Category Archives: Uncategorized

SAFE ROUTES AWARD

UDOT participates in the Safe Routes to School, an award-winning program that helps communities identify and implement safety improvements.

The “UDOT Crossing Guard Fundamentals” DVD and Quick Reference is an aid to local law enforcement agencies who have the responsibility to train crossing guards. In 2012, 97 percent of all known law enforcement agencies were using the crossing guard training materials developed by the SNAP program.

The Harvard Bright Ideas in Government Award, which honors innovative government partnerships, has been given to National Center for Safe Routes to School (SRTS) for working with communities across the country to make walking and riding to school safer for kids.

SRTS is a data driven program that collects information on the travel habits of school children to improve safety at the local level and to also understand trends at the national level.  The program also funds infrastructure and non-infrastructure projects at the state level.

UDOT has participated in the SRTS program since 2007. During that time sixty-nine projects have been funded, including infrastructure improvements, such as sidewalks, paved trails and installed bike racks, and non-infrastructure activities, such as walk-to-school-day events, bike rodeos, and safety assemblies.

The Student Neighborhood Access Program is a comprehensive, state-wide non-infrastructure program that falls under the SRTS umbrella.

Walk More in Four

Too many cars around a school drop-off point can result in traffic congestion, increase the risk of fender-benders and make watching out for pedestrians and cyclists more difficult. Walk More in Four is an annual fall SNAP event that encourages students in Kindergarten through eighth grade to walk or bike safely to school. The program aims to teach kids safe habits and to reduce the number of cars driving on streets around schools. SNAP has had a positive impact, according to Cherissa Wood who coordinates UDOT’s SNAP program.

A voluntary survey of participants indicates that most students rarely walked or biked to school during the previous year. “By encouraging students to walk or bike to school at least three times each week during September, SNAP positively changed the travel behaviors of Utah students and provided the means for develop a lasting, safe and healthy habit,” says Wood.

Since the first statewide Walk More in Four event in 2009, more than 6,000 Utah students have walked or biked to school at least three times each week during September.

A SNAP Map shows the safest walking and biking routes.

SNAP Mapping Software

Getting kids to school safely is aided by SNAP Mapping Software. The web-based program uses Google Maps™ to help principals create and distribute maps that show the safest walking and biking routes.  More than 200 Utah elementary, middle, and junior high schools from 24 school districts have a current SNAP Map.

SNAP, Walk ’n Roll

Since its launch in 2009, more than 90,000 elementary students at 100 schools have enjoyed “SNAP, Walk ’n Roll,” a free safety assembly for elementary age students. The show uses music and actors to teach the importance of following the SNAP Map, bicycle and pedestrian safety and how to stay safe around road construction.

Crossing Guard Training

The “UDOT Crossing Guard Fundamentals” DVD and Quick Reference is an aid to local law enforcement agencies who have the responsibility to train crossing guards. In 2012, 97 percent of all known law enforcement agencies were using the crossing guard training materials developed by the SNAP program.

ROUGHED UP

UDOT is participating in a study of  High Friction Surfacing as part of a nationwide study sponsored by FHWA.


Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

On sharp curves, freeway ramps or steep hills, rain and high speeds can combine to create dangerous slick conditions, especially for semis or other large vehicles. FHWA is reaching out to UDOT and other states to promote the study and possible implementation of HFS. Several states have used HFS and realized an immediate reduction in crashes.

HFS, usually consisting of an epoxy binder and a non-polishing aggregate, improve roadway skid-resistance in places where motorists need help to brake more effectively. HFS  improve skid resistance by applying a microtexture that increases pavement-tire friction. The aggregate used in HFS is critical; calcined bauxite is used often because it maintains it’s microtexture and resists material loss under heavy traffic.

UDOT has identified two locations, one in Payson and one in Logan Canyon, where HFS will be evaluated. Before and after studies that look at crash data, skid resistance, and other factors, will provide the basis for an objective assessment. UDOT will also monitor how the HFS tolerates weather extremes, traffic and snow plows.

If the treatment is shown to be effective, UDOT may draft a specification or special provision to allow HFS to be used at other appropriate locations.

See the slide show above to see a step by step narrative of how the treatment was applied in Payson. For photo captions, click on the images.

PUBLIC-PRIVATE REST AREAS

UDOT was the first state department of transportation to partner with private service stations to provide Safety Rest Areas on interstates.

A Chevron Station near Cove Fort serves as a public-private rest area. Visitors have access to restrooms and water without having to make a purchase.

A business in Springville was the first public-private Safety Rest Area; it replaced an old SRA that needed to be torn down. Five more partnerships have followed, and overall, the approach has worked well for UDOT, businesses, taxpayers and road users.

The partnership requires some commitment on the part of participating businesses, according to UDOT Permits Engineer Rhett Arnell who oversees five of the rest areas. Businesses must be easy to access from the freeway, agree to stay open around the clock, provide water and access to clean restrooms without requiring a purchase, and have adequate parking for cars and tractor-trailers.  Arnell spoke at the National Safety Rest Area Conference in Salt Lake City this week.

UDOT provides signage that directs drivers to the stops. The benefit for businesses is more customers, which helps offset higher maintenance costs.  The Utah Department of Tourism provides free information about local and regional attractions.

The partnerships have saved thousands of dollars of funding each year, according to Arnell. Cleaning services costs UDOT over $80 thousand per rest area per year.  And the partnerships have saved taxpayers from funding new buildings.

Businesses that participate seem to like the arrangement. Arnell said that some have opted out of the program and then decided to participate again.

A UDOT report issued in 2007 found that the public-private partnerships work well to provide for the basic needs of road users. The report suggests that the program be expanded to more locations and lists some additional features, such as picnic and play areas, that could be added in the future.

About Safety Rest Areas:

The first interstate rest areas came into being in 1938 as a part of the Federal Highway Aid Act. The Interstate Highway Act of 1956, establishment of the Highway Trust Fund in 1956, and the Highway Beautification Act of 1965 focused more attention on rest area construction nationwide.  Utah’s Rest Area System was developed at the same time Utah’s highway system was built.

UDOT’s newest Welcome Center and rest area was built in 2010. Tie Fork is located on US- 6 at milepost 202. The building and surrounding area is a tribute to Utah’s railroad past and the former town of Tucker.

SAFETY FIRST

The primary purpose of Safety Rest Areas along interstates is crash prevention.

A Safety Rest Area that also serves as a Welcome Center in Jensen, Utah.

Drowsy driving is a major cause of crashes in Utah and nation wide. SRAs  provide road users a place to take a rest break after traveling long distances.

Utah crash statistics indicate that seven fatigue related crashes occurred in the state in 2011. That number may be low considering that drowsy driving seems to be pervasive – a Utah Department of Public Safety poll indicates that 44 percent of respondents admit to falling asleep or nodding off while driving.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that drowsy driving results in 1,550 deaths, 40,000 injuries and more than 56,000 crashes each year in the US.

The National Sleep Foundation offers some advice on avoiding drowsy driving:

  • Before a trip, get at least eight hours of sleep – 71 percent of drivers who reported falling asleep in the Utah poll got less than eight hours of sleep the night before the trip
  • Take a break every 100 miles or 2 hours and have a snack or go for a brisk walk or run
  • Switch drivers during long trips
  • Take a nap—SRAs provide safe place to take a short nap if necessary

ZERO Fatalities

UDOT, the Utah Department of Public Safety and many other organizations have partnered to promote ZERO Fatalities, a crash prevention effort that addresses five major causes of traffic related death: drowsy driving, distracted driving, aggressive driving, impaired driving and not buckling up.

RESTING PLACE

UDOT is hosting the National Safety Rest Area Conference.

Planners, vendors, welcome center managers and maintenance providers from across the United States and Canada are in downtown Salt Lake City this week to hear presentations about planning, and maintaining facilities that support travel along the Interstate Highway system.

The primary purpose Safety Rest Areas is to provide a place to take a break for road users who travel long distances. However, some state departments of transportation, including Utah are playing a role in supporting the local economy as well.

Not just for safety any more

Conference Presenter David Dahlquist of RDG Planning and Design believes that SRAs that are memorable and call attention to local history and culture can invite road users to stay longer, visit local attractions and spend money at restaurants, lodging and other businesses.

David Dahlquist of RDG Planning and Design has been successful at bringing artists and engineers together to create very memorable SRAs in Iowa.

SRAs are often the first chance state tourism and transportation agencies get to make a good first impression. As such, the facilities can be a valuable marketing opportunity to “make a connection with the traveling public.”

Dahlquist has been successful at bringing artists and engineers together to create very memorable SRAs in Iowa. By researching local history and culture, the facility designs pay homage and call attention to “the story of a place.”

Sometimes, according to Dahlquist, a SRA or other transportation design can be the best place to show visitors the unique historical and cultural assets of the area. A SRA in Cedar Rapids is a good case in point.

Who is Grant Woods?

Artist Grant Woods created the famous painting American Gothic, a depiction of rural life in America. One Iowa SRA has a Grant Woods themed design where visitors can learn about the man and his art – including his former home in Cedar Rapids.

By directing tourists to the home, Dahlquist believes the local community has realized economic benefits. “Economic development follows cultural tourism,” and the local businesses reap the rewards, he says.

Like Iowa, Utah has a rich cultural heritage and attractions that draw visitors. Over 13 million visitors per year arrive in Utah by car. Tomorrow, read how UDOT and the Utah Office of Tourism cooperate to provide safe places to stop, rest and learn about the state.

RESTORING SR-31

UDOT crews are working hard to clear debris and reestablish drainage in the area of the Seeley Fire where a flash flood stripped the area of trees, rocks and soil and shut down SR-31.

The flooding occurred during a rain storm on August 1 in the Manti-La Sal National Forest in southeastern Utah. The storm dropped about one and a quarter inch of rain in a half hour. Although similar storms are fairly common in the forest, this storm “was enhanced by the fire,” says Jim Chandler, UDOT Region Four Area Engineer.

“When fires go through the forest, they can make the soil hydrophobic,” explains Chandler. The temporary soil condition can occur when burned material takes up the empty pore spaces where water would normally seep in. In just a short space of time, the runoff “hit rocks and trees and brought them down the canyon,” says Chandler. “The fire just created the perfect condition to wash everything away.”

And much of the debris ended up on SR-31. Chandler says in one spot, rock, soil and trees were piled over 6 feet high. UDOT crews from the Huntington, Wellington, Colton, Emery, Mt. Pleasant and Gunnison Maintenance Stations “worked hard day after day moving a lot of material and trees,” says Chandler. Given that the road was open one week later, their effort was “quite amazing.”

The run-off that occurred during the flash flood also caused scour in stream beds and in other natural run-off areas, according to Darren Olsen, U.S. Forest Service District Ranger. Olsen says the USFS is planning some mitigation to prevent similar flash floods in the future.

Because of the volume of debris flow, the most challenging part of the erosion repair effort for UDOTis cleaning out and restoring culverts and cut ditches “so that the water that does reach the road can pass through with minimal damage to the road”  says Daryl Friant, UDOT District Engineer.  During a storm, runoff flows along the road in cut ditches and the under the road through culverts.

UDOT is also in the process of rebuilding the road in two areas where water flow washed out embankment and shoulder and one area where water flowed over the road and caused pavement to break up.

Work will continue through fall, according to Chandler. “They’ll be out there until the snow flies,” getting drainage established in order to make the area safe for the traveling public.

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

CONTROLLED SLIDE

Crews unload parts of a new avalanche control system.

UDOT is installing new avalanche control systems that can be activated remotely.

Two of the new avalanche control systems are being installed in a known avalanche path called Valerie’s Slide in Little Cottonwood Canyon on the lower face of Mount Superior.

“It is unique in that it will allow us to initiate snow slides without artillery,” says Project Manager Steve Poulsen. The system is a better alternative than howitzer-fired or hand dropped shells since the slide area is adjacent to Snowbird Village and SR-210.

The visible part of the system is a downward-facing twelve foot long, two foot diameter tube. An underground oxygen and propane storage farm feeds the gases to exploders where the gases are mixed in preparation for firing. The units are then triggered by remote control producing a shock wave that moves through the tube. The resulting controlled slide prevents a bigger, potentially more destructive slide.

Two similar units have been in operation for two years. The new units are planned to be operable for this coming snow season. “Next year we plan to install 5 more units along other slide path starting zones in the Mt. Superior area that will further reduce the need to fire artillery over Snowbird village buildings,” says Poulsen.

LEND A HAND

Local residents recently helped UDOT ‘hand paint’ a bridge.

A pedestrian bridge that will be put into use over U-111 at 8200 South is decorated with the bright colored hand prints.

A pedestrian bridge that will be put into use over U-111 at 8200 South is decorated with the bright colored hand prints. The unusual adornment method was proposed by State Representative Jim Bird.

UDOT embraced the idea and extended an invitation to the public to participate. Many of the people who lent a hand to the project will also benefit from the structure once it’s put in place.

“It turned out to be a really great event,” says Andrea Gumm, Public Information Manager on the project. Initially, people who live in the area were targeted for participation. After a story about the upcoming event appeared in the media, word got out –“we got people from all over.” About one hundred people responded.

Gumm sees the hand prints as a way that people can feel some ownership of the structure. Those who showed up to “leave their mark” were really enthusiastic. She observed several children pointing out their hand prints and stating that they would remember and show their prints to friends once the bridge is in place.

The pedestrian-bridge was removed as part of work done on 7800 South and Bangerter Highway. Since the bridge still has some functional life, the structure will be put to good use on U-111 at 8200 South, a location that has been identified as needing a safer pedestrian crossing.

The bridge will be moved into place this fall.

RELY ON RESPECT

“Road Respect, Cars & Bikes Rules to Live By” is a safety campaign that encourages motorists and cyclists to know and abide by the rules of the road – laws and common sense practices that help keep all road users safe. 

Matt Sibul, Planning Director with the Utah Transit Authority speaks to the media at the Salt Lake Intermodal Center

The Utah Department of Public Safety and Utah Department of Transportation started a joint effort to encourage safe practices and good relationships between motorists and cyclists in 2011. The centerpiece of the communication effort is a statewide bicycle tour.

In June 2012, thirty cyclists representing law enforcement, public safety, transportation and bicycle advocacy participated in a six day 509 mile ride through Utah.  Along the way cyclists joined community leaders and citizens, including local cyclists at planned Rallies and Stops meant to promote the rules for sharing the road.

Rallies and Stops were organized by community volunteers. “It’s taken many, many hours to get to this point,” explained UDOT Deputy Director Carlos Braceras at a kick-off event in Salt Lake City.

Months before the tires hit pavement, tour co-organizers Evelyn Tuddenham with UDOT and Kari Gibson with the Utah Highway Safety Office networked with communities throughout the state to organize Road Respect events. Mike Loveland is an avid cyclist and a lieutenant with the Utah Highway Patrol. He participated as a cyclist and also helped plan the tour.

Loveland’s work life is spent enforcing the rules of the road. But after work, he spends a lot of time cycling. So, he is in a unique position to see safety issues from the perspective o f a cyclist and a motorist.  The Road Respect campaign and tour is a way to encourage a “get-along attitude” between cyclists and motorists, Loveland explains. Cooperation and consideration is necessary since both groups, according to Loveland “own a piece of the road.”

Local communities appreciate the effort

Activities at the Rallies and Stops drew families for fun activities, including include bike rodeos, helmet give-away items, street and trail rides and speakers, including elected officials who endorsed the Road Respect message. Mayor Bruce Burrows of Riverdale City praised the effort at a Stop on the Road Respect Tour.

Riverdale officials are working on a Complete Streets plan for the city that includes bike lanes and trails “that will interconnect every part of the city.”

According to the National Complete Streets Coalition website (http://www.completestreets.org), “Complete Streets policy ensures that transportation planners and engineers consistently design and operate the entire roadway with all users in mind – including bicyclists, public transportation vehicles and riders, and pedestrians of all ages and abilities.”

Citizens in Riverdale want cycling, explained Burrows at a tour Stop. “We want to be ahead of the curve, to be very proactive in getting things done.” And with more cyclists on the streets of Riverdale, it’s even more important that when people ride or drive, they know the rules of the road.

Mayor Dennis Fife of Brigham City, Utah also sees the value in making his city bicycle friendly. He explained how he invited Jack Leavitt, a retired engineer from ATK to head the city’s bicycle committee at a Stop.

Both Fife and Leavitt are pleased with the progress the city has made. “We’ve got new bicycle lanes that go north and south through the whole city on both the west side and east side,” says Leavitt. “We’ve seen a great increase of families now that we have these bike lanes.” So, the Road Respect message is well timed!

Getting the message out

Road Respect events around the state were well attended by families, cycling club members, community groups and elected officials. And that great community support at official Rallies and Stops was in part due to great media coverage of the tour.

Kerry Bringhurst, News Director at Utah Public Radio used the messages developed by Tuddenham and Gibson to cover the tour and associated events. In fact, even though UPR broadcasts originate in Logan, the station covered events around the state starting the first day of the tour. Coverage included interviews of Road Respect organizers, stories about the tour and information on the website, including an interactive tour map.

Bringhurst believes covering the Road Respect tour was an important service to listeners “not just to help cyclists, but to help motorists.” Bringhurst says the information sent to the station about the tour were excellent.

The Road Respect Tour communication effort included carefully developed press releases, fact sheets and a list of myths about cycling meant to help media outlets educate the public and promote Road Respect events. Tour organizers “gave me what I needed so I could do accurate interviewing,” said Bringhurst.

Cars and bicycles together

Road Respect Tour cyclists were joined by motorists driving replica Shelby Cobras to demonstrate the importance of respect between drivers and riders. Some of the Rallies on the Road Respect Tour even featured mini car shows.

While the tour involves bikes and cars, there’s really one group – people. More and more Americans ride and drive for work and for fun. All people deserve to be shown respect, whatever the chosen transportation mode.  Salt Lake County Deputy Mayor Nichole Dunn, who spoke at a Rally in Draper, told the audience that when teaching safety, respect is the key.  “If you base an event around respect you really can’t go wrong.”

CLASSICAL GAS

At work and at home, UDOT Fleet Manager Steve McCarthy is all about transportation.

The building was owned and operated as a gas station by a local refinery and once stood on Center Street in Provo. The truck is a 1929 Model A Roadster.

Steve McCarthy says he grew up in the transportation industry and has “always been tied to that gas and oil stuff.” At work, McCarthy is responsible to make sure UDOT’s fleet, valued at about $200 million, runs as safely and efficiently as possible. At home, the transportation theme continues with a vintage 1920’s gas station building in his back yard.

The building was owned and operated by a local refinery and once stood on Center Street in Provo. McCarthy has outfitted the exterior to resemble an old Texaco station. He started collecting gas station items, including gas pumps, a vending machine and an assortment of fan belts and hoses, in 1995. Eventually he’d like the building to a fully stocked service station that looks ready for business “like it would back in the day.”

The building “has a history here in this town,” says McCarthy. Before he acquired it, the building was the subject of a TV news story and and artist rendering  and also used as a backdrop for a ZCMI photo shoot.