Category Archives: Zero Crashes, Injuries and Fatalities

UDOT and Partners Work Together to Protect Paunsaugunt Mule Deer Herd

Photo of mule deer at a crossingEach fall the Paunsaugunt mule deer herd migrates off the Paunsaugunt Plateau near Bryce Canyon, to the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument and across U.S. 89 to winter habitat in southern Utah and northern Arizona. In spring they return to the Paunsaugunt Plateau. During the migrations mule deer were killed on U.S. 89 in wildlife-vehicle collisions, which also posed a hazard for drivers. Historic data revealed that there was an average of 132 mule deer-vehicle collisions each year along U.S. 89 from Arizona to Kanab. As a result, UDOT and partner agencies came up with a strategy to add wildlife exclusion fencing to U.S. 89 east of Kanab in the migration area to funnel the mule deer and other wildlife to four existing structures, and to create three new constructed wildlife crossing culverts under the highway.

The creation of this wildlife mitigation marks a new era of inter-agency and non-profit partnerships to protect wildlife across roads. UDOT partnered with Utah Division of Wildlife (UDWR) to include multiple partners on this project, including Arizona Game and Fish (AZFGD), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), US Bureau of Land Management Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, Kane County, the Mule Deer Foundation (MDF), Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife (SFW) and others to come up with the funding and strategies to help mule deer migrate under U.S. 89.

The U.S. 89 Kanab Paunsaugunt Project partners brought together over 2.5 million dollars to install 12 miles of wildlife exclusion fencing and three wildlife culvert underpasses in the center of the stretch. Utah State University became a research partner, installing wildlife monitoring cameras at all structures and fence ends. In 2013 the mitigation was completed, research cameras were installed, and mule deer began moving under U.S. 89 in September.

As the mule deer migration began and camera data came in, it became apparent some mule deer were becoming restricted in their ability to use the structures because of cattle fences and people, and that the agency partnership needed to continue to work together to help make the mitigation most effective.

UDWR and BLM worked together to make small changes to fencing and gates to increases mule deer ability to use the structures, which were partially blocked by traditional cattle allotment boundary fences and gates under the road in the culverts and bridges.

In the fall during the peak of migration, mule deer may have become more skittish toward using the structures in part due to sports people scouting areas and individual animals for the hunt. Human presence combined with the restricted space of culverts and bridges that the mule deer were now expected to move through, the deer congregated near the fencing along the highway. People traveling on the freeway saw the deer and stopped to take a look. UDOT responded by placing variable message signs to discourage motorists from pulling over. UDWR contacted hunters who will be hunting in the area in 2014 with a message asking hunters to stay a distance away from crossing structures.

“We’re very interested to see how it works out this year,” says UDOT Project Manager Randall Taylor. “This project does not cover the whole migration area but it’s an important first step.”

The fall 2013 photographs documented over 3,000 times mule deer used the structures or went around fence ends to migrate south. The 2014 migration is expected to show as many or more passages through these increasingly effective wildlife crossing structures. Continued agency coordination and research will help this herd and other wildlife stay clear of the highway while still accessing critical habitat on both sides of U.S. 89.

Additional information about the project and partnerships can be found in the Western Governors’ Association April 2014 Case Study.

This guest post was written by Patricia Cramer, PhD USU Assistant Research Professor

Grouted Splice Sleeve Connectors for ABC Bridge Joints in High-Seismic Regions

Photos and diagram of different kinds of GSS connectors

Figure 1. Two types of GSS connectors used: (a) FGSS, (b) GGSS, (c) FGSS-1, (d) GGSS-1

In recent years, the Accelerated Bridge Construction (ABC) method has received attention in regions of moderate-to-high seismicity. Prefabrication of bridge structural components is a highly effective method in this process and one of the ABC methods for Prefabricated Bridge Elements and Systems (PBES) advanced by the Federal Highway Administration. Joints between such precast concrete components play an important role in the overall seismic performance of bridges constructed with the ABC method. Research has been carried out at the University of Utah to investigate potential ABC joint details for bridges located in high-seismic regions. A connector type, referred to as a Grouted Splice Sleeve (GSS), is studied for column-to-footing and column-to-cap beam joints. Two GSS connectors commonly used in buildings were utilized in this study, as shown in Fig. 1. The column-to-cap beam joints used a GSS connector where one bar was threaded into one end and the other bar was grouted into the opposite end (denoted as FGSS), as shown in Fig. 1(a) and Fig. 1(c). The column-to-footing joints incorporated another type of GSS where the bars were grouted at both ends (denoted as GGSS), as shown in Fig. 1(b) and Fig. 1(d).

Drawings of the test specimen alternatives

Figure 2. Configuration of test specimen alternatives

Three precast alternatives in addition to one conventional cast-in-place half-scale model were constructed for each category, as shown in Fig. 2; the column-to-cap beam joints were tested upside down. The GSS connectors were placed in the column base (GGSS-1) or column top (FGSS-1) in the first alternative. The location of the GSS connectors changed to the top of the footing (GGSS-2) and bottom of the cap beam (FGSS-2) to study the performance of the joints when the GSS connectors were outside the plastic hinge zone of the column in the second alternative. The dowel bars in the footing and the cap beam were debonded over a length equal to eight times the rebar diameter (8db) for the third alternative in both categories, while the GSS connectors were embedded in the column base (GGSS-3) or column top (FGSS-3). The last specimen type was the cast-in-place joint, in which continuous bars from the footing and cap beam were used to build the columns with-out bar splices (GGSS-CIP and FGSS-CIP).

Photos of the speciment

Figure 3. Specimen GGSS-3 at a drift ration of 7%: (a) overall view; (b) footing dowel at joint interface

Experimental results under cyclic quasi-static loading showed that the performance of all joints was satisfactory in terms of strength and stiffness characteristics. However, the hysteretic performance and displacement ductility capacity of the specimens were distinct. Improved seismic response was observed when the GSS connectors were located inside the footing (GGSS-2) and the cap beam (FGSS-2) rather than the corresponding column end. The debonded rebar zone enhanced the ductility level and the hysteretic performance of the joints. This technique was found to be highly effective for the column-to-footing joint (GGSS-3), as shown in Fig. 3. As expected, the cast-in-place joints performed the best.

Even though AASHTO Specifications currently do not allow the use of connectors in the plastic hinge region, all joints tested in this research demonstrated acceptable ductility for moderate-seismic regions and some joints demonstrated acceptable ductility for high-seismic regions. The GSS connectors studied in this research were promising, especially when considering the time-saving potential of joints constructed using ABC methods; however, the different hysteretic performance and reduced displacement ductility of various alternatives com-pared to the cast-in-place joints must be accounted for in design.

Acknowledgments: This study is described further, including recent reports, on the TPF-5(257) website. The authors acknowledge the financial support of the Utah, New York State and Texas Departments of Transportation, and the Mountain Plains Consortium. The authors also acknowledge the assistance of Joel Parks, Dylan Brown, and Mark Bryant of the University of Utah.

This guest post was written by Chris P. Pantelides, Ph.D., University of Utah, M.J. Ameli, University of Utah, and Jason Richins, S.E., Research Engineering Manager and was originally published in the Research Newsletter

100 Deadliest Days Recap

Red and black logo that says Zero Fatalities A Goal We Can All Live WithLabor Day weekend marked the close of what has been dubbed the 100 Deadliest Days on Utah roads. Traditionally, traffic fatalities increase significantly during the summer months compared to the rest of the year, and unfortunately this year was no different. From Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day, 96 people lost their lives on Utah roads – nearly a fatality a day. That’s up from 91 during the same period last year.

Each of these numbers represents a person whose life was cut tragically short, and a family who is experiencing unimaginable grief. The lives of so many people will never be the same.

As of September 2nd, 168 people have died on our roads in 2014, up 20 from the same time last year – more than a 13 percent increase. Our goal is Zero Fatalities, and it’s concerning anytime that number moves in the wrong direction.

Now it’s important to put these numbers in perspective. From 2000 to 2012, we reduced traffic fatalities on Utah roads by 41 percent – and in 2012, we hit a 50-year record low. We have made great strides in terms of engineering of roads and vehicles, greater enforcement and driver education – but more can always be done.

The Zero Fatalities program focuses considerable effort on school outreach and teaching young student drivers to become great drivers from the start – and to avoid the five behaviors that contribute to nearly all of the fatal crashes in our state: Aggressive Driving, Drowsy Driving, Distracted Driving, Impaired Driving… and the number one factor killing people on Utah roads – Not Buckling Up.

In 2013, nearly half of the traffic fatalities (excluding pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists) were a result of people not buckling up. Of the crash investigation reports we’ve received so far this year, at least 45 people have died in 2014 because they were not wearing their seat belts.

Wearing a seat belt is not just a personal decision; it affects everyone else in the vehicle and other people on the road. In a crash, an unbuckled passenger may become a projectile and increase the risk of injury or death to the other vehicle occupants by 40 percent. Wearing a seat belt also helps the driver stay in the driver’s seat to maintain control of the vehicle.

Buckling up is the simplest action you can take to prevent injury and save your life in a crash – and it’s essential that we all make this commitment to help reach our goal of Zero Fatalities on Utah roads.

Rural Utah Guardrail Replacement Program Improves Roadside Safety

Photo of guardrail end section

This new Type G end treatment replaced an old Texas-turndown style end treatment on S.R. 87

Region Three’s Traffic and Safety staff focus on improved roadside safety by replacing guardrail and guardrail end treatments.

Griffin Harris, Region Three Traffic Engineer, led the effort to replace aging infrastructure with an eye toward safety. He managed the funding and installation of almost 3 miles of guardrail and the replacement of over 60 outdated Texas-turndown style guardrail end treatments with new Type G end treatments on six different state routes in Region Three.

For example, one project installed 2.25 miles of new guardrail in Indian Canyon on U.S. 191 between Helper and Duchesne. This area has steep drop-offs and the guardrail installation is a great safety improvement.

For more information about UDOT’s Barrier End Section (Crash Cushion) Program check out our website.

Highlights from the 2013 Annual Efficiencies Report

Efficiencies within UDOT often generate cost savings for the public and the Department through better utilization of resources and innovative technologies. At the end of each year, UDOT prepares an efficiencies report which summarizes key efficiency initiatives from the year. The annual report fulfills a requirement for UDOT to describe the efficiencies and significant accomplishments achieved during the past year to the State Legislature. UDOT Senior Leaders use the report in presentations during legislative committee meetings.

Following are the key efficiency initiatives summarized in the FY 2013 report:

  • Bicycle Detection and Pavement Markings
  • Flashing Yellow Arrow for Left Turns
  • Reflectorized Yellow Tape on Signal-Head Back Plates
  • Portable Weather Station for Advance Warning of Debris Flows
  • Audio Over IP Highway Advisory Radio in Utah County
  • Commercial Vehicle Bypass (PrePass)
  • Partnered Fiber-Optic Cable Installations
  • Resolving Utility Conflicts through a Preserve and Protect Approach
  • Utah Prairie Dog Programmatic Agreement
  • Performance-Driven Programming
  • Energy-Efficient LED Lighting Upgrades in Department Facilities
  • iMAP GIS Tool
  • Improved Decision Making Using Mobile Data Collection
  • MMQA Data Collection Teams
Photo of a flashing yellow signal

Flashing Yellow Arrow left-turn phasing

One example from the 2013 report is the improved safety at intersections that are changed from Protected/Permissive to Flashing Yellow Arrow left-turn phasing. UDOT and other jurisdictions throughout Utah are among the first in the nation to implement flashing left-turn arrows. Potential annual public cost savings per installation ranges from $17,745 to $2,769,000 from reduced crashes.

Photo of rock and mud covering the highway

Debris flow across S.R. 31 in Huntington Canyon

Another example from 2013 is the use of a portable weather station to provide advance warning of debris flows and flooding at the Seeley burn scar near S.R. 31 in Huntington Canyon. Using the station contributed to over-all safety, minimized equipment losses, reduced response time, and minimized impact to commerce. An estimated $50,000 was saved through reduced risk to field crews, motorists, and equipment.

UDOT Research Division staff coordinate each year with UDOT Senior Leaders and the Communications Office to collect and compile write-ups on the past year’s key efficiency initiatives. This process will start again in August for FY 2014. We look forward to receiving “game changing” efficiency topics from all Regions and Groups that will potentially be included in the annual report.

The 2013 and earlier annual reports are available online at

This guest post was written by David Stevens, P.E., Research Project Manager, and was originally published in the Research Newsletter.

Results of the 2014 Research Workshop (UTRAC)

Photo of session attendees listening to speaker

Traffic Management & Safety breakout session

Projects have been selected for FY15 funding from the 2014 UDOT Research Workshop held on April 30th.

Fifty-nine problem statements were submitted this year for the UDOT Research Workshop. Of these, 16 will be funded as new research projects through the Research Division. Some submitted problem statements will be funded directly by other divisions.

The workshop serves as one step in the research project selection process which involves UDOT, FHWA, universities, and others. UDOT Research Division solicited problem statements for six subject areas: Materials & Pavements, Maintenance, Traffic Management & Safety, Structures & Geotechnical, Preconstruction, and Planning.

At the workshop, transportation professionals met to prioritize problem statements in order to select the ones most suitable to become research projects.

After the workshop, UDOT Research Division staff reviewed prioritization and funding for each recommended problem statement with division and group leaders and presented the list of new projects to the UTRAC Council.

The selected new projects include:

  • Asphalt Mix Fatigue Testing using the Asphalt Mix Performance Tester (CMETG)
  • Developing a Low Shrinkage, High Creep Concrete for Infrastructure Repair (USU)
  • Prevention of Low Temperature Cracking of Pavements (U of U)
  • Review and Specification for Shrinkage Cracks of Bridge Decks (U of U)
  • Incorporating Maintenance Costs and Considerations into Highway Design Decisions (U of U)
  • Unconventional Application of Snow Fence (UDOT)
  • Statistical Analysis and Sampling Standards for MMQA (U of U)
  • National Best Practices in Safety (UDOT)
  • I-15 HOT Lane Study – Phase II (BYU)
  • Characteristics of High Risk Intersections for Pedestrians and Cyclists-Part 3 (Active Planning)
  • Safety Effects of Protected and Protected/Permitted
  • Left-Turn Phases (U of U)
  • Development of a Concrete Bridge Deck Preservation Guide (BYU)
  • TPF-5(272) Evaluation of Lateral Pile Resistance Near MSE Walls at a Dedicated Wall Site (BYU)
  • Active Transportation – Bicycle Corridors vs. Vehicle Lanes (BYU)
  • Investigating the Potential Revenue Impacts from High-Efficiency Vehicles in Utah (UDOT)
  • Developing a Rubric and Best Practices for Conducting Bicycle Counts (Active Planning)

At the April 30th workshop, Dr. Michael Darter of Applied Research Associates gave an inspiring keynote ad-dress on collaboration between state DOTs and academia in developing innovative ideas. Also at the workshop, Barry Sharp, recently retired from UDOT, was presented with the UTRAC Trailblazer Award for his significant contributions towards improving UDOT research processes and the use of innovative products in transportation. Russ Scovil was our workshop coordinator and did a great job.

We appreciate everyone’s participation in the work-shop process. The new research projects can start as early as July 2014 in coordination with UDOT Research staff and champions.

To see details on the new projects and all submitted problem statements, visit the UDOT Research Division website.

This guest post was written David Stevens, P.E., Research Project Manager, and was originally published in the Research Newsletter.

Bangerter Highway & Redwood Road Project Underway

Google map view of the Redwood Road and Bangerter IntersectionAs part of a proactive effort to address the immediate and long-term traffic needs on Bangerter Highway, UDOT is constructing a grade-separated interchange at the Redwood Road intersection from spring 2014 to spring 2015. This project will significantly enhance the public’s overall driving experience at the intersection, allowing for increased mobility, improved safety and a smoother ride. The interchange will be similar to the one constructed in 2012 over 7800 South and Bangerter Highway.

UDOT Region Two completed an environmental study on the intersection last winter in order to determine the best concept to fit the area’s traffic needs. UDOT has also been actively working with Bluffdale and Riverton city leaders, residents, businesses and property owners, to explain the value of the project and prepare the community for the upcoming project. The project is expected to support development and economic growth in the area as one of UDOT’s top goals to strengthen the economy.

UDOT recently selected Wadsworth Brothers Constructors as the contractor on the project. Wadsworth Brothers offers an aggressive construction schedule and places high value on minimizing traffic impacts as much as possible. Whenever we embark on a new project, one of our main priorities is to get in and get out with as little inconvenience to the public as possible. At the same time, we also want to deliver a quality product to the community in order to make it worth their time and effort. I’m confident that Wadsworth Brothers will fulfill both of these goals.

Commuters can expect light construction activity in the spring with the main construction effort building momentum in mid-July. Crews will narrow lanes, implement traffic shifts and build a temporary lane to maintain traffic capacity while construction efforts are underway. Crews will also implement paving operations, utility relocations, and landscape and aesthetic improvements.

During construction, our public involvement team encourages the public to visit the project website for updates and information regarding anticipated impacts. The project has a dedicated website, email and hotline already active for questions, and has been regularly meeting with stakeholders to keep them informed. UDOT and Wadsworth Brothers will also be hosting a “Meet the Contractor” night to give community members an opportunity to learn more about the project and construction schedule.

This is a guest post written by UDOT Region 2 District Engineer Troy Peterson.

UDOT and UHP host a Traffic Incident Management Workshop

Graphic outlining Traffic Incident Management BenefitsThree injury crashes occur every minute in the United States, putting nearly 39,000 incident responders potentially in harm’s way every day. Congestion from these incidents often generates secondary crashes, further increasing traveler delay and frustration. The longer incident responders remain at the scene, the greater the risk they, and the traveling public, face.

Photo of TIM Training group with Colonel Daniel Fuhr in front addressing the group.

UHP Colonel Daniel Fuhr giving welcoming class participants.

To minimize delay and improve responder safety, UDOT and UHP hosted a Traffic Incident Management (TIM) workshop on April 9 – 10 in Salt Lake City. Participants from UHP, Unified Fire, Unified Police, UDOT, trucking companies, the St. George Police Department and other agencies were in attendance. UHP Colonel Daniel Fuhr and UDOT Traffic Management Division Director Rob Clayton welcomed the participants with information on crash statistics, our responsibility to the public, and the importance of protecting first responders from harm.

Photo of TIM Training table top exercise on scene management

TIM Training attendees participated in a table-top exercise on scene management.

The National TIM Responder Train-the-Trainer (TtT) program provided participants the knowledge and materials necessary for them to conduct TIM training for TIM responders in their area. The TtT is a 1½-day course that covers the fundamentals of Traffic Incident Management, safe crash scene set-up, quick incident clearance and on-scene coordination.

Participants were able to learn from course instructors who were former first responders. Participants were also able to participate in a tabletop exercise as well as learn about proper accident scene set-up.

Traffic incidents, including crashes, disabled vehicles and debris on the road create unsafe driving conditions, put motorists and responders at risk, and account for approximately 25 percent of all traffic delays.

Photo of Incident Managment truck with compartments open so Supervisor Jeff Reynolds can show what is in them.

UDOT’s Incident Management Team Supervisor Jeff Reynolds showing TIM class participants the equipment on his vehicle during the outdoor scene setup exercise.

For each minute that a freeway travel lane is blocked during peak use, an estimated 4 minutes of delay result after the incident is cleared. This estimate accounts for 4.2 billion hours per year in delays. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Transportation reports that Americans burn more than 2.8 billion gallons of gasoline every year while stuck in incident-related traffic. TIM Training can give us the tools to clear incidents more quickly, saving time, money and lives. More information can be found on the National Unified Goal for Traffic Incident Management website.

The training was made possible through a Federal Highway Administration Strategic Highway Research Program.

UDOT Executive Director Carlos Braceras Featured in New AASHTO Video

AASHTO occasionally posts a video they call the “2 Minute Update”, featuring transportation leaders from different state DOTs across the country. This month’s video profiles UDOT’s Executive Director Carlos Braceras. Carlos explains his vision for UDOT and discusses our emphasis on integrated transportation and the importance of educating new engineers. AASHTO distributes the video to reporters nationwide, and a few have already filed stories, including this one from CE News.


Autonomous and Connected Vehicles

What does the future hold? That question is nearly impossible to answer unless we’re talking about ways to optimize mobility and reach zero fatalities. Then, we do have a few ideas. The U.S. Department of Transportation, state DOTs and automakers have been working on connected vehicles for several years and Google and some universities have been working on autonomous vehicles. Both of these efforts will allow for the safest and most efficient transportation system we’ve ever imagined.

Photo of an intersection

Connected vehicles can improve safety at busy intersections

So, what are autonomous and connected vehicles? Autonomous vehicles use sensors and photo imagery to drive themselves. Connected vehicles would assist the driver by providing information and resources. Blaine Leonard, Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Program Manager, explained it to me this way. When an autonomous vehicle approaches a signal it sees that it is green and that it can proceed. In comparison, a connected vehicle would have information from the signal including how long it will remain green as well as what the next signal phase is. It would even know what another unseen connected vehicle is doing down the road.

Recently the U.S. DOT National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced a rulemaking process which will ultimately mandate vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication as standard equipment in the future. This will allow these vehicles to share information and alert a driver in order to avoid a crash. This is just the first step though. As Blaine mentioned, the next step will enable transportation infrastructure to also communicate with vehicles. The Volpe National Transportation Systems Center estimates that these technologies could save over 5 million crashes a year.

There are concerns that transportation officials and automakers haven’t forgotten about, including privacy and security. For these technologies to work correctly they must be accurate and impenetrable to common problems we face such as hackers and viruses. There is also the question of privacy which is a sensitive and personal subject for each individual. At this time vehicle communication would be anonymous.

In Utah we have technology in place that makes us well suited for these advancements. One is the LiDAR data that includes a complete picture of roadway assets along state Routes and interstates. We also have an extensive fiber optic network that allows for statewide communication.