Utah Department of Transportation FTA Program Public Notice:
For Immediate Release
SALT LAKE CITY (April 13, 2017) – The Utah Transportation Commission today approved a draft list of projects to be funded and/or accelerated as a result of the 2017 Utah State Legislature’s $1 billion bonding bill. That list is now available for public comment.
Three of the recommended projects will focus on improving traffic flow and alleviating congestion on I-15 along the Wasatch Front. Pending final approval, the schedule for these projects will be accelerated to begin construction next year, during the 2018 construction season.
To see a complete list of the proposed projects and to offer comments, go to the UDOT website (udot.utah.gov) and click on the Transportation Commission hyperlink.
After considering public input, the Utah Transportation Commission will make its final decision on the project recommendations next month at its May commission meeting in Heber City.
Briefing to be held at temporary office in I-215 construction zone as part of National Work Zone Safety Week
A briefing will be conducted in the I-215 construction area to provide media with a first-hand experience of working conditions in the middle of a busy freeway. UDOT Executive Director Carlos Braceras will speak from his new desk in his temporary “office” in the middle of the work zone to encourage drivers to use caution so they, as well as construction crews, can return home safely at the end of each day.
Media members will also be able to speak with UDOT and construction workers who have experienced work zone safety incidents or near misses to illustrate the importance of slowing down, paying attention, and obeying posted signs.
Wednesday, April 5, at 9 a.m.
* Journalists must be present for a safety orientation, which will begin promptly at 9:15. Shuttle vehicles will leave at 9:25 a.m., as attendees will be escorted to the work zone for on-site interviews and filming, then returned to UDOT’s Region Two.
UDOT Region 2
2010 South 2760 West
(The building north of the Traffic Operations Center)
* To enter the construction zone, participants must wear long pants and closed-toed shoes. In addition, personal protective equipment will be provided and must be worn. Any individuals not in proper attire will not be allowed in the work zone.
Carlos Braceras, UDOT executive director
– UDOT Executive Director Carlos Braceras seated at his desk in the middle of a construction zone
– Up-close view of construction crews and machinery, including concrete pavers, dump trucks, and other construction equipment
– View of the construction zone and live traffic passing on I-215
Friday night – before the snow really started to fly – UDOT crews placed beams for the new southbound bridge on I-215 over SR-201. A total of 16 individual beams were placed – each one weighing almost 22 tons, and nearly 115 feet long. UDOT closed the freeway during overnight hours, when fewer cars are on the road, to keep traffic moving and reduce delays for drivers. The freeway closed at 9 p.m. and reopened before 5 a.m. – more than two hours ahead of schedule.
The I-215 bridges over SR-201 are being rebuilt as part of the I-215 west belt reconstruction. The project is moving forward during winter months, with activities such as concrete paving and barrier installation continuing as weather permits. Crews are also working to install sign foundations and traffic management system equipment. Construction on the project is on track for completion this fall.
The I-15 Technology Corridor: S.R. 92 to Lehi Main Street
As the crossroads of the west, I-15 is essential to keeping Utah’s economy moving. That’s why the Utah Department of Transportation consistently looks for ways to enhance I-15.
In 2012, the I-15 CORE project was completed, and 24 miles of I-15 were widened and reconstructed from Lehi to Spanish Fork. Earlier this week, The Point project was completed, and seven more miles of I-15 were widened and reconstructed, this time from Lehi to Draper. Now, many drivers want to know, “What about Lehi Main to S.R. 92?”
Plans are already in the works to improve this section of I-15. The Utah Transportation Commission has allocated $450 million to reconstruct the freeway in this area, known as the I-15 Technology Corridor. Currently, construction on the project is programmed to begin in 2020. The project will reconstruct and widen the freeway, add two lanes in each direction, and reconstruct the interchanges at S.R. 92 and 2100 North.
In addition, new one-way frontage roads will be built on both sides of the freeway between those two interchanges, and a new bridge will be built to carry Triumph Boulevard/2300 West over I-15. Other improvements included in this project are 13 bridge replacements and new bicycle and pedestrian features.
The five-mile stretch of freeway between S.R. 92 and Lehi Main Street is located near the epicenter for the state’s tech sector growth, and the nearby population has expanded at a similar rate. UDOT has already begun work to prepare for construction to begin within the next few years.
To stay up to date on this project, visit the project website here. You can also download a project fact sheet here, or view a map of the project area here.
State routes and associated features, like mile markers, structures, and even fiber optic cable, can be represented by geo-located points or lines. The UPlan Map Center provides a way to put data sets on a map, which makes the location of projects and features easy to find. A map can highlight errors and aid quality control. GIS also helps facilitate feedback from decision makers and the public by connecting data owners with data users to.
While putting data on a map sounds simple, “going from a non-visual data environment to a visual one is a complete transformative game-changer,” explains Rod McDaniels, Outdoor Inventory Control (OAC) Manager. For decades, the Department’s Outdoor Advertising Control Program struggled to consistently and quickly identify which routes in the state required billboard control and to pinpoint the exact location of permitted billboards on those routes. Records for the program were kept in individual online or hard copy files which had written descriptions of billboard locations.
UDOT recently combined all route and billboard data into the Outdoor Advertising Control Map. GIS has vastly improved the OAC program’s data quality. “GIS allows users to gain a visual understanding the geographic distribution of permitted billboards in the state. It quickly tells a story that cannot be told through endless spreadsheet rows. It has exponentially improved QC/QA activities, and it has revolutionized service delivery to a broad spectrum of stakeholders.”
A bridge too far
Putting GIS data on a map also highlights location errors. “It’s like shining a light on something that can otherwise get buried,” says Sarah Rigard, UDOT GIS Program Manager. When the UDOT Structures Division data was put on a map, some of the bridges showed up in the wrong location – one was in Nevada. “A slight typo in a lat-long coordinate will cause the point to be in the wrong location.” Checking for errors on a map can be easier and more effective than checking a spread sheet line by line.
The purpose of the annual Utah Transportation Commission Workshop is to develop funding strategies and identify upcoming projects for the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP). UDOT’s GIS team supports the workshop by developing presentation materials such as PDF maps, tables, and storymaps on UPlan. Developing presentations has spurred discussion of what information from the Electronic Program Management (ePM) database is the most useful and helpful to convey, and how that information should be presented to provide a thorough representation of transportation needs.
GIS tools provide another way review data, which improves the quality. As a result, UDOT has better information for making decisions and better tools for presenting information to stakeholders.
During this time of year, when we hear the word “GRAMA,” it is usually followed by the words: “got run over by a reindeer.”
But not for Brandi Trujillo.
Brandi is a member of UDOT’s risk management team. Part of her assignment is to respond to requests for information, documents and materials made through Utah’s Government Records Access and Management Act – otherwise known as GRAMA requests. And those requests come in at a rate of about two requests per working day – even during the holidays.
“The law is designed to give everyone – from the media to business and political interests to everyday citizens – access to public records,” Brandi said. “We do the public’s work with public money, and it’s the public’s right to know how and why we spend it.”
As a state agency, Brandi said, responding to these requests is not just a matter of law. “UDOT has identified transparency as one of our primary emphasis areas,” she said. “We really believe in that. So responding to these requests is important to us as a matter of principle, not just because we are required to do it.”
Because UDOT intends to respond appropriately to GRAMA requests, UDOT’s attorneys feel it is important that employees understand what kinds of records are subject to GRAMA scrutiny. Renee Spooner, who is an assistant Attorney General for the state of Utah and is assigned specifically to work with UDOT, said those records include:
“Generally,” Spooner said, “the only protected documents are attorney work product and attorney/client communication. Everything else is fair game, regardless of its physical form or characteristics. So it is probably a good idea to remind employees to be sure that the language they use in all of these public records is appropriate, accurate and professional. You never know when a document, map or email you create may become part of a GRAMA request, legal case or news story.”
And nobody wants to get run over by a GRAMA.