Category Archives: Preserve Infrastructure

Bridging Borders: UDOT engineer featured in AZDOT video

With hundreds of miles of interstate weaving through Utah, have you ever wondered how UDOT deals with transportation issues where highways and interstates cross state lines? This video, produced by our friends at the Arizona Department of Transportation, shows what happens on a project in the Virgin River Gorge, which Interstate 15 runs through. Our own Dana Meier, a UDOT Program Engineer assigned to Washington County in Southern Utah, is featured in it.

The Gorge is a main thoroughfare for those seeking to get between Salt Lake City and Las Vegas, and is a huge connection point for those moving on to Los Angeles and Phoenix. A shutdown of this 29-mile section of road in Arizona can have wide-reaching effects nationally.

In the video, Region 4’s Meier, a 16-year veteran of the department, explains why interstate collaboration is so important.

“That little stretch of I-15 is a critical link for commerce from the port of Long Beach to the rest of the nation,” Meier said. “Maintaining the continuity and communication is critical for the entire system to function. It doesn’t just affect Utah. It affects Nevada and Arizona. It affects all of us.

At UDOT, collaboration is one of our valued emphasis areas. Teaming with local and interstate partners helps meet local and out-of-town traveler needs by providing a better product, and helps various entities share much-needed knowledge and skill. Collaboration also saves time and taxpayer dollars by avoiding costly arguments, claims and litigation.

 

 

Vertical Earthquake Drains for Soil Liquefaction Mitigation

Photo of a verticle earthquake drain

Vertical earthquake drains developed by Nilex, Inc.

Limited blast liquefaction testing, vibration testing, and centrifuge testing suggest that vertical drains can be effective in preventing earthquake-induced soil liquefaction and associated settlements or lateral spreading. However, no full-scale drain installation has been subjected to earthquake-induced ground motions. This lack of performance data under full-scale conditions has been a major impediment to expanding the use of this technique for mitigating liquefaction hazards.

To determine the viability of large diameter (4 in.) prefabricated vertical drains for preventing soil liquefaction and associated settlements under full-scale conditions, the pooled fund study no. TPF-5(244) was initiated in 2013 by UDOT, Brigham Young University (BYU), and other state DOTs from California, New York, and Alaska, in conjunction with the National Science Foundation’s George E. Brown Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES) Facility at the University at Buffalo (UB) of The State University of New York.

Photo

NEES-UB 20-ft high laminar box with hydraulic actuators.

In August and September 2014, two test series with vertical drains in liquefiable (loose and saturated) sand were completed using the laminar shear box and high speed actuator system at NEES-UB. Tests involved level ground conditions with two drain spacings: 4 ft for the first series and 3 ft for the second series. For each drain spacing, the soil profile was subjected to a total of nine sinusoidal motions at increasing peak base accelerations of 0.05g, 0.10g, and 0.20g. The settlement of the soil profile was measured using surface settlement plates, string potentiometers, and Sondex profilometers. Pore pressure transducers were used within the sand at various depths to measure pore water pressures. Accelerometers and LVDTs were located along the height of the shear box to define the acceleration and deflection profiles induced by the shaking at the base. Example data plots are shown below.

A few video recordings from the first series of tests at NEES-UB are available for viewing at this link. Progress reports and the overall scope of work for the study are provided on the web page for study no. TPF-5(244).

Graph

Settlement and excess pore pressure ration versus depth plots during the first shaking test at 4-ft drain spacing, with 15 cycles of shaking and 0.05g peak acceleration.

Remaining tasks on the project include data analysis, comparison with previous tests on untreated sand, evaluating predictive methods, and preparing the final report regarding drain effectiveness. If full-scale tests prove the effectiveness of the drainage technique, significant time and costs savings can be achieved for both new construction and for retrofit situations, as compared to other mitigation techniques.

This guest post was written by Kyle Rollins, PhD with Brigham Young University and David Stevens, PE with UDOT Research Division and was originally published in the UDOT Research Newsletter.

BYU students get hands-on experience at UDOT

BYU asphalt test

Students from BYU’s Civil Engineering program get hands-on training on asphalt tests

A countertop with baking pans, spatulas and mixers is not something you’d expect to find when you think of UDOT. But they’re all important tools that help us preserve our infrastructure in Utah.

How, you ask? On Tuesday, Jan. 27, students from Brigham Young University’s Civil Engineering program found out during a trip to Region Three’s Materials Lab in Orem.

Using oil, water, a vacuum and a lot of ovens, the students took part in hands-on training on asphalt testing and verification of asphalt mix design by baking, scooping, calculating and compacting the material.

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BYU Civil Engineering students pose with William “Billy Bob” Larson, Region 3 Lab Manager (t-shirt) and Clint Tyler (far left).

Before paving occurs on a roadway, engineers determine the appropriate materials for the project, document the specifications for a concrete or asphalt mix and test the pavement design in the lab. These tests help ensure that the road surfaces we lay down are the most efficient, longest-lasting they can be. We believe that good roads cost less: less to build and less to maintain. Through quality assurance tests at our region labs, we maximize the value of taxpayer dollars.

 Lab Manager William “Billy Bob” Larson said his lab invites students from BYU and Utah Valley University to take part in hands-on learning on a regular basis to enhance what they learn in the classroom.

 “If you don’t actually get out and do it, all your learning is just words,” Larson said.

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BYU pride on one student’s asphalt core

To Corrode or Not to Corrode, a GFRP Question: GFRP Reinforcing Bars in Concrete Columns

Concrete bridge structures are typically designed to last 50 to 75 years, but seldom last half that time before needing major rehabilitation, due to degradation caused by corrosion of steel reinforcement similar to that shown in Fig. 1. Corrosion in commonly used epoxy-coated steel bars has raised concern with its use and has raised interest in the use of alternative reinforcement like fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) bars. Glass FRP (GFRP) bars are a cost-competitive alternative to epoxy-coated steel bars and have been found to not corrode (see UDOT Report No. UT-11.16).

Photo of bridge columns showing corrosion

Fig. 1. Typical corrosion found on bridge structures

Many transportation costs and user impacts associated with typical corrosion problems could be potentially eliminated with a proactive approach of using non-corrosive reinforcement (e.g. GFRP) in the original construction of concrete elements. Experimental tests were conducted recently at the University of Utah on circular concrete columns reinforced with GFRP and/or steel longitudinal bars and GFRP confining spirals to evaluate their behavior and viability as a potential construction alternative.

One set of columns was reinforced with GFRP spirals and GFRP longitudinal bars, another set of columns was reinforced with GFRP spirals and steel longitudinal bars, and a final set of columns was reinforced with double GFRP spirals and a combination of GFRP and steel longitudinal bars (see Fig. 2). Tests were performed on 12 in. diameter short (3 ft tall) and slender (12 ft tall) columns. These are the only tests known to the authors which have investigated the stability of slender FRP-reinforced concrete columns.

Photo of GFRP columns

Fig. 2. GFRP reinforcement using in column tests.

An analytical confinement and buckling model was developed and validated against the tests to provide a means to predict the behavior and capacity of FRP-reinforced concrete columns. This enabled the analysis of additional reinforcement scenarios utilizing FRP (glass or carbon) longitudinal bars and spirals.

In general it was found that FRP spirals and FRP longitudinal bars can be a viable method of reinforcement for concrete columns, particularly in corrosive environments. FRP spirals, however, need to be placed at a closer pitch spacing to provide confinement levels similar to steel spirals due to the lower modulus of elasticity of FRP composites. On the other hand, FRP longitudinal bars can provide increased deflection capacity as compared with steel bars due to the higher tensile capacity of FRP composites.

Additional research is needed to better quantify the confining capacity of FRP spirals and the required pitch spacing needed. Also research investigating the behavior of FRP-reinforced columns under seismic loading will be an important consideration.

This guest post was written by Thomas A. Hales, PhD, SE with the UDOT Research Division and Chris P. Pantelides, PhD, SE with the University of Utah and was originally published in the UDOT Research Newsletter.

UDOT explains the 90s

One of the trending topics for today on twitter was #explainthe90sin4words. We here at UDOT got nostalgic thinking about the fashion, music and sports from the decade that brought us flannel shirts, boy bands, and the Utah Jazz in the NBA Finals.

An artist's rendition of what the "new" I-15 would look like

An artist’s rendition of what the “new” I-15 would look like

Our memory jogged back to 1997, when we started the Interstate 15 reconstruction project, which was UDOT’s first design-build procurement. The project involved the reconstruction of 16.2 miles of the interstate in the Salt Lake Valley, including the addition of new general-purpose lanes to go along with high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes. The project involved the construction or reconstruction of more than 130 bridges, the reconstruction of seven urban interchanges, and the reconstruction of three major junctions with Interstate routes 80 and 215.

The project was the largest ever undertaken by the State of Utah, and is still the largest single design-build highway contract in the United States. It cost $1.63 billion, with $448 million coming from federal funds and 1.184 billion coming from the state.  Construction was finished in the summer of 2001.

The reconstruction project presented the Department with significant challenges in scheduling and construction, especially with the goal of finishing prior to the Winter Olympics in 2002, and without prolonged traffic disruptions. The design-build approach allowed us to meet those demands while also benefitting from several private sector innovations and value-added features.

We’re happy with the effect this monumental project has had on the lives of Utahns, and those who have traveled in our great state. We’re also grateful for all of you who were patient with the process a decade and a half ago.

And thanks to twitter for taking us back to memory lane.

A photo from the I-15 reconstruction in the late 1990s.

A photo from the I-15 reconstruction in the late 1990s.

 

Highlights from the 2014 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 2014 report:

  • SUCCESS Framework Initiative
    • Statewide Access Management Program
    • Preconstruction Project Scoping
    • Ports of Entry Truck Processing
    • Snow and Ice Control
    • Procurement System
    • Heavy Duty Truck Maintenance
  • Report Auto Generator for Roadway “As-Builts”
  • Uinta Basin Rail
  • Outdoor Advertising Control Map
  • Automated Queue Warning Detection System
  • Cement-Treated Asphalt Base
  • Citizen Reporter Program
  • Real-Time Winter Road Weather Index Performance Measurement
  • Variable Speed Limit in Parley’s Canyon
  • Snow Fencing Efficiencies

One example from the 2014 report is the SUCCESS Framework Initiative, a set of management principles from the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget, designed to boost the quality and efficiency of government services, with the goal of improving government operations and services by 25% by the end of 2016. One of the six major systems that UDOT is focusing on for the SUCCESS Framework is the Statewide Access Management Program. With a lot of hard work and collaboration, the Access Management Team reduced the time and labor cost required for processing access permit applications. As a result, the per-permit processing cost was lowered from $1,709 to $1,532 ($177 per permit), providing approximately $42,000 in annual cost savings to UDOT.

Citizen Report ScreenshotAnother example from 2014 is the Citizen Reporter Program, which enlists trained volunteers to report on road weather conditions along specific roadway segments across Utah. This citizen crowd-sourcing contributes to the quantity, quality and timeliness of traveler information, especially in rural areas. As a result, UDOT saves approximately $250,000 annually from the reduced need for road weather instrumentation, and from efficiencies in storm forecasting.

The UDOT Research Division coordinates each year with UDOT Senior Leaders and the Communications Office to collect and compile write-ups on the past year’s key efficiency initiatives. We appreciate all of the UDOT Regions and Groups that submitted FY 2014 efficiencies topics and write-ups on the key items. This process will start again in August for FY 2015.

The 2014 and earlier annual reports are available online at www.udot.utah.gov/go/efficiencies.

This post was originally published in the UDOT Research Newsletter.

New Mobile App: UDOT Click ‘n Fix

Photo of iPhone Click 'n Fix appDid you know that 630 UDOT maintenance employees take care of nearly 6,000 miles of highway around Utah? It’s true, and they do an excellent job of finding and fixing issues before most of us even notice. However, with that many roads, we can help them by keeping an eye out for problems and letting them know about it. To make submitting service requests as easy as possible, we’ve implemented a new iPhone and Android app called UDOT Click ‘n Fix.

UDOT Click ‘n Fix allows anyone to report an issue by dropping a pin on a map at the location of the problem. It also allows others to see everything that has been reported and to add their own comments or follow the issue to receive notifications.

Once the location is selected Click ‘n Fix asks a few follow up questions to help crews understand what needs to be fixed. Submitted issues are sent to UDOT crews and a response is posted as soon as possible.

Keep in mind, UDOT will only be able to help with issues on federal interstates and state highways like Bangerter Highway (S.R. 154) and State Street (U.S. 89). Also, while safety is our top priority, this tool is for non-emergency purposes.

To use UDOT Click ‘n Fix, download the iPhone or Android app or visit the UDOT website and use the embedded widget.

See the desktop tutorial:

See a mobile tutorial at KUTV.com:

State Street Resurfacing Near Downtown Salt Lake City

Aerial photo of State Street looking north toward Salt Lake CityEarlier this summer, Region Two completed one of this year’s Top 10 Construction Projects – right in the middle of Salt Lake City. Construction crews from Staker Parson Companies and its subcontractors resurfaced a four mile stretch of State Street between 400 South and 3000 South – spanning both Salt Lake and South Salt Lake cities. Crews replaced old asphalt with a one inch Open Graded Surface Course (OGSC), rebuilt 141 pedestrian ramps and 23 medians, and upgraded traffic signals at 12 intersections. The $4 million project started in late April and was successfully completed in late July.

This section of State Street was last resurfaced in 2004. The roadway was starting to form potholes, and concrete medians were reaching the end of their design life. These factors indicated to UDOT that a preservation project was needed. The new pavement surface is expected to last eight to ten years and the concrete work including the new pedestrian ramps and medians is expected to last 30 to 40 years.

With work taking place on a seven-lane arterial in a central business district, the State Street resurfacing project presented several construction challenges. Cars consistently parked in the work zone near downtown Salt Lake City, which required extra signage to control. The old utilities in South Salt Lake were fragile to work around, and the unusually rainy July caused minor schedule changes. The Region Two crew and contractor team worked together to successfully complete work on time in spite of these challenges.

Aerial photo of State Street looking southTo minimize impacts to drivers and businesses, most of the work on the project was scheduled during overnight hours. The project team coordinated closely with local business owners and residents throughout construction to keep them apprised of upcoming access and parking restrictions, overnight work, and other potential impacts. The public involvement team distributed fliers, answered hotline calls and responded to emails to address concerns and respond to questions.

In addition to businesses and residents, key project stakeholders included Salt Lake City, South Salt Lake City, UTA, Intermountain Harley Davidson, the Utah Pride Festival (UPF) and the Utah Arts Festival (UAF). During the project, Intermountain Harley Davidson attracted a few thousand motorcyclists to a series of events, such as the MDA Rock & Roll Ride and the Demo Days Ride; UPF attracted over 20,000 attendees, and UAP attracted over 80,000 attendees. Special efforts were made to modify the construction schedule to accommodate these festivals and other events. This coordination helped promote a safe and accessible festival experience.

The project received media attention at the beginning of construction. Fox 13 wrote a story that highlighted the type of work taking place on the State Street. As part of the story, Resident Engineer Bryan Chamberlain and Wild Mushroom Pizza owner James Zuiter were both interviewed. Chamberlain emphasized how crews worked at night to get the most done while impacting the fewest people, and Zuiter confirmed that despite the short-term inconvenience, business owners appreciate a freshly surfaced road.

The State Street project was accomplished on time, within budget, and with minimal inconvenience to the public. The newly-resurfaced road, reconstructed medians, and new pedestrian ramps will provide a smoother ride for drivers and enhance safety for pedestrians for years to come.

This guest post was originally published in the Region Two Fall 2014 Newsletter.

Innovative partnerships prove to be the perfect recipe for Patchwork Parkway

PANGUITCH — In a state where innovation is consistently used to Keep Utah Moving, sometimes innovation alone isn’t enough. Unique partnerships between state agencies can be the perfect additional ingredient to accomplish the improbable.

In rural southern Utah, where equipment and manpower are sometimes as few and far between as the towns in the region, innovation and partnering got a much-needed job done quickly and efficiently, while minimizing the use of taxpayer dollars.

Recently, UDOT’s shed 4469 in Panguitch teamed up with Bryce Canyon National Park to create a shoulder on a seven-mile stretch of Scenic Byway SR-143. This stretch of Utah’s “Patchwork Parkway” was in great need of a shoulder, because a simple task like plowing the road or pulling over created potential safety issues.

The project required tools neither the department nor the national park possessed alone. So to combat this issue, they came together to pool resources and manpower to finish the job in a few days, saving each agency valuable time and money.

“The stars just lined up,” said Panguitch Shed manager Robert Brown. “Down here, we’re all neighbors, and you have to get creative to help each other out and get things done.”

Normally, a similar project requires a team of at least six to eight workers, with three on a shouldering machine alone. But with only two full-time employees at the shed, Brown and his counterpart at Bryce Canyon had to think outside of the box. Here are some of the highlights:

• Bryce Canyon provided side delivery dump trucks that offered a more efficient use of asphalt. Standard machines provide four feet of material, even if only two feet are needed.
• UDOT’s grader was used to accomplish both the grading and compaction tasks, as the shoulder in the area is too steep to use conventional steel drum rollers.
• The asphalt used on the project was recycled and obtained from a pit in nearby Hatch, Utah at nearly one-third of the cost of new asphalt.
• The project was completed in two days, with two UDOT Panguitch Shed employees and two Bryce Canyon employees.
• A pull-behind broom hooked to a pickup truck cleaned the road with two passes.

For Brown, the lesson is simple: when government entities work and plan together, the result can be a win-win for both, as well as the surrounding communities.

“Without the shared resources, we wouldn’t have been able to do the job,” Brown said. “I think this shows that governments need to think outside of the box more to collaborate.”

THREE YEARS OF PLANNED PROJECTS

A new UPLAN gallery of web maps and apps, with information about upcoming projects, is now available through UPlan.

The gallery makes data on the UDOT Three Year Plan available to project managers, UDOT employees, policy makers and the general public. Projects are organized by program funding source, year and UDOT region. The gallery also has a web map of future planning through 2020.

The live data advantage

The online information can be referenced by employees across the department, or by UDOT and local governments to assure that all are viewing and using the correct information. The project data is updated nightly, so data is kept as current as possible.

Having dynamic, easily accessible information via the gallery enhances collaboration across UDOT divisions so projects can be synchronized to use resources effectively and reduce impact to the public. The gallery improves agency transparency since anyone with a web connection can use the gallery to view planned projects.

What is UDOT’s Three Year Plan?

Screen Shot of the Three Year Plan WebsiteThe projects in the Three Year Plan have been identified and prioritized by each of the four UDOT regions. The projects address UDOT’s three strategic goals, Zero Crashes, Injuries and Fatalities, Optimize Mobility, and Preserve Infrastructure.  Funding sources have also been identified for each project.

The main advantage for UDOT in having a three year program of road construction projects is coordination, says William Lawrence, Director of UDOT Program Finance. The plan lets the department evaluate the program as a whole and “helps maximize efficiency,” he says. For example, two projects in close proximity in American Fork, each planned for different years, were recently combined into one project that will take place in 2017. In this case, combining projects is a better use of financial resources, and “construction will only impact the public once,” says Lawrence.

To find the Three Year Plan gallery, access the UDOT Data Portal at data.utah.gov, click the UPLAN thumbnail, then click the 3-Year Plan thumbnail in UPLAN. Instructions for searching for or sorting projects are included in the gallery.