Category Archives: Uncategorized

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.

WILD APP

A new smart phone app is helping UDOT and the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources work together to improve safety.

Mule deer pass under a bridge on U.S. 6. This photo was taken by an onsite motion activated camera placed by Wildlife Researcher Dr. Patricia Cramer with USU.

The new Utah Wildlife Vehicle Collision Reporter is a tool that helps track and categorize animals that are hit by vehicles on state routes. The app is for use on GPS enabled smart phones that are used by UDOT contractors who pick up carcasses from state roads. UDOT and DWR both need the information to identify where improvements, such as wildlife crossings and fencing, are needed.  “It’s the single most important data set we use,” says Ashley Green, UDWR Wildlife Coordinator for Statewide Projects.

Habitat Biologist Doug Sakaguchi with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources has helped track high wildlife-vehicle hit areas since 2005. Data shows fewer hits have occurred in areas where new wildlife crossings and fences have been installed over the past seven years. Crossings and connected fencing work together to direct wildlife through crossings.

In the past, Green says that staff spent many hours entering data. Sometimes, important data was lost, forgotten or duplicated. Eventually, Green realized that a better system was needed so UDWR employees could spend less time entering data “and have more time to analyze data to make recommendations on making wildlife mitigations.”

The app was the idea of a graduate student at Utah State University who is conducting research at several locations around the state. He proposed the idea for the app to UDOT and UDWR –employees at both agencies thought the idea was worth pursuing. With funding from UDOT, AGRC programmers designed the app, which works on Android and iPhone systems.

Paul West, UDOT’s Wildlife Program Manager makes recommendations for improvements aimed at protecting wildlife or threatened or endangered species for every UDOT project. He analyzes the data for “hot spots,” which represent an increase in wildlife hits. Those kinds of data spikes indicate where new crossings or fences are needed “now or in the future to correct that situation,” says West. Installing crossings and fencing needs to be done strategically in order to provide help where it’s needed most. Better data means better decisions about wildlife crossings can be made.

UDOT Engineer for Maintenance Methods Lynn Bernhard put together the contracts that require vendors to use the app. “Wildlife data is captured immediately at the exact time and place that the carcass is picked up and automatically transferred into the Division of Wildlife Resources database,” says Bernhard.

Using the app eliminates a lot of errors and simplifies the work of UDOT’s contractors. Workers who use the app only need to enter a few bits of information about the animal. The app populates the rest of the information, including mile marker, state route, UDWR region and other details, based on the GPS location.

UDOT and  UDWR will continue to work together to make roads safer by reducing the number of vehicle-wildlife crashes, explains Bernhard, “and that’s what it’s all about, eliminating crashes.”

For more, view an AGRC presentation about the development of the app.

INTERSECTION UPDATE

New safety features will get the attention of motorists.

An auto-activated warning tells motorists on SR 202 that SR 201 traffic does not stop.

The location where State Routes 201 and 202 meet near Rio Tinto has been the site of two recent fatal car crashes; the last one occurred in January. “Rio Tinto has been so concerned with this intersection that they prohibit all Rio Tinto employees from making through and left turn movements at this intersection,” according to Brandon Weight, Rotational Engineer with UDOT Central Traffic and Safety.  Weight designed the improvements to the intersection, which have now been installed.

After the last fatal crash, concern for the safety of motorists prompted UDOT Region Two Traffic Engineer Robert Miles to look for ways to improve safety at the location. He assigned to engineer Alex Fisher, an intern at UDOT, to research some options and propose changes.

The speed disparity on the two routes provided the challenge. SR 201 traffic tends to be fast and motorists have a long stretch of highway with few stops required between Tooele and Salt Lake. SR 202 is slower, and motorists entering SR 201 may not realize that oncoming traffic is traveling fast. Conversely, motorists traveling on SR 201 might not anticipate slower moving traffic entering the roadway.

Since the intersection does not meet all the criteria for a signalized intersection, Fisher proposed an auto-activated warning and stop signs. Read about her proposal in a previous blog post.

Weight found the designing the improvements very satisfying. He worked under the direction of UDOT Traffic and Safety Engineer Larry Montoya.

Design challenges

According to Weight, the most challenging part of the design was placing the radar detection and signs in a location that allows adequate stopping sight distance for semis. Other challenges included designing the raised island to allow adequate site distance for vehicles stopping on SR 202 and the minimum turning path for semis entering the refinery.

Very few changes to the design needed to be made during construction. “Once construction started, the conduit placement and wire call-outs needed to be adjusted,” according to Weight. “All changes were adjusted in the final as-built drawings.”

The procurement contractor was Cash Valley Electric under the direction of Eric Ward. The contractor provided a high quality finished product. The system was turned-on by David Mount of Region Two on Monday, June 18, 2012, “Rio Tinto has told me they are happy with our efforts to improve the safety at this intersection,” says Weight. UDOT will monitor the improvements to make sure the improvements function as intended by design.

TRANS TECH INITIATIVES

From Kevin Griffin, UDOT Director of Maintenance and Rob Wight, UDOT Engineer for Construction: Over the past year our District Engineers have been working hard to address issues that had been identified with our Transportation Technician program.  The District Engineers have done a great job in addressing these issues and we felt it was important to identify what they have been working on.  Some of the issues with the Transportation Technician program that they have addressed are:

Better Communication/ Career Development

Training

Workload exceeds Resources

Project Specific Training

Geographic Challenges / Mentoring

Efficiency of using internal inspection

Identification of Cost Efficiencies

The District Engineers will be working closely with their staff at each region to explain the details of these initiatives and how the initiatives will improve the Transportation Technician program. We would personally like to thank all of the District Engineers for their efforts here.  The hard work they have done will have a lasting impact to the Transportation Technician program and to the department.

SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO?

It’s a decision that drivers face every day when approaching an intersection – to slow down and stop upon seeing a yellow signal or to maintain speed and risk running a red light.

Signal Systems Engineer Mark Taylor monitors dilemma zone detection online.

The dilemma zone is the space before entering an intersection where drivers make that sometimes tough call to stop or keep going. On a high-speed roadway, the decision needs to be made in seconds, and the wrong choice can be dangerous.

Intersections are complex configurations where two roadways intersect. Many of the most important driving skills – such as maintaining an appropriate speed, staying attentive and alert, and using good judgment – come into play all at once. The crash types that are common at intersections include rear-end and T-bone; both can cause serious injury or death.

To improve safety at intersections, UDOT has installed dilemma zone detectors. The detection equipment uses radar to see cars as they approach an intersection. Software used with the equipment is programmed to extend the signal phase to allow cars more time to get through the intersection.

Deciding when extra time is needed based on scientific studies that show how most drivers are likely to behave, explains UDOT Traffic Signal Operations Engineer Mark Taylor. Traffic signal engineers use those studies to define three fields drivers cross before entering an intersection. Drivers in the field closest to the signal usually always go through the light. In the field farthest from the intersection, most cars stop.

The middle section is the dilemma zone “where drivers realize ‘I’ve got a decision to make,’” says Taylor. Cars entering that dilemma zone at a pre-determined point in time trigger the system to extend the signal phase, eliminating the dilemma and also the potential for an un-wise decision. While the system is backed up by science, Taylor uses some engineering judgment as well. “I put logic in with that radar,” he says.

“UDOT’s policy is to install Dilemma Zone Detection on every approach that is 40 miles per hour or higher,” says Taylor. Over five hundred intersections in Utah have been equipped with Dilemma Zone Detection.

For more: Read this article about how Dilemma Zone Detection can show a twenty percent reduction of cars exposed to the yellow signal and 70% reduction in red light running.

CLEAN SWEEP

UDOT sweepers go full force spring through fall.

Holly Wilkins, Mark Makin, JB Shandrow, Mikal Perrine and Dave Kelly operate the 'brooms' -- trucks that remove debris from roadways.

Rock chips on windshields are one of the hazards of freeway driving. Besides being dangerous, debris on interstates can also be washed off the pavement and clog culverts with sand and dirt resulting in improper drainage. Cleaning the freeway prevents UDOT maintenance crews from having to use expensive and obtrusive means – like Vactor trucks – to clear out culverts.

In order to keep safety and drainage issues in check, UDOT has sweeper trucks that make regular trips along I-15 in Salt Lake County. Lee Nitchman, Area Supervisor for UDOT says Region Two crews run brooms 6 days a week during the spring summer and fall. “They usually run them at night on the interstates and during the day on the surface streets.”

The only time the trucks are not operating is when maintenance is being performed. “Some areas of the interstate, like the Spaghetti Bowl, get swept almost nightly. We spend hundreds of thousands every year sweeping with the majority of it on the interstate,” says Nitchman.

Nitchman points out that keeping road free of gravel and dirt from dump trucks is a challenge. If those trucks are not cleaned after they are filled, they lose gravel from tailgates and fenders. “That is the biggest problem with keeping the roads clean,” he says.

EVENTS TEACH ROAD RESPECT

Events in Draper and Salt Lake this Friday and Saturday will give kids a chance to learn the Rules of the Road and have some fun too.

This family friendly ride took place on the Road Respect Tour in 2011. This year, Salt Lake Police Department will escort kids on a ride downtown.

The 2012 Road Respect Tour is trekking through Utah to promote safety and respect between cars and bikes.  After five days and 418 miles, the Tour enters the Salt Lake Valley for two events in Draper and Salt Lake City before beginning its final 100 mile stretch from SLC to Logan. Events

DRAPER RALLY

WHEN: Friday, June 8, 5 to 7 p.m.

WHERE: Draper Park, 125000 South, 1300 East

Activities include games, prizes, booths, a helmet give-away, a bike rodeo, bike decorating and a kid’s parade.

SALT LAKE CITY PRESS CONFERENCE AND RIDE-OUT – Hosted by Salt Lake City, Downtown Alliance & Visit Salt Lake

WHEN: Saturday, June 9

  • Press conference, 8 a.m.
  • Ride-out, 9 a.m.

WHERE: Downtown Farmer’s Market at Pioneer Park, 400 S 300 W corner

WHAT: Mayor Ralph Becker, SLC Police Chief Chris Burbank and SLC Transportation Director Robin Hutcheson will each give a short address on the importance of bike safety; Tommy Nankervis of the Competitive Cyclist racing team will be in attendance.

Experienced cyclists will join the Road Respect Riders from Salt Lake City to Logan. Families and those who want to stay closer to home can enjoy a special one-mile bicycle tour of downtown Salt Lake under led by Mayor Becker and escorted by SLCPD. Road Respect tour riders will start with the kids, and then continue north on their way to Logan.

MESSAGE RECEIVED

The Road Respect Tour is spreading the word about safety and helping to make Utah more bike friendly.


Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

“Road Respect: Cars and Bikes Rules to Live By” is a grassroots campaign that aims to educate people who drive and people who ride bicycles about the rules of the road and also encourage mutual respect so that everyone gets home safely. According to the Utah Department of Public Safety’s Crash Summary, six bicyclists are killed and 850 are involved in crashes with motor vehicles in an average year in Utah.

UDOT, the Utah Department of Public Safety considers safety to be job one, and the Road Respect Tour is a joint effort to increase peoples’ understanding of safety issues. It’s the only tour if its kind in the United States and there is evidence that people in Utah and across the country are paying attention.

Last year, a statewide survey showed that 43% of respondents were aware of the Road Respect program. Of those respondents, 96% were aware of the Road Respect message.

Movin’ on up

The American League of Cyclists rates states according to friendliness to bicycles. In one year, Utah’s ranking moved from 31 to 13. Part of that ranking change is due to the Road Respect Tour, according to UDOT Deputy Director Carlos Braceras who spoke at the Road Respect kick-off on Sunday. Braceras pledged UDOT’s continuing support in making the state more bike friendly. “We’re not going to stop until we’re number one,” he said.

Click to enlarge. This photo of a YMCA Bike Club was taken in downtown Salt Lake in 1906 -- Used by permission, Utah State Historical Society, all rights reserved.

Scott Lyttle, executive director of Bike Utah, the state’s cycling advocacy organization also spoke at the kick-off. He named other efforts that have made Utah a more bicycle friendly state. Bike Utah actively supported the state’s three-foot passing law, the Share the Road program and the annual Bike Summit.

Bike power

And while the Road Respect Tour is unique to Utah, it’s certainly not the first time cyclists have spearheaded an important transportation effort. The Good Roads movement that occurred in the United States between the 1870s to the 1920s was a initially was a push to improve roads for cyclists and later cars.

Horatio Earle, known as the Father of Good Roads, wrote in his autobiography: “I often hear now-a-days, the automobile instigated good roads; that the automobile is the parent of good roads. Well, the truth is, the bicycle is the father of the good roads movement in this country.”

Earle thought that by improving roads, industry and agriculture would benefit as well.

When you ride:

  • Ride as far to the right as practicable and as road conditions allow.
  • Ride single file when impeding traffic.  This is especially important in congested conditions and on narrow, winding roads.

When you drive:

  • Broken glass, potholes, debris, parked cars, garbage cans, and drain grates can be dangerous to cyclists. Recognize these situations and give cyclists enough room to maneuver around these trouble spots.
  • Do not blast your horn when approaching a bicyclist – you could startle the rider and cause a crash.

 

ACCENTUATE THE POSITIVE

For the second year, Road Respect is touring the state and seeking to be a positive influence on people who ride and drive.


Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

The Road Respect Tour is grass-roots effort organized by community volunteers. “It’s taken many, many hours to get to this point,” explains UDOT Deputy Director Carlos Braceras. 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.

Cyclists have played a very important role

Keri Gibson and Evelyn Tuddenham

The Tour includes 30 Road Respect cyclists who represent law enforcement, public safety, transportation and bicycle advocacy groups. Additional cyclists join the group for legs of the tour or to ride into their town for Road Respect events. Not only do tour cyclists volunteer their time to ride, they also to help organize stops and rallies.

Rallies and stops along the way promote respect between people who drive and people who ride bikes with games and fun activities. The events are designed to “catch the eye of the public,” says Braceras, with 40 communities and 18 events. Rallies and stops are designed to facilitate interaction at the community level; people who attend can meet the cyclists, motorists and hear the message that respect is a two way street.

When you ride:

  • Always wear a snug fitting helmet. Your helmet should sit level on your head and the chin straps should be tight when you open your mouth wide.
  • Always use lights at night and wear bright clothing that increases your visibility to motorists.

When you drive:

  • Give at least three feet of space when passing a person on a bike or more if traveling on a high speed road.
  • Broken glass, potholes, debris, parked cars, garbage cans, and drain grates can be dangerous to cyclists. Recognize these situations and give cyclists enough room to maneuver around these trouble spots.

BIKES AND CARS TOGETHER

The addition of cars to the Road Respect Tour illustrates a good point – whether riding or driving, it’s important to show respect by obeying the rules of the road.

Clyde Stauffer with the Road Respect Tour gives an interview at a press event. Stauffer helped organize the tour and is one of 30 experience cyclists who will ride over 500 miles in six days to share an important safety message.

Road Respect Tour participants are traveling around the state and seeking to be a positive influence on people who ride and drive. This year, cyclists have been joined by motorists driving replica Shelby Cobras. Some of the Rallies on the Road Respect Tour will feature 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.  “That way, everybody wins,” said  Col. Daniel Fuhr of the Utah Highway Patrol.

It’s about saving lives

Like many Utahns, Fuhr owns a car and a bicycle and uses both for transportation and recreation. He explained his approach to safe riding and driving at a kick-off event on Sunday, June 3. When riding or driving people need to  “have respect for one another,” he explained.

Motorists driving Shelby Cobra replicas have joined the 2012 Road Respect Tour.

When riding, people need to pay attention, listen to the sounds of the roadway and look out for hazards like pot holes or debris. He urged cyclists to avoid distractions like listening to music.

When driving, people need to give cyclists adequate time to get through an intersection or make a turn, explained Fuhr. Be careful when approaching and never honk, which startles people on bikes.

Fuhr believes it’s important that all road users understand that people who ride and people who drive have the same rights and responsibilities– and without respect “tragedy will occur.”

When you ride:

Your bicycle is considered a vehicle and you have the same rights, rules and responsibilities riding as when you are driving.

Ride like you would drive – communicate with other road users by being predictable. Always make eye contact and signal your intentions prior to turning right, turning left, changing lanes or coming to a stop. Avoid swerving, riding against traffic or ignoring traffic signals and signs.

When you drive:

Watch for bicycles, motorcycles and children in traffic. They are smaller and harder to see than cars or trucks.

Don’t underestimate the speed of a bicyclist. Many cyclists can easily travel at 25-30 miles per hour. Do not pass a bicyclist on a narrow two-lane road when oncoming traffic is near.