Category Archives: Zero Crashes, Injuries and Fatalities

How GIS Improves Data Quality

Quality Data

Screenshot of UPlan

Screenshot of UPlan Map Center

State routes and associated features, like mile markers, structures, and even fiber optic cable, can be represented by geo-located points or lines. The UPlan Map Center  provides a way to put data sets on a map, which makes the location of projects and features easy to find. A map can highlight errors and aid quality control. GIS also helps facilitate feedback from decision makers and the public by connecting data owners with data users to.

While putting data on a map sounds simple, “going from a non-visual data environment to a visual one is a complete transformative game-changer,” explains Rod McDaniels, Outdoor Inventory Control (OAC) Manager. For decades, the Department’s Outdoor Advertising Control Program struggled to consistently and quickly identify which routes in the state required billboard control and to pinpoint the exact location of permitted billboards on those routes. Records for the program were kept in individual online or hard copy files which had written descriptions of billboard locations.

UDOT recently combined all route and billboard data into the Outdoor Advertising Control Map. GIS has vastly improved the OAC program’s data quality. “GIS allows users to gain a visual understanding the geographic distribution of permitted billboards in the state. It quickly tells a story that cannot be told through endless spreadsheet rows.  It has exponentially improved QC/QA activities, and it has revolutionized service delivery to a broad spectrum of stakeholders.”

A bridge too far

Putting GIS data on a map also highlights location errors. “It’s like shining a light on something that can otherwise get buried,” says Sarah Rigard, UDOT GIS Program Manager. When the UDOT Structures Division data was put on a map, some of the bridges showed up in the wrong location – one was in Nevada. “A slight typo in a lat-long coordinate will cause the point to be in the wrong location.” Checking for errors on a map can be easier and more effective than checking a spread sheet line by line.

Making decisions

The purpose of the annual Utah Transportation Commission Workshop is to develop funding strategies and identify upcoming projects for the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP). UDOT’s GIS team supports the workshop by developing presentation materials such as PDF maps, tables, and storymaps on UPlan. Developing presentations has spurred discussion of what information from the Electronic Program Management (ePM) database is the most useful and helpful to convey, and how that information should be presented to provide a thorough representation of transportation needs.

GIS tools provide another way review data, which improves the quality. As a result, UDOT has better information for making decisions and better tools for presenting information to stakeholders.

Slow Down for National Work Zone Safety Week

Work Zone

We are teaming up with the Association of General Contractors to celebrate National Work Zone Safety Week by reminding drivers to slow down and focus on the road, especially in work zones.

In 2015, a total of 2,849 motor vehicle crashes occurred in Utah work zones, resulting in 10 deaths. According to the Federal Highway Administration, speeding was a factor in 29 percent of all fatal work zone crashes in 2014, while distracted driving contributed to 16 percent. Currently there have been zero fatalities in Utah work zones in 2016.

“We are doing everything we can to keep our work zones safe for those who travel through them and those who work in them. But there’s only so much we can do. We need the public’s help,” said UDOT Executive Director Carlos Braceras. “Slow down, put down the phone, be alert, and obey the laws – especially when driving through a work zone.”

In addition, UDOT release a 30-second PSA to remind drivers of the risks UDOT workers face every day in the work zone. The PSA is told from the perspective of UDOT employees’ children, who want to see their parents come home safe every night.

“Work zones are places where real people do their jobs every day,” said Rich Thorn, president and CEO of the Associated General Contractors. “They have families and other people who care about them and want to see them come home safe. Knowing that should motivate drivers to be alert and slow down in work zones.”

Safety is the number one priority for each of UDOT’s more than 150 projects this year.  For example, the Point project requires every employee to participate in weekly safety training. Also, to further protect it’s 1,500 employees from traffic, crews placed more than 24 miles of concrete barrier, which is 50 percent more than the contract required, as this barrier provides a safer work zone for employees.

Work zones are dynamic places that can change from minute to minute. UDOT urges drivers to be safe and help reach Zero Fatalities by:

  • Driving the posted speed limit.
  • Paying 100 percent attention to the roadway, as lanes are often narrowed and shifted for construction.
  • Eliminating distracting activities, such as changing radio/music, using mobile devices (surfing, tweeting, talking, texting), eating and drinking, putting on makeup, and reaching while driving.
  • Minimizing lane changes within the work zone.
  • Merging into the proper lane well before reaching a lane closure.
  • Watching out for workers and their equipment in the work zone, as they can be especially hard to see at night.

UDOT encourages drivers to check the UDOT Traffic App (available for Android and Apple devices) to view current traffic conditions, locate work zones, or plan the best route before travel. Drivers are also encouraged to TRAVELWise around freeway construction by adjusting schedules to travel during less-congested times of day. Drivers can also take transit or telework to skip congestion and work zones.

The U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration celebrate National Work Zone Safety Week each spring to bring national attention to motorist and worker safety in work zones. UDOT continues to participate in this observance in order to raise driver awareness, protect employees and reach Zero Fatalities in work zones.

Improvements in Layton resume with traffic shift, bridge demolition

LAYTON — With Layton Improved construction resuming after a brief winter hiatus, the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) is advising motorists to be aware of traffic pattern changes in Layton around I-15 and the Hill Field Road interchange beginning Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016.

The Hill Field Road project will move forward with the demolition of existing interchange bridges and construction of a new single-point urban interchange (SPUI). Workers will also finalize improvements to Hill Field Road.  Crews will be working 24 hours a day, six days a week, to finish the project as quickly, efficiently, and as safely as possible while maintaining traffic movement through the area. All traffic lanes will remain open on I-15, and speed limits will not be reduced through the construction zone. Please stay alert and use caution as you drive through the area.

Traffic Shift

Beginning Wednesday, construction crews will shift I-15 traffic in the area onto a detour bridge on the west side of the interstate. Southbound traffic will shift onto the detour bridge on Wednesday morning, Feb. 17. Northbound traffic will make the shift on Thursday morning, Feb. 18. The traffic shift will be in place in both directions through mid-April.

HillBridge_Phase1_V2

HillBridge_Phase2

Left turns on the off-ramps will be closed from now through July 2016, so motorists will need to follow the detour signs to turn right and travel through the ThrU Turns.

HillBridge_NoLefts_V2

Trucking companies that normally use Hill Field Road to access businesses west of Layton should plan to use the Layton Parkway Interchange (Exit 330) or Antelope Drive (Exit 332) to access those businesses and industries through July.

Bridge Demolition

Following the traffic shift, the section of Hill Field Road underneath I-15 will be closed on the evenings of Feb 20-21 so crews can demolish both bridges. It is suggested that motorists pay particular attention to  signage that day for detour routes. The new SPUI bridges are being constructed offsite and will be moved into place through UDOT’s innovative accelerated bridge construction process. The northbound part of the bridge will slide into place in early March, and traffic will switch onto the northbound bridge in mid-April. Crews will then complete the southbound bridge and will slide it into place in April.

What to expect when it’s completed

Once the project is completed in Fall 2016, congestion in the area will be reduced by five minutes, thanks to:

  • Four ThrU Turn intersections (already completed)
  • Three additional lanes on Hill Field Road
  • Wider bridges on I-15 over Hill Field Road
  • A single-point urban interchange (SPUI) that will merge traffic at the off-ramps, controlled by one traffic signal.

Since the completion of the ThrU Turns, traffic flow has improved and delays reduced in the area. UDOT and Layton City are working together to tailor solutions that meet the city’s unique traffic challenges, and we’re excited to see the full project benefits realized when all the improvements are completed in fall 2016.

For more information, call the Layton Improved team at (801) 904-4064, e-mail laytonimproved@utah.gov, or visit www.udot.utah.gov/LaytonImproved

HillField_BridgeClosure_Detour_V2

Local Eagle Scout supports IMT Teddy Bear program

When Clark Fox decided to collect stuffed animals for his Eagle Project,  he was totally surprised with the result. The high school junior from Riverton, Utah collected roughly 600 stuffed animals, which were then given to UDOT’s Incident Management Team, the Utah Highway Patrol, and various homeless shelters for distribution to children who find themselves in traumatic situations.  He delivered the animals to the Traffic Operations Center in December and was thanked on behalf of the organizations that will receive the stuffed animals.

Jeff Reynolds, the Roadway Safety Manager and first responder from the IMT department, told Clark stories of the happiness, joy and calming effect he sees firsthand when the stuffed animals are given to children after an incident on the highway.

Clark and his family were then given a tour of the TOC by Wayne Jager to show all the areas that the TOC covers. Clark has a love of “robotics”, so maybe someday we’ll see Clark back at UDOT working on a drone project in the future.

L-R: somebody, IMT manager Jeff Reynolds, Clark Fox, ___ and TOC Director Rob Clayton pose after Fox delivered hundreds of stuffed animals to the IMT for distribution

L-R: Richard Shelley, IMT manager Jeff Reynolds, Clark Fox, Clark’s mom, and TOC Director Rob Clayton pose after Fox delivered hundreds of stuffed animals to the IMT for distribution

This post was written by Richard Shelley of the UDOT Traffic Operations Center.

Incident Management adds softness to gritty job

A new friendly face is riding along on Utah’s highways with the UDOT Incident Management Team drivers: A soft, warm, fuzzy face of a teddy bear.

The teddy bear is part of a new program focused on helping those with young children cope in the face of accidents.  IMT drivers are now carrying teddy bears to give away to those affected by a crash, especially since it can be a frightening experience for young children.

A mother holds her child and a new teddy bear while the IMT provides assistance.

A mother holds her child and a new teddy bear while the IMT provides assistance.

 

“The Utah Highway Patrol started handing out teddy bears to young children that had been involved in an accident. It seemed to help the child take his or her mind off the accident and get them something to comfort them,” UDOT  state IMT manager Jeff Reynolds said. “The Incident Management Team has adopted the same program, due to limited space in police cruisers. In its short time, we have seen a meaningful impact on those we have been able to help.”

Reynolds said a citizen donation program is being considered in the future. UDOT and the Department of Public Safety will have more news when it becomes available.

 

IMT Bear 1

A variety of teddy bears and other plush animals await their ride with the Incident Management Team.

The first goal of the IMT team is to make sure those involved in an accident and working an accident scene are safe and then clear the roads for other drivers to prevent secondary crashes. You’ll find them helping to change a tire, putting warning signs up to protect officials at an accident scene, giving a gallon of gas to a stranded motorist, or cleaning up after an accident. After the crash scene is secure, they want to help those in the crash feel safe and get the drivers on their way.

Please remember to give IMT and Highway Patrol adequate room when you see them passing and slow down to decrease the possibility of a secondary accident.

This post was written by Adam McMillan, Traffic Operations Center Intern.

Gov Herbert says updated Walking School Bus app is a SNAP

On Thursday morning, August 13, Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert put on his sneakers and joined UDOT’s Student Neighborhood Access Program (SNAP) to walk to school with a group of Sugarhouse families. The short stroll was part of UDOT SNAP’s kick-off to celebrate the new-and-improved Walking School Bus mobile app.

While accompanying the students to school, Gov. Herbert praised UDOT SNAP for creating the free, forward-thinking app, which empowers parents to allow their children to walk and bike to school.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert walks with school children in Sugarhouse to celebrate the new "Walking School Bus" app

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert walks with school children in Sugarhouse to celebrate the new “Walking School Bus” app

“Walking and biking to school makes our neighborhoods safer, our air cleaner and our children healthier. It also helps to build a greater sense of community,” Gov. Herbert said. “I encourage all parents who live within walking distance of school to download the free UDOT Walking School Bus App, join or organize a walking group and start the school year off right by making walking and biking to and from school a habit.”

During the walk, Gov. Herbert also encouraged the young students to continue their studies.

Parents were interested to learn that the updated Walking School Bus app now included easy tutorials, a way to invite their friends via text and social media, and that the app appears to be more navigable. They also remarked on how important the safety features on the app are to them.

Kids like the app, too.

“I feel safe, and I like walking with my friends,” nine-year-old Alex Beasley said. “And it also saves gas because you’re not using your cars.

UDOT developed and launched the free app in August 2014 to help make walking and biking to school safer and easier. With the app, parents can create and join walking groups, send messages within the app to coordinate walks, and even notify other parents when students have arrived at school. In its first year, more than 500 walking school bus groups were created across the state, and parents and students using the app reduced 91,000 car trips and 37 million grams of CO2 emissions, walked 88,000 miles and burned 8.8 million calories.

The free Walking School Bus App is available for download for iPhone and Android devices. For more information, visit http://www.udot.utah.gov/walkingschoolbus.

MEDIA STORIES ON THIS EVENT:

Gov. Herbert backs UDOT’s ‘Walking School Bus’ AppABC News 4 Utah

UDOT aims to reduce pollution, increase child safety and exercise with ‘Walking School Bus’ appFox 13 News

Herbert, students trade wheels for sneakers on ‘walking school bus’ Deseret News

Reserve family gets walking with Utah governor – Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System

UDOT Walking School Bus app aims to improve safety KSL5 News

Guv encourages Utah parents to ditch the school carpools in favor of walkingThe Salt Lake Tribune

Governor says kids should ditch carpools and walk to schoolThe Daily Herald

 

 

 

 

#MessageMonday: Seat Belts On, Phones Off

Editors Note: #messageMonday is part of a relatively new, ongoing Zero Fatalities campaign aimed at improving safety behaviors on Utah roads. It is a partnership between UDOT and the Utah Department of Public Safety. More information about the campaign can be found here

081015 VMS

They’re two of the main killers on Utah roads: seat belts (or not wearing them) and cell phones.

According to The National Safety Council, it’s estimated that 1.4 million crashes each year involve drivers using phones (e.g. making calls, choosing music, reading e-mails and texting), and a minimum of 200,000 additional crashes each year involve drivers who are texting. Distracted driving involving some form of phone use accounted for almost 100 fatalities on Utah roads in 2014 ALONE. Whether you’re making a call, looking at a text, or even having Siri send the message for you, there’s too much multitasking for your brain to focus on driving safely, and all too often, it leads to a car crash.

Distracted driving phones

And no matter what caused the crash, your chances of survival increase significantly if you’re wearing a seat belt. Since 2005, unrestrained or improperly restrained victims account for just about half of all car-related deaths on Utah roads. Wearing your seat belt isn’t just a personal choice: it affects everyone around you. In fact, statistics show that unbuckled passengers can increase probability of death for other people in the car by 40 percent. Of course, since May 2015, it’s also the law for everyone to buckle up any time you’re on the road.

So there are the facts.


At UDOT and Zero Fatalities, we’re not trying to scare you into practicing safe driving techniques; it’s about more than that. It’s about each and every life that could have been saved had a different choice been made. It’s about that brother, sister, mother, father, friend, or other loved one who isn’t here, but should be. Car crashes may be inevitable, even with safely designed roads and careful drivers. But each time we get into a vehicle, we can control the choices we make to help keep our roads safer — for our families, our neighbors, and ourselves.

So please wear your seat belt. Wait until your trip is done to make that call or send that text. Your family and friends will be grateful for that choice when you make it to them safely.

 

UDOT projects honored at WASHTO meeting

State projects win in “Quality of Life”, “Under Budget” categories

BOISE, Idaho — Dedication and understanding of the impact state-controlled roads have on motorists in Utah was recognized today, as UDOT projects in Southern Utah and Northern Utah garnered two regional awards in the 2015 America’s Transportation Awards competition.

The announcement today was made at the 2015 Western Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (WASHTO) annual meeting. UDOT projects were among eight that won in each of the competition’s three categories: Best Use of Innovation, Under Budget, and Quality of Life/Community Development.

UDOT’s Bluff Street at Southern Hills Parkway Interchange was recognized in the Quality of Life/Community Development category, which recognizes “a transportation project that has contributed to the general quality of life and economic development of local communities. These innovative projects better connect people to businesses, jobs, health care facilities, and recreational activities while encouraging a mix of transportation modes. ” With comfortable weather and access to many outdoor activities and destinations, the largest city in Region Four provides so much of what St. George and Washington County residents who value quality of life are looking for.

So many new residents have come to the area seeking this quality of life that existing transportation infrastructure has been over-taxed. Nearly 43,000 cars travel along Bluff Street (SR-18) each day, and another 13,700 go through Red Hills Parkway. The clash of rural vs. urban can best be seen here, where a state highway suddenly becomes a city road where many cyclists and runners converge to get to and around the natural preserve. It’s the meeting point four multi-use trail systems, and is included in the course of many major sporting events in the area. All of this activity in a traditionally constructed intersection places residents and visitors at risk.

This was how the intersection looked before the project

This was how the intersection looked before the project

In order to accommodate the current population as well as the expected growth through 2030, UDOT, the City of St. George and the Southern Utah Bike Alliance (SUBA) collaborated to reconfigure the intersection by creating a center exit interchange.

The center exit interchange creates a safer section of road, while also maintaining a steady flow of traffic. Highway travelers can continue on their way on the outside lanes, while those needing local access take the inside lanes to an intersection that allows east-west travel.

The construction team saved $4 million in construction costs by utilizing the natural topography of the area and building the project within natural grades.

The project after it was finished. Note the center offramp and bike trails

The project after it was finished. Note the center offramp and bike trails

The project also integrated bike/pedestrian paths into the design, with box culverts under SR-18 allowing for safer multimodal transportation under busy roadways, thus connecting the community in a safe, efficient and positive way.

“UDOT should be commended for their positive design process that encourages outside voices and ideas,” said Craig Shanklin, SUBA President. “This was a great example of how the community can be involved in the design process and lead to a better outcome for all users.”

The Diverging Diamond Interchange at Brigham City’s US-91/1100 South location was honored in the “Under Budget” category. That category honors “a project demonstrating transportation efficiency while promoting economic and fiscal responsibility. The award recognizes a successful project brought in under budget that provided the greatest cost savings to the state(s) while offering maximum performance.”

How do you move a steadily increasing traffic flow through an aging, small interchange at the connection of US-91 and Interstate 15, near the northern Utah city of Brigham City?  With more than 20,000 vehicles a day — many of them trucks — originating throughout the region, this old, inefficient interchange was reducing the economic lifeblood of local communities to a trickle.

The new DDI at Brigham City on the day it opened.

The new DDI at Brigham City on the day it opened.

The 40-year-old interchange would frequently clog when vehicles at its ramps tried to enter the traffic flow.  The predominant west to south-bound traffic on US-91 was so steady during the day that it was nearly hopeless for other movements to occur.  This prompted risk-taking by trapped motorists at the ramps – and frequent crashes when they did.  Regional special events, like local university football games, would bring traffic to a complete halt.

UDOT traffic planners needed a solution, but the answer was elusive.  Soils adjacent to the Great Salt Lake were saturated by surface groundwater, making the interchange increasingly unstable.  Engineers wondered how to upgrade it without a massive redesign to accommodate the increasing pounding from trucks.  Similar rebuilds had cost upwards of $100 million – prohibitive under state budgets at the time.

The answer: innovate.  Engineers used an innovation to solve the water issue — geofoam — which allowed the new interchange to “float” on soggy soils.  Another innovation — advanced bridge construction — replaced the interchange’s old bridge over I-15 while adding a completely new span in a little more than 10 months.  Finally, the innovative diverging diamond traffic pattern was added to the design to solve the problem of congestion and safety.

The white blocks are geofoam, which was used to construct the DDI in a environmentally- and structurally- sound way

The white blocks are geofoam, which was used to construct the DDI in a environmentally- and structurally- sound way

The result? An efficient interchange that allows all traffic movements to occur safely and congestion-free, and all for less than $14 million.

“What UDOT and the project team eventually chose to do was not only innovative, but a brilliant solution to an extremely difficult situation with many built-in constrictions,” said Bradley Humpherys, a Senior Transportation Project Manager for Stanley Consultants.

Utah’s two projects — along with projects in California, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, and Texas — will compete against projects from other regions in the U.S. for a National Grand Prize, the People’s Choice Award and $10,000 prizes to be given by the winners to a transportation-related charity or scholarship program.

The top two national winners will be announced in September at the AASHTO Annual Meeting in Chicago.

“These projects are a small sampling of the many ways in which state DOTs are improving peoples’ quality of life and providing for a vibrant economy,” said John Cox, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials President and Director of the Wyoming Department of Transportation.

The America’s Transportation Awards – co-sponsored by AASHTO, AAA and the US Chamber of Commerce – annually recognizes the best of America’s transportation projects in four regional competitions.  Learn more about the projects and the competition at: AmericasTransportationAwards.org

UDOT seeks public comment for Disadvantaged Business Enterprise goal

UDOT is currently developing the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) goal for the next three Federal fiscal years.  The draft DBE Goal and Methodology Report can be found on the UDOT website at https://www.udot.utah.gov/go/dbegoal.

Comments may be provided to UDOT by following the directions on the website.  The document will be available for review and comment from May 11 to June 10, 2015.  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.

A public meeting / webinar will be held on June 1, 2015 at 12:00 PM at UDOT’s central headquarters, 4501 S 2700 W, Salt Lake City, UT 84114.  At this meeting the DBE Goal and Methodology will be reviewed and staff will be available for questions/discussion on this and other DBE topics including:

  • DBE certification / application
  • Project explorer / project advertising
  • Project bidding
  • Subcontracting
  • Certified Payroll

The following is a timeline for the public meeting:
12:00  Meet and greet
12:10  Overview of DBE Program
12:30  Presentation of Goal Methodology
12:45  Q&A Open House

The webinar part of this meeting can be accessed at the following link:

http://connect.udot.utah.gov/dbe/

Conference Call # – 1-877-820-7831

Participant:  237093

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UDOT Central Civil Rights Office staff:

Stacy Frandsen:  DBE Goal and Methodology, project explorer, advertising and bidding

Tori Berry:  DBE Goal and Methodology, DBE certification / application, subcontracting, certified payroll

Judy Romrell:  DBE certification / application

Sheri Uffens:  Certified payroll

Aaron Watson:  DBE Goal and Methodology, project explorer, advertising, subcontracting

Michael Butler:  DBE Goal and Methodology

UDOT braces for ‘100 Deadliest Days’ on Utah roads

New Variable Message Sign campaign reminds drivers to stay safe

SALT LAKE CITY — (May 22, 2015) — Memorial Day weekend marks the beginning of what is known as the ‘100 Deadliest Days’ of travel on Utah roads, and the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) is urging motorists to stay alert and drive safe this summer.  

According to UDOT’s most recent fatality report, 89 people have lost their lives this year on Utah roads, compared with 73 at this time last year. That’s an increase of 22 percent. Compared to the rest of the year, traffic fatalities traditionally rise 35 percent between Memorial Day Weekend and Labor Day. During this stretch last year, 97 people were killed during the ‘100 Deadliest Days’—nearly a fatality a day.

“That’s just not acceptable,” said UDOT Executive Director Carlos Braceras. “When you consider the human cost of these nearly daily tragedies, and their impact on families and communities throughout Utah, you begin to understand why we are doing everything we can to make our Zero Fatalities goal a reality, especially during these critical months of the year.”

Beginning May 22, UDOT will launch a new variable message sign (VMS) campaign, to serve as a reminder that Zero Fatalities will require driver effort and attention. Each Friday, the overhead signs will highlight the number of days during the past week we achieved Zero Fatalities on Utah roads. On Mondays, the signs will display a weekly safety message to engage the public and increase traffic safety awareness.

VMS signs like this one on I-80 will have various safety messages during 100 Deadliest Days.

VMS signs like this one on I-80 will have various safety messages during 100 Deadliest Days.

Through this campaign, motorists are being urged to: 

Motorists planning trips on Utah highways during the Memorial Day weekend should plan ahead and check road conditions through the UDOT Traffic website (udot.utah.gov/traffic) or by downloading the UDOT Traffic smartphone application through the iPhone App Store or Android Market. These free tools allow drivers to access up-to-the-minute road conditions and traffic information.

— UDOT–