Category Archives: Preserve Infrastructure

Innovative Contracting

In recent years UDOT has been able to implement innovative bridge building techniques but do you know what the impetus for this was? It started with innovative contracting. By utilizing these types of contracts we are able to involve the construction industry earlier for more efficient delivery of our projects.

Colorado River Bridge

The Colorado River Bridge project was completed using DBB. A specialty designer was hired and then also contracted to assist with inspection during construction.

We use three basic contract types: design-bid-build (DBB), design-build (DB) and construction manager/general contractor (CMGC). Each has its own benefits and risks and UDOT project managers, in coordination with UDOT senior leaders, determine early on what type of contract will meet the needs of their project and ultimately provide the best product (aka road, bridge, etc.).

Design-Bid-Build

DBB is our traditional method of contracting and is the most familiar to everyone. With these contracts a designer completes their part of the process before a construction contractor is involved. Basically, the name explains it all: first the design is completed, then it is put out for bid and finally a contractor is selected to build the project. The majority of our projects use this type of contract.

Geneva Road

It was determined that we could get a better price using DB on the Geneva Road project by allowing the contractor to propose the most efficient design while maximizing the available funding.

Design-Build

DB came about as a result of the 2002 Winter Olympics. The executive director at the time was Tom Warne and I-15 needed to be improved through Salt Lake County to meet the increased demands the Olympics would put on the highway. To meet the tight timeline Mr. Warne worked with legislators to allow UDOT to use a new method of contracting, design-build.

DB contracts allow for the design and construction to be completed under one contract. The contractor actually manages the design and construction, and is involved from the beginning. This means the company that will be building the project is part of the discussion as elements of the project are designed. Because of this early contractor involvement, the time frame for a project is greatly reduced. Contractor involvement is also what has brought about innovations such as bridge moves; who better to bring new ideas to the table than the one who will be putting them into practice.

S.R. 14 Equipment

A landslide took out S.R. 14 and made it impassable. In order to have the most innovative design, and to get construction started right away, CMGC was selected. This also allowed us to develop a design utilizing equipment the contractor proposed.

Construction Manager/General Contractor

CMGC is somewhat similar to DB in that it also shortens the timeline between design and construction and allows for innovation since the contractor is involved from the beginning. The difference is that the contractor is involved during the design process as part of a team managed by UDOT, working alongside a design consultant. Another difference is that while the contractor may continue on past design into construction, if they meet all of the requirements, we also reserve the right to sever the contract once the design is complete making it a design-bid-build.

CMGC allows us to use some of the positive elements from both DBB and DB. The idea for this came from the building industry and we saw it used on a transportation project by the city of Phoenix, Arizona in 2004. Following the success of DB we wanted to include another innovative contracting method.

In the end our goal is to provide our project managers with options so that they can build the best project possible. These innovative contracting methods allow them to select a delivery process that keeps low bid in the forefront, but that also allows for new ideas and practices to emerge.

Note from author: Special thanks to Michelle Page, Project Controls and Innovative Contracting Engineer, and Michael Butler, Contract Administrator, for their help with this post.

Parley’s Canyon Pipe Replacement

I-80 Drainage Pipepipes 1

UDOT is working with W.W. Clyde and Geneva Pipe to begin the replacement of an old drainage system in Parley’s Canyon. The construction, which started at the end of May, begins at the mouth of Parley’s Pipes 2Canyon on I-80 and will extend about 2.5 miles east into the canyon. The pipe will serve to drain Salt Lake City’s excess water as well as the canyon runoff.

The current 50-year-old pipe is buried, in some areas, more than 30-40 feet under the freeway. Crews will work to replace the deteriorating corrugated steel pipe with a new durable concrete pipe. The sections of pipe that are currently underground will be capped off and filled.

This blue metal casing is placed over the wired frame and then transported to the cement pouring deck.

This blue metal casing is placed over the wired frame and then transported to the cement pouring deck.

The new system will be built to the side of the road to make service and maintenance more manageable. This will also keep closures and impacts to a minimum during construction and future maintenance.

Each section of pipe weighs about 25,000 pounds and is 12 feet long. Geneva Pipe creates these massive cement structures at their site in Orem. The specific cement used is built to endure harsh conditions and erosion over time.

The cement is then poured and quickly mixed into the metal casing on the deck.

The cement is then poured and quickly mixed into the metal casing on the deck.

The pipes are made in the Geneva warehouse where the cement is poured into a metal casing that is tightly compacted to create large vertical cylinders that will dry overnight. The type of cement used dries fast because of the way that it is quickly sifted and tightly compacted under extreme amounts of pressure.

These are the wet concrete pipes that will dry overnight.

These are wet concrete pipes that will dry overnight.

Overnight blasting for the construction has already begun and drivers should expect up to 15 minute delays while blasting occurs.

Overnight lane restrictions will also be necessary but one lane in each direction will remain open. Motorists should expect delays, a reduced speed limit and lane closures throughout the project until November 2013. At least three lanes will remain open during high traffic times, including events and on weekends.

Here is a video of the blasting happening at I-80.

A behind-the-scenes look at the materials lab

Clint Tyler Materials Technician

Clint Tyler, a materials technician, looks on as an asphalt sample cools before conducting further tests. This machine runs a metal wheel over the sample 20,000 times to measure its durability.

Before UDOT employees reroute traffic, before they begin paving the road and even before they put out orange cones, they are hard at work. This work requires communication between traffic signal engineers, project managers and others – but none of it would happen without the approval from the materials engineers. The behind-the-scenes work done by engineers in the materials lab ensures the durability of the road before construction begins, making the lab testing a vital part of the preconstruction process.

Steve Park, Region Three Materials Engineer, explained that the purpose of the materials lab is to test road materials for strength and durability. “We get long-lasting roads by demanding high-quality materials, and it’s our job to test those materials before they’re in the road,” Park said. “We save taxpayer money that way, because we won’t have to tear it up later.”

Asphalt Sample

An asphalt sample cools following some tests. The asphalt tests conducted in the materials lab help materials technicians determine the mixture’s durability.

The materials lab has a few different functions. One function is to mix and test the materials that a contractor wants to use for a project. In this process, the materials engineers and technicians use the lab to mix the materials according to the contract specifications. After they have been mixed, the materials engineers analyze the results, and the mixtures are evaluated according to strict safety and durability standards.

After the materials engineers complete their analysis, UDOT materials technicians then test the mixes. One test assesses the durability of an asphalt mix by placing a sample in a machine that simulates a car driving on it. The machine runs a metal wheel over it 20,000 times, and it meets durability standards if the wheel creates a rut less than 10 mm deep. Another test cures concrete samples for 28 days in at least 95 percent humidity before crushing them to measure their durability.

Clint Tyler, a materials technician, said that the importance of these tests cannot be understated. “We do these tests because it’s easier to make changes now, before it’s in the road,” Tyler said. “Our roads last longer that way.”

Road Core Samples

A stack of road core samples waits to be examined. Every so often, materials technicians will take core samples of a road to determine whether or not it needs maintenance work.

A second function of the materials lab is to test the health of the roads. Every so often, materials technicians will take a core sample of a road to determine whether or not it needs maintenance work. These projects, such as resurfacing, minimize future construction by prolonging the life of the road.

“In the end, analyzing the materials and doing these tests is just as important as the construction itself,” Park said.

While materials technicians’ work will always be behind the scenes, the results they gather will continue to directly affect Utah drivers. Their hard work ensures that UDOT’s roads will provide safe and smooth travels for years to come.

A Vision for UDOT’s Future

In the last two decades, UDOT has emerged as a national leader in transportation innovation.  In the coming years, UDOT intends to carry on that legacy, while continuing to adapt, adjust and improve. UDOT will continue to strive toward its Final Four Strategic Goals while embracing four new Guiding Principles to ensure the right work is being done in the right way.

Final Four Strategic Goals
Where we are going

Over the years, UDOT has laid out and refined the Strategic Goals that will continue to drive every UDOT project and serve as a standard by which to measure success. They are:

Preserve Infrastructure
UDOT is preserving Utah’s existing transportation infrastructure. The state’s multibillion dollar investment in roads, bridges and other assets must be maintained for future generations.

Optimize Mobility
UDOT works to optimize traffic mobility through a number of measures, including adding capacity, innovative design, managed lanes, TravelWise and signal coordination.

Zero Fatalities
UDOT remains committed to safety, and the goal to consistently improve safety on Utah’s roads can be summed up in two words: zero fatalities.

Strengthen the Economy
This goal recognizes UDOT’s role in creating and managing a transportation system that enables economic growth and empowers prosperity.

Guiding Principles
How we will get there

Just as important as where we are going is how we get there. UDOT must do the right work in the right way, and we will reevaluate how projects and programs are managed to reflect the following principles:

Integrated Transportation
UDOT will actively consider how to best meet the needs of trucks, bikes, pedestrians and mass transit when studying transportation solutions and ensure those solutions are applied to the most appropriate facilities. We will strive to provide Utahns with balanced transportation options while planning for future travel demand.

Local Collaboration
UDOT will team with local and regional entities to create transportation solutions that help them achieve success and meet local needs.

Education
UDOT will support STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) courses in Utah colleges and high schools. We will promote the safety of Utah students through the Zero Fatalities and School Neighborhood Access Plans (SNAP) programs.

Transparency
UDOT will strive to be the most transparent DOT in the country. Utahns will be able to track where their tax dollars go, understand how they are used and see the outcomes.  We will be honest and forthcoming in how and why decisions are made.

Results
The final destination

As we accomplish our Strategic Goals supported by Guiding Principles, UDOT is helping to enhance communities, improve the environment and cultivate a stronger economy.

For example, optimizing mobility through increased transportation options, like bike lanes, improves air quality, supports commerce through reduced traffic congestion and results in improved quality of life. All of the Goals and Principles work hand-in-hand to continue to make Utah one of the best places to live and work.

2013 Top 10 Construction Projects

UDOT Logo udot.utah.govWith summer fast approaching, we would like to share our top 10 road construction projects for 2013.

While there will not be as many large road projects in 2013, there will still be more than 150 construction projects statewide that will require drivers to plan ahead. This season, we will continue to perform maintenance on our roads and bridges to ensure they remain in good condition and last as long as possible.

We will also use innovative technology to improve traffic flow with the installation of the fifth and sixth diverging diamond interchanges (DDI) as well as the 11th continuous flow intersection (CFI) in the state.

The following is a list of the top 10 projects statewide in 2013:

 

  1. I-80 Drainage Pipe Replacement, Salt Lake County. Crews will install new drainage pipe in Parleys Canyon to replace the existing system. Drivers should expect lane closures throughout the summer. Project completion is estimated for December 2013.
  2. I-15, South Payson Interchange to Spanish Fork River. This summer, crews will work to widen seven miles of pavement and bridges on I-15 from the South Payson Interchange to the Spanish Fork River. Most of the work will take place in the freeway median, and construction is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
  3. Southern Parkway, St. George. The Southern Parkway is a 33-mile project that will eventually become an eastern belt route for Washington County. Currently, eight miles are complete from I-15 to the new St. George Airport. Construction continues this spring and summer to extend the new highway another eight miles.
  4. S.R. 193, Davis County. Crews are extending state Road 193, the Bernard Fisher Highway, from 2000 West (S.R. 108) on 200 South in West Point to 700 South and State Street (S.R. 126) in Clearfield. Work scheduled this spring and summer includes earthwork, utility relocations, drainage and sound wall construction. Temporary road closures or blockages may happen from time to time on local streets and trails.
  5. I-15, St. George Boulevard DDI Interchange Reconfiguration. Reconstruction work will take place on the existing diamond interchange to install southern Utah’s first diverging diamond interchange. Work is expected to begin this summer and finish by the end of the year.
  6. U.S. 89/91 Repaving, Sardine Summit to S.R. 23, Cache County. The second phase of work continues from last season’s repaving of U.S. Highway 89/91. Maintenance work will take place from Sardine Summit to Wellsville to maintain a smooth road surface and prolong the life of the roadway. Daytime lane closures will be taking place throughout the summer.
  7. I-15, 1100 South (U.S. 91) DDI Interchange, Brigham City. Work to build the first diverging diamond interchange in northern Utah will begin this summer on the I-15 and 1100 South interchange in Brigham City. Traffic may be redirected around the project throughout its duration, but crews will work to minimize delays. This project is expected to be complete next summer.
  8. U.S. 89 Improvements, Orem to Pleasant Grove. Crews will make several improvements to State Street between Orem and Pleasant Grove this summer. The road will be widened to seven lanes, repaved with new asphalt, and upgraded with curb, gutter and new sidewalks in various locations. The project will improve traffic flow and reduce congestion in the area. Drivers should expect minor traffic delays due to lane restrictions.
  9. Bangerter Highway, 13400 South CFI Installation, Salt Lake County. Construction of a new continuous flow intersection (CFI) on Bangerter Highway at 13400 South will improve the flow of traffic in this fast-growing section of the Salt Lake Valley. Lane restrictions will occur throughout the project but will take place during non-commute and nighttime hours. Construction will be completed this year.
  10. I-215 Maintenance, S.R. 201 to North Temple, Salt Lake City. A heavily traveled section of I-215 will undergo concrete repair this summer for approximately two months with occasional lane and ramp closures. Work will take place during overnight and non-commute hours to minimize delays.

We are committed to continually looking for new opportunities to proactively communicate with the public about our projects. The following are available tools to plan ahead and stay informed about our projects:

  • “UDOT Traffic” App — The UDOT Traffic app delivers critical traffic information directly to drivers by incorporating the best and most up-to-date information from the UDOT Traffic Operations Center, including real-time traffic conditions, construction alerts, crash information and road weather conditions. The app now features TravelWise alerts, which provide us with a direct way to communicate with drivers at critical times. The alerts proactively communicate major traffic incidents, event traffic warnings, weather-related road conditions, construction and air quality information so drivers can plan ahead, reduce delays and arrive safely at their destinations. UDOT Traffic is free and available for download in the Apple App Store and Android Market for tablets and phones.
  • Interactive UDOT Traffic Website — The website features an interactive map identifying the locations of UDOT projects statewide. Additional information is provided for each project, including the construction schedule, expected travel delays and the project benefits. The website can be accessed from www.udot.utah.gov.
  • UDOT’s Twitter Account — Follow UDOT’s Twitter feed at twitter.com/UtahDOT to receive regular updates on road construction and traffic conditions.
  • 2013 Road Construction Guide – The guide is available for download and includes a list of the 10 most significant projects.

UDOT Traffic Management Division Maintenance Crew Creating an Asset Management Plan

Note from administrator: Besides Lisa Miller this post also contains information written by Brad Lucas. Both Brad and Lisa work in the Traffic Management Division.

Preserving Utah’s road infrastructure is a critical component of UDOT’s Strategic Goals. The UDOT Traffic Management Division is creating an Asset Management Plan for devices within the Advanced Traffic Management (ATMS) System to help UDOT to continue its proactive maintenance of field devices. Devices the plan will take into account include traffic cameras, variable message signs (VMS), pavement detectors, road/weather stations, etc. An Asset Management Plan can also help to identify funding sources for new and replacement equipment.

Traffic Camera RepairWith over 1800 devices throughout the state and over 1800 miles of fiber optic cable to maintain, each of UDOT’s 16 technicians are responsible for over 100 devices. “Our staff is responsible for troubleshooting, corrective maintenance, ordering replacement parts and device installation. With a statewide system to maintain, some of these tasks can take up to a half day to complete per device,” said Brad Lucas, UDOT ITS Systems Engineer. Long term performance of the system relies on good maintenance now and allows for easier expansion and replacement in the future.

UDOT’s strategy must have a statewide approach and address long term system growth and health. “Some components of our infrastructure are aging, and good system maintenance helps to extend the life of the equipment,” said Lucas. UDOT’s Asset Management Plan will research the best and most meaningful use of public resources when budgets are tight and demand for data from field devices is high.

UDOT currently achieves between 85% and 90% of all system devices are fully operational. An Asset Management Plan will help to raise those percentages, identify life cycles for equipment replacement and strategically manage the equipment to ensure its long-term performance. Keeping the equipment operational helps to manage traffic more efficiently, and having reliable statistics on how the system is performing is an important metric for how public funds are spent.

Utah DOT Leveraging LiDAR for Asset Management Leap

This guest post was written by Philip Ellsworth for industry magazine LiDAR News. Philip is a consultant working with UDOT’s Consultant Services Division.

Mandli Vehicle

UDOT recently brought on Mandli Communications to undertake a groundbreaking inventory of Utah State Routes, the Mandli vehicle is equipped with multiple sensors, including a Velodyne LiDAR sensor.

In a world where LiDAR has revolutionized movie making, the Utah Department of Transportation is employing this impressive technology on a groundbreaking data collection project that will set the stage for vastly improved asset management — not just at UDOT, but across the country. After advertising a one-of-a-kind Request for Proposals (RFP) in the fall of 2011, UDOT has recently entered into a contract with Mandli Communications to gather, identify, and process a wide variety of roadway assets along its entire 6,000+ center lane miles of State Routes and Interstates. With the winning bidder (Mandli) proposing to use mobile LiDAR as its primary technology on the project (along with an array of other sensors), this UDOT contract may very well be the first of its kind in technological magnitude and scope.

In the beginning, the project was a simple effort to update an ongoing program where a contractor had been hired to gather roadway distress data for the Department. It was not long before the initially small UDOT team began to see that there was more potential to their efforts than just pavement distress data. With the leadership of Stan Burns, Director of UDOT Asset Management, they expanded their efforts to pull in other groups, asking everyone along the way, “What data can your division use to enhance your asset management decisions through a simplified collection effort?” It was soon discovered that some divisions had been duplicating efforts, potentially costing the Department precious resources; quickly a dynamic and diverse team began to form.

Signalized Intersection Data

The UDOT project includes an inventory of numerous roadway assets, including signalized intersections and some pavement marking, using LiDAR imaging as a backbone of the project.

A goal, established to “deploy state of the art collection methods to improve and develop rigorous safety, maintenance and preservation programs” became a key motivator to UDOT embarking on this project. Beyond this goal, it is clear that UDOT believes that the ability to make efficient asset management decisions is entirely dependent upon the accuracy and credibility of the available data. Confidently knowing the full details of UDOT’s multi-billion dollar infrastructure makes a better decision-making environment for leaders. And with safety at the forefront of UDOT’s and the public’s mind, it is critical to have the most dependable data possible in order to make potentially lifesaving decisions.

Mandli has completed the first phase of the project – data gathering – and is in the process of the second phase of the project – post processing and data delivery. Mandli proposed to gather both the positive and negative directions of data on Utah roads in 2012 and then come back in 2014 and update the data sets. The UDOT Roadway Imaging and Inventory program requires the vendor to gather no less than a dozen different roadway assets including roadway distress data, surface areas, lane miles, number of signs, ROW images, vertical clearances, and more with each of those categories broken down even further into subcategories ranging from condition data to GPS data, etc.

Sensors on the UDOT Mandli flagship vehicle include a Velodyne LiDAR sensor, a laser road imaging system, a laser rut measurement system, a laser crack measurement system, a road surface profiler, a position orientation system, and more – certainly making it one of Mandli’s most advanced asset gathering vehicles in their fleet.

While UDOT acknowledges a few hiccups along the way, the Department is excited to see the final results, expecting that the scope of the data being collected in and of itself will be better than what is available today. However, expectations of better data simply due to the size of the project hasn’t stopped UDOT from getting heavily involved in the Quality Assurance (QA) aspects of the project; aggressively pursuing the accuracy side of the project as well, even requiring a weekly QC/QA update meeting between UDOT, Mandli and their QA partner Stanley Consultants. This QA effort, combined with tight data tolerances, is expected to net UDOT a data set that meets one of their top original goals to “Gather the most data pertaining to roadway condition, location and roadway assets in an economical way, while maintaining a high level of accuracy and quality.”

UDOT believes that the use of LiDAR is actually providing more return on their investment, helping them meet their goal of gathering as much data as possible in an economical way, while maintaining a high level of accuracy and quality.

UDOT believes that the use of LiDAR is actually providing more return on their investment, helping them meet their goal of gathering as much data as possible in an economical way, while maintaining a high level of accuracy and quality.

While this project’s level of data collection is certainly possible using more traditional, ’boots on the ground‘ methods, UDOT believes that adding the use of LiDAR is actually providing more return on their investment. In the beginning, there was some hesitancy on the part of some involved, with some even expressing doubt that an endeavor of this magnitude could ever achieve its goals, or at least not without a technology such as LiDAR to complete it. The team moved forward anyway, knowing that an effort
was needed to gather the most data they could in the most cost-effective way possible – in order to increase their ability to make asset and safety management decisions with more confidence. They were truly convinced from the beginning that the effort to cobble together a diverse team would benefit each division through an “economies of scale” approach to procurement. When it was found that LiDAR was within reach, and had even been proposed by the winning team, the excitement level for the project increased exponentially. This alone, UDOT team members believe, has kept team members vigorously involved, creating a collaborative effort that even some naysayers now applaud.

UDOT team members have learned that collaboration is important because of its affect on the DOT’s ability to integrate their asset data in a meaningful way. Having multiple sets of similar data dispersed in disparate ways leads to duplication of efforts, an increase in the loss of data integrity, and an increased risk for data to become obsolete more quickly than if the data can be integrated and accessed through a collaborative effort. This project is proving to UDOT that integration is not only necessary in today’s asset management world, but that it is indeed possible.

UPLAN Website

UDOT’s UPLAN network, distributed through an ArcGIS platform is helping to get their roadway data into as many hands as possible, including the public.

One tool in UDOT’s bag of integration innovation is their UPLAN planning network platform, which has found itself in a symbiotic relationship with the UDOT Roadway Imaging and Inventory program. UPLAN is distributed on an ArcGIS platform, in conjunction with UDOT’s existing Oracle-based systems. Frank Pisani, UDOT’s GIS Manager says that it was initially developed as an internal planning tool but has quickly become UDOT’s enterprise-wide attempt to disseminate its vast database of information in a user-friendly environment, accessible online at http://uplan.maps.arcgis.com. The Roadway Imaging and Inventory project will help UPLAN by supplying it with a large amount of accurate information, while UPLAN will help the Roadway Imaging and Inventory project by becoming another portal by which the data can be distributed. This creates a scenario where not only will UDOT managers and staff be anticipating the project data, but the public can now anticipate the opportunity to experience the data as well.

No fewer than eight managers from various divisions, both inside and outside UDOT (including asset management, structures, traffic & safety, GIS, technology services, motor carriers, and more) have been collaborating on this UDOT project for well over a year. And now, with the project in full swing, these eight divisions are continuing to work together, while bringing others into the project along the way.

One group of experts that has been increasingly interested in the project are UDOT preconstruction engineering teams – those who spend a majority of their time designing UDOT roads, bridges, and other infrastructure. The mobile LiDAR point cloud has proven extremely intriguing to these preconstruction groups and as a result there is a clear desire within UDOT to discover its untapped potential. Preconstruction engineering teams are even investigating the possibility of getting high enough accuracy out of the LiDAR point cloud to be used in some preliminary design scenarios. For this endeavor, they’ve turned again to the LiDAR industry of professionals and are working with consultants, including Virtual Geomatics, to develop methods to enhance the accuracy of the LiDAR point cloud through a calibration process. Early efforts appear promising, with indications of getting to an average accuracy level of +/- 3 cm when using control points contained in the point cloud data.

Another group within UDOT that has increasingly expressed interest and favor for this project are members of the Department leadership and management, not only from those close to the project but others as well. UDOT indicates that a paradigm shift may be occurring within the DOT where employees in leadership and beyond are more commonly asking spatially-oriented questions, which fosters an environment where the value of data integration and data accuracy is not just recognized but demanded.

UDOT may well be showing that system-wide mobile LiDAR is within reach for DOT's across the nation.

UDOT may well be showing that system-wide mobile LiDAR is within reach for DOT’s across the nation.

Even with the long awaited MAP-21 legislation driving DOT’s across the nation to re-think their asset management programs, through its requirement that each state develop a risk-based asset management plan for the National Highway System, UDOT has found a way to stay at the leading edge of another transportation industry leap. And they’re clearly showing that system-wide mobile LiDAR is within reach for DOT’s across the nation.

Copper Wire Theft

Wire Theft Photo 1

Thieves used a golf club shaft to locate the copper wiring. They dug it up, cut it, and tried to pull it out by attaching it to a vehicle.

Driving in the dark lately? You may have noticed the lights are out along some sections of major interstates, like I-15, I-80, and I-215. But don’t blame the power company or burned out light bulbs…the real culprits are thieves who are in the business of stealing copper wire.

When you and I drive past the big light posts on the freeway, we might not think twice about the copper wiring that powers high mast and interchange lighting. But to some, the junction boxes next to the posts are a gold mine waiting to be found. To uncover the copper wiring and pull it out, thieves have used everything from shovels and trucks…to golf clubs and horses.

To combat their creativity, we’ve got to get a little creative ourselves. Led by Richard Hibbard, UDOT’s State Lighting Maintenance Crew (Mike Bishop, Todd Wright, John Garcia, Walter “Woody” Wood, and Brandon Clark) focuses on the hardest hit areas and the biggest targets.

Wire Theft Photo 2

The lighting crew has tried relocating and burying boxes as a method of theft deterrent, but in this case, the thieves managed to locate the box and dig it up.

The crew is now moving junction boxes away from the light posts and burying them randomly, making the boxes more difficult for thieves to find. (Don’t worry, we’ve got a locator ball inside so our own guys know where they are.) The crew is also welding handhole covers onto poles, filling some boxes with concrete, and adding rebar to others to make it harder to chip the concrete away.

Despite our best efforts, thieves are still getting to some of those areas and they’re hitting new locations seemingly every week. Hibbard says some of the hot spots are I-80 near Stansbury Park, I-215 at 700 North and 2100 North, I-15 at 600 North, and I-215 at I-80. He says, “I- 215 at I-80 is just a mess. If anyone wants to know why those lights are out it’s because half the wiring is gone.”

In fact, the amount of copper wire that UDOT has had to replace in just the past two years is staggering. Since February 2011, crews have replaced 110,000 feet of copper wire in Region 2 alone.

Wire Theft Photo 3

Sign structures are fair game with wire thieves. Here they have cut wire in a structure-mounted disconnect box and pulled it out through the ground-level junction box.

They suspect there’s another 75,000 feet missing they haven’t gotten to yet. And the situation does not appear to be improving. In January 2013, thieves made off with 15 hundred feet of copper wire from just one location.

Metal recyclers pay about $2.75-$3.00 per pound for unstripped wire, so a thousand feet of stolen wire would net someone anywhere from $300 to $700. Unfortunately, it costs a lot to replace that wire, and taxpayers are footing the bill. In the past two years, nearly $450,000 of materials and man hours has gone into replacing stolen copper wire. That’s enough money to pay for 26,000 feet of new cable median barrier.

Something needs to change, but what can we do? The answer is keep your eyes open. Hibbard says, “If you see anyone that appears to be working on lighting, someone should be asking questions.” And he means anyone. If you see a guy on a bike digging near a light post, a car pulled off the side of the freeway, or even someone in an orange vest poking around a junction box…be suspicious.

Hibbard suspects many of the thieves are electricians or others who know what they’re doing and look professional. He thinks some thefts may be happening during the day, but most happen at night. “The most suspicious thing is just any time you see a car parked on the side of the road, especially at night. I always find myself wondering what’s going on there.”

If you suspect copper wire theft is underway, but you’re not quite sure, you can always call the TOC and they’ll be able to find out if there’s legitimate work going on in that location.

Wire Theft Photo 4

The lighting crew welded a metal plate over a handhole, but in this case the thieves were able to bend it enough to get to the wire.

If you’re positive there’s a theft underway, just call the police. Let’s put the thieves behind bars, because after all, it’s our taxpayer money they’re stealing.

Wire Theft Photo 8

Thieves will attempt to chip out concrete caps within a box, but rebar will prevent the concrete from “chunking,” making removal far more difficult.

Wire Theft Photo 5

This is an example of a theft-deterring junction box lid. The polymer concrete has a steel plate backing and is attached to the box with security bolts. However, this hasn’t stopped someone from attempting to chip out a bolt as is evident on the lid surface.

2013 Strategic Direction — Part 1

This is the first part of a 4 part series about the 2013 Strategic Direction. Please also check out Part 2: Optimize Mobility, Part 3: Zero Fatalities, and Part 4: Strengthen the Economy.

After a record breaking construction year, with more than 200 projects completed, worth just over $3 billion, what is in store for UDOT in 2013? The newly completed 2013 Strategic Direction and Performance Measures highlights accomplishments by the department in 2012 and introduces goals for 2013 and the coming years.

Key to the Strategic Direction document are the UDOT Strategic Goals. These goals ensure that we focus our efforts and capital on the most important activities. This year we have revised our goals, which include:

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

Details on each goal will be provided in a four part series, beginning with:

Preserve Infrastructure

Preserving Utah’s multi-billion dollar investment is the single largest expenditure year to year within UDOT. Keeping the state’s bridges and pavement in good condition is the most effective way to extend the life of the transportation system. This is accomplished by applying well-timed preservation treatments to roads, and addressing critical needs first. By applying a combination of routine maintenance, preservation and minor and major rehabilitation projects, UDOT is able to utilize limited funding to maximize the pavement condition.

In 2012:

  • More than 100 preservation and rehabilitation projects were completed,
  • Approximately 350 miles, or six percent of the system, received a specific preservation or rehabilitation treatment,
  • Six critical bridges were replaced,
  • Eighty-four new bridges were built by capacity-driven project,
  • Two pedestrian bridges were built,
  • Bridge preservation and rehabilitation activities were performed on more than 170 bridges.

Please also check out Part 2: Optimize Mobility.

TWO MASSIVE ROAD PROJECTS OPEN

UDOT marked two significant milestones as it celebrated the completion of the largest road construction projects in Utah history on Saturday, December 15 with the opening of the Utah County I-15 Corridor Expansion (I-15 CORE) and 15 miles of the Mountain View Corridor (MVC) in Salt Lake County.

“We have delivered the World Series and the Super Bowl all in one day,” said UDOT Executive Director John Njord.

Local leaders, including Governor Gary Herbert, House Speaker Becky Lockhart and Senator John Valentine, joined UDOT in cutting the banner on the record-breaking I-15 CORE project Saturday afternoon. More than 100 people braved the chilly December weather to join the festivities. Refreshments including hot chocolate, hot dogs and special I-15 CORE sugar cookies were available to say thank you to the public for their patience throughout construction.

I-15 CORE Ribbon Cutting

I-15 CORE Ribbon Cuttin

“Hear the noise. That’s the sound of progress,” Herbert said, as cars and trucks passed underneath the Sam White Bridge on I-15. “That’s the sound of commerce, that’s the sound of a state that’s really going in the right direction.”

Construction on I-15 CORE was finished in an unprecedented 35 months, making it the fastest billion-dollar public highway project ever built in the United States. The project came in $260 million under budget.

Saturday’s celebration was held on the Sam White Bridge in American Fork, the site of one of the project’s greatest achievements. In March 2011, UDOT moved the bridge — the longest two-span bridge to be moved by self-propelled modular transporters
(SPMTs) in the Western Hemisphere — into place over I-15 in one night.

“The technology to move the Sam White Bridge into place in hours instead of months is indicative of all the work that took place on this project” to complete it quickly and keep traffic moving, Njord said.

I-15 CORE reconstructed 24 miles of freeway from Lehi to Spanish Fork, with two additional freeway lanes in each direction.

Earlier that day, snow flurries didn’t deter over 200 runners who bundled up in their winter gear to attend the MVC opening celebration, which featured a 5K Polar Bear Fun Run to give members of the community an opportunity to enjoy the road before it opened to motorists.

“It looks like Christmas to me,” said Governor Herbert as he spoke to the chilly, but upbeat crowd.

MVC Opening 5K Polar Bear Fun Run

MVC Opening 5K Polar Bear Fun Run

Runners were entertained by music courtesy of the Copper Hills High School Marching Band, stayed warm with the help of hand warmers and MVC beanies and enjoyed holiday treats, hot cider and hot chocolate provided by the project’s contractors.

Representative Wayne Harper and West Jordan Mayor Melissa Johnson also addressed the audience and thanked UDOT for their continued innovation and partnership in developing this vital roadway.

The current phase of MVC is 15 miles long and features two lanes built in each direction from Redwood Road (at approximately 16000 South) to 5400 South, with signalized intersections where future interchanges will be located.

To meet projected transportation demands in the year 2030, future construction will build out the remainder of the corridor by adding interchanges and inside lanes to achieve a fully functional freeway that will connect with I-80 in Salt Lake County and I-15
in Lehi.

Construction funds have been identified to extend MVC from 5400 South to 4100 South in the next few years.

The roadway also features 15 miles of trails adjacent to the corridor, 9 miles of paved bike lanes and UDOT’s first radar activated bike turn signal.

“The vision for the Mountain View Corridor came from the communities in Western Salt Lake County,” said Project Director Teri Newell. “UDOT is proud to make this vision a reality and provide these communities with a new transportation solution.”

MVC provides increased mobility, but will require motorists to adjust their driving patterns and learn how to navigate a new one-way roadway, as this initial phase is similar to a divided highway with one-way northbound and southbound roadways. Signs
are posted along the corridor and at each intersection to help motorists adjust to the new traffic patterns. UDOT has also produced a navigational video to teach motorists how to drive on the new roadway.

Governor Herbert touted the success of both the I-15 CORE and MVC projects, highlighting their importance state. “This is about economic development. If you want a state to thrive economically, you’ve got to have a transportation system that works,” said Herbert.

You can find out more on the I-15 CORE Infographic and the project website, www.udot.utah.gov/i15core. Additional details about the MVC project are available on the MVC Infographic or by logging on to www.udot.utah.gov/mountainview.

This is a guest post by Mary Rice of the Mountain View Corridor Project Team.