Category Archives: Preserve Infrastructure

Pooled Fund: Performance-Based Assessment of Liquefaction

A new study led by UDOT and funded through the FHWA Transportation Pooled Fund Program began in March and is progressing well. The study is number TPF-5(296), entitled “Simplified SPT Performance-Based Assessment of Liquefaction and Effects.” A research team from Brigham Young University (BYU) is performing the two-year study. Other state DOTs participating in the study include Alaska, Connecticut, Idaho, Montana, and South Carolina.

Liquefaction of loose, saturated sands results in significant damage to buildings, transportation systems, and lifelines in most large earthquake events. Liquefaction and the resulting loss of soil shear strength can lead to lateral spreading and seismic slope displacements, which often impact bridge abutments and wharfs, damaging these critical transportation links at a time when they are most needed for rescue efforts and post-earthquake recovery.

Most commonly used liquefaction and ground deformation evaluation methods are based on the concept of deterministic hazard evaluation, which is related to the maximum possible earthquake from nearby faults. Recent advances in performance-based geotechnical earthquake engineering have introduced probabilistic uniform hazard-based procedures for evaluating seismic ground deformations within a performance-based framework, from which the likelihood of exceeding various magnitudes of deformation within a given time frame can be computed. However, applying these complex performance-based procedures on everyday projects is generally beyond the capabilities of most practicing engineers.

The objective of the new study is to create and evaluate simplified performance-based design procedures for the a priori prediction of liquefaction triggering, lateral spread displacement, seismic slope displacement, and post-liquefaction free-field settlement using the standard penetration test (SPT) resistance. Many of the analysis methods used to assess liquefaction hazards are based on SPT resistance values since the SPT is commonly used in site soil characterization for building, transportation, and lifeline projects.

This study represents a worthwhile pilot study which could prepare the way for additional research with the U.S. Geological Survey to further the use of the simplified, performance-based method.

Figure 1: Liquefaction loading map (return period = 1,033 years) showing con-tours of CSRref (%) for a portion of Salt Lake Valley, Utah

Figure 1: Liquefaction loading map (return period = 1,033 years) showing con-tours of CSRref (%) for a portion of Salt Lake Valley, Utah

The key to the simplified method is the use of a reference soil profile in development of liquefaction loading maps which are then used with the site’s soil data to estimate effects of liquefaction. An example map is shown in Figure 1, where CSRref represents a uniform hazard estimate of the seismic loading that must be over-come to prevent liquefaction triggering, if the reference soil profile existed at the site of interest.

Derivations for simplified performance-based liquefaction triggering and lateral spread displacement models have been completed in the study. Validation efforts have shown that the simplified results approximate the full performance-based results within 5% for most sites that were evaluated.

A summary of the study work plan and copies of current reports from the study are available at the TPF-5(296) study website.

This guest post was written by Kevin Franke, Ph.D., P.E., from BYU, and David Stevens, P.E., Research Program Manager, and was originally published in the Research Newsletter.

Highlights from the 2013 Annual Efficiencies Report

Efficiencies within UDOT often generate cost savings for the public and the Department through better utilization of resources and innovative technologies. At the end of each year, UDOT prepares an efficiencies report which summarizes key efficiency initiatives from the year. The annual report fulfills a requirement for UDOT to describe the efficiencies and significant accomplishments achieved during the past year to the State Legislature. UDOT Senior Leaders use the report in presentations during legislative committee meetings.

Following are the key efficiency initiatives summarized in the FY 2013 report:

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

Flashing Yellow Arrow left-turn phasing

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

Photo of rock and mud covering the highway

Debris flow across S.R. 31 in Huntington Canyon

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

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

The 2013 and earlier annual reports are available online at

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

Results of the 2014 Research Workshop (UTRAC)

Photo of session attendees listening to speaker

Traffic Management & Safety breakout session

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

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

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

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

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

The selected new projects include:

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

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

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

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

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

I-80 Parley’s Canyon Drainage Improvement Project Wins Excellence in Concrete Award

Last summer’s Drainage Improvements project on Interstate 80 in Parleys Canyon was recently recognized with the Excellence in Concrete Award from the Intermountain Chapter of the American Concrete Institute. The award recognized the team of UDOT, H.W. Lochner, W.W. Clyde and its subcontractors, and Geneva Pipe and Precast for designing, casting, and installing the new culvert adjacent to I-80. This drainage project, which was completed in fall 2013, installed more than 10,500 feet of 66-inch reinforced concrete pipe along a two-mile segment of I-80 near the mouth of Parleys Canyon. Crews also installed 6,700 linear feet of median and lateral drains, along with 80 concrete box structures. The new drainage system, with a 100-year design life, replaces the original corrugated metal pipe that was installed prior to construction of I-80 in the 1960s.

As many of the pipe sections are fabricated with slight differences to accommodate elevation changes or curves in the two mile-long culvert, each section had to be placed in exactly the right spot. The pipe included beveled segments, where the spigot end of the pipe had a slight bevel to the left or right, as well as straight segments. These segments allowed the pipe to bend gradually to match the grade and curves of the roadway. To install each segment, an on-site surveyor took measurements to ensure both vertical and horizontal alignment.

Significant challenges faced by the project team included maintenance of traffic – 45,000 cars each day traveled through the work zone – and the solid rock of the canyon, which required blasting in several locations merely feet away from the edge of pavement. In total, 10 separate blasts were carried out, for a total of more than 2,200 linear feet. The project was completed under the $11.8M budget just in time to suit the unique weather and stream flow conditions in the canyon.

According to the ACI Intermountain Chapter, the ACI Excellence in Concrete Awards “recognizes the innovative and aesthetic uses of concrete by owners, architects, engineers, contractors and ready mix producers.” This award is the latest recognition of the combined efforts of UDOT and the contractor team to meet challenges and complete a quality project that will benefit Utahans for years to come.

Also check out this post about the project from last year: Parley’s Canyon Pipe Replacement.


Photo of the Award of ExcellenceA multidisciplinary team at UDOT recently received national recognition for developing the Outdoor Advertising Control Map.

The Highway Beautification Act of 1965 gave state departments of transportation the responsibility of enforcing rules governing outdoor advertising, aka billboards. UDOT has developed an online mapping system that helps the general public and UDOT staff to efficiently identify the location of all highways where outdoor advertising is controlled, and where all permitted billboards are located along these controlled highways.

In April, UDOT became one of only three states to receive a national award from the National Alliance of Highway Beautification Agencies for developing this innovative mapping system.

The following statewide team collaborated to bring this award winning map to life:


  • Monty King

Central ETS/GIS

  • Becky Hjelm
  • Frank Pisani

Central Right-of-Way

  • Lyle McMillian
  • Krissy Plett
  • Rod McDaniels

Project Development Administration

  • Randy Park
  • Lisa Wilson

Region Permitting Operations

  • Tommy Vigil
  • Nacey Wilson
  • Nazee Treweek
  • Mark Velasquez
  • Tony Lau
  • Rux Rowland
  • Rhett Arnell
  • Dale Stapley
  • Steve Kunzler
  • Scott Snow

Central Attorney General’s Office

  • Renee Spooner

Central Asset Management

  • Stan Burns
  • Kelli Bacon
  • Abdul Wakil
  • Peter Bigelow

Risk Management

  • Brandi Trujillo

For more information about the the map check out Show Me a Sign.

Thank you to Rod McDaniels for his help writing this post.

Auto-generated summary sheets

Photo of John Guymon

John Guymon, UDOT Rotational Engineer

For each roadway preservation or rehabilitation project, UDOT designers fill out a summary sheet that provides a tally of measurements and material quantities needed for the project. Collecting data on-site, compiling data and figuring quantities can take a week or more. “You go out into the field with a wheel and tape, and you measure everything,” says UDOT rotational engineer John Guymon. His work to integrate online data with a spreadsheet is helping UDOT designers work more efficiently.

Guymon used coding and Microsoft Excel to create a form that uses asset management data and standard formulas for figuring material quantities to populate the summary sheet. The data sets are housed in the UDOT Data Portal, UDOT’s online data repository.

The Auto Report Generator is simple to use, and works along with the Linear Bench tool, both accessible on the UDOT Data Portal. Step-by-step instructions are available with the form. Once produced, the summary sheet shows:

  • Pavement type, surface area and material amounts for granular borrow and base course. The pavement type generated in the report is specific to the region, since climate differences around the state call for different pavement types.
  • Barrier in the project area, including location, total feet, and post type, all sorted into standard and non-standard types to show any areas in need of full replacement.
  • Signs, including location, sign type, size and any damage present during data collection.
  • Pavement marking type, paint amounts, messages, and rumble strips or grooved-in paint.

Once the summary sheet has been populated, the sheet can be used to verify measurements, barrier type, roadway geometry, pavement messages, etc.

So far, the new form has been downloaded over 600 times since it became available, about two months ago, and users have become instant fans. Kendall Draney says that one advantage is that using the form keeps employees out of harm’s way. Draney used the form as a design rotational engineer in Region Three. Sometimes getting measurements necessitates a dash across a busy roadway. “It’s really nice to have something that you’re using to verify,” says Draney. “It’s much safer to be on the shoulder.”

Engineering Tech IV Lynda Seckletstewa likes the consistency of the quantity amounts generated by the reports and “quantities for the existing features pulled by the report generator are within 2% of field quantities.”

The reports also provide “an instant checklist for field reviews,” says Seckletstewa. “Generated notes for various features point out deficiencies that we may have otherwise overlooked.”

The new summary form is an example of how UDOT is making good use of data collected on everything on a state roadway that can be viewed through a car window. “I didn’t realize how useful the Mandli data would be,” says Guymon. He views the tool as a first effort that can be improved over time.

Find out about other ways to view data, including the Linear Bench and Highway Reference Online, on the UDOT Data Portal.

Read about the Mandli data-gathering effort here.

UDOT Executive Director Carlos Braceras Featured in New AASHTO Video

AASHTO occasionally posts a video they call the “2 Minute Update”, featuring transportation leaders from different state DOTs across the country. This month’s video profiles UDOT’s Executive Director Carlos Braceras. Carlos explains his vision for UDOT and discusses our emphasis on integrated transportation and the importance of educating new engineers. AASHTO distributes the video to reporters nationwide, and a few have already filed stories, including this one from CE News.


2014 Top 10 Construction Projects

The Utah Department of Transportation’s 2014 construction season will start soon. With more than 175 projects worth more than $800 million, UDOT is in for a busy summer.

A few large-scale expansion projects will help optimize mobility by adding new lanes and roads to accommodate Utah’s growing population. In addition, many preventive maintenance projects will help preserve the state’s infrastructure – keeping roads and bridges in good condition, and avoiding the need for more costly repairs in the future. The department will also continue to use innovative technology to improve traffic flow with the installation of the sixth and seventh diverging diamond interchanges in the state.

The following is a list of the top 10 projects statewide in 2014:

  1. I-15, South Davis County 
    UDOT will extend the longest continuous Express Lanes in the country with the reconstruction of I-15 in Davis County this summer. This project also includes the replacement of multiple bridges from North Salt Lake to Farmington in addition to new interchange configurations at 2600 South and 500 South, which will help improve traffic in those areas. A new pedestrian bridge at Parrish Lane and sidewalk improvements on 500 North and 500 South are also included in the project. Construction is scheduled to start in mid-April and is expected to be complete in 2015. Budget: $117 million
  2. S.R. 201 Reconstruction, Salt Lake County
    Crews will be placing new concrete pavement on S.R. 201 between 5600 West and 9450 West, and widening ramps at the 5600 West interchange. As part of this project, utilities, street signs, and traffic signals will also be upgraded. Work is scheduled start in late April and is expected to be complete in fall 2014. These improvements will prolong the life of the road and reduce congestion in the area. Budget: $20 million
  3. Bangerter Highway/Redwood Road interchange, Salt Lake County 
    UDOT will construct a new interchange at the Redwood Road and Bangerter Highway intersection, similar to the interchange at 7800 South and Bangerter Highway. Construction will start this summer and last for approximately one year. The completed project will improve the flow of traffic in a rapidly growing area of Salt Lake County and enhance safety. Budget: $42 million
  4. I-15, South Cedar City DDI, Cedar City 
    Crews will reconfigure the I-15 interchange at Exit 57, on the south end of Cedar City, as a Diverging Diamond Interchange (DDI) to improve the flow of traffic for cars, bikes and pedestrians. It includes new ramp construction and modifications to Main Street and the frontage roads. This will be the sixth DDI in Utah. The project is underway and is expected to be complete in fall 2014. Budget: $10 million
  5. Riverdale Road Reconstruction, Roy
    UDOT is reconstructing Riverdale Road between the I-84 interchange and S.R. 126 in Roy to improve traffic flow and reduce delays in the area. The project will replace the existing asphalt with new concrete pavement, add a northbound off-ramp and a southbound on-ramp at I-15, and construct two new intersections as well as a new bridge over the freeway. Construction is underway and is scheduled for completion in late fall 2014. Budget: $24 million
  6. I-15, 1100 South DDI, Brigham City 
    UDOT is converting the existing 1100 South interchange on Interstate 15 in Brigham City to a DDI – the seventh in the state, and the first in northern Utah. This innovative interchange will improve the flow of traffic for drivers traveling to and from Logan on U.S. 91. The north half of the interchange is under construction and will be completed in summer 2014. Once the north half is complete, traffic will be switched to the new bridge, crews will demolish the existing bridge, and the south half of the interchange in scheduled to be constructed by fall 2014. Budget: $$10 million
  7. I-80, Parleys Resurfacing, Parleys Canyon
    UDOT is resurfacing Interstate 80 in Parleys Canyon from the mouth of the canyon (near Foothill Drive) to the Ranch exit (exit 132).This maintenance project will replace several areas of rough pavement throughout the canyon with new durable asphalt. Construction scheduled to start this summer and is expected to be complete in fall 2014. Budget: $4 million
  8. State Street Resurfacing, Salt Lake County
    UDOT will perform regular maintenance repaving State Street from 400 South to 3300 South, removing the top layer of pavement and replacing it with new asphalt. In addition, crews will reconstruct pedestrian ramps and median islands. Construction is scheduled to start in late April and is expected to be complete by summer 2014. This project will prolong the life of the pavement and provide a smoother ride for drivers. Budget: $4 million
  9. I-80, Silver Creek to Wanship, Summit County
    This project will reconstruct a seven-mile section of Interstate 80, one of the most heavily-traveled highways in Utah, using new concrete pavement to prolong the life of the roadway. Crews will also replace the westbound bridge over Silver Creek. Construction is expected to start in June and is scheduled to be complete in 2015. Budget: $43 million
  10. U.S. 40 improvements, Wasatch, Duchesne, Uintah Counties 
    UDOT crews will be working in several locations along U.S. 40: extending passing lanes near Daniels Summit and Vernal; repaving near Fort Duchesne and Jensen; and upgrading lighting in Roosevelt. These projects will enhance safety for drivers and help traffic flow more smoothly between the Wasatch Front and the Uintah Basin. Construction is underway and is scheduled to be complete by fall 2014. Budget: $13 million

Construction activities, dates and times are subject to change because of weather or delays. For the latest information, download the free “UDOT Traffic” app on any iPhone or Android device or visit

UDOT 2014 Top 10 Road Construction Guide (745KB PDF Download)

Pavement Marking Check-up

Photo of right side white lineRetroreflectivity, which makes pavement markings visible at night, happens when the light from vehicle headlights bounces back toward the driver’s eyes. Visible markings help prevent lane departure crashes. But markings degrade over time due to weather and wear from traffic, so departments of transportation need to keep on top of pavement marking maintenance through regular inspections and replacement of sub-par markings.

Until recently, markings were measured subjectively by just taking a look and rating the condition of the marking. For the past year, however, retroreflectivity has been measured objectively, and data from those measurements is available on UDOT’s Data Portal.

Each spring and fall, employees from UDOT’s Maintenance Planning Division measure the retroreflectivity of markings on a randomly chosen selection of roadway segments, including dashed lane markings and solid lines that mark the edge of the road.

Photo of the van that is used to measure pavement markingMeasurements are taken using a mobile retroreflectometer mounted in a van. The retroreflectometer, shoots a high intensity Laser in a sweeping motion over marked pavement and measures the light that reflects back in milli-candelas per lux per meter squared – a measure of light per unit area.

The data gathered by the measuring effort is compiled and graded from A+ to F – this spring, UDOT got a B. This year’s fall data is in the process of being compiled. The data on UDOT’s Data Portal can be viewed on a map alone or along with other data sets.

Over time, having an objective measurements of pavement retroreflectivity will help support safety by helping to direct funding where improvement is needed.

2013 Construction Season Nears the End

The leaves have turned, the first snow has fallen on the mountains, and the 2013 construction season is nearing an end. UDOT and contractor crews have completed more than 200 road construction projects statewide in 2013. By the end of the year, 216 projects will have been carried out state roads and Interstates from Plymouth to St. George and from Wendover to Vernal. Each one of these projects was designed to help accomplish one or more of UDOT’s strategic goals:

    Photo of crews working along I-80 in Parleys Canyon

    Construction crews installing a new 66″ concrete pipe along I-80 in Parleys Canyon.

  • Preserve Infrastructure
  • Optimize Mobility
  • Zero Fatalities
  • Strengthen the Economy

In 2013, most construction projects fell under the goal to Preserve Infrastructure. These repaving and rehabilitation projects will keep Utah’s roads in good condition and prevent the need for more costly repairs in the future. Maintaining our highways helps them last as long as possible, and benefits the economy by keeping people, goods, and services moving throughout the state.

In 2012, UDOT completed 229 projects with a total value of $2,783,444,049, which included the I-15 CORE and Mountain View Corridor projects. By comparison, the total value of projects scheduled for completion in 2013 is $631,489,082. To make the best use of a much smaller budget during the 2013 construction season, the department focused on maintaining and making minor improvements to Utah’s roads, rather than major expansion or reconstruction efforts.

During the 2013 construction season, UDOT has resurfaced or repaired pavement on more than 400 miles of Utah highways and roads, and has completed 12 bridge repair or replacement projects. Some notable projects that have been completed or are scheduled for completion this year include:

    Photo of new bridge over I-15 at St. George Blvd during construction

    Workers constructing a new bridge over I-15 as part of the new DDI at St. George Boulevard.

  • I-80 Culvert Installation: Workers installed approximately two miles of 6-foot-diameter concrete pipe along I-80 in Parley’s Canyon to replace the original drainage system constructed in the 1960s.
  • I-15 Widening: Crews widened an 8-mile section of I-15 in southern Utah County from two lanes to three this year to reduce congestion and accommodate future growth in the area.
  • St. George Boulevard Diverging Diamond Interchange (DDI): Workers are converting the existing interchange at I-15 and St. George Boulevard into Utah’s fifth operating DDI to improve the flow of traffic.
  • U.S. 89/91 Repaving: Crews repaved U.S. 89/91 in Cache County from Sardine Summit to Wellsville.
  • U.S. 89 (State Street) Widening: Workers widened and repaved a two-mile section of State Street between Orem and Pleasant Grove.
  • Bangerter Highway Continuous Flow Intersection (CFI): Crews completed a new CFI at the intersection of Bangerter Highway and 13400 South to improve traffic flow in southwest Salt Lake County. Utah leads the nation with 11 CFIs (there are only 20 total in the nation).
  • I-215 Concrete Maintenance: Workers repaired concrete on I-215 from S.R. 201 to North Temple to extend the useful life of the pavement.

Moving forward in 2014, UDOT will widen I-15 at the Point of the Mountain and in Davis County, as well as continue its aggressive focus on maintaining existing roads.

This guest post was written by Leigh Gibson from the UDOT Traffic team.