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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.

SAFETY COMES FIRST

UDOT workers do all they can to make construction zones safe for workers and road users.

Dottie Weese, left, and Cheryll Benner, UDOT Risk Management, view the Juniper Canyon Bridge under construction on the Mountain View Corridor project.

A big part of Dottie Weese’s job is to inspect construction projects to make sure the proper safety protocols are being followed, protective gear is being worn and appropriate equipment is being used. “I am not here to beat anybody up…I’m just here to make sure workers are safe.”

Weese, Safety Inspector for UDOT Region Two, visits projects monthly and sometimes makes surprise visits. She looks at tours the sites, talks to workers and submits reports about what she observes. Safety is UDOT’s top priority on any project. Weese and her UDOT counterparts in Region One, Three and Four, work side by side with safety professionals who work for UDOT contractors.

Her job can be challenging because of the dynamic nature of construction – work zones change fast, and to stay safe, workers need to be focused on safety at all times. The Mountain View Corridor is an example of a work zone that changes rapidly. While many transportation projects are improvements to existing roads, MVC is being built from the ground up, and workers are using heavy equipment to dig large trenches for utility work and move earth for the new road.

MVC workers on the project are on top of their safety game, according to Weese. “With so much going on, including a lot of really deep excavation, this team has done an awesome job,” she reports.

Chelly Heninger with Granite Construction Company is part of the MVC safety team. Her role is to promote safety among workers and the public, including partnering with UDOT’s Zero Fatalities program to give “Think Safety” presentations to school children near the construction zone, and an conducting upcoming safety week for workers in August.

While construction workers have the needed equipment and understand important safety practices in construction zones, non-workers need to stay out.  Lee Young, General Foreman for Structures on the MVC project reports that people are using the construction zones for recreation. He sees the evidence – like motorcycle, three wheeler and horse tracks – in the morning when he returns to work.

What should road users do to stay safe near construction zones?

First of all, stay out of the construction zone, pay attention while driving and observe all posted signs,  says UDOT Traffic and Safety Operations Engineer John Leonard. His job is to make sure construction project workers maintain traffic control devices in line with standard industry practice. Whether working in or driving through the zone, “we want everybody to go home safely at the end of the day.”

Check back tomorrow to see how UDOT makes construction zones safe for road users.

EXCELLENT VIEW

Utility trench on the Mountain View Corridor

The Mountain View Corridor team recently earned the 2011 Excellence in Utility Relocation and Accommodation Award from FHWA.

Relocation of utilities in preparation for road construction can be very challenging. The process involves a lot of time and expense for businesses on top of day-to-day maintenance. Sometimes, utility companies and transportation agencies can be at odds.

The Mountain View Corridor project, a freeway, transit and trail system under construction in western Salt Lake County and northern Utah County has had its share of potential utility challenges. The alignment crosses 13 municipalities, includes difficult terrain and encroaches or crosses a 300-foot-wide power and gas corridor. All together, the construction area includes about 900 separate impacts to existing utility facilities. With so many potential utility conflicts, the cost estimate to address these conflicts was $30 Million.

To meet these challenges, the MVC project team laid out a strategy to work hand-in-hand with utility companies to hold down costs, find workable solutions and keep on schedule. Partnering, master agreements, project-funded engineering, cost sharing, collaborative engineering, and acquisition of rights-of-way on behalf of the utilities all played a part in a cooperative problem-solving among UDOT, the construction contractor and the utility companies.

Team building

Wanting to better understand objections, constraints, internal processes and politics, the MVC team hired former Rocyk Mountain Power and Kearns River Gas employees. Knowing the needs of utility companies helped strengthen existing relationships, and opened doors at the senior management level so UDOT, the construction contractor and utility companies could work together to reach viable solutions.

Cost and schedule savings

The MVC team used master agreements, allowed by state code, and evenly split relocation costs between the state and private utilities. The local natural gas company agreed to use a time and cost-saving design-build contract to accommodate the MVC schedule. Qwest Communications agreed to MVC hiring an approved designer to work directly with the team to accommodate MVC’s schedule. The team collaborated with KRG and RMP to develop protect-in-place strategies for several conflicts that otherwise would have required replacement.

Success and rewarding relationships

Acquiring property for the corridor, accommodating or relocating existing utilities, phased construction and difficult terrain are factors that have posed challenges. But careful partnering and hard work has helped the project team and utility companies come to a meeting of the minds while saving time and money for the state and utility companies too.  As a result, the major utility budget was reduced $11.6 Million and the construction schedule for utility work was shortened one full year, making the project deserving of national attention.

CLOSED MEANS CLOSED!

Drive with care this spring on Utah’s high mountain roads.

Monte Cristo Highway -- This photo, taken June 22, 2011, shows that crews needed to remove a whole lot of snow before the road opened.

High alpine pass roads in Utah, used primarily to gain access to recreation areas, are closed during the winter months. UDOT crews aim to have those roads open by Memorial Day for people who take advantage of the long holiday weekend. But with the high snowfall this winter and spring, some roads have opened late and some are still closed.

SR-39 in Monte Cristo east of Ogden has just opened but the area is still snowy. Most roads will be open by late June. Until then then, don’t jump the gun!

It's illegal and dangerous to go around a "ROAD CLOSED" sign.

What people don’t realize is that crews may have a lot of work to do in order to get the road ready for motorists. For example, SR-39 was  snow packed, and deep, unstable snow drifts blocked the road. Crews needed time to clear the snow.

It’s also common for snowfall to cause landslides so that trees, rocks and dirt block the road. Crews need time to repair damage to roads and bridges, remove snow and debris and clear drainage systems so water and debris won’t back up on the road before the route can be opened.

Motorists who ignore road signs put themselves and others at risk. “Some people just blatantly disregard the ROAD CLOSED signs and stumble into the middle of our efforts to repair landslides and frankly, startle the crews running heavy equipment at these sites,” says Vic Saunders, Public Information Manager at UDOT Region One. He urges motorists to stay off of closed roads. “Following this advice can keep road openings happy events not marred by an accident involving overeager alpine enthusiasts.”

Even though flowers are blooming in valleys below, motorists should be ready for some snowy patches on some open mountain roads. And always obey all signs. Before traveling on high mountain roads, check  CommuterLink. UDOT’s TOC maintains a Seasonal State Route Closure List. Another information source is UDOT’s Road Conditions page online or call toll-free 866-511-UTAH (8824).

For more:

  • Read a Deseret News story about the Monte Cristo Highway.
  • See this KSL story which includes some beautiful photos of UDOT’s great maintenance workers clearing snow.

ROAD RESPECT IS A TWO WAY STREET

The Road Respect program encourages riders and drivers to know the laws and to drive with respect for others.

Manti Mayor Natasha Madsen, left, with Road Respect rider Mary Margaret Williams

Both riders and drivers need to know the rules of the road. “When cyclist and motorists both take responsibility to show respect, that makes the most difference,” says Evelyn Tuddenham, UDOT’s Statewide Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator. Tuddenham has responded to numerous calls and email messages from motorists and cyclists who are concerned about road safety. Those calls and messages led Tuddenham to develop the Road Respect program.

Logan Mayor Randy Watts, left, and UDOT Bicycle Pedestrian Coordinator Evelyn Tuddenham, spoke at the Road Respect Rally in Logan.

The Road Respect tour is the first effort to bring public awareness to the importance of driving and riding together safely. As Road Respect cyclists have traveled across Utah, speakers at events and rallies along the way have emphasized the importance mutual respect. Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker summed it up by saying “Everyone on the road needs to have a safe environment.”

Logan Mayor Randy Watts said drivers and riders need to “mellow-out.” Sometimes cyclists and motorists have negative attitudes about sharing the road. Both groups need to realize there should be safe space for all to ride or drive.

Provo Mayor John Curtis pointed out that many people assume that Road Respect means motorists need to mend their ways. He reminded the audience that respect goes both ways – cyclists need to be conscientious about safety too.

Manti Mayor Natasha Madsen cycles “nearly every day” for recreation and exercise. She has observed more people taking up cycling in the last few years. She and Council Member Alan Justesen signed the Road Respect Pledge. Justesen is concerned that motorists are not informed about the rules of the road. “How many automobile drivers know the rules — that’s the question.”

Know the rules — visit the Road Respect website.

ROAD RESPECT IS ABOUT SAVING LIVES

The Road Respect Program stresses important Rules to Live By – laws that govern how motorists and cyclists share the road. Like other Zero Fatalities programs, Road Respect promotes choices that save lives.

Gary Peirce signs his name to the Road Respect Pledge Board.

Gary Peirce knows first hand about the importance of obeying laws. Ten years ago, his wife Judy was killed when a driver swerved while reaching for a fallen cell phone. “It’s personal, real personal,” he explains. He joined the tour in Park City and now is very concerned about road safety.  Judy’s death changed lives forever. Gary believes that sometimes non-cyclists don’t see cyclist as someone they can relate to. He hopes that by sharing his family’s story, others may adopt attitudes that are more safety oriented.

Road Respect Tour has used a good dose of fun to convey the underlying serious message, thanks to a variety of supporters who have helped at events along the route.

Cyclist arrive in Provo

First and foremost are the 25 elite riders who demonstrate Road Respect as they ride through Utah. Their participation in the tour is bringing a lot of attention to safe riding rules. If yu are a motorist, motorist or both, you need to know the rules of the road. Visit the Road Respect website for more information.

Carolyn Shugart met the tour at the first stop in Logan. She’s the wellness coordinator at Utah State University. Keeping students and faculty “happy, healthy and balanced” is her job. Having balance is achieved by including a combination of activities in one’s life – work, play, exercise, community engagement – that’s what keeps people feeling well, whole and in touch with the world. Cycling can be a part of achieving balance.

Salt Lake City Bicycle Patrol Officers came to the Sugar House Event with a mobile bike rodeo designed to teach kids how to ride safely. Kids took turns riding bikes donated by Wal-Mart and riding through an obstacle course. Residents of Salt Lake City can request a bike rodeo by calling 801 799-3000.

 

ROAD RESPECT

Safety depends on mutual respect between motorists and cyclists.

UDOT Deputy Director addresses cyclists and audience member at Sugar House Park.

In an average year in Utah, six bicyclists are killed and nearly 850 are involved in crashes with motor vehicles, according to the Utah Department of Public Safety’s 2009 Utah Crash Summary. As cycling becomes more popular, UDOT, the Utah Department of Public Safety and elected officials across Utah consider safety to be job one.Today, 25 elite cyclists rode from Logan to Salt Lake City as safety ambassadors as part of the Road Respect Tour. Here are a few highlights:

The Road Respect Tour got underway on Monday June 13 and at each stop, met with leaders who expressed support for the tour goals – to keep cyclists and motorists safe on Utah’s streets.

Road Respect Tour Participants

Keri Gibson with DPS Highway Safety Office and Jeff Erdman with UDOT Region 1

Mayor Godfrey of Ogden touted the “miles and miles of bike lanes” that have been established under his administration. Godfrey says that a redesign of downtown Ogden made it possible for safe bicycle lanes to be installed, making a safe space for cyclists who want to commute. Fresh-Air Fridays and bike racks all over town offer a welcoming atmosphere in Ogden. Godfrey will continue to work with UDOT to make more improvements.

Infrastructure is not the only approach to improving safety – good safety practices on the part of motorists and cyclists are imperative. A recent tragic death of a cyclist in Salt Lake City “is a sad reminder to all of us that we all need to be responsible for safety,” said UDOT Deputy Director Carlos Braceras at Sugar House Park Monday afternoon. Both motorists and cyclists share responsibility.