Category Archives: Zero Crashes, Injuries and Fatalities

Innovative partnerships prove to be the perfect recipe for Patchwork Parkway

PANGUITCH — In a state where innovation is consistently used to Keep Utah Moving, sometimes innovation alone isn’t enough. Unique partnerships between state agencies can be the perfect additional ingredient to accomplish the improbable.

In rural southern Utah, where equipment and manpower are sometimes as few and far between as the towns in the region, innovation and partnering got a much-needed job done quickly and efficiently, while minimizing the use of taxpayer dollars.

Recently, UDOT’s shed 4469 in Panguitch teamed up with Bryce Canyon National Park to create a shoulder on a seven-mile stretch of Scenic Byway SR-143. This stretch of Utah’s “Patchwork Parkway” was in great need of a shoulder, because a simple task like plowing the road or pulling over created potential safety issues.

The project required tools neither the department nor the national park possessed alone. So to combat this issue, they came together to pool resources and manpower to finish the job in a few days, saving each agency valuable time and money.

“The stars just lined up,” said Panguitch Shed manager Robert Brown. “Down here, we’re all neighbors, and you have to get creative to help each other out and get things done.”

Normally, a similar project requires a team of at least six to eight workers, with three on a shouldering machine alone. But with only two full-time employees at the shed, Brown and his counterpart at Bryce Canyon had to think outside of the box. Here are some of the highlights:

• Bryce Canyon provided side delivery dump trucks that offered a more efficient use of asphalt. Standard machines provide four feet of material, even if only two feet are needed.
• UDOT’s grader was used to accomplish both the grading and compaction tasks, as the shoulder in the area is too steep to use conventional steel drum rollers.
• The asphalt used on the project was recycled and obtained from a pit in nearby Hatch, Utah at nearly one-third of the cost of new asphalt.
• The project was completed in two days, with two UDOT Panguitch Shed employees and two Bryce Canyon employees.
• A pull-behind broom hooked to a pickup truck cleaned the road with two passes.

For Brown, the lesson is simple: when government entities work and plan together, the result can be a win-win for both, as well as the surrounding communities.

“Without the shared resources, we wouldn’t have been able to do the job,” Brown said. “I think this shows that governments need to think outside of the box more to collaborate.”

THREE YEARS OF PLANNED PROJECTS

A new UPLAN gallery of web maps and apps, with information about upcoming projects, is now available through UPlan.

The gallery makes data on the UDOT Three Year Plan available to project managers, UDOT employees, policy makers and the general public. Projects are organized by program funding source, year and UDOT region. The gallery also has a web map of future planning through 2020.

The live data advantage

The online information can be referenced by employees across the department, or by UDOT and local governments to assure that all are viewing and using the correct information. The project data is updated nightly, so data is kept as current as possible.

Having dynamic, easily accessible information via the gallery enhances collaboration across UDOT divisions so projects can be synchronized to use resources effectively and reduce impact to the public. The gallery improves agency transparency since anyone with a web connection can use the gallery to view planned projects.

What is UDOT’s Three Year Plan?

Screen Shot of the Three Year Plan WebsiteThe projects in the Three Year Plan have been identified and prioritized by each of the four UDOT regions. The projects address UDOT’s three strategic goals, Zero Crashes, Injuries and Fatalities, Optimize Mobility, and Preserve Infrastructure.  Funding sources have also been identified for each project.

The main advantage for UDOT in having a three year program of road construction projects is coordination, says William Lawrence, Director of UDOT Program Finance. The plan lets the department evaluate the program as a whole and “helps maximize efficiency,” he says. For example, two projects in close proximity in American Fork, each planned for different years, were recently combined into one project that will take place in 2017. In this case, combining projects is a better use of financial resources, and “construction will only impact the public once,” says Lawrence.

To find the Three Year Plan gallery, access the UDOT Data Portal at data.utah.gov, click the UPLAN thumbnail, then click the 3-Year Plan thumbnail in UPLAN. Instructions for searching for or sorting projects are included in the gallery.

UDOT Participated in MAG Transportation Fairs

MAG Transportation FairMountainland Association of Governments held its annual Transportation and Community Planning Fairs during October.

MAG invited member cities to provide information about community plans and utilized the fairs to invite public input on the Draft Regional Transportation Plan.

UDOT participated by providing information about upcoming construction on The Point project, seat belt safety highlighted by the Zero Fatalities team, and TravelWise information. Region Three displayed their Interactive Projects map and a looping video using photos from the 2014 photo contest. They also shared information about the region bike plan and invited response to a quick questionnaire to help prioritize potential bike projects.

MAG is launching an interactive website called Exchanging Ideas as part of the Regional Transportation Planning process. Kory Iman, GIS Analyst with Region Three and MAG, had an integral role in developing the site to facilitate public input. MAG staff demonstrated the site at the three fairs in October and will accept comment through April 2015.

This guest post was orginally published in the Region Three Fall 2014 Newsletter.

Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety at Intersection: Phase 2

Different Modes = Different Experiences

While the transportation network is meant to accommodate a variety of transportation modes, the experience varies for users of each mode. Cyclists and pedestrians face a greater risk of injury or death when involved in a crash as compared to drivers/passengers of motor vehicles. Crashes involving active travel modes are most likely to occur at an intersection, therefore it is imperative to understand what characteristics make any given intersection safer or more dangerous.

Map of Davis count with red and green dots

Davis County study results: high-risk = red, low-risk = green

Expanding the Geographic Scope

The goal of this research was to build upon the findings from a pilot study of Salt Lake County (2012) to examine which characteristics of the built-environment, roadways, and signal programming have the biggest impact on safety and crash rates for active travelers. This phase of data collection examined intersections in Weber, Davis, and Utah Counties.

Collecting the Data

Using data from the Utah Office of Highway Safety and UDOT, crashes involving at least one pedestrian or cyclists were highlighted within the study area. Intersections with the highest numbers of incidents were then further evaluated on 83 distinct criteria. Intersections with very low crash rates were also evaluated and included in the analysis for comparison.

What Makes an Intersection Dangerous?

The analysis found that incorporating longer signal lengths, reducing the presence of left turn arrows, and limiting non-residential driveways within 100 meters of intersections can significantly reduce the number of non-motorized accidents. Additionally, road construction at intersections was shown to significantly increase the number of non-motorized incidents; particularly those involving cyclists.

Graphic of car turning left into the path of straight traveling bicyclist

Left Turn Parallel Path Problem

System Improvements Benefit All Users

Addressing these issues and enacting appropriate improvements will not only improve safety conditions for non-motorized users, but will likely also provide an enhanced travel experience for automobile travelers and result in additional external benefits of traffic calming and improved flow.

Next Steps…

A follow-up to this research is currently underway, and will examine intersection safety off the Wasatch Front in Cache, Tooele, and Washington Counties, as well as in Moab City.

This guest post was written by Shaunna K. Burbidge, Ph.D., Active Planning and Jason Richins, S.E., UDOT Research Project Manager and was originally published in the Research Newsletter.

A Typical Day – Ridealong with UDOT’s Incident Management Team (IMT)

For the last 20 years, UDOT’s Incident Management Team (IMT) has been assisting Utah motorists. UDOT held a 20-year celebration on September 22 to commemorate their service. As part of the ceremony the, IMT offered ride-alongs to media outlets to help them understand what goes on behind the scenes.

I had the chance to ride along for afternoon with Ben to see how he helps Utah drivers on a day to day basis.

After Ben explained the safety features on the truck and how he is dispatched, we headed west on S.R. 201 to patrol his territory. During the off peak hours, the IMT trucks have a roving patrol, looking for people to assist, pick up debris and mark abandoned cars.

“We are always busy, looking for people that need help, a big part is removing debris that could damage cars or cause accidents,” Ben said.

No more than 5 minutes into to our patrol, we spot a large piece of tire retread in the road. Ben stops off the side of the road, turns on his lights and runs out to get the tire. Then, a call comes in on his radio asking for assistance in helping divert traffic due to a tractor trailer crash on the 3300 S off-ramp from I-15. When we arrived on the scene, another IMT vehicle was already helping to route traffic, so we set up the message board on the top of the IMT vehicle to inform drivers.

Photo of IMT Truck with message board displayed "Left Lane Closed"

“We are just lucky no one got injured or killed by this, it could have been a lot worse,” Ben said.

Photo of grader and dump trailer blocking traffic

After about 15 minutes on the scene, the crash is cleared… but there is a new problem to handle. The truck carrying the trailer had broken the hydraulic brake lines and was leaking fluid into traffic. “Hydraulic fluid is very slick for tires. This could cause a rear end collision or a motorcycle crash in a heartbeat,” said Ben. For clean-up, the IMT drivers use a compound that absorbs the fluid and can be swept up. Overall approximately 20 gallons of hydraulic fluid was spilled. Therefore, the Salt Lake Valley Environmental Health Department was called to the scene to ensure that it was properly cleaned up. The owners of the truck and trailer help in the clean-up and after about an hour and a half the road is ready to be opened again.

“There are things to do no matter where we go, this is good example of how things can go wrong pretty quick on the road,” Ben said.

Photo of crews spreading absorbing compount on hydraulic oil

As soon as we are available again, the Utah Highway Patrol asks for an assist on I-15 to help with a traffic stop. A woman who is pulled over is threatening to harm herself. We drive to scene and set up the cones and use the IMT message board to inform motorists that the HOV lane is closed ahead.

Photo of IMT truck and UHP car using closed HOV lane to assist a motorists

“Our main job is to keep people safe, and that includes making sure that highway patrol can do their job effectively,” said Ben.

After the scene was cleared we headed up I-80 towards Parley’s Canyon. Ben tells me that there is usually an overheated car or semi that they can push out of traffic or make sure they are okay. We don’t even make it past the first exit before we spot a driver on the shoulder. We turn around to find a woman attempting to change her tire but without success. Her tire won’t come off the car. After a few quick hits with with Ben’s rubber mallet, the tire comes off and the spare is installed.

“Sometimes it can take us five minutes to do what it could take people over thirty, we have the right tools to get people back on the road,” said Ben.

Photo of IMT Professional changing a tire

As the afternoon commute gets closer, the IMT vehicles stage themselves closer to major freeways to be in better position to help. Once again after only three miles there is a truck and camper on the side of the road. The CV joint has broken and they have been working on pulling it off for the last hour. They don’t have a big enough wrench to get the bolt off. Ben pulls out the impact drill and they are able to get the needed piece off in a matter of minutes.

Melinda from Magna was grateful for the help. “We would have had to go buy another wrench come back and then it would be rush hour,” she says. Melinda, like a lot of Utah drivers wasn’t aware that there was a team dedicated to help those stuck on the side of the road. “I had no idea, but I am sure glad that you guys came to help us, just having those flashing lights makes me feel safer,” she said.

Photo of IMT Professional assisting with roadside repairs

After the repair was made, we lead them back onto the freeway and sent them on their way.

My time with Ben had come to an end. The IMT was bracing for the afternoon commute where they would help with crashes and more stranded motorists. As we drove back to the UDOT building, Ben pointed out three abandoned cars that he would go back to check out.

“We can’t help everyone all the time because we get called to accidents, but as you can see there is a lot of help needed on the roads,” Ben says as we finish our time together.

After just a few short hours I saw that the Incident Management Team has a huge impact on traffic and keeping people safe. There is a lot of thought, time and effort to ensure that Utah roads are safe as they can be. So if you see an IMT truck on the side of the road, be sure to slow down and give them as much space as possible.

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

Vision and Mission announced at UDOT Annual Conference

If all roads led to Rome at the height of the Roman Empire, all roads in Utah lead to elevated economic prosperity and a higher quality of life in our state today.

This theme was prevalent throughout the Utah Department of Transportation’s Annual Conference. UDOT announced a new vision, mission statement, logo, and changes to its strategic goals during the conference—all aimed at improving Utah and keeping people safe.

Carlos Braceras speaks during the 2014 UDOT Annual Conference

Carlos Braceras speaks during the 2014 UDOT Annual Conference

On Tuesday, Oct. 28, Executive Director Carlos Braceras announced UDOT’s vision is “Keeping Utah Moving.” This simple statement is a powerful reminder of the department’s purpose and the goal employees, consultants, and contractors should be working toward every day.

“With our growing population and changing demographics, we need to keep our state moving,” Braceras said. “Whether it’s building new roads, repairing old ones, taking phone calls or holding meetings, it’s all aimed at Keeping Utah Moving.”

Innovating transportation solutions to strengthen Utah’s economy and enhance quality of life. 

Braceras explained that the department has based its direction and performance for years on Strategic Goals (Preserve Infrastructure, Optimize Mobility, Zero Fatalities, Strengthen the Economy); however, until this year it hasn’t had a vision or a mission statement.

As Utah looks ahead to a rapidly growing population, expected to almost double in the next 35 years, the entire state must begin anticipating solutions for Utah’s infrastructure and economy. Change can either be a problem or an opportunity. Braceras argues that for Utah, it’s an opportunity to reinforce Utah’s position as one of the country’s best places to live.

“Quality of life is the essence of what makes living in Utah so attractive,” Braceras said. “I’ve made Utah home for 34 years because I can buy a house, get a job, and enjoy the outdoors I love. That, combined with the strong state economy, is what will keep me here the rest of my life.”

Braceras, who’s been a career-long champion of safety, also announced moving Zero Fatalities to the department’s top strategic goal, but with a twist.

“Nothing that we do is more important than safety. Zero is our number one goal. Zero fatalities. Zero crashes. Zero injuries,” Braceras said.

While UDOT will continue aggressively educating drivers on habits that will decrease the amount of fatalities on Utah’s roads, focus will also be on keeping everybody within UDOT safe as well. That goes for accountants as much as it does construction workers, he said.

Deputy Director Shane Marshall announced one final change to UDOT’s direction: the emphasis area of Operational Excellence has been eliminated, reducing the number of emphasis areas from six to five (Integrated Transportation, Collaboration, Education, Transparency, Quality).

UDOT logo

Marshall explained, “The motivating forces behind the emphasis areas of both Quality and Operational Excellence were very similar. Both areas focus on a value we all share very strongly: the desire to be good stewards of taxpayer money.

If you define part of our Quality emphasis area as “Continued Process Improvement,” then Operational Excellence can fit right into Quality.”

The updated vision, mission, emphasis areas, strategic goals and core values are available on UDOT’s new web app. This tool was unveiled at the UDOT Annual Conference, and Braceras explained there are plans to expand its functionality in the future.

For now, the web app is a helpful resource for reference as employees, consultants, contractors and partners work together in their efforts to Keep Utah Moving.

I-80 Silver Creek Reconstruction

Photo of concrete pavingDrivers traveling through Summit County on I-80 have become familiar with one of the Region’s largest construction projects: the concrete reconstruction of I-80 from the U.S. 40 junction (MP 148) to Wanship (MP 155). Work began in June and is scheduled to continue through November of 2015 (construction will be halted during the winter months between 2014 and 2015).

The project includes replacing the freeway’s asphalt with new concrete pavement. In many locations, the existing asphalt will be removed and the pavement will be completely reconstructed. The new concrete will help accommodate the heavy trucks that travel in both directions along this key freight corridor and will prolong the life of the roadway.

UDOT’s contractor, Geneva Rock, is constructing the road in two principal phases. Phase one – the current phase – has shifted all traffic to the westbound lanes, allowing crews to reconstruct the eastbound lanes. In November, once the eastbound lanes are complete, lane restrictions will be lifted and traffic will be returned to its normal configuration. In the spring, crews will shift all traffic into the newly reconstructed eastbound lanes and complete work in the westbound lanes.

Photo of concrete pavingAs part of the concrete reconstruction, a unique pavement base material is being used to provide strength and stability to the pavement. The material, called Cement-Treated Asphalt Base (CTAB), provides a strong and stable base for the concrete to ensure durability and longevity. The CTAB material is formed by pulverizing the existing asphalt and adding cement powder and water to make a low strength concrete.

Typically, concrete pavement is either overlaid over the existing asphalt (as with the concrete paving project on S.R. 201), or a thin layer of asphalt is applied to the existing pavement and then the concrete is overlaid. On this section of I-80, however, the existing pavement is deteriorating too quickly to provide a suitable base. Instead of overlaying an additional layer of asphalt, CTAB was selected because of its lower cost and better resistance to water damage. While concrete treated bases have been used for a long time, this is the first instance in Utah where a cement treated base uses 100 percent recycled asphalt.

The project team has been involved in an extensive stakeholder outreach and public information program. Key stakeholders, such as Summit County, local emergency services, and the communities of Tollgate and Promontory, have been kept informed and consulted throughout the project to minimize impacts wherever possible and coordinate essential information such as emergency plans.

Photo of concrete pavingUDOT and Geneva Rock have worked together to address stakeholder concerns and mitigate risks associated with this traffic configuration. Local emergency crews are allowed to access the work zone in the event that they are not able to travel through open traffic lanes in a timely manner. Tow trucks are on-call at both ends of the construction zone to reduce response times to incidents and keep traffic moving.

Due to the long-term closure of Tollgate’s eastbound on- and off-ramps, accommodations needed to be made to provide residents access to their community, especially in case of emergency. The project team worked with the neighboring Promontory development to allow Tollgate residents to use of Promontory’s private access roads in order to bypass I-80 as they travel to and from Park City.

UDOT, Geneva Rock, and the local stakeholders have established a good working relationship for this significant reconstruction – a project that will ensure this section of I-80 stays in good repair for years to come.

This guest post was originally published in the Region Two Fall 2014 Newsletter.

DEER NEAR KANAB NEED TO MIGRATE

UDOT is working to improve deer use of the crossings and prevent motorist-wildlife crashes.

Photo of deer using the crossingThe fall migration of the Paunsaugunt mule deer herd reaches its height between October and November as deer move south, and eventually end up east of Kanab or in Arizona near the Kiabab Plateau. This is the second year that migrating deer will encounter new fencing and wildlife crossings on U.S. 89 east of Kanab. Since Utah’s deer hunt coincides with the migration, it’s more likely that people and deer will come into close proximity near a wildlife crossing or along U.S. 89. And when people are near, deer appear to be less likely to learn to use wildlife crossings.

The new fencing is designed to direct deer to the under-highway crossings, but it can take three years or more before most of the animals in the herd learn the crossing options. UDOT is identifying and implementing measures to improve crossings by working with Patricia Cramer, PhD, Utah State University Research Assistant Professor, Arizona Game and Fish, the BLM and the Grand Staircase agencies and employees from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.

“We’re very interested to see how it works out this year,” says Randall Taylor from the UDOT Region Four Richfield office. He has been part of an effort to install fencing and three crossings along a 12.5 mile area with the highest wildlife-automobile crash history. “This project does not cover the whole area but it’s an important first step at the core of the accidents.”

Photo of deer using the crossingSoon after project completion in September 2013, Cramer placed motion-activated cameras at each crossing. The photos provide information about how many deer are using the crossings, and identify reasons deer may be deterred.

Photos from last year show more people near the crossings during the deer hunt, and fewer deer making the trek across. Probably because the crossings were new, deer congregated near the fencing along the highway. Road users saw the deer and stopped to take a look. UDOT responded by placing variable message signs to discourage motorists from pulling over.

Other circumstances served to deter deer from following the fencing and using the crossings. Gaps under the fencing encouraged deer to push through on to the pavement. “Flooding was to blame for some of those gaps, and coyotes were the cause of others,” says Taylor. UDOT and UDWR are monitoring the fencing and filling gaps as soon as possible.

Besides doing work on the project corridor, UDWR is communicating directly with hunters; a message about staying away from crossings will go out with each license holder.

The crossings are important to highway safety in the area. Pre-project crash data indicates that building the crossings prevents an estimated 132 crashes per year. “Hopefully, more deer will get across this year. The research Patti Cramer is doing is helping.”

For more:

Read a post about how UDOT collaborates to improve crossings written by Patricia Cramer, PhD, Utah State University

Bike Advisory Group Formed to Validate Region Three Bike Plan

Photo of bicyclists on Provo Main Street

Cyclists and motorists share Provo Main Street

More than 20 people attended the kick-off meeting for the Region Three Bike Advisory Group, a group of staff who have interest in better understanding the Region Three Bike Plan.

Craig Hancock, Region Three Engineering Manager, is leading the effort to become familiar with the bike plan and identify local government priorities.

“As part of UDOT’s emphasis on integrated transportation, we want to take a close look at the existing plan and validate that our staff and local governments support it,” Craig said. “We will work with local governments and Mountainland Association of Governments (MAG) to gain their buy-in so that together we have a commitment to implement the bike plan.”

Region Three staff expressed interest in the bike plan for a variety of reasons: some are bicyclists who ride for recreation or commuting. Others were interested because the bike plan affects their job and how projects are built. There was also a mix of on-road riders and trail riders. Some key considerations in implementing bicycle improvements that were discussed include:

  • Parking and bike lanes
  • Bicycle signal detection and routing of bicyclists through intersections
  • Pavement type; chip seal surfaces are difficult for bicyclists
  • Sweeping and snow removal or snow storage
  • Rumble strips

A core group from the 20 interested staff will meet monthly to work through the existing bike plan and coordinate with local governments and MAG. The larger group will be assembled for input and feedback at key points during the validation process. “In the end,” Craig said, “the goal is to have a region bike plan that we commit to make happen.”

Incident Management Team celebrates 20 years of service

If you’ve ever had a flat tire, run out of gas, or driven by a crash on Utah’s roadways, chances are you’ve seen the white Incident Management trucks loaded with orange traffic cones, their electronic signs on the top with vital information. An integral part of how the state deals with time-sapping events on our roadways, UDOT’s Incident Management Team has 15 teams on call statewide for just about anything that can happen.

But it wasn’t always that way: After 20 years, it’s time to celebrate the service of the unsung heroes of the IMT team.

Incident Management Team

IMT members Billy Frashure, Nick Jarrett, Mark Whittaker, Jeff Reynolds and Alan Peterson are some of the professionals keeping Utah drivers safe. Photo by Adan Carrillo

In 1994, UDOT started a courtesy patrol — two trucks assigned to help drivers in the Salt Lake Area. But time and demand have increased the IMT’s role. No longer is the team looked at as a courtesy — but a necessity — in keeping Utah freeways safe and traffic moving from Logan to St. George and everywhere in between.

Consider this: since 2004, the IMT has helped more than 120,000 motorists in the Beehive State. With these professionals specifically trained in clearing crashes off the road quickly and then staying on the scene, emergency personnel and the Highway Patrol can focus on what they do best while knowing IMT is protecting them on the road.

Another important stat: with each minute saved by clearing a crash, five minutes of delays are prevented. Clearing crashes also helps prevent secondary crashes.

“Think of how many drivers have been helped since 1994, how many injuries have been prevented, or lives saved?” said UDOT Executive Director Carlos Braceras during a celebration on Monday. “IMT is a critical piece to help us reach our goal of Zero Fatalities.”

Braceras went on to give all of us safety tips to help IMT and UDOT out with the goal of Zero Fatalities on Utah roads:

  • Don’t stop on the freeway unless it’s an emergency
  • If you ARE involved in an incident, stay in your car with your seat belt on.
  • Slow down and move over to the next lane if you see a vehicle on the side of the road — it’s the law to do so for emergency vehicles.
  • Make sure you have enough fuel to make your trip safely
  • Check your spare tire to see if it’s in working condition
  • Prepare for the worst weather by keeping a blanket, food and water in the car.
  • Leave a lot of distance between you and the car in front of you.
Five Incident Management Team Vehicles offered the media ride-alongs to give them a better idea of what it’s like to be an IMT professional. Photo by Adan Carrillo.

Five Incident Management Team Vehicles offered the media ride-alongs to give them a better idea of what it’s like to be an IMT professional. Photo by Adan Carrillo.