Category Archives: Preserve Infrastructure

BEAM ME UP

An innovative beam design promises strength and long service life for bridges.  

A new beam that uses Fiber Reinforced Polymer, a material that is rust resistant and stronger than steel may help bridges last up to 100 years.

Conventional steel-reinforced concrete bridge girders have a useful life of about 75 years, depending on traffic loads and weather. Seemingly impervious to the elements, “concrete itself is a giant sponge,” explains Mike Zicko, an engineer with HCB Company. Water, along with impurities from the roadway or deicing chemicals, is pulled in by the concrete and failure of bridges, whether it’s the deck, girders or other components is caused in most cases “by rusting of whatever metal is in the bridge.”

Rust causes the steel to expand and crack the concrete – protect the steel from moisture and the life of the structure is prolonged.

The second reason for structural failure of bridges is fatigue. “When something goes over a bridge, it takes away some of its life,” says Zicko.  After a lifetime of bending under the weight of traffic, steel can wear out.

A new beam that uses Fiber Reinforced Polymer, a material that Zicko says is “virtually impervious to moisture” and stronger than steel may help bridges last up to 100 years. FRP is seeing increased use in the transportation and other industries partly because it does not rust. UDOT has recently used FRP to reinforce the deck of the Beaver Creek Bridge and FRP bars are being used to extend the life of concrete pavement on I-15.

Called a Hybrid Composite Beam, the design uses an FRP box to protect concrete used in the beam from moisture. What’s inside the box is innovative as well; a concrete arch gives the beam compressive strength.

More than just a covering, the box “provides shear strength and encapsulates the tension and compression elements,” according to the HCB Company website. The arch structure inside the beam is surrounded with low density foam core. A prestressing strand provides additional strength and steel shear connectors provide stiffness. Along with being very strong and durable, the beams are also light and easy to lift and place.

The beam was designed by structural engineer John Hillman, President and CEO of HCB Company. UDOT will use the beam on a bridge near Beaver, Utah. A grant from Highways for Life  will provide funding to use HCBs on the project. HFL encourages state DOTs to use innovation to build a longer lasting transportation system.

ASPHALT TRENDS

A number of trends in the asphalt pavement industry save money and use less energy.

New asphalt pavement in Washington City, Utah. UDOT's contractor used Hot mix asphalt containing recycled asphalt pavement or RAP.

Sometimes people outside of the transportation industry view pavement as a one-time use of resources. However, many of the products used for pavement can be reused or mixed in ways that use less energy. Asphalt and concrete pavement, for example, can be recycled. This article summarizes some ways asphalt pavement can be re-used or mixed using less energy.

RAP

Recycled Asphalt Pavement, old asphalt pavement that has been milled off or otherwise removed from a road or other installation, can be added to new asphalt pavement at a batch plant. In general, state DOTs allow more RAP in base courses than they do in surface courses. For example, the I-15 CORE project uses a multi-layer pavement design. The asphalt portion on the interstate uses thirty percent RAP but the surface streets use a smaller percentage of RAP.

According to Michael Kvatch, Executive Director of the Asphalt Pavement Alliance, tests show that high RAP content pavement on surface streets (10 to 25 percent RAP) can be “just as good, if not better than its virgin counterpart.”

CIR

Cold In-Place Recycling is a way to reuse asphalt on site using a long train of equipment. The process involves removing and pulverizing old asphalt, adding binder, spreading, grading and compacting the asphalt. CIR can be used to rejuvenate an old road or as a base course for new pavement. New aggregate can also be added during the process if needed.

CIR offers the advantage of being about one-third of the cost of new asphalt. CIR is a cold process, so the energy used to heat Hot Mix Asphalt is also saved. There are also many CIR processes and uses, which gives contractors and engineers at UDOT options for bidding and designing good solutions for maintaining roads.

However, regular Hot Mix Asphalt made according to a Superpave process is much stronger than CIR, so for high volume roads or cold climates, CIR may not be appropriate.

HMA is also more predictable than CIR, which is subject to many variables, such as original mix design and aggregate size, explains Kevin Van Frank, UDOT’s Engineer for Asphalt Materials. CIR is subject to many variables, including binder and aggregate type and size. Those variables make the characteristics of the final product a challenge to predict, especially when it comes to curing time. Because of the economic advantage of CIR, UDOT Research is funding testing that will establish standards for CIR.

Maintenance of Traffic is also a problem with CIR since the process requires a long train of machines that can stop traffic. UDOT places a premium on keeping traffic moving during construction, so CIR is not used in high traffic urban areas.

Sometimes people outside of the transportation industry view pavement as a one-time use of resources. However, many of the products used for pavement can be reused or mixed in ways that use less energy. Asphalt and concrete pavement, for example, can be recycled.

WMA

Warm mix asphalt pavement is produced using less energy. Hot Mix Asphalt is heated to 310 to 350 degrees Fahrenheit; the temperature range for WMA is as much as sixty degrees lower. HMA uses heat to decrease the viscosity of the asphalt in order to be able to place and roll the pavement. WMA uses Zeolite, waxes, surfactants or water to compensate for using cooler temperatures during production.

Zeolite is a “mineral sponge,” that transports water into the asphalt binder. Waxes act as thermosets that increase viscosity above the liquid phase. Surfactants can be added to coat the aggregates to make the binder workable at lower temperatures. Water injected during the mixing process causes the asphalt binder to foam so it achieves the viscosity needed to place and compact the material at lower temperatures.

WMA can be placed in the cooler months of spring or fall, which potentially lengthens the construction season. And, cooler asphalt has a milder odor, which can be good for road users and especially for workers.

BRIDGE SMARTS

An ABC approach helped UDOT keep traffic moving during construction of the Telegraph Street Bridge.


Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

The monolithic poured bridge was still in good shape for a more than 70 year old structure. But the roadway on either side was wider, witch made the bridge a traffic choke-point. Building a twin bridge to add additional capacity would have been expensive – both to build and maintain through the life of the new bridge.

“Bridges are more expensive to maintain than roadway,” says Joshua Sletten, UDOT Structures Design Engineer. Per foot maintenance costs of roadway maintenance are a fraction of the costs of maintaining a bridge – especially a long structure like the old bridge. Hydrological studies showed that a smaller structure would also be adequate to accommodate a stream under the bridge. A UDOT in-house design called for a new smaller structure to be built under the bridge deck.

The new bridge, a giant arched culvert, was built using pre-formed concrete components that were assembled on site as traffic was maintained on the old bridge. After construction, fill was placed over the new structure and the road was realigned over the top. Crews then demolished the old bridge, and the built a new wider road with two lanes in each direction and a center median.

Covering the new structure also adds a maintenance advantage; the fill provides a protective buffer between traffic and the structure.

For more, read an earlier post about how UDOT partnered with stakeholders during construction.

WE CAN WORK IT OUT

Partnering between UDOT and contractors is essential when it comes to finding solutions and providing the public with a good quality transportation product.

Complex road construction projects that occur on heavily traveled routes, especially those near business districts, are often subject to construction delay due to utility conflicts or unexpected but necessary changes in plans. UDOT works hand in hand with contractors to resolve construction issues so the project objectives can be met, stakeholders can be kept informed and the public can enjoy and improved transportation system as soon as possible.

The Monticello Main Street Project reconstructed a three mile section of US-191 and US-491 through the business district of Monticello, Utah.

A UDOT Region Four project in Monticello provides a great road map of how to partner for solutions. The Monticello Main Street Project reconstructed a three mile section of US-191 and US-491 through the business district of Monticello, Utah. The project scope included pulverizing or excavating the old pavement; compacting and grading the road base, and installing asphalt and concrete pavements; removing and replacing three miles of storm drain; installing a highway lighting system; relocating high voltage overhead power and upgrading traffic and pedestrian signals.

“On large partnered projects like this one, the issues that arise can start out small and quickly become worse if not addressed early,” says Jim Chandler, UDOT Region Four Resident Engineer for the project.  Project team members used a variety of communication and coordination strategies, common to all UDOT projects, to maintain the project scope, budget and schedule. For their efforts, project team members from UDOT and Granite Construction recently received an award for “Best Large Partnered Project” from the Utah Associated General Contractors.

Weekly team meetings – Regular meetings held at the contractor’s construction trailer allowed workers to update the rest of the team on construction processes. Participants included UDOT employees, contractor employees, sub contractors and third party stakeholders from the City of Monticello and utility companies.

Participants shared resolutions, safety concerns, and described upcoming construction impacts to the general public. The contractor reviewed all questions and concerns that were received from the general public – including road users and businesses along the corridor.

Team building – All project teams engage in formal and-or informal team building exercises. Formal team building exercises use a facilitator to forge relationships among team members and regular confidential, partnering surveys that rate communication and cooperation. Partnering surveys, with an average survey score of 19.28 out of 20, showed that the Monticello project team members valued each others’ contribution to the team.

While the project team didn’t employ formal team building, the informal team building efforts created a sense of unity and purpose among project workers.   Informal team building effort included close, purposeful collaboration among the project team members. Team members even socialized after hours.

Weekly email updates – The contractor the project sent weekly email updates to team members and area businesses to provide ongoing progress reports and to describe upcoming construction processes.

Be it resolved

Construction issues were resolved through a coordinated team effort. For example, the project team struggled with soft sub-grade and unknown, unmarked and abandoned drainage features. Old features, such as culverts and hydrants needed to be moved to make way for new drainage features. The aggressive schedule left little time for problem resolution. But, cooperation among team members prevented massive schedule delay as road features were encountered, excavated and moved. The project closed without any outstanding issues left to resolve.

Effective partnering also resulted in one half million dollars of savings. The project called for emulsion-stabilized full-depth reclamation. The contractor suggested switching to cement stabilized FDR as a value engineering change to save money without slowing down the project.

Congratulations to:

UDOT Project Manager Rustin Anderson

UDOT Resident Engineer Jim Chandler

The Moab Construction Office in conjunction with the Transportation Technicians from Moab, Monticello, Blanding and Bluff

Granite Project Manager Stephen Cordts

REBUILDING SR-14

A major landslide that closed State Route 14 put a massive rebuilding effort in motion at UDOT.

An aerial photo shows the magnitude of the slide area. Rebuilding the road will involve moving and compacting material to reestablish the road grade.

The substantial area of the slide, huge house-sized boulders and the geology of the area will present challenges to the contractor that will be chosen to rebuild the road. A team of UDOT engineers, along with local design and construction experts, will conduct preliminary investigations and use an innovative contracting method to accelerate the removal of the landslide material in a safe manner, re-establish the stream bed and construct a new road.

David Fadling, UDOT engineer and Lead Geologist, is working with a team of investigators to install monitoring equipment and take samples of the slide material for testing. “Our main concern is stability,” says Fadling. “If the slide is still moving, we would like to know the depth of the sliding.” Inclinometer casing will be installed to monitor lateral movement in the ground. Piezometers will be installed to help locate the depth of ground water in the area.

Fadling’s team will also investigate on site materials in order to to define material properties and to identify the sliding surface. “We suspect shale is the culprit weak layer on which sliding initiated and groundwater is almost surely a contributing factor.”  Shale is a sedimentary rock with fine clay particles.  The type of material and groundwater will be taken into account as engineers plan how to clear the landslide and build the new road.

Moving earth

It is likely the material will be moved from the top of the slide and used to buttress the recovered road grade.

Building the road will involve moving and compacting material to reestablish the road grade. Fadling anticipates that some of the large boulders may have to be blasted and moved with large bulldozers and some will be pushed or rolled down the hill.  “The contractor will likely use gravity as much as possible to assist in moving large blocks of rock,” he says.

It is likely the material will be moved from the top of the slide and used to buttress the recovered road grade. Material used as sub grade for the road will need to be thoroughly compacted to guard against settlement.

Innovative contracting

UDOT’s uses a variety of contracting methods that factor in user costs, encourage innovation and speed, and seek a balance point for everyone, including the contractor and the general public. UDOT will use a Construction Manager General Contractor method for the SR-14 project.

The CMGC contracting process forges a partnership during the design phase among UDOT, the designer working for UDOT, and a competitively selected construction contractor. By using CMGC, UDOT will minimize risk to the contractor, develop a project schedule, identify potential innovations, and determine cost.

After the design phase, the CMGC process allows UDOT  to give the construction contractor involved during design the first opportunity to price the work. An independent cost estimator, along with UDOT’s Engineers Estimate, will be used to evaluate the contractor’s pricing making sure UDOT obtains a fair price.

Alternate routes

UDOT maintenance crews are aware of the importance of SR-14 to road users who access cabins and recreation areas. “Meanwhile, maintenance crews are gearing up to take on Mother Nature on S.R. 143,” states a recent Region Four newsletter article. ” The goal is to keep alternative access to the mountain available with the exception of extreme weather events. ” UDOT will coordinate with the National Park Service and National Forest Service.  Seasonal closures occur on both SR-14 and 148. Consult UDOT’s CommuterLink Website for up-to-date information about seasonal closures.


Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

For more:

  • Here is a Link to the UDOT Region Four Newsletter with a more detailed article.
  • See a video on KSL.com.

 

 

COLORADO RIVER BRIDGE

A UDOT bridge project has been nominated for an Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement Award.

Building the US-191 bridges over the Colorado River: balanced cantilever construction, used for the first time in Utah, made a smaller footprint in the environmentally sensitive area.

The OCEAA honors projects that integrate successfully into the local environment, use innovative design and engineering methods, and contribute to stakeholder quality of life. UDOT’s US-191 Bridge over the Colorado River in Moab, Utah is a good example of how the transportation elements of the OCEAA can be made manifest on a sensitive environmental landscape.

Balanced cantilever construction, used for the first time in Utah, made a smaller footprint in the environmentally sensitive area. The arch design and facing materials echo the surrounding red rock landscape. A pedestrian bridge east of the bridge was improved to provide better mobility for walkers and cyclists.

The award winner will be announced March 22 during ASCE’s annual Outstanding Projects and Leaders Awards Gala in Washington.

The project team:

For more about this bridge, read a past blog post with a video that explains the balanced cantilever construction method.

NEW FINAL FOUR

Four statements that underscore UDOT’s responsibility as custodian of the state transportation system have been re-tooled to meet the changing technological, political and economic climate.

UDOT Director John Njord

The “Final Four,” statements that sum up UDOT’s core responsibilities, have been learned and recited by UDOT employees for nearly a decade. Now the components of the old statements have been shifted, and a new goal has been added, to give an updated emphasis to what it means to improve the transportation system.

UDOT Director John Njord introduced the new goals at the Annual Conference this week.

Times change, and backed by advice given by former Governor Mike Leavitt, UDOT Director John Njord has opted to “lead change and prosper.”

“When I consider where we are as a department, I believe we are leading change and for the most part, we are prospering.”

Njord listed the new goals:

  1. Preserve Infrastructure — Our primary goal is to take care of the transportation infrastructure. The most effective way to preserve the transportation system is to maintain a regular schedule of up-keep to prevent deterioration.
  2. Optimize Mobility — The former goals, Increasing Capacity and Make the System Work will be combined into a new goal, Optimize Mobility, which will incorporate making improvements that reduce delay on freeways, at intersections and along major corridors and judiciously expanding system capacity.
  3. Improve Safety — Safety will always be a core responsibility of UDOT. That work includes improving safety on roads as well as work sites.
  4. Strengthen the Economy — “The work we do is fundamental to a strong economy,” said Njord. While prosperity is the role of the private sector,  “government can however facilitate, enable and in some cases, stimulate and in the case of our business, we can actually strengthen economic prosperity.”

UDOT Director John Njord outlined new strategic goals at the UDOT Conference.

Keeping a proper focus

Njord pointed out that while the economic path ahead is uncertain, one certainty does exist for all who work for a better system. “Let’s not focus on those things we cannot control but, rather focus first on the things completely within our control and work our way out from there,” said Njord.

“Let’s make sure that at the end of our work, communities in which we perform can honestly say they would have us back to do it again.”

Njord said UDOT and valued partners in the local transportation industry have proven to be the “gold standard” in work accomplished during the past year. “I have great confidence in your abilities to tackle whatever comes next.”

Read the full text of Njord’s speech here: Njord address at 2011 UDOT Conference .

SNOW SCHOOL

Men and women who work to keep state roads clear of snow and ice during winter months meet to yearly to share ideas and hear about new technologies.

Ralph Hilsman, Jeff Walker, Lloyd Muhlestein and Travis Jeppsen work at Station 1423. “They care,” says Muhlestein about Snow School presenters. He appreciates the chance to learn from other employees and also share what he has learned during his extensive 23 years of experience at UDOT.

UDOT Central Maintenance conducts yearly training meetings for snow removal crews. While some informally call it “Snow School,” the meeting is an information exchange rather than just instruction from the top down.

Equipment Safety Training Manager and former “shed guy” Curtis Sanchez coordinates the one-day training in all UDOT regions. About 700 employees attend to get reminders, updates and new information about winter operations.

UDOT crews need to be proficient at using weather information and a variety of snow removal equipment and road anti-icing agents specific to a location within Utah. When a new winter operations approach is added to the mix, the weather team and Central Maintenance counts on getting good feedback from the crews who use the new approach on the snow removal front lines.

The day-long event is “shop to shop communications,” says Maintenance Supervisor Lloyd Muhlestein. “It’s all about equipment, the weather and what worked last year.”

Talking weather

“We’re here to support you,” says UDOT Weather Information Systems Manager Leigh Sturges, who works with a team of seven meteorologists on duty 24-7 to gather, report and forecast weather conditions. UDOT uses the Road Weather Information System to collect weather data on state roads, air temperature, road temperature, solar radiation and humidity. Some RWIS stations detect anti-icing agents on the road and some have remote controlled cameras to view the surrounding areas.

Sturges uses regular email updates and the RWIS website to monitor conditions and the progression of storms. If a conditions change unexpectedly, supervisors get a phone call from a meteorologist – even if conditions change late at night or early in the morning.

The weather team is working on expanding and improving weather gathering equipment, and works directly with maintenance station personnel to identify places for new or mobile RWIS stations or other devices that detect road conditions.

Equipment

UDOT has over 500 trucks that are used to plow roads during winter. Trucks are expected to have a useful life of least 14 years. UDOT Central Maintenance puts a lot of emphasis on taking care of equipment.

New tankers mix water and salt into a slurry that's less likely to bounce or blow off of the road.

New tow plows and “first responder” tanks have been added to UDOT’s snow arsenal. Tow plows attach to the side of a truckand double the road area that can be plowed. The tanks combine salt and water before depositing the slurry-like mix on the road in front of a storm. Wetting the salt is a much more effective approach for keeping roads clear since dry salt can bounce or blow off the road.

This year, the Provo Canyon crew will use a triple blade plow equipped with an ice breaker, a squeegee and a standard blade. Each blade can be adjusted independently from the truck cab, and the blades can be used alone or in any combination. Along with new anti-icing agents, crews in Provo Canyon should be able to improve snow removal operations where some areas “never see the sun in winter,” says Sanchez.

Keeping it real

Sanchez and staff from UDOT Central Maintenance keep the topics current and relevant in order to provide the most help and support possible to UDOT road maintenance crews.

“They care,” says Muhlestein about Snow School presenters. “There are a lot of things we forget about during the summer.” He appreciates the chance to learn from other employees and also share what he has learned during his extensive 23 years of experience at UDOT.

 

UDOT CONFERENCE

People who work for and with UDOT will enjoy the variety of topics offered at an annual conference.


Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

Once a year, UDOT sponsors a three-day conference with general and breakout sessions and a display area filled with vendors. The UDOT conference is information rich and a great chance to network with people who design, build and take care of Utah’s transportation infrastructure.

Every year, the conference offers new information to keep people up to speed on current issues, studies and events. Here are four examples:

UDOT Research Poster Session

For the first time, UDOT research will host a poster session that focuses on individual research projects on. The session will give attendees a chance to talk with university professors and students about present transportation challenges and solutions in an informal setting.

Ride Aware Tour Review

A team of elite cyclists traveled through Utah last summer to raise awareness about how motorists and cyclists need to share the road. Cyclists also attended community events along the tour route. The effort prompted a lot of great media coverage. UDOT and the Department of Public Safety, Highway Safety Office co-sponsored the tour. The communication effort for the tour focused on traditional and social media to get the word out about safe driving and cycling.

UDOT Standard Drawings

Presenters will show an overview of major changes to the standard drawings that have been approved for new 2012 Standard Drawing Book.

Reducing Wildlife Vehicle Collisions

Reducing wildlife-vehicle collisions improves safety for people and animals. Researcher Patricia Cramer has worked with UDOT and the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and will have information about evolving solutions to reduce wildlife collisions in Utah and in the nation.

SOLAR SHIFT

A Shift to Solar Powered Supplies and Greener Road Construction

Guest Post: Provided by Andrew Johnson, former employee of the UDOT Traffic Operation Center. (Images and information provided by Trans-Supply).

Environmental and economic sustainability is an issue that will continue to come up as new roads are constructed and repaired.

Solar powered equipment is becomming more common

Road construction is no small endeavor, and a new two-lane asphalt road with an aggregate base can require around 25,000 tons of crushed stone and costing millions of dollars per mile. It isn’t cheap, and it’s not easy, but even some simple changes can make a big difference.

Some of the recent “green” alternatives, from hot in-place recycling and adding old rubber tires as road filler to making the switch to solar powered barricade lights, are changing the way we look at road construction and maintenance. Some things, like switching out the lights, may seem like a small change, but there is a real opportunity there to save money and improve productivity.

Brandon Anderson, the owner of Trans-Supply.com, recently mentioned this increased interest in solar powered supplies and the trend away from battery-powered caution lights. “I have noticed a change in sales from battery powered barricade lights to their solar powered counterparts,” he said. “I believe this is due to solar technology becoming more affordable and making it a viable, economic alternative to traditional battery models. The sales for our barricade lights are almost exclusively solar, and that’s a win-win situation because it’s both cheaper and more environmentally friendly.”

Simply Solar

Solar-powered LED caution and barricade lights are becoming more common in road construction areas because they can – very reliably – draw attention in low visibility areas and warn drivers of dangerous conditions or obstructions without incurring the same costs. LED lights are durable, can last years longer than traditional lighting, and offer better distinction at long distances. They require less power to illuminate, reduce the costs of continually replacing batteries, have no filament that can burn out, and provide superior visibility even in poor conditions.

These solar devices are created by first determining how much energy the device will need to achieve autonomy (i.e. how much energy it will need to store to run without the aid of the sun), and then make sure it has a large enough battery to hold the necessary charge. Most regular batteries will need to be replaced once every three months (give or take). These batteries, on the other hand, require little to no maintenance and can power the efficient LED lights for years.

Solar powered road lights have been around for some time, and the same technology is being implemented more and more on everything from street signs and traffic lights to barricades and road studs. A good arsenal of traffic control devices will be an extremely effective tool that will increase safety and allow for better work production.

When lights rely on solar power instead of a tradition battery any barricades which have sat in storage for weeks, or even months, can be put into immediate use without having to check each device to make sure the battery hasn’t fully discharged. The same applies to renting these barricades or signs to others. It won’t matter how much they are or aren’t used, they can simply be moved to their new location where they will continue to provide reliable service.

In the past, the costs around solar technology have, unfortunately been economically prohibitive, but those costs are being driven down every day by new manufacturing techniques and other developments with the technology. It may seem like a small thing to switch from battery powered lights to solar powered, but even the little things will quickly add up when it comes to saving money and improving efficiency. And when road construction is already such a large and expensive endeavor, it’s important to take advantage of every opportunity.

Reuse and Recycle

NAPA (National Asphalt Payment Association) estimates that 18 billion tons of asphalt is already in place. The good news is that, with all new technology we have for recycling and repaving on location, we already have a great resource for our future roads. By reusing what we already have, there is a great opportunity to save money while building quality roads.

Asphalt is America’s most recycled product. More than 100 million tons of asphalt pavements are reclaimed every year, and the vast majority of it (more than 95%) is recycled or reused. By combining the reclaimed asphalt with materials from other industries – like used tires or roofing shingles – the entire road can be resurfaced without the same costs and effort behind using virgin materials.

The question of economic and environmental sustainability won’t just go away. If we overuse our resources, there will come a time when we will not be able to maintain our current levels of construction. At the same time, if we cannot sustain an economically viable business model, we will end up with the same results. These new green alternatives have become extremely effective, reliable, and efficient, and with careful management, we can maintain quality roads and minimize the impact on the environment.

Sources:

http://www.geology.enr.state.nc.us/NAE%20aggregates%20Internet%20NRC%20with%20USGS%20sheet/Aggregate%20overview%20new.htm

http://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/tires/RAC/

http://www.hotmix.org/images/stories/sustainability_report_2009.pdf