Category Archives: Uncategorized

SEE THE SIGNS

UDOT is improving the safety in a location that has recently seen some tragic crashes.

State Route 201 meets SR 202 in Tooele County.

State Route 201 meets SR 202 in Tooele County. Traffic on SR 201 can be fairly heavy and fast while traffic on SR 202 is very light. Crashes that occur at the location tend to be severe due to the speeds on SR 201 and the angle of the crashes. Motorists going both directions are sometimes surprised by slower traffic entering from SR 202, and when crashes occur, cars on SR 201 hit oncoming traffic at an angle.

Alex Fisher is an intern at UDOT

A UDOT intern has researched a way to warn motorists on both routes to be aware of oncoming traffic. Her research is seeing fruition – new signs with auto-activated warning signs with flashing lights will be installed soon.

Alex Fisher is an intern soon to be Rotational Engineer at UDOT. Her assignment to find improvements for SR 201 and 202 led her to look at research done by engineers in Missouri. In an intersection with similar characteristics, auto-activated signs resulted in 51 percent reduction in crashes and a 77 percent reduction in sever angle crashes. Since Missouri has similar specifications for intersection configuration, speed and signs, Fisher believed auto-activated warning signs would work in Utah too.

Fisher proposed using LED stop signs on SR 202 and LED message signs on SR 201. UDOT Central Traffic and Safety liked her proposal and has designed the project.

Sign operation

Radar detection will trigger the lights on the signs to activate when traffic is approaching. The stop signs on SR 202 have LED lights on the perimeter. Under the stop sign, a LED message sign will display the text “cross traffic does not stop” when traffic is approaching. On SR 201, message signs with the words “watch for entering traffic when flashing.”

According to UDOT Region Two Traffic Engineer Robert Miles, Fisher did an excellent and thorough job with her research and proposal. The project was handed off to Rotational Engineer Brandon Weight for design. Check back to see an update of the project after construction.

COMMENTS, PLEASE

UDOT is currently developing the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) goal for the next three Federal fiscal years. 

The purpose of the federal government’s DBE program is to increase the number of women and minority businesses active in the highway construction industry.

The proposed DBE goal can be found on the UDOT website. Comments may be provided to UDOT by following the directions on the website.   The document will be available for review from May 15th through June 20, 2012 and comments will be accepted through July 1, 2012.

Only comments related specifically to the DBE goal and the development of the goal will be accepted.  All other UDOT or DBE-program related comments should be directed to the appropriate contact provided on the main UDOT website.

The purpose of the federal government’s DBE program is to increase the number of women and minority businesses active in the highway construction industry. The UDOT DBE Program is funded in part by FHWA. By cooperating with community partners, UDOT can help open the door to growth of small businesses, and in turn, those businesses can contribute to the economic well-being of the state.

UDOT is actively seeking to promote stakeholder participation by seeking comments on the DBE goal so that continued success within the program is maintained.

REST AREA CONFERENCE

UDOT is hosting the National Safety Rest Area Conference being held September 17 through 20 2012 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

One of UDOT’s newest SRAs is a tribute to Utah’s railroad past. Tie Fork is modeled after a railroad round house and interpretive panels have snippets of area history.

The conference provides a venue for planners, vendors, public welcome center managers and maintenance providers from across the United States and Canada. Attendees meet and share best practices for planning, constructing and maintaining the buildings and picnic and tourism information spots that serve people who travel along the Interstate Highway system.

The NSRA is part of AASHTO’s Maintenance Sub Committee, and responsibility for organizing the conference is accomplished by state transportation agencies. This year, UDOT takes the lead with support from the Kentucky Department of Transportation. Besides breakout sessions focusing on aspects of planning and maintenance, the conference will also include a day-long tour of some of the rest areas in Utah.

The primary purpose Safety Rest Areas is to provide a place to take a break while traveling long distances. Since the Interstate system offered limited access, SRAs are a way to replace roadway parks and stores as a stopping point for travelers.

The first SRAs were built along with the Interstate Highway System in the 1950s and 60s, according to Rest Area History.org. “SRA structures and the sites on whole were to be both functionally and aesthetically satisfying, creating environments that were at once relaxing and engaging” by offering travelers a view of the local culture through architecture or even art installations. More than just a place to stop, eat and rest, “…these sites illustrate an important aspect of the American travel experience and specifically articulate our experience of travel as it was shaped by the Interstate era beginning in the 1950s.”

Like most SRAs across the country, UDOT SRAs provide the basics – toilet facilities and drinking water, and many have picnic areas and a place for travelers to pick up information about or maps of the areas. One of UDOT’s newest SRAs is a tribute to Utah’s railroad past. Tie Fork is modeled after a railroad round house and interpretive panels have snippets of area history.

CHANGING LIVES

Public transit is more about people than buses.

Todd Beutler, Cache Valley Transit District General Manager had a “changing moment” that prompted him to consider a career in public transit. As a student, he worked as a bus driver and became acquainted with an elderly man who rode the bus every day. One day, Beutler had a conversation with the man and became acutely aware of how important bus service was to his independence and quality of life.

Eight agencies in Utah provide public transit and para-transit public transportation in service areas across the state. However, some parts of the state are not covered by those service areas. The Federal Transit Administration, part of the US Department of Transportation, sponsors 21 grant programs, 6 of which are specific to special rural areas and low income, elderly and disabled citizens. In Utah, those programs are administered by the UDOT Public Transit Team staff that assist qualifying local communities to apply for and obtain funding to meet operational and capital needs.

According to the PTT Annual Report, the program allocated more than $4,733,886 in FTA grant funds to public and private agencies and organizations across the state. Many of the funds help support existing services by purchasing additional buses or equipment, such as GPS systems, that help communities expand public transit routes. The funding helps support “improved access and quality of service in urban and rural areas statewide.”

Thousands of citizens in Utah have benefited from improved public transit services. A new video details how the work of the UDOT PTT is really about people. In addition, local economies have benefited when people can connect to services, education and employment.

NEW CROSSWALK

A new cross walk with multiple signal phases is now in operation in North Salt Lake.

A new cross walk is in operation on Highway 89 at 800 West in North Salt Lake, Utah. A Federal Highways Administration study of the HAWK showed “yielding percentages above 95 percent."

The new crossing, a High intensity Activated crossWalk – called a HAWK – was designed in Tucson, Arizona appropriate for use at high volume or wide arterial streets with minor street intersections. HAWKs gives drivers “multiple cues to emphasize the potential presence of a pedestrian,” according to a Federal Highways Administration study that tested the effectiveness and safety of the HAWK. The study found that the yield rate is high due to those multiple visual cues.

The HAWK crossings include prominent pavement markings, signage and red and yellow lights on an over-the-roadway arm. When not is use, the lights are dark. Just like regular crosswalks, HAWKs are triggered when a pedestrian pushes a button. First, double yellow flashing lights, then solid yellow lights are activated to warn drivers to stop. The yellow phase is followed by two solid red lights to signal traffic to stop.

Pedestrians are then given the walk symbol followed by a countdown showing how many seconds remain in the walk phase. During the count-down, a flashing red light warns oncoming motorists to come to a full stop – motorists can proceed after a full stop if pedestrians are out of the crosswalk.

The FHWA study of the HAWK showed that “yielding percentages above 95 percent for the HAWK treatment, even on major streets with multiple lanes or higher speeds.”

Although the study also mentions that drivers are most likely to fail to yield during the flashing red phase. “Some drivers don’t seem to know what to do,” during the flashing red phase says Larry Montoya, a Traffic and Safety engineer at UDOT. Drivers encountering a flashing red signal on any roadway location should first come to a full stop, make sure the way is clear, and then proceed.

At a HAWK, drivers should come to a full stop and make sure pedestrians have cleared the crosswalk before continuing on. The flashing red phase is a way to balance the needs of pedestrians while limiting traffic delay.

ZONE DEFENSE

Three out of four work zone crashes are caused by drivers.

UDOT limits construction delay as much as possible but some delay is inevitable. Use UDOT Traffic to check your route and leave early or take an alternate route.

It’s road construction time, and UDOT has over 200 active work zones.  The most important thing drivers should remember is to “slow down and pay extra attention when driving through a work zone, especially this year when we have so many projects,” said UDOT spokesman Nate McDonald in an article in the Standard Examiner.

An Associated General Contractors of America survey found that 68 percent of contractors said that motor vehicles crashed into their construction work zones during the past year. The same study also found that work zone crashes are more likely to kill construction workers than vehicle operators.

“Any time your job site is just a few feet away from fast moving traffic, things can get a little too exciting,” said Tom Brown, chairman of AGC’s national highway and transportation division. “Since construction workers don’t get the option of wearing seatbelts, they are more likely to be killed in a work zone crash than motorists are,” he stressed.

When driving in work zones, remember to manage your speed, your space and your stress. Here are some great tips:

  1. Slow Down when approaching all work zones. You will be in the work zone quicker than you think.
  2. Follow Posted Speed Limits, especially within construction zones, and try to maintain a consistent speed with the traffic flow. And adjust your speed for weather conditions.
  3. Don’t Resume Normal Speed until you see roadway signs indicating it’s safe to do so.
  4. Leave braking room, at least two car lengths, between your vehicle and the one ahead of you. The most common crash in a highway work zone is a rear-end collision.
  5. Keep a safe distance between your vehicle and traffic barriers, trucks, construction equipment and workers.
  6. Don’t pass on the shoulder or drive across the median – doing so creates a very dangerous situation for you, workers and other motorists.
  7. Watch out for tailgaters and don’t force tailgaters to back off by slamming on your brakes or reducing your speed significantly.
  8. Stay calm and don’t rush. Construction zone inconvenience means that improved roads are soon to come.
  9. Pay attention and avoid distractions like cell phones or the radio.
  10. UDOT limits construction delay as much as possible but some delay is inevitable. Use UDOT Traffic to check your route and leave early or take an alternate route.

I-15 CORE’S “OLD FAITHFUL”

By Aaron Mentzer, I-15 CORE Social Media Manager

Drivers on I-15 in Springville may have noticed a large fountain of water gushing into the air like a geyser west of the freeway in early March.

Water from Hobble Creek is pumped into the air near I-15 in Springville. Photo courtesy I-15 CORE.

All of the water flowing into Hobble Creek — approximately 20,000 gallons per minute — was pumped through five 12-inch-diameter pipes a few hundred feet downstream while I-15 CORE construction crews installed a new box culvert to allow the creek to pass under I-15.

“The existing culvert was just too small to handle the quantity of water in the creek,” said Ray Stillwell, Environmental Compliance Manager for I-15 CORE contractor Provo River Constructors (PRC). “It was almost always full, with no additional capacity to deal with runoff or heavy rainfall. The new culvert is much wider and includes two additional overflow culverts adjacent to the main box to accommodate higher-than-normal flows.”

Rerouting a creek or canal is common in construction, but this was not a typical case. Hobble Creek is a key spawning site for the endangered June sucker, which is only found in Utah Lake and its tributaries. Farther downstream, the creek

Five pumps were used to reroute Hobble Creek during construction: four operating at all times and one spare in case of high water flows. Photo courtesy I-15 CORE (Click to enlarge)

channel had recently been reconstructed by the Utah Transit Authority, in cooperation with the Utah Department of Natural Resources (UDNR) and Bio-West, to create the Hobble Creek Wetland Mitigation Site. PRC needed to divert the creek in a way that (a) followed the existing channel as much as possible; (b) prevented erosion and sedimentation within the wetland mitigation site downstream; and (c) preserved the June sucker’s spawning habitat.

To solve this problem, the CORE team developed a creative solution. They installed five pumps in the creek with 12-inch outlet pipes to route Hobble Creek around the new box culvert and into the existing channel. Ninety-degree elbows were attached at the end of the five pipes so the high-pressure flow of water exiting the pipes would be directed upward, minimizing erosion and sediment generation.

During design and construction of the new channel, PRC coordinated with UDNR and Bio-West, and the resulting design limited wetland impacts to a much smaller area. “Working with these other agencies, we were able to re-build the channel in a way that minimizes impacts and maintains or enhances the spawning areas for the June Sucker,” Stillwell said.

Workers installed carefully selected, native rock at different locations in the channel as well as in the box culvert itself to restore the habitat in the new creek bed. With the channel reconstruction and rock placement completed, workers removed the temporary upstream dam, and water began flowing through the new culvert last month.

“This new culvert is a great example of the cooperation and innovation taking place throughout the I-15 CORE project,” said Mike Brehm, I-15 CORE Environmental Manager. “Parties from several agencies worked together to construct this culvert in a way that actually benefits the environment.”

The completed culvert with Hobble Creek flowing in its new permanent location. Photo courtesy I-15 CORE.

PROJECT ROADWAY

A UDOT engineer with an eye for safety wants construction workers to wear his attention-getting shirts. 

Hexagons retro-reflect light and minimize a barrel chest.

Workers who build maintain roads and bridges are required to wear clothing that is brightly colored with retroreflective bars meant to make workers visible to drivers during the day and especially at night. Sam Grimshaw, a UDOT Field Engineer, has come up a new idea for clothing that he thinks will make workers even more conspicuous.

The issue as he sees it is that the commonly used clothing makes workers look similar to traffic control devices – the cones and barrels that delineate a construction zone. Instead of the typical horizontal and vertical stripes, Grimshaw placed retroreflective hexagons on bright orange fabric.

To prove his point about how workers can look barrel-chested, he took photos of workers wearing the typical shirts and his shirts at night.

Commonly worn clothing has bars and colors that make workers look similar to traffic control devices. Grimshaw's photos show the contrast between the typical and his design on the left.

He showed his prototype shirts to fabricators who said the new designs could be put into production without any trouble.

Grimshaw’s idea seems to have merit – however, the new clothing needs to have the appropriate review and approval before workers can make the switch.

SHAKE OUT UDOT

To test readiness for dealing with damage from a quake, UDOT participated in a scripted simulation along with the state Emergency Operations Center at the State Capitol.

As simulated earthquake damage was reported, GIS experts at UDOT began building an online map showing the damage to the transportation system. Emergency Operations Center participants at the state capitol could view the map in real time as changes were made.

In the aftermath of an earthquake, UDOT employees will be responsible to make sure the transportation system is safe. The first step in that process is assessing damage to roads and bridges. As part of the Shake Out earthquake drill, UDOT used a United States Geological Survey Earthquake Hazards software program called ShakeCast to generate estimated damage information for roads and bridges.

GIS, Electronic Asset Management and communication experts gathered in one room to interact with the state EOC at the state capitol. Minutes after the quake drill at 10:15 today, scripted calls and email started arriving at the UDOT Traffic Operations Center. As simulated damage was reported, GIS experts began building a map showing the simulated damage to the transportation system. EOC participants at the state capitol could view the map in real time as changes were made. The UDOT participants used a color coded system to identify critical routes and the status of each route.

While UDOT does not anticipate extensive damage to the transportation system, some damage will occur. And, uncertainty exists when it comes to events, such as crashes or power outages and how those events will affect the transportation system.

“We are one of the critical infrastructure owners,” says Chris Siavrakas, Emergency Management Coordinator at UDOT. Transportation, along with other critical systems, including energy, water and health care, is part of an interdependent system. The simulation was good practice for what would occur in the first several hours after an earthquake.

ROAD RESPECT 2012

Cyclists and motorists will tour the state to spread good will, safety education and family fun.

Mike Loveland, pictured second from the left, is an avid cyclist and a lieutenant with the Utah Highway Patrol. He sees the Road Respect campaign as a way to promote a cooperation and consideration between cyclists and motorists.

For the second year, avid cyclists with the Road Respect Tour will travel through the state and stop for rallies that celebrate respect between cyclists and motorists.  “Road Respect, Cars & Bikes Rules to Live By” is a grassroots campaign that seeks to encourage safe practices and good relationships between motorists and cyclists. The centerpiece of the campaign is a six day 509 mile ride through the state that will take place June 4-9.

Mike Loveland

Thirty cyclists representing law enforcement, public safety, transportation and bicycle advocacy will stop along the tour route to join community rallies meant to educate the public about rules for sharing the road. Local cyclists are encouraged to join the cyclists on their route and ride with them into the rallies.

Activities at the rallies will include bike rodeos, helmet give-aways, street and trail rides and speakers. Some of the rallies will include mini car shows. Participants will be encouraged to sign a pledge to signify compliance with obeying rules of the road.

Mike Loveland is an avid cyclist and a lieutenant with the Utah Highway Patrol. He participated as a cyclist last year and is helping to plan this year’s tour. Because of his job and his pastime, Loveland sees both sides of the issue.

The Road Respect campaign and tour is a way to encourage a “get-along attitude” between cyclists and motorists, he explains. Cooperation and consideration is necessary since both groups, according to Loveland “own a piece of the road.”

For more, read an article in Cycling Utah Magazine.