Category Archives: Preserve Infrastructure


Dedication, cooperation and hard work has earned the crew from UDOT Region Two Maintenance Shed 237  a Quality Award supported by the Western Association of State Highway Officials.

Each spring, Maintenance Station 237 has the job of clearing away snow on the Mirror Lake Highway. Even with the ominous amount of snowfall last season, the efficient crew buckled down and removed the snow quickly.

WASHTO lends support to transportation agencies that have a quality improvement program. Each year, state agencies choose winners according to how those employees support the mission of the agency. UDOT has a committee that judges nominations and selects the team or employees that are most deserving.  UDOT’s program is called Achieving Great Performance. This week and next, blog posts will highlight award winners.

UDOT Region Two winners: Maintenance Station 237

Lonnie Marchant, Region Two Materials Engineer nominated the crew from 237 “because they strive for and achieve high quality work.” Whether it’s partnering with local agencies, keeping roads clear from snow, completing important routine maintenance or participating in construction functions, crew members “quietly go about their work and consistently do a great job,” says Marchant.

Crew members take a personal interest in their work to maintain roads, bridges and drainage systems, and they grade their own performance by “how it will affect their own families and neighbors,” according to Marchant. The crew works with local agencies including the United States Forest Service, Summit County and Kamas City. Because the shed crew really cares about the local area, they work hard to keep strong positive relationships with other agencies and work with them to maintain the highways in the area.

Keeping traffic moving

Located in Kamas, Station 237 is a mountainous region that includes heavily traveled routes that connect to I-80 and provide access to popular recreation areas. Keeping the roads clear during the winter is important to keeping residents connected to I-80 and maintaining the safety and connectivity of local traffic. Even though the area typically receives high snow fall, “there is no doubt that the roadways will be cleared in time for the morning commute and the school buses to get to school,” says Marchant, who also lives in the area.

Each spring, the crew has the job of clearing away snow and opening the Mirror Lake Highway to traffic. Even with the ominous amount of snowfall last season, the efficient crew buckled down and removed the snow quickly.

With last winter’s heavy snowfall, the shed crew and local residents worried that flooding would wash out some roads. To avert problems, the crew installed an additional pipe crossing that helped avoid flooding. Crews also helped with sand bagging and were vigilant at removing debris from drainage systems.

Taking care of what we have

All members of the crew contribute to UDOT’s productivity and efficiency by participating in the Transportation Technician program. Trans-techs are trained to do double duty. Winter tasks, such as snow removal, take half of the year. During construction season, Trans-techs support construction by conducting inspections or taking samples for materials testing. Because of their training and knowledge about the transportation and safety issues specific to their area, crew members have been able to participate in the construction projects and give needed input to mitigate a variety of issues.

All of the equipment used by the shed crew during all seasons is maintained to high standards. Keeping equipment like trucks, plows or snow blowers, in good condition gives taxpayers added value since up-keep prolongs the life of the expensive assets.

Through their diligence, Marchant believes the team members “have definitely had a positive impact on the quality of the end products that are delivered to the public. “I believe this demonstrates that Shed 237 is committed to Achieving Great Performance.”

Congratulations to:

Tyler Page

Shane Bushell

Tim Mitchell

Tom Snyder

Ted McCormick

Earl Walsh


AASHTO’s new President promotes innovation as a way to manage during lean times.

State Departments of Transportation will need to employ the latest technologies, innovation and smart management practices to save resources during lean economic times, according to an AASHTO press release detailing the top 10 transportation topics for 2012. New AASHTO President for 2012, Kirk T. Steudle, P.E. will focus on accelerating the implementation of innovative solutions during his one year term. In a new Presidential Profile video, Steudle discusses both his priorities and the challenges that lie ahead for AASHTO, the industry, and state departments of transportation.


Getting the bond right is critical when it comes to installing a protective bridge deck overlay.

Bridges are important assets to Utah’s transportation system. Prolonging the life of bridges gives taxpayers the best bang for the buck since premature replacement can be expensive and inconvenient for road users.

A strong bond between the overlay and bridge deck helps protect the entire bridge from deterioration.

“Bridge decks are the first line of defense for the whole bridge,” explains engineer Joshua Sletten,  Structures Design Manager at UDOT. Bridges are designed to last for 75 years but the life of the deck is much shorter – about 40 years. Utah’s weather and salt, used in the winter for deicing, tends to cause decks to deteriorate.

When a bridge deck overlay is sealed improperly, water carries salt and impurities from the road where it pools between the overlay and the concrete. The freeze-thaw cycle can crack the concrete, allowing salt water to seep in and corrode the steel reinforcement. “Salt basically speeds up deterioration and corrodes steel at a ratio of about 8 to 1,” meaning that one eight inch of steel will measure one full inch if rusted through, explains Sletten. “Just a little rust will start popping off the concrete.”

UDOT uses a variety of materials to seal and protect concrete bridge decks. Research conducted by University of Utah graduate student Erica Weber, P.E. shows the role of careful application in applying polymer overlay systems to full-depth pre-cast bridge decks.

Weber conducted tests to evaluate bonding strength in a laboratory and on actual bridge decks. In the lab, she used test decks with polymer overlay material, typical of the products UDOT uses, applied according to manufacturer’s directions. Weber simulated traffic by applying static and cyclical deflection to the test decks. To check for salt penetration, test decks were submerged in a chloride bath (chloride is the culprit chemical in salt).

Weber also conducted tests to simulate lifting and placement of precast panels to evaluate how deck overlays perform during Accelerated Bridge Construction methods. ABC methods can include constructing bridges off-site and moving structures into place or using pre-cast components trucked to the site.

ABC Bridges on I-84 served as the subjects of real-world tests. Weber tested the deck overlay for bonding strength by taking samples and pulling off the overlay. Since the tensile strength of the epoxy overlay bond is greater than the tensile strength of concrete, Weber was looking for concrete failure during the pull-off tests; failure in the concrete demonstrates that the epoxy bond is not the weak point, explains Sletten.

Weber found that bond strength of the overlay on the test decks was stronger than the I-84 bridge decks. Her test results show that installers need to strictly follow manufacturer’s guidelines for bridge deck application.

“It’s an ongoing challenge for us to figure out how to protect these decks because decks protect everything else,” says Sletten. He explains that if installers aren’t careful to get the bond right, a bridge deck won’t hold up to traffic and Mother Nature, making the entire bridge vulnerable.


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.


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.


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.”


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.


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.


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.


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


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




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.


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 .