was presented with the UTRAC Trailblazer Award for his significant contributions towards improving UDOT research processes and the use of innovative products in transportation. Russ Scovil was our workshop coordinator and did a great job.

We appreciate everyone’s participation in the work-shop process. The new research projects can start as early as July 2014 in coordination with UDOT Research staff and champions.

To see details on the new projects and all submitted problem statements, visit the UDOT Research Division website.

This guest post was written David Stevens, P.E., Research Project Manager, and was originally published in the Research Newsletter.

Uinta Rail & Roads Project Underway

Photo of a tanker truck going down the road.

A tanker drives through a pavement project on U.S. 40 in Vernal — one strategy to meet future transportation needs in the Uinta Basin is to define a standard cross section for consistent lane widths and shoulders.

UDOT Region Three has a leadership role in planning for the future transportation needs of the Uinta Basin, including Uintah and Duchesne counties.

With planned growth in the Basin, the Uinta Rail and Roads project was initiated to look at different transportation options to enhance economic development.

Craig Hancock, Region Three Engineering Manager, is leading the roads analysis, which is scheduled to be complete late-summer. The project team has been evaluating data including traffic volumes, crash data and pavement conditions in order to prioritize future projects. The results of the study will be incorporated into UDOT’s Long Range Planning process.

John Thomas, Region Three Engineering Manager, is leading the rail EIS project team, which is preparing to publish a Notice of Intent later this year to formally begin the environmental study.

As a rail project, the study will have a different joint-lead than FHWA and likely follow different guidelines and procedures from typical UDOT environmental studies. A draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is anticipated in 2016.

UDOT Traffic Alerts

Screen shot of the My Alerts webpageThe Utah Department of Transportation Traffic Management Division has enhanced the UDOT Traffic Alerts program. Now, motorists can receive customized email, text or push notifications to help them stay informed regarding lane closures due to construction, crashes and weather.

The new UDOT Traffic Alerts program allows motorists to customize their profile and receive alerts for specific routes and times of day. In addition to lane closure information, a profile can be customized to receive seasonal road closure information, Amber Alert notifications, TravelWise Alerts for major impacts and Emergency Alerts for critical closure information.

To customize your profile and start receiving alerts, visit www.udottraffic.utah.gov and click on the “MY  UDOT Traffic Alerts” tab in the upper right corner. Then, register your device and begin selecting your notifications. If you have questions, please contact askudottraffic@utah.gov.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Why must I register?

  • Registration gives you the ability to fully customize your experience within our website. As a registered user, you may choose the maps you wish to display, along with a host of other options to give you the information you need, right now. Note: both your username and email address must be unique.

How does the system work?

  • Once you have specified your My UDOT Traffic settings, you have the option to view your custom page rather than the default view. Users may change their options at any time.

Will my email address be given to any third parties?

  • No! Your email address is gathered for the sole purpose of uniquely identifying your account, and will not be disseminated to any third parties under any circumstances.

Additional Information:

  • Cell phone numbers and cell phone service providers are needed for sending UDOT Traffic Alert text messages to My UDOT Traffic users. Signing up for UDOT Traffic Alert text messages is optional.
  • UDOT does not provide personal information about our website visitors to any third parties for any purpose.

Optimizing Mobility

As we continually look for ways to improve our processes with the ultimate goal of keeping drivers moving on Utah’s roads, UDOT has deployed a number of technological tools that align with our strategic direction to preserve infrastructure, optimize mobility, reach our goal of zero fatalities, and strengthen the economy. I wanted to particularly emphasize what we are currently doing as a department in regards to our goal of optimizing mobility, which, in our day and age, no longer only applies to people’s ability to keep moving but also to their ability to do things as they are moving (but not driving), via phone apps.

These UDOT phone apps are allowing citizens to perform a variety of tasks, like reporting road conditions directly to operators at the Traffic Operations Center (TOC), or finding out what kind of delays to expect due to construction projects, and receiving severe weather event warnings. In addition to this ever evolving field of mobile technology, we continue to rely on innovative projects based on traffic models and engineering to not only improve mobility, but also safety, which in turn helps us achieve our goal of Zero Fatalities. Last year, Region Two completed several projects that illustrate exactly how we continue to optimize mobility through road and signal technologies.

MOBILE TECHNOLOGY

UDOT Traffic

Screen shot of UDOT Traffic app
UDOT Traffic is the department’s portal for statewide traffic information and can be accessed through the UDOT Traffic website or via mobile application for iOS or Android devices. Citizens can use the site to view real-time traffic conditions, construction and emergency alerts, road weather forecasts, and current lane and ramp closures. New to the UDOT Traffic app is a map layer that displays designated bike routes across the state, and state roads with shoulders wider than four feet. The map also displays routes that are restricted to bicycles such as I-15 in the Salt Lake Valley.

UDOT continually upgrades the UDOT Traffic portal to make it even more useful for drivers and the public. This year, the Lane Closure tool will be used for all projects on interstates as well as major highways including Bangerter Highway, Legacy Parkway, S.R. 201, and U.S. 40.

Future updates will improve integration between construction projects and the Lane Closure tool, and will allow contractors and department employees to make changes to UDOT Traffic information using mobile devices.

Citizen Reporter

Screen shots of the citizen reporting app
UDOT Citizen Reporter is a mobile application that enlists volunteers to report on current weather conditions for specific roads across Utah. This app is designed to provide both TOC operators and travelers with more accurate and timely road, weather and travel impact information and forecasts.

To participate as citizen reporters, members of the public are required to take a short course (either online or in person), complete a quiz, and then submit a sign-up form. Once those steps are completed, the volunteer receives a login and password, and can then download the app and begin submitting reports.

Citizen reporters are able to confirm weather data received through other sources (Road Weather Information Systems, meteorological forecasts, etc.) and can provide data for roadways where RWIS systems or other information sources may not be available.

ROAD & SIGNAL TECHNOLOGY

Variable Speed Limit

Photo of Variable Speed Limit sign with a semi passing by on I-80 in Parley's Canyon

Variable Speed Limit sign on I-80 in Parley’s Canyon

In January 2014, 15 new variable speed limit (VSL) signs were activated along I-80 in Parleys Canyon. The new signs are controlled by the TOC to help maintain consistent traffic flows and assist drivers in adjusting speeds when necessary due to weather conditions.

The TOC monitors speed limits in the canyon. In the event of poor weather or low visibility, a traffic engineer reviews information, such as current road conditions, weather forecasts, snowfall rates, observed speeds, and reports from maintenance personnel. Based on this information, the engineer can make the decision to reduce the speed limit as needed. Speed limits typically range from 35 to 65 miles per hour depending on conditions.

The new VSL signs are the first of their kind in Utah. UDOT is also considering installing variable speed limit signs in other locations around the state, such as Provo Canyon and Sardine Canyon, based on the results of this project.

Bike Detection

Photo of open signal cabinet
Last year, Region Two and the TOC worked together to develop and install reliable bicycle detection at nine signalized intersections in Salt Lake City, along with new pavement markings to show bicyclists where to stop. Often, bicyclists stop at red lights, look to see if they feel it is safe to cross, and then proceed through the intersection without waiting for a green signal; these upgraded intersections help encourage cyclists to obey traffic signals.

Additionally, upgrading bicycle detection systems encourages cycling as a viable means of transportation. This helps improve air quality by reducing automobile emissions, and is an asset for local economic development since many companies have reported that Utah’s alternative transportation options (such as bicycling and mass transit) were a significant factor in their decision to come to the state.

Moving forward, the department is working with the bicycling community to identify additional high-priority intersections where this detection technology can be installed.

HAWK Crossings

Photo of HAWK signal with traffic flowing underneath

HAWK

HAWK (High Intensity Activated CrosswalK) crossings have been installed in a number of locations in Region Two where arterial streets intersect with minor streets. These crossings include pavement markings, signs, and red and yellow lights on an arm over the roadway.

When a pedestrian pushes the button to activate the signal, the lights over the roadway begin flashing yellow, alerting drivers to slow down. A solid red light then activates, along with a “walk” sign for the pedestrian. Once the “walk” phase is complete, the light flashes red, indicating to drivers to treat the intersection as a stop sign – they may proceed if the crosswalk is clear. When the lights are off, drivers are not required to stop at the crosswalk.

These signals are in use at several locations throughout the Region where large numbers of pedestrians cross major roadways. UDOT continues to evaluate other locations for these signals and will install them as needed.

Bangerter Highway & Redwood Road Project Underway

Google map view of the Redwood Road and Bangerter IntersectionAs part of a proactive effort to address the immediate and long-term traffic needs on Bangerter Highway, UDOT is constructing a grade-separated interchange at the Redwood Road intersection from spring 2014 to spring 2015. This project will significantly enhance the public’s overall driving experience at the intersection, allowing for increased mobility, improved safety and a smoother ride. The interchange will be similar to the one constructed in 2012 over 7800 South and Bangerter Highway.

UDOT Region Two completed an environmental study on the intersection last winter in order to determine the best concept to fit the area’s traffic needs. UDOT has also been actively working with Bluffdale and Riverton city leaders, residents, businesses and property owners, to explain the value of the project and prepare the community for the upcoming project. The project is expected to support development and economic growth in the area as one of UDOT’s top goals to strengthen the economy.

UDOT recently selected Wadsworth Brothers Constructors as the contractor on the project. Wadsworth Brothers offers an aggressive construction schedule and places high value on minimizing traffic impacts as much as possible. Whenever we embark on a new project, one of our main priorities is to get in and get out with as little inconvenience to the public as possible. At the same time, we also want to deliver a quality product to the community in order to make it worth their time and effort. I’m confident that Wadsworth Brothers will fulfill both of these goals.

Commuters can expect light construction activity in the spring with the main construction effort building momentum in mid-July. Crews will narrow lanes, implement traffic shifts and build a temporary lane to maintain traffic capacity while construction efforts are underway. Crews will also implement paving operations, utility relocations, and landscape and aesthetic improvements.

During construction, our public involvement team encourages the public to visit the project website for updates and information regarding anticipated impacts. The project has a dedicated website, email and hotline already active for questions, and has been regularly meeting with stakeholders to keep them informed. UDOT and Wadsworth Brothers will also be hosting a “Meet the Contractor” night to give community members an opportunity to learn more about the project and construction schedule.

This is a guest post written by UDOT Region 2 District Engineer Troy Peterson.