Friday night – before the snow really started to fly – UDOT crews placed beams for the new southbound bridge on I-215 over SR-201. A total of 16 individual beams were placed – each one weighing almost 22 tons, and nearly 115 feet long. UDOT closed the freeway during overnight hours, when fewer cars are on the road, to keep traffic moving and reduce delays for drivers. The freeway closed at 9 p.m. and reopened before 5 a.m. – more than two hours ahead of schedule.
The I-215 bridges over SR-201 are being rebuilt as part of the I-215 west belt reconstruction. The project is moving forward during winter months, with activities such as concrete paving and barrier installation continuing as weather permits. Crews are also working to install sign foundations and traffic management system equipment. Construction on the project is on track for completion this fall.
Utah DOT’s Weather Operations Program Celebrates its 15th Year
The UDOT Weather Operations Program is celebrating its 15th year of managing weather events throughout the state of Utah. Beginning officially with the 2002 Winter Olympics, the Weather Operations program has reached many milestones over the years. Nearly 20 years ago, UDOT’s first contract meteorologist began with forecasts for a small section of the state. Today, UDOT employs a full time UDOT Weather Operations Manager, 8-12 meteorologists and a UDOT weather research analyst.
Figure 1A UDOT RWIS deployment.
So, how has the program grown and changed over time?
UDOT meteorologists handle over 5,000 phone calls in a typical winter season. There is a significant amount of coordination with the National Weather Service and UDOT plow crews. Ahead of any major weather events, including winter storms, wind events and rain/floods, UDOT’s Weather Operations group will host a weather briefing, sharing critical and timely information. UDOT signals, traveler information, operations, Ports of Entry, Utah Highway Patrol, communications and other teams are all participants.
The UDOT Citizen Reporter program smartphone apps for iOS and Google Play were launched in October 2013 to allow motorists to report road and weather conditions to UDOT. The UDOT app was the first of its kind in the country! UDOT has received thousands of reports from citizens since the program launched and reminds all drivers to never use apps while driving.
Figure 2 The UDOT Citizen Reporter app is a free download for iPhone and Droid.
Figure 3 Sign up to be a UDOT Citizen Reporter.
A new feature to the UDOT Traffic app and website is the Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) of all UDOT plows during storms. A citizen can get, at a glance, an understanding of where all UDOT plows are currently working. This enhancement also allows UDOT to better track plow movements for possible equipment and material savings. Overall, this enhancement has been very well received by the public.
Figure 4UDOT plows at work during a winter storm.
UDOT launched a Winter Road Weather Index (WRWI) project a few years ago to monitor snow and ice removal. The next generation of the WRWI is here… in the form of winter weather performance metrics. UDOT’s Snow and Ice performance metrics dashboard has real-time statistics that are utilized by UDOT maintenance crews to determine how effective they were at maintaining good road conditions during a storm. Several metrics go into creating the measure, including the intensity of the storm, length of time the storm is ongoing, resources allocated to the maintenance shed covering the geographic area and field instrumentation on the RWIS units. The resulting information is utilized to measure storm performance, identify best practices and possibly re-allocate resources to better cover areas in need.
Figure 5UDOT’s Snow and Ice Performance Measure uses green, yellow and red data points to assess how maintenance crews responded to the storm.
UDOT is fortunate to have an incredible crew of plow drivers who are very dedicated to their jobs and to Keeping Utah Moving. But there’s always room for improvement and sometimes opportunities for efficiency and resource allocation. In order to track performance and possibilities for improvement, the snow and ice performance metric takes into consideration several baseline data points including snow fall rate, time of day and shed resources.
Figure 6The UDOT Snow and Ice Performance measure graphic is available for each storm, allowing management to view an assessment and determine of additional resources are needed.
The graphic colors represented here show that UDOT’s crews managed the storm well but have some areas for improvement. The green data points show that when all factors are considered, the plow crews are exceeding expectations and are doing a great job keeping up with the storm and keeping the road well maintained. The yellow data points show that crews are performing within current capabilities for equipment and manpower. The red data points are highlighting areas for improvement where crews are not performing up to UDOT’s standards. Because the data comes to UDOT in real-time, a shed foreman has the ability to review the information at the end of the storm, end of the month or end of the season!
Under the red, yellow and green data point graph, the plow icon shows the movement of plows over the course of the storm.
Figure 7The Snow and Ice Performance metric includes details about the storm, including pavement temperature, storm intensity and precipitation type.
The archived snow and ice removal performance metric data includes atmospheric conditions, air temperature, pavement temperature, precipitation type and other meteorological factors that can help to determine the intensity
Figure 8UDOT Traffic camera screenshots are archived with each storm’s metrics to provide a visual description of the storm.
of the storm. UDOT Traffic camera screenshots are also included to give a data user a visual of the road during the storm. All of this information comes together to give shed crews and UDOT leadership an idea of how resources are being utilized and where there are areas for improvement.
UDOT is ready for the winter season and we hope you are, too. Now would be a good time to check the condition of your tires and ensure you have an emergency kit in your trunk. Please remember: always buckle up and never drive distracted. Check the UDOT Traffic app or website before every trip.
The I-15 Technology Corridor: S.R. 92 to Lehi Main Street
As the crossroads of the west, I-15 is essential to keeping Utah’s economy moving. That’s why the Utah Department of Transportation consistently looks for ways to enhance I-15.
In 2012, the I-15 CORE project was completed, and 24 miles of I-15 were widened and reconstructed from Lehi to Spanish Fork. Earlier this week, The Point project was completed, and seven more miles of I-15 were widened and reconstructed, this time from Lehi to Draper. Now, many drivers want to know, “What about Lehi Main to S.R. 92?”
Plans are already in the works to improve this section of I-15. The Utah Transportation Commission has allocated $450 million to reconstruct the freeway in this area, known as the I-15 Technology Corridor. Currently, construction on the project is programmed to begin in 2020. The project will reconstruct and widen the freeway, add two lanes in each direction, and reconstruct the interchanges at S.R. 92 and 2100 North.
In addition, new one-way frontage roads will be built on both sides of the freeway between those two interchanges, and a new bridge will be built to carry Triumph Boulevard/2300 West over I-15. Other improvements included in this project are 13 bridge replacements and new bicycle and pedestrian features.
The five-mile stretch of freeway between S.R. 92 and Lehi Main Street is located near the epicenter for the state’s tech sector growth, and the nearby population has expanded at a similar rate. UDOT has already begun work to prepare for construction to begin within the next few years.
To stay up to date on this project, visit the project website here. You can also download a project fact sheet here, or view a map of the project area here.
The barrels are gone, all lanes are open, and The Point project on I-15 is now officially complete.
This two-year, $215 million project widened I-15 to six lanes in each direction between 12300 South in Draper and S.R. 92 in Lehi, a distance of approximately seven miles. The project also replaced the existing pavement with new 40-year concrete, reconstructed the 14600 South interchange as a single-point urban interchange to improve traffic flow, and installed new traffic management technology such as cameras, ramp meters, electronic message signs, and fiber optics.
This section of I-15 is the principal transportation link between Salt Lake and Utah counties. More than 160,000 cars travel through this area each day, including nearly 37,000 trucks. Maintaining I-15 in top condition, and expanding the freeway to meet Utah’s transportation needs, will help Utah’s economy continue to grow.
“Keeping traffic moving on this critical economic lifeline running through the heart of our state was a huge undertaking, and our crews stepped up to the challenge,” UDOT Project Director Tim Rose said.
With the completion of The Point project, nearly all of I-15 along the Wasatch Front has been reconstructed within the past two decades. One last section – in Lehi, from S.R. 92 to Main Street – remains, and is programmed to begin construction in 2020.
State routes and associated features, like mile markers, structures, and even fiber optic cable, can be represented by geo-located points or lines. The UPlan Map Center provides a way to put data sets on a map, which makes the location of projects and features easy to find. A map can highlight errors and aid quality control. GIS also helps facilitate feedback from decision makers and the public by connecting data owners with data users to.
While putting data on a map sounds simple, “going from a non-visual data environment to a visual one is a complete transformative game-changer,” explains Rod McDaniels, Outdoor Inventory Control (OAC) Manager. For decades, the Department’s Outdoor Advertising Control Program struggled to consistently and quickly identify which routes in the state required billboard control and to pinpoint the exact location of permitted billboards on those routes. Records for the program were kept in individual online or hard copy files which had written descriptions of billboard locations.
UDOT recently combined all route and billboard data into the Outdoor Advertising Control Map. GIS has vastly improved the OAC program’s data quality. “GIS allows users to gain a visual understanding the geographic distribution of permitted billboards in the state. It quickly tells a story that cannot be told through endless spreadsheet rows. It has exponentially improved QC/QA activities, and it has revolutionized service delivery to a broad spectrum of stakeholders.”
A bridge too far
Putting GIS data on a map also highlights location errors. “It’s like shining a light on something that can otherwise get buried,” says Sarah Rigard, UDOT GIS Program Manager. When the UDOT Structures Division data was put on a map, some of the bridges showed up in the wrong location – one was in Nevada. “A slight typo in a lat-long coordinate will cause the point to be in the wrong location.” Checking for errors on a map can be easier and more effective than checking a spread sheet line by line.
The purpose of the annual Utah Transportation Commission Workshop is to develop funding strategies and identify upcoming projects for the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP). UDOT’s GIS team supports the workshop by developing presentation materials such as PDF maps, tables, and storymaps on UPlan. Developing presentations has spurred discussion of what information from the Electronic Program Management (ePM) database is the most useful and helpful to convey, and how that information should be presented to provide a thorough representation of transportation needs.
GIS tools provide another way review data, which improves the quality. As a result, UDOT has better information for making decisions and better tools for presenting information to stakeholders.
Major projects will widen freeways, maintain highways and build new roads to keep Utah moving
Today we announced our Top 10 Projects list for the 2016 construction season. At the top of the list is the $105 million reconstruction of I-215 in western Salt Lake County, which is scheduled to begin in May and to be completed late next year.
More than 150 projects are scheduled this season statewide to improve mobility now and in the future. These construction projects are designed to enhance safety for drivers and pedestrians, improve the flow of traffic and keep Utah’s roads in good condition.
Three projects in this year’s Top 10 are in western Salt Lake County, an area that has seen tremendous population growth. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, three western Salt Lake County cities are among the fastest growing municipalities in the state (South Jordan, West Jordan and Herriman).
The following are UDOT’s Top 10 Projects for 2016:
#1 I-215—300 East to S.R. 201, $105 million(Construction starts May 2016; scheduled completion fall 2017)
UDOT’s top project this season will reconstruct the I-215 west belt with new concrete pavement from S.R. 201 to 4700 South. Crews will repave the westbound lanes with new asphalt from 300 East to Redwood Road. In addition, this project will widen the freeway to add auxiliary lanes from S.R. 201 to 4700 South, and will reconstruct the two bridges over S.R. 201. All four lanes will remain open in the peak travel direction during commute hours, but motorists should plan for delays and consider alternate routes such as Bangerter Highway and I-15.
#2 I-15—The Point Project, $252 million(Construction continues from last season; scheduled completion this fall)
Crews continue widening the freeway and placing new concrete pavement on I-15 from 12300 South to S.R. 92. Major construction this season will happen primarily between 12300 South and Bangerter Highway, with finish work taking place at the southern end of the project area from Bangerter Highway to S.R. 92.
#3 Mountain View Corridor—5400 South to 4100 South, $180 million (Construction started in March; scheduled completion fall 2017)
UDOT is extending Mountain View Corridor farther north to 4100 South. This new construction will include two lanes in each direction, separated by a wide median (similar to the current open segment of Mountain View Corridor).
#4 I-15—Farr West to Brigham City, $52 million (Construction started in March; scheduled completion this fall)
Crews are widening a 13-mile section of I-15 to add a lane in each direction from 2700 North in Farr West to U.S. 91 in Brigham City. Most work is taking place in the freeway median, and traffic delays are expected to be minimal. This widening will improve traffic flow in the area.
#5 Bangerter Highway—600 West Interchange, $48 million(Construction starts this month; scheduled completion spring 2017)
UDOT is constructing a new freeway-style interchange on Bangerter Highway at approximately 600 West. This new interchange will enhance safety and reduce traffic congestion in the area near Bangerter Highway and I-15. UDOT is in the middle of a multi-year process to upgrade Bangerter Highway by replacing many of its existing intersections with interchanges, which will improve traffic flow.
#6 I-15—Hill Field Road Interchange and TTI, $28 million(Construction continues from last year; scheduled completion summer 2016)
UDOT is reconstructing the I-15 interchange at Hill Field Road, converting it to a single-point urban interchange to improve traffic flow and reduce delays in Layton. Last season, UDOT constructed new ThrU Turn Intersections on Hill Field Road on each side of I-15.
#7 I-15—St. George Blvd. to Green Springs Drive, $24 million(Construction starts this summer; scheduled completion late 2016)
Crews are adding two lanes in each direction to I-15 in St. George and building new underpasses to connect Red Cliffs Drive with Red Hills Parkway near Mall Drive. These new lanes will help meet the needs of the growing population in the St. George area, and make it easier for drivers to enter and exit I-15.
#8 I-15—Riverdale to Farr West, $14 million(Construction starts this summer; scheduled completion fall 2017)
UDOT is repaving I-15 in Weber County from the I-84 junction to 2700 North in Farr West. This new pavement will prolong the life of the freeway and provide a smoother ride for drivers.
#9 U.S. 189—Deer Creek Widening, $13 million(Construction starts this month; scheduled completion summer 2016)
Crews are widening a six-mile segment of U.S. 189 near Deer Creek Reservoir to two lanes in each direction, plus a center turn lane. Currently, U.S. 189 consists of one travel lane in each direction in this area. Adding these lanes will reduce congestion and enhance safety, specifically for recreational travelers.
#10 U.S. 6—Repaving near I-70, $6 million(Construction starts this summer; scheduled completion this fall)
UDOT is repaving a 10-mile section of U.S. 6 near the I-70 junction to improve the road condition for drivers and extend the life of the road surface.
Construction schedules are weather-dependent and subject to change. For the latest information on traffic restrictions during construction, visit udottraffic.utah.gov or download the UDOT Traffic app for iPhone or Android. Drivers can also follow UDOT on social media including Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
UDOT’s intelligent design effort includes moving to an all 3D work flow – a revolutionary change in the way state departments of transportation do business.
UDOT is leading the nation in important innovations which will save time, reduce mistakes, and conserve public funding.
3-D models allow every aspect of a road construction project to be viewed from any angle. State DOTs produce 3D design models that are then converted to 2D paper plan-sets to be advertised and delivered to the construction contractor. Plan sets are stacks of paper diagrams that illustrate each aspect of the project, such as pavement layers, drainage structures like pipes and culverts, underground geotechnical features, etc. The plan set production process is 60 to 70 percent of a UDOT designer’s time during pre-construction.
Often, contractors need to re-create a 3D model to build the project. By providing the contractor with a 3D model instead, UDOT will save an estimated 60,000 hours a year, the contractor won’t need to re-create the 3D model, and bid prices will likely be lower.
Other advantages of an all 3D workflow include
A more accurate view of project features
A more efficient use of technology during construction
Better communication between designers and contractors
Greater accuracy estimating quantities of materials for building the roadway
Elimination and mitigation of errors during design and construction
A higher-quality construction product
An image of a 3D road design
Automated Machine Guidance on I-80 shows important benefits
Automated Machine Guidance (AMG) allows contractors to use 3D models to program heavy equipment, like excavators and pavers, to work automatically. Most contractors use AMG.
UDOT recently realized some important benefits by providing the 3D model to the contractor on the I-80 Silver Creek to Wanship paving project. Coring tests after paving showed two deficient pavement cores versus eight deficient cores compared to non-AMG pavement. AMG also resulted in fewer ‘must-grind’ corrections. These advantages add up to longer pavement life.
In 2016, Region Two will advertise the I-215 resurfacing project using the 3D model for information only. Providing this model will save the contractor from having to create a 3D model from scratch, may allow for better bid pricing, provide the construction crews with the ability to check final grade with a GPS unit, and help locate underground utilities.
An AMG concrete paver on the I-80 Silver Creek to Wanship project
Eventually, UDOT would like the contractor to return post-construction 3D ‘as-built’ files which show how the project was ultimately built. With 3D files in hand, UDOT designers will have a much easier task when future work is necessary.
UDOT Region One is using a GIS app to help control an invasive weed that makes Utah wetlands inhospitable to native plants and waterfowl.
When phragmites get a foothold, it crowds out native plants like cattail, bulrush, and saltgrass – native species that provide food sources and cover for birds. Randy Berger, Wetland Manager with Utah Department of Natural Resources doesn’t have a single good thing to say about the weed. Berger manages wetland areas in northern Utah.
Phragmites in Northern Utah. Photo by Lindsey Durtschi
UDOT manages the area beyond the pavement within the right-of-way, which involves regular mowing and getting rid of invasive weeds, including phragmites. UDOT Region One Area Supervisor Kelly Andrew, along with maintenance crews, has been using a GIS app that tracks the location of phragmites. He and Berger have been working together to fight weeds for years.
Andrew needed a way to keep track of the location of big patches of phragmites. Getting rid of the stuff is a three-year endeavor, and locating, spraying and tracking the spread of phragmites is time consuming. The new weed spraying app, in its second year of use, has made UDOT’s weed abatement effort more effective and efficient.
UDOT Region One area supervisor Kelly Andrew
The app was developed by Seth Anderson of AECOM. He modified the ArcGIS collector app to create the easy-to-use tool. The app works on a smartphone or a tablet. Users simply choose the weed on a pick list, add comments, and create a point on an online map.
“The app automatically stores the date and username when the point is created,” says Anderson. “The Collector app allows for collecting and editing points even when the device does not have a data connection, too. He just has to sync the data when he gets back to his office and has Wi-Fi connection.” Andrew introduced the app to Berger, who is now using the app to track phragmites treatment areas.
GIS mapping apps are a simple and effective way to collect and track and store data. Andrew recommends others at UDOT consider using an app. “If you think you have a problem that can be solved with a GIS tool, don’t hesitate to ask.”
The northern Utah project is competing against projects from eight other states to win first place in the competition, which includes a cash prize that will be donated to a deserving charity in Utah.
An aerial shot of the project. White substance is geofoam
“This Top 10 project is one more example of why UDOT has a reputation for being a national leader in quality and innovation,” said UDOT Executive Director Carlos Braceras. “I extend my congratulations to everyone who is associated with the project.”
Braceras suggested that anyone who would like to support the Brigham City project in the competition for best transportation project in the United States can participate in the voting for America’s Transportation Awards. “You can vote as many as 10 times per day per email address,” Braceras said.
A worker helps place geofoam, which helped “float the DDI” on geotechnically difficult terrain
The UDOT project is among 10 finalists in the competition. It is competing against projects from Florida, Kentucky, Indiana, Texas, North Dakota, New Mexico, South Carolina and Montana.
The Brigham City project qualifies in two top categories. One is the National Grand Prize, honoring the nation’s top transportation project as determined by a panel of industry experts and professionals. The other is the People’s Choice Award, which is voted on by the public through online balloting. The winner in each category receives a $10,000 donation to a charity or scholarship fund.
In order to be selected as a Top 10 project, it first had to be selected as a regional winner. The project won in the “Under Budget” category for an innovative design that could have cost as much as $100 million, but through out-of-the-box engineering and sensitivity to geological issues around the area, cost only $14 million.
With more than 20,000 vehicles a day — many of them trucks — originating throughout the region, this old, inefficient interchange was reducing the flow of the economic lifeblood of local communities to a trickle.
The 40-year-old interchange would frequently clog when vehicles at its ramps tried to enter the traffic flow. The predominant west to south-bound traffic on US-91 was so steady during the day that it was nearly hopeless for other movements to occur. This prompted risk-taking by trapped motorists at the ramps, and frequent crashes when they did. Regional special events, like local university football games, would bring traffic to a complete halt.
UDOT traffic planners needed a solution, but the answer was elusive. Soils adjacent to the Great Salt Lake were saturated by surface groundwater, making the interchange increasingly unstable. Engineers wondered how to upgrade it without a massive redesign to accommodate the increasing pounding from trucks. Similar rebuilds had cost upwards of $100 million – prohibitive under state budgets.
The answer: innovate. Engineers used an innovation to solve the water issue — geofoam — which allowed the new interchange to “float” on soggy soils. Another innovation — advanced bridge construction — replaced the interchange’s old bridge over I-15 while adding a completely new span in a little more than 10 months. Finally, the innovative diverging diamond traffic pattern was added to the design to solve the problem of congestion and safety.
The result of all this innovation was an efficient interchange that allows all traffic movements to occur safely and congestion-free, and all for less than $14 million.
The first car goes through the Brigham DDI.
The America’s Transportation Awards competition is co-sponsored by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the American Automobile Association (AAA) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The top two national winners will be announced in September at the AASHTO Annual Meeting in Chicago.
Crews from the Cottonwood Maintenance Shed 2433 and members from the South Valley Maintenance Shed 2427 are being awarded a Silver Barrel for going above and beyond the call of duty to save homes and and roadways after a landslide in Little Cottonwood Canyon in May.
After finding out that an embankment was starting to slide toward homes near Alta, the crew surveyed the problem and came back quickly to address it. Working in driving rain and extreme weather conditions, the crew took three days to remove mud, rock and debris to keep it from sliding into homes and onto the road. The crew also spoke with concerned homeowners and caretakers about what they were doing to save the homes, and helped everyone feel comfortable, even during the trying circumstances.
“[The crew] worked hard in extreme conditions, and they never complained once,” said Jake Brown, the Cottonwood Station supervisor. “They really made it happen with a good attitude even with longer shifts.”
Ultimately, they were able to stabilize the hill and install a barrier so no further damage would occur.
“The crew made a quick response and resolution to a possibly serious situation. UDOT was very approachable and willing to communicate with all parties involved,” said Frank Perkins of Canyon Services, a property management company in Alta. “It’s a real treat to have the open communication with UDOT in dealing with problems in Little Cottonwood Canyon.”
Executive Director Carlos Braceras was present to give the Silver Barrels to crew members.
“These men are the face of UDOT for the public. No one knows what I do, or what your region director does. But they know what you do. And you carry a fine balance between keeping the canyon clean and safe while also maintaining the area’s other major roadways.” Braceras said.
The Silver Barrel Award started in 2012 by then-Executive Director John Njord. It is meant to recognize those who go above and beyond the call of duty to give exemplary service to the citizens and infrastructure of Utah. Much like college football players, who receive stickers to put on their helmets for a job well done on the field, UDOT employees who receive this award get Silver Barrel sticker for their hard hats, a pin, and a certificate.
The members receiving the Silver Barrel award are:
Jake Brown, Cottonwood Station Supervisor
Shawn Wright, Cottonwood Station
Keith Trott, Cottonwood Station
Michael Johnson, Cottonwood Station
Semi Tuiatua, Cottonwood Station
Tyler Connor, Cottonwood Station
Whitikei Lutui, Cottonwood Station
Sean Lewis, Cottonwood Station
Kirby Peacock, South Valley Station
Jared Thomas, South Valley Station
UDOT Executive Director Carlos Braceras and other Region Two leaders with the crews.