Category Archives: Uncategorized

SNAP AWARD

AASHTO praises UDOT for encouraging kids to walk and bike safely to and from school.

The AASHTO President’s Transportation Award for Highway Traffic Safety has been given to UDOT’s Student Neighborhood Access Program team.

UDOT’s  SNAP  team has been helping elementary and junior high schools identify safe routes to schools for four years. The program provides free web-based software that produces area specific printable maps that identify safe routes. Encouraging kids to safely walk or bike to school helps reduce automobile traffic around schools and improves safety. Walking and biking also provides great health benefits for kids. Seventy four percent of schools in Utah use SNAP software.

Not all schools are surrounded by sidewalks. When funding is available, the SNAP team helps schools identify and obtain funding to build sidewalks in critical areas.

The SNAP team sponsors a fun assembly with catchy music and dancing. The program has been so popular that the team made a video of the assembly so the safe walking and biking message could get to more students in Utah.

SNAP also sponsors an annual event called “Walk More in Four” that encourages kids to bike or walk to school at least 60 percent of the time in a four week period. Schools and students are awarded prizes for participation.

 

SAFE THINKING

UDOT grade school assemblies encourage safety around heavy equipment and construction zones.

Kids learn about hazards associated with road work in a mock construction zone

Mammoth earth movers, diggers or pavers are intriguing to kids but not safe as jungle gyms. The construction zones where road work takes place can be full of hazards too. UDOT has developed a fun way to communicate with children about how important it is to stay away from construction equipment and work zones. School assemblies that mix activities with a serious message are teaching kids to “Think Safety.”

“We coordinated with the Think Safety campaign, which is part of the Zero Fatalities effort, to do an assembly at several schools for the Bangerter 2.0 project,” says Justin Smart who works with UDOT.  Four large elementary schools are near the project.

Lora Hudson helped develop the assembly. She and others have presented about 20 assemblies associated with Bangerter 2.0 and other construction projects near schools. Hudson takes a kid-friendly approach that prompts interest and awe. For example, a giant banner with a true-to-size truck tire and measuring tape shows how big construction equipment can really be. Sometimes Hudson invites a tiny kindergartner or a very tall student to step up to the measuring tape. The students and teachers are surprised to see how miniature a young child looks, and that an older child “is not so tall compared to a truck.”

Tag team with construction workers

Hudson makes sure children learn about specific dangers. A project worker attends the assembly too, and describes real, hazards like trenches, steel bars, nails and debris. Hudson says kids often react with surprise when hearing the real reasons zones are dangerous.

To bring the message home, a few kids get to navigate a mock construction zone relay race dressed in safety gear while classmates cheer on. All draw on newly acquired “Think Safety” knowledge. “They love it,” says Hudson. At the end of the assembly, students get a coloring page to take home as a reminder.

Columbia Elementary Principal Kathe Riding thought the assembly was very informative for students. “Our students enjoyed the competitions and activities as they learned to watch out for dangers and how to be safe near construction.” Riding is grateful to UDOT for being proactive in keeping kids safe.

INNOVATIVE INTEGRATION

Combining two safety countermeasures is preventing cross-over crashes and keeping cable barrier up to do its important job.

Cable barrier and guardrail on I-84

Cable barrier and guard rail are ubiquitous on interstates and highways across the nation. But, UDOT’s innovative integration of those two safety countermeasures is only being used in Utah.

Cable barrier is tensioned steel cable held up by break-away posts. When installed properly between opposing traffic lanes, cable barrier prevents crossover collisions and saves lives, so keeping cable barrier up and functional is critical. If a vehicle hits the break-away posts or the anchor point where cable is tensioned, the posts can fall and lower the cable or the cable can lose tension. After such a hit, fully repairing the cable barrier can be an extensive and expensive effort.

UDOT Safety Specialist Glenn Schulte has conducted cable barrier and guard rail installation and repair training for contractors and maintenance workers for seventeen years. The “one-bad-hit” issue has been effectively addressed by Schulte, an engineer FHWA and cable barrier vendor from Washington state.

Rough sketch

Schulte and his two associates came up with an idea – why not integrate guardrail with the cable barrier system at the point where a vehicle hit can make the cable lose tension? Schulte and friends discussed the idea and did some initial problems solving. A quick sketch on paper, and the idea took flight.

Schulte took on the responsibility for developing standard drawings at UDOT and getting FHWA approval. The Cable W-Beam Anchor System uses guardrail, crash cushion or end treatments and a secondary anchor. The system protects the area where cable is tensioned and anchored from being damaged by a crash. UDOT contractors can choose from proprietary and non-proprietary components commonly available and crash tested for safety to assemble a system that’s appropriate for a specific location.

The system was first used on Bangerter Highway. Since inception and first use, many changes and improvements have been made. Now the innovative system that was first a rough pencil sketch is a common and significant safety feature all over Utah. Schulte has sent standard drawings to other states for use, and he expects the system to be more widely used as transportation officials see the value of the system.

These slides show how the Cable W-Beam System protected cable barrier during a crash.


Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

RURAL ROADS

UDOT works with local governments to improve rural road safety.

Rural roads in Utah are often unpaved, like this road in Beaver, Utah.

In Utah and across the nation, improving safety on rural roads can be difficult for local governments and departments of transportation. Vast stretches of isolated roadway challenge drivers to stay alert. Funding for improvements to local roads off the state system can be scarce.  The federal government has charged state departments of transportation to tackle safety issues by establishing the High Risk Rural Roads program.

Except for the urban areas concentrated along Interstate 15 between Ogden and Provo, Utah is rural. The rural roads in Utah have many of typical characteristics as rural roads in other states. However, Utah has a greater percentage of rural roads on the state road system, making investigating, budgeting and improving rural road safety easier.  UDOT works with local governments to improve rural roads that are not on the state system.

First, UDOT engineers conduct a safety audit by driving rural roads and looking out for known safety hazzards. Then, UDOT works with local governments to make changes that improve safety. Some of the most common improvements include:

  • Installing safety barrier on a curve to protect motorists run off the road crashes
  • Cutting rumble strips into the pavement on the side or middle of the road to signal motorists when tires cross lane lines
  • Installing median barrier to prevent cross-over collisions
  • Clearing obstructions from the road side to improve visibility
  • Installing warning signs or delineators to mark the shoulder
  • Widening intersections and adding turn lanes

UDOT took a public education approach to safety on I-80 between Wendover and Tooele County. Tired, distracted drivers were involved in run off the road crashes on the long, barren stretch of freeway. Signs that warn drivers about the dangers of distracted driving were placed on the route. After some time, UDOT surveyed drivers at the rest area on I-80 and found that most saw and read the signs. While not a safety improvement per se, the signs were shown to increase awareness of drowsy driving as a potential crash factor.

Improving safety on rural roads is part of UDOT’s Zero Fatalities Comprehensive Safety Plan aimed at reducing fatalities to zero on all roads.

QUALITY CONCRETE

The I-15 CORE project team does its homework before placing concrete.

A concrete curing/tinning machine on the I-15 CORE project.

At a month past the half-way point, workers on the Utah County I-15 Corridor Expansion project have placed over 1.7 million square yards of concrete. “Since concrete pavement is smooth, requires less maintenance and resists potholes, it’s often a good choice on high-volume roads,” explains John Butterfield, UDOT Materials/Pavement Engineer for the project. But regardless of pavement type, “the main thing that drives pavement design is traffic.” I-15 CORE pavement is built for longevity and strength.

During the bidding process, UDOT asked for 30-year pavement. Provo River Constructors included a 40-year pavement design as a value-added feature in their winning proposal. The entire pavement section, bottom to top, consists of four layers: granular borrow, drainable granular borrow, asphalt base and 12 inches of Portland Cement Concrete Pavement on top. Together, the layers in the pavement achieve a structural value that is predicted from the road’s expected traffic volume.

Making sure the top layer of concrete meets final acceptance — and lasts that expected 40 years — starts with an understanding of how the specific concrete mix design will cure. For that important task, the I-15 CORE project team uses maturity meters — electronic sensors embedded in concrete and handheld readers. Using maturity meters has become standard practice in the building construction industry and is common in road construction.

Do the math

Before concrete is placed on the I-15 CORE project, “there is some homework that’s required,” says Butterfield, who explains the process. Because the compressive strength of a specific concrete mix design has a relationship to time and temperature, a maturity curve that shows that relationship can be charted. When inserted into core cylinders, maturity meters can be connected to a reader to access information on time and temperature, making the process very precise.

Data is collected by casting concrete cylinder samples and tracking the time and temperature of the concrete as it cures and gains strength. Then, the cylinders are broken at pre-set intervals to determine compressive strength, and that data is recorded and correlated to the time and temperature data.

Progressing work or allowing traffic on the pavement

Once data is collected and plotted, the “homework” maturity curve becomes an appropriate basis to measure the strength of in-place concrete. Workers assess concrete strength simply by taking a quick electronic reading in the field from data loggers embedded in the pavement. When the correct concrete strength is reached, work can progress or traffic can be allowed on the pavement.

For final acceptance, traditional cast cylinders made from the same batch as in-place concrete are still broken to measure 28 day compressive strength. However, for determining interim strength for the purpose of progressing subsequent work, maturity meters are a more efficient, precise and less expensive method than casting and breaking several additional cylinders.

“One of the greatest benefits of maturity meters is that they provide the strength of the actual ‘in-place’ concrete,” Butterfield says. “We no longer have to break cylinders, either lab-cured or field-cured, and speculate how closely they correlate with the strength of the actual structure.”

CURING CONCRETE

SLIDE SHOW: Concrete is monitored and tested for strength in order to progress work, allow traffic on the pavement or to determine final acceptance.

The compressive strength of concrete has a relationship to time and temperature specific to the mix design. As concrete hydrates, it cures and gains strength. Hydration occurs as the cement becomes fully saturated by the water in the concrete. The hydration process produces heat. Taking time and temperature readings of the concrete as it cures and gains strength allows workers to track the curing process.

(Click on the large images to see captions. Choose images by placing cursor in the black area below.)


Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

MASH UP

The Manual for Assessing Safety Hardware updates the size of test vehicles to more closely match what’s on the road today.

All permanently installed and temporary roadside hardware – including sign bases, crash cushions, traffic control devices, and various kinds of barriers, is crash tested according to standards established by the National Cooperative Highway Research Program. New standards for crash testing have recently gone into effect, and are detailed in AASHTO’s Manual for Assessing Safety Hardware. The new manual replaces NCHRP Report 350.

This video shows crash testing using MASH standards.

The MASH updates protocol for vehicles that are used in crash tests to more closely match what’s on the road today. The new crash test criterion is being used on all roadway hardware being produced since January 2011. NCHRP Report 350-tested hardware is appropriate when replacement is necessary, and re-testing is not required. UDOT will update roadway hardware with MASH tested products as necessary – the old hardware in place now is safe.

Although crash testing took place as early as the 1930’s, standards that establish criteria for tests have been in effect since 1962 with sedans specified as a test vehicle. As crash testing has continued through the years, understanding about the practice has improved and updates that add more criteria and different procedures have been added. For example, a 1974 NCHRP update added a small car and also added tests for transitions, terminals, crash cushions and breakaway supports. A 1980 update added evaluation criteria and modernized procedures to conform to available technology and practices. In 1993, a pickup was added as a test vehicle to represent small trucks and minivans in use.

The Texas Transportation Institute is one of the first organizations to crash test hardware, including sign bases and crash cushions. The TTI facility, a decommissioned military air base, has long concrete runways that make a good setting for the tests. The modern TTI crash test video below shows a crash test of a concrete barrier on a mechanically stabilized earth wall using the larger truck specified by the new MASH standards for vehicles.

For more:

Download the MASH.

Read a recent post about tests on MSE walls.

See an interactive timeline about crash testing at TTI.

Watch a presentation about how crash test standards have changed.

 

SAFE MOVE

UDOT’s use of an innovative traffic control system has earned national recognition for improving safety in an urban construction zone.

Using moveable barrier helped UDOT balance the needs of road users and workers by keeping traffic flowing and providing a large, safe work zone. Here, moveable barrier being adjusted to give west-bound evening commuters an additional travel lane.

The Federal Highway Administration and the Roadway Safety Foundation will recognize UDOT as a winner of the 2011 National Roadway Safety Award for using moveable barrier on the 3500 South reconstruction project. The annual award program honors “high achievers in the field of roadway safety” for using and documenting safety best-practices. The award will be presented on Tuesday, November 15 in Washington D.C.

While common on interstate highways across the nation, urban use of moveable barrier is less common. The flexible lane use system can be adjusted frequently to accommodate traffic flown by providing more lanes in the peak travel direction.  UDOT’s pioneering use of the innovative technology on an urban travel corridor will help other departments of transportation employ the effective safety strategy on projects with similar characteristics.

Moveable barrier helped improve safety, accommodate commute traffic, and shorten the duration of the project. The barrier improved safety by eliminating left turns, except at major intersections. Twenty to 25 fewer crashes occurred during the project, resulting in a safer roadway, less expense to road users and less delay due to crashes.

Traffic delay, which causes inconvenience, also has an associated user cost. Because morning and evening traffic flow was not severely mired, road users saved time and money. A conservative estimate shows that using the moveable barrier saved road users between $1.7 to 2.4 million by reducing travel delay and crashes during construction.

Reducing  the duration of projects is one of the most important ways UDOT limits the inconvenience of construction on road users. Using the moveable barrier provided a large, safe work area where construction could progress more efficiently. Partly as a result of the barrier, the project was completed 7 months ahead of schedule, leaving road users and businesses with a wider, high functioning roadway free of excessive delay.

HIGHWAY SAFETY BLOG

A new blog uses many voices to tell Utah road users how to stay safe.

For some serious fun, take a motorcycle safety class. Rachel Leiker did so and wrote about her experience for the Highway Safety Office Blog.

The Utah Department of Public Safety, Highway Safety Office has a new blog that uses a variety of authors to promote safety. Experts when it comes to safety on the road, blog authors are personally involved in a number of important efforts. “Our office’s program managers are passionate about their programs and it shows in their writing,” says Derek Miller, Highway Safety Program Specialist and one of the authors.

The Office of Highway Safety has 13 programs aimed at all types of road users – cyclists, motorists and passengers. The programs emphasize knowing the rules of the road and making the best choices, like wearing approved protective gear when riding a motorcycle.

Many posts are also backed up by studies or statistics with punch. A Click It or Ticket post by Kristy Kay cites how high visibility enforcement of safety belt laws helps save lives: “…the Click It or Ticket mobilization is credited with helping to increase the state’s belt usage rate from 67.4 percent in 2000 to an observed rate of 89.0 percent in 2010. Belt use saves thousands of lives each year across America and seatbelts have saved an estimated 1,355 lives in Utah since 2000.” That direct message is a great example why everyone needs to buckle up!

Even though the topics are serious, authors convey messages in an entertaining way. Author Helen Knipe’s post  explains how being a cyclist helps her drive with respect, and observe the rules of the road: “When I see cyclists in the road, I see myself  (except they’re usually riding faster than I do…) I have no problem waiting to pass a cyclist, giving cyclists extra room, exercising greater caution whenever they’re around – because that’s exactly what I would want drivers to do around me when I’m on my bike.”

Many of the posts have great images and videos that speak volumes. High school student Jake Barube won an iPod touch for his visually appealing motorcycle safety video using stop motion animation.

Jake’s on-camera narrative also uses humor. He urges motorcycle riders to wear approved protective gear “unless you enjoy the taste of asphalt.” His parting sentiment, “The safer you are the more fun you’ll have” are words any parent would want their teen to understand.

Guest posts give some good safety narratives too. Rachel Leiker attended a motorcycle safety training class. In her post she says, “This is seriously one of the most fun ways to spend a weekend, and the skills you learn don’t hurt either.”

Bookmark the site and check back often!

SALT

Recent cold weather is a reminder that snow is on the way. One way UDOT prepares for winter weather is by stocking road salt at maintenance facilities around the state.

Redmond, Incorporated operates this salt mine in Central Utah. The salt is a remnant of an ancient sea. A variety of products, including road salt are produced from the mined salt.

Road salt deliveries have occurred in some of the high mountain areas and soon all UDOT Maintenance Station storage facilities, in areas where snow is expected, will have plenty of salt on hand.  UDOT uses 215,000 tons of salt per year —  two-thirds solar salt, one-third rock salt.

“As essential to life as water – ubiquitous – so precious anciently that Roman Legionaries were paid their wages with sal, which is Latin for Salt,” says UDOT Maintenance Methods Engineer Lynn Burnham. “Hence the English word salary.” Bernhard earns his salary planning maintenance methods that keep UDOT roads safe and clear.

Wet salt will re-crystallize with a hard crust that’s difficult to break up, so most salt is stored in covered salt sheds that keep salt dry during stormy weather. Salt is stored at 80 maintenance facilities and 26 other storage areas around the state. There is no central stockpile.

Salt is purchased on contracts set up at UDOT headquarters, and station supervisors order the amounts and type needed for the roads in their area. Most stations place their orders in September and have their salt sheds full by mid October.

UDOT buys reddish-brown rock salt from an underground mine in Central Utah and white evaporated or solar salt from the Great Salt Lake. Both types work well, but salt types have different properties so station supervisors order what works best in each specific climate.

“Utah has an advantage over other snow-belt states,” says Bernhard. “Our salt sources are literally in our own backyard, so we do not have to order a full year’s supply at one time.” Other states anticipate the amount of salt needed and order a year’s worth at one time. If accurate estimates are not made, salt may run out, and leave workers in the lurch.

A truck is loaded with salt from the Great Salt Lake

 

“We could place an order one day and expecting delivery by the next afternoon,” says Bernhard, who adds that UDOT supervisors keep very close watch on inventory so one-day delivery is not needed. “Our goal is to end the snow season with no salt left in our stockpiles.”