Category Archives: Uncategorized

BREAK AWAY

A project to install new welcome signs around the state also gave UDOT a chance to use a new sign base.

The new Welcome to Utah signs gave UDOT a chance to use a new sign base.

Welcome to Utah signs placed last year feature Utah attractions and a breakaway type base that’s new to UDOT. A similar design has been used successfully in Idaho and other states for many years. The signs were placed in or near clear zones on interstates and at Utah Welcome Centers.

Clear zones are designed to allow errant vehicles a place to safely stop or re-gain control.    Signs that are installed in the clear zone are required by the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices to be protected by a crash cushion or have a breakaway design – that is, in a crash, the sign post should break away from the base and go over or under the vehicle.

It’s long been known that breakaway signs are safer for drivers than rigid signs.  In 1963, the Texas Highway Department, the Texas Transportation Institute and the U.S. Bureau of Public Roads cooperated when “Substantial miles of the Interstate System was under construction or scheduled for construction” and the need for safer sign supports was imperative. New sign bases were designed, tested and put into use. (Highway Research Record #174, Guardrails, Barriers and Sign Supports)

This interactive timeline on the TTI website shows that crash testing on breakaway sign bases was conducted at their facility in 1964, and the first known life saved as a result of a breakaway sign base was documented in 1965.

The new sign base has been tested according to Federal requirements, but UDOT Traffic and Safety wondered how well the sign base would hold over time. Since the signs are placed throughout the state and subject to all kinds of weather, the welcome sign project provided a good chance to find out how the base performs in high winds or heavy snow – so far, the sign bases are working well.

The posts on new base are secured to footings using couplings that break away in a crash leaving a very short stub. Joints on the posts also cause the sign to fold on impact. The design limits property damage to the road user and UDOT. After the base is damaged, repair is simple and inexpensive; posts can be re-bolted using conventional tools. “It is a matter of changing the hinge plates on the posts and couplings on the ground,” according to Customer Services Representative for the vendor. Because of the design, “usually the posts do not need to be replaced.”

Dave Skinner, Road Operations Coordinator in Region Three near the Wyoming State Line sees all kinds of extreme weather.  “You name it… cold, snow, rain, and very high wind,” he says. High winds regularly damage signs in his area. “Last year, the wind got a whole bunch of them,” he reports. But the new sign base has held up under daily windy conditions that range between 20 and 50 mph.

UDOT Traffic and Safety is looking forward to working with the UDOT Regions to identify other appropriate places to use the new sign bases.

FUN RUN

UDOT and local charities will hold a fun run on a new portion of the Mountain View Corridor in Utah County.

Before the tire rubber hits the road, runners are invited to put shoes to pavement to celebrate the opening of the first section of Mountain View Corridor. Several local charities are working with UDOT to hold a 5K & Fun Run on Saturday, September 24, 2011. All proceeds raised at the event will benefit North Point Elementary School, Hess Cancer Foundation, Boys & Girls Club of Utah County and Anything For a Friend.

Visit the Mountain View Corridor website for more details or to register for the race.

This video shows an overview of summer construction progress:

VOTE TODAY

Municipal primary elections are today — be sure to vote.  AND you can vote twice; UDOT’s 3500 South project is in the running for a people’s choice award.

The 3500 South Project was widened to include three travel lanes in each direction and a center-running dedicated lane for UTA’s Bus Rapid Transit line. The project was completed 7 months ahead of schedule and $6 million under budget. Early completion also saved the public $2.3 million in road user and safety costs.

Click here to vote.

After construction: Center running lanes for UTA's Bus Rapid Transit extend from 2700 West to Bangerter Highway.

GETTING READY

A handful of innovative up-grades will improve safety and winter travel through Provo Canyon.

Station Supervisor Neil Lundell stands by new crash cushions in Provo Canyon.

US-189 through Provo Canyon is part of a Scenic Byway that follows the Provo River, crosses the Uinta National Forest and provides access to Sundance Resort, Timpanogos National Monument, and the Deer Creek Reservoir. The steep, winding road requires drivers to use caution year around. But during winter, Mother Nature ups the ante; deep canyon walls, weather conditions, and the Provo River make clearing ice and snow a challenge.

Sun angle is much lower in the winter, explains UDOT Meteorologist Scott Patterson. “The canyon is so steep that some sections of the road will see little if any sunlight to help melt the snow and ice.”  And the Provo River running along the road adds moisture that can lead to frost on these shaded sections of the road. Due to the orientation of the canyon, “in southwest winds, heavy snow can fall in the canyon” while nearby areas see much less snowfall.

A look at three years of crash data averages comparing the road to statewide crash averages shows that Provo Canyon’s conditions are atypical in Utah. Contributing factors for crashes are more likely to include conditions related to weather and visibility. “Drivers in Provo Canyon need to realize that this is a unique place…you can’t treat it like an average roadway,” says Scott Jones, UDOT Safety Programs Engineer.

Provo Canyon crash data compared with statewide data shows that weather conditions have played a greater than average role in crashes.

UDOT works hard to make all roads as safe as possible. As new technologies become available, UDOT can make changes and improvements. Some new road features and equipment in Provo Canyon will enhance safety year around and improve winter snow and ice removal. “We have a big bag of effective new tools and we’re pulling out the right ones out for this location,” says Lynn Bernhard, Maintenance Methods Engineer for UDOT.

Rebounding delineators survive vehicle hits: Delineators are devices with retroreflectors that give guidance to drivers at night and when visibility is low. Pole mounted delineators help drivers see the edge of the road when snow is deep. Provo Canyon will have a new type of pole mounted delineator that’s designed to rebound after a vehicle hit. The delineators stay in service longer and require fewer repairs – good news for motorists and UDOT crews.

Collapsible, easy to fix crash cushions: Attenuators, sometimes called crash cushions, are placed on fixed structures or gore areas on freeways to minimize injuries to motorists, absorb kinetic energy during a crash, redirect automobiles in a path parallel to the attenuator and minimize property damage to vehicles and the roadway. Most attenuators are one-hit wonders; they do their job well but need extensive repair or full replacement after a crash.


Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

Attenuators with a very smart new design have been installed in Provo Canyon. The system is made of separate connected chambers that collapse when hit head on. When hit from the side, damage is limited to the impacted sections.  A hydraulic cylinder inside the chambers absorbs the crash. Repair is simple; maintenance workers simply re-expand and re-bolt the attenuator sections or replace the damaged sections.

“Two quarter-inch bolts and it’s back in service,” says UDOT Station Supervisor Neil Lundell. He estimates that repairs will usually take about an hour. The cost for repairing the new crash cushions is much less – from thousands of dollars to hundreds per crash when a section of the system needs to be replaced. When just the bolts need to be replaced, cost per crash is about .25.

Simple to switch triple-blade plow: Three culprits of winter road calamity – snow, slush and ice – each require a different plow blade. Provo Canyon’s weather system delivers spotty conditions along the roadway. In the past, plow operators had to go back to the maintenance station to switch blades. A new triple blade plow will let operators switch among blades while on the road.

The triple blade plow was developed by the Clear Roads organization, a group of public and private entities that study ways to maintain mobility and safety during the winter months. The triple blade plow is a non-propriety design that any manufacturer can produce.

An under-road system to combat winter frost: A de-icing system will be installed where moisture from the river causes frost to form. Sensors embedded under the pavement trigger the release of de-icing liquid before ice forms on the road. Many high mountain bridge decks have de-icing systems, but this pavement segment is the first road to get the special help.

A new solution for pre-wetting: Lundell says his crew will use “a different cocktail,” for wetting the road before a storm. The brine solution has ingredients that freeze at a lower temperature and help prevent ice from forming.

Safe driving in Provo Canyon

All together, the changes will help preserve mobility and safety. Motorists also need to do their part by driving safely. Jones stresses that “drivers need to be actively engaged in driving” not just in Provo Canyon, but on all roadways.

Lundell sees many crashes that happen when motorists drive too fast for conditions and the crash data above backs up his observations. Even when message boards warn drivers “they still just keep going too fast.” He urges motorists to always use caution. “Just because the snow is off, don’t speed up.”

SAFE WALKING AND BIKING

UDOT launched the annual statewide “Walk More in Four” challenge today.

UDOT's Student Neighborhood Access Program is a comprehensive safe walking and biking to school program that engages and educates students, parents, school administrators, crossing guards and communities.

During September, students can practice safe walking and biking for a chance to earn money for their school and bikes and scooters for themselves. This year, the school with the highest percentage of students participating will win $500 to be used by its safety committee.

Walk More in Four encourages all Utah K-8 students to walk or bike to school at least three days each week during the four weeks in September leading up to International Walk to School Day, Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2011. Schools must register for the competition by September 7.

The Walk More in Four Challenge is part of the Student Neighborhood Access Program. To encourage safe walking and biking, SNAP provides free resources, including mapping software, a 35-minute musical assembly and DVD, student activity booklets and teacher lesson plans, to assist in getting more students walking and biking safely to school. For more information about the Walk More in Four Challenge or SNAP, visit the website or call Utah’s Safe Routes to School Coordinator, Cherissa Wood, at (801) 965-4486.

ROAD RESPECT FOR KIDS

Teaching kids safe cycling rules was one common focus of the recent ROAD RESPECT Tour.

A princess learns to ride safely at a Road Respect bike rodeo

UDOT and the Department of Public Safety’s Highway Safety Office recently sponsored a cycling tour to spread the word about ROAD RESPECT, a new program to promote safe driving and cycling. Cyclists took breaks along the way to join local residents at rallies and stops. Teaching kids safety rules was a big part of many of those events.

Getting a proper fit

Children and teens ride bicycles at a higher rate than adults, according to an observational study completed by the Utah Department of Health. Unfortunately, young people make up the biggest percentage of cyclists hit by cars too. Teaching kids good riding habits can prevent injury and death among Utah’s most vulnerable cyclists.

Organizers of ROAD RESPECT events used a variety of activities to teach kids safe riding skills. In Salt Lake City, SLCPD conducted a bike rodeo at Sugar House Park. SLC residents can have an event of their own by contacting SLPD officers. The Utah Department of Public Safety, Highway Safety office also provides bike rodeos.

In addition to a rodeo, a skill-building course is a good way to help kids gain control on a bicycle. The one road respect event in featured a skills course that required kids to ride in figure 8 patterns, over bumps and lengthwise along a narrow board. The skills course was tough for some of the younger riders, but even the littlest ones showed improvement after a few tries.

Good riding skills were taught at a Road Respect event in Loa.

Family rides were a part of many Road Respect events and rallies. Riding as a family gives parents a chance to teach good safety habits by example.

If you are planning a summer event – like a family reunion or a block party – consider adding a cycling activity along with good food and fun. Teaching safety in a fun environment is a good way to show kids good cycling habits.

Bikes for Kids Utah

Utah Department of Health, Violence and Injury Prevention, Bicycle Safety

Central Utah Public Health Department, Bicycle Safety

Bike Provo

 

 

INNOVATIVE MANAGEMENT

UDOT recently earned an innovative management award for a road-widening project in West Valley City, Utah.

This photo shows the moveable concrete barrier, right, that adjusts traffic lanes to accommodate peak flow.

The American Association of Highway Transportation Officials presented UDOT with an award for innovative management as part of the annual American Transportation Awards.

Judges for the award come from across the nation and represent business leaders, police and other emergency workers and transportation experts from University Transportation Centers. Winners are chosen in three categories for each of the four regions across the United States.

Thirty-five hundred South, a busy commercial and east-west commuter route, was widened between 2700 West and Bangerter Highway to include three lanes of travel in both directions and two center dedicated lanes for Utah Transit Authoritie’s first Bus Rapid Transit line. West Valley City also sponsored aesthetic and utility improvements. Granite Construction Company was the construction contractor.

The project was completed 7 months ahead of schedule and $6 million under budget. Early completion also saved the public $2.3 million in road user and safety costs.

During construction, UDOT took great care to keep traffic moving as efficiently as possible. The project was the first to use a moveable barrier in an urban setting. Moveable barriers provide a safe work space and help maintain traffic during construction by keeping more lanes open in the peak travel direction.

UDOT also required that local citizens be kept informed about the construction progress. Langdon Group, UDOT’s public involvement contractor, assembled a Community Coordination Team, made up of bushiness and community representatives from West Valley City. Monthly meetings were held to keep the CCT informed about construction decisions and safety issues. CCT members in turn conveyed that information to other area businesses and community organizations.

According to Aaron M. Crim, Director of Public Relations for West Valley City, the newly widened roadway is already benefiting residents and businesses by providing less delay and an inviting corridor for customers and commuters. In a letter submitted to the award selection committee, Crim states that  “The widened road, buried utilities, sidewalks and landscaping have improved the corridor vastly,
and made it much friendlier to businesses, drivers and pedestrians; traffic flows freely and lights are timed optimally. Additionally, the new center-running Bus Rapid Transit lanes make the corridor ideal for mass transit.”

I-15 CORE SPLIT

UDOT places top priority on the safety of road users and construction workers on I-15 CORE and every other project.

A Salt Lake Tribune letter to the editor printed last week addresses the new I-15 CORE project work zone configuration that splits directional traffic around the work zone and asks about the safety of workers. The letter is a good sign – it shows that people are paying attention to the news about how the work zone has changed. Letting drivers know about changes is an important safety precaution.

The I-15 CORE project team has planned for this unusual traffic configuration for many months now, and even though the split is atypical, UDOT has made the work zone as safe as possible for workers and road users.

The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices is the standard guidebook for temporary or permanent roadway features.

A work zone is a Temporary Traffic Control zone, according to the MUTCD, which states that “road user and worker safety and accessibility in TTC zones should be an integral and high-priority element of every project from planning through design and construction.”

Here are some ways I-15 CORE and other UDOT projects are planned and engineered for safety:

  • Before construction, traffic control plans are developed and given to all workers who have a safety role to play. The plan shows temporary features such as barriers and signs. Alternate routes are also identified. Comments, suggestions and changes are made until the final plan is agreed upon by all parties.
  • TTC zone features, such as signs, lane markings and barriers, must approximate permanent features as closely as possible. Many TTC zone elements are designed to give drivers visual cues that trigger an appropriate response – that way, driver expectancy is increased.
  • UDOT goes beyond the standards in the MUTCD by requiring signs with higher reflectivity, reflective flags on all temporary signs and adding high speed rated orange barrels in tapers (merging areas).
  • Adequate pre-warning signs are used to make road users aware of the change well ahead of the TTC zone.
  • Lane markings or other features that don’t apply to the TTC zone are covered or removed.
  • Work areas are separated from traffic by concrete barrier that is designed to withstand severe impact without failing. The shape of the barriers also redirect vehicles back into the traffic lanes.
  • TTC zones are inspected multiple times a day and once a night by trained professionals who are very familiar with MUTCD standards. During the inspection, features like damaged signs or worn pavement markings need are identified. Inspectors and other project workers also observe traffic behavior to assess how the TTC zone is working and changes are made if necessary.
  • UDOT encourages the voluntary use of TravelWise strategies that can significantly reduce traffic volume through the project corridor.
  • Good public relations practices are also stressed in the MUTCD. UDOT takes great care in identifying, notifying and updating all stakeholders, including commuters, emergency workers, business owners, employment centers and residents near the project. PR professionals use a variety of methods to update stakeholders, including contacting print and broadcast media, social media, project hotlines, videos like the one above, email up-dates and speaking face-to-face with groups or individuals.

Most crashes can be avoided

Most work zone crashes are caused by motorists who speed or drive distracted. Don’t put yourself, your passengers, other drivers or construction workers at risk by looking at construction activity, texting, eating or changing radio stations. Keep your attention on the roadway!

For more information about I-15 CORE or other UDOT projects in your area or on your commute, visit the customizable UDOT website.

DON’T ZONE OUT

Four out of five work zone fatalities are motorists. UDOT transportation project work zones are set up to be as safe as possible – do your part as a motorist, cyclist or pedestrian by traveling with care.

Use care when driving through construction zones.

UDOT is committed to making construction zones as safe as possible as well as reducing travel delay for road users who travel through those zones. However, with the construction in full swing, some road users will inevitably face inconvenience or feel the need to speed or drive carelessly through a work zone. Please drive carefully!

UDOT uses the industry standard, FWHA’s Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices, for configuring construction zones for traffic. UDOT also uses more stringent traffic control standards when necessary in an effort to further improve work zone safety.

Using the MUTCD as a standard ensures that work zone traffic control provides the safest possible environment and helps maintain consistency from zone to zone to help motorists know what to expect. From St. George to Salt Lake City, “motorists should know what to do where ever they drive,” says John Leonard, UDOT Traffic and Safety Operations Engineer.

While driving through work zones:

Expect the unexpected – Avoid distractions and place your full attention on the road. Because construction is an ongoing process, changes – like lane shifts or ramp closures – can happen often. Construction vehicles can enter or exit the roadway, and vehicles can slow down unexpectedly.

Don’t tailgate – Follow other vehicles at a safe distance.
Obey the posted speed limit – Fines for speeding double in work zones. Workers are performing complex tasks just a few feet away. Speeding puts those workers and you and your passengers at risk.

Before you go, get information about road work near your home or on your commute – UDOT provides information to road users about all projects in the form of web updates, emails updates and live traffic information. Getting the information you need is easy using the UDOT website to find projects or checking CommuterLink.