Clint Tyler Materials Technician

Clint Tyler, a materials technician, looks on as an asphalt sample cools before conducting further tests. This machine runs a metal wheel over the sample 20,000 times to measure its durability.

Before UDOT employees reroute traffic, before they begin paving the road and even before they put out orange cones, they are hard at work. This work requires communication between traffic signal engineers, project managers and others – but none of it would happen without the approval from the materials engineers. The behind-the-scenes work done by engineers in the materials lab ensures the durability of the road before construction begins, making the lab testing a vital part of the preconstruction process.

Steve Park, Region Three Materials Engineer, explained that the purpose of the materials lab is to test road materials for strength and durability. “We get long-lasting roads by demanding high-quality materials, and it’s our job to test those materials before they’re in the road,” Park said. “We save taxpayer money that way, because we won’t have to tear it up later.”

Asphalt Sample

An asphalt sample cools following some tests. The asphalt tests conducted in the materials lab help materials technicians determine the mixture’s durability.

The materials lab has a few different functions. One function is to mix and test the materials that a contractor wants to use for a project. In this process, the materials engineers and technicians use the lab to mix the materials according to the contract specifications. After they have been mixed, the materials engineers analyze the results, and the mixtures are evaluated according to strict safety and durability standards.

After the materials engineers complete their analysis, UDOT materials technicians then test the mixes. One test assesses the durability of an asphalt mix by placing a sample in a machine that simulates a car driving on it. The machine runs a metal wheel over it 20,000 times, and it meets durability standards if the wheel creates a rut less than 10 mm deep. Another test cures concrete samples for 28 days in at least 95 percent humidity before crushing them to measure their durability.

Clint Tyler, a materials technician, said that the importance of these tests cannot be understated. “We do these tests because it’s easier to make changes now, before it’s in the road,” Tyler said. “Our roads last longer that way.”

Road Core Samples

A stack of road core samples waits to be examined. Every so often, materials technicians will take core samples of a road to determine whether or not it needs maintenance work.

A second function of the materials lab is to test the health of the roads. Every so often, materials technicians will take a core sample of a road to determine whether or not it needs maintenance work. These projects, such as resurfacing, minimize future construction by prolonging the life of the road.

“In the end, analyzing the materials and doing these tests is just as important as the construction itself,” Park said.

While materials technicians’ work will always be behind the scenes, the results they gather will continue to directly affect Utah drivers. Their hard work ensures that UDOT’s roads will provide safe and smooth travels for years to come.

In the last two decades, UDOT has emerged as a national leader in transportation innovation.  In the coming years, UDOT intends to carry on that legacy, while continuing to adapt, adjust and improve. UDOT will continue to strive toward its Final Four Strategic Goals while embracing four new Guiding Principles to ensure the right work is being done in the right way.

Final Four Strategic Goals
Where we are going

Over the years, UDOT has laid out and refined the Strategic Goals that will continue to drive every UDOT project and serve as a standard by which to measure success. They are:

Preserve Infrastructure
UDOT is preserving Utah’s existing transportation infrastructure. The state’s multibillion dollar investment in roads, bridges and other assets must be maintained for future generations.

Optimize Mobility
UDOT works to optimize traffic mobility through a number of measures, including adding capacity, innovative design, managed lanes, TravelWise and signal coordination.

Zero Fatalities
UDOT remains committed to safety, and the goal to consistently improve safety on Utah’s roads can be summed up in two words: zero fatalities.

Strengthen the Economy
This goal recognizes UDOT’s role in creating and managing a transportation system that enables economic growth and empowers prosperity.

Guiding Principles
How we will get there

Just as important as where we are going is how we get there. UDOT must do the right work in the right way, and we will reevaluate how projects and programs are managed to reflect the following principles:

Integrated Transportation
UDOT will actively consider how to best meet the needs of trucks, bikes, pedestrians and mass transit when studying transportation solutions and ensure those solutions are applied to the most appropriate facilities. We will strive to provide Utahns with balanced transportation options while planning for future travel demand.

Local Collaboration
UDOT will team with local and regional entities to create transportation solutions that help them achieve success and meet local needs.

Education
UDOT will support STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) courses in Utah colleges and high schools. We will promote the safety of Utah students through the Zero Fatalities and School Neighborhood Access Plans (SNAP) programs.

Transparency
UDOT will strive to be the most transparent DOT in the country. Utahns will be able to track where their tax dollars go, understand how they are used and see the outcomes.  We will be honest and forthcoming in how and why decisions are made.

Results
The final destination

As we accomplish our Strategic Goals supported by Guiding Principles, UDOT is helping to enhance communities, improve the environment and cultivate a stronger economy.

For example, optimizing mobility through increased transportation options, like bike lanes, improves air quality, supports commerce through reduced traffic congestion and results in improved quality of life. All of the Goals and Principles work hand-in-hand to continue to make Utah one of the best places to live and work.

Shane MarshallUDOT Executive Director Carlos Braceras has selected his number two. Region Three Director Shane Marshall has been named the Deputy Director for the Department. With nearly two decades of experience at UDOT in a wide variety of positions, Shane is well-qualified for the position.

During his tenure as Region Director, Shane oversaw an unprecedented construction program and managed the Department’s responsibilities in six counties. Prior to his time as Region Director, Shane served as the Region Three Program Manager and as the Department’s Director of Environmental Services. In these roles, he oversaw the project schedule, budget and administration of UDOT projects and worked to address the environmental needs associated with delivering the State’s high-quality transportation system.

Shane not only has the skills and the experience, he also understands people.

“Shane started his career with UDOT right out of college and has worked in a wide variety of positions that helped hone his leadership skills,” Carlos says. “More importantly he has always been one of our most innovative thinkers with a knack for solving Utah’s transportation problems.”

As Deputy Director, Shane will be responsible to help Carlos lead UDOT’s 1,800 employees, as well as the design, construction, and maintenance of Utah’s 6,000-mile system of roads and highways.

“When I started my career at UDOT as a rotational, never in a million years would I have ever thought about or sought out this opportunity,” says Shane. “I’m humbled and honored that Carlos would pick me for this position and look forward to working with him and all of our great employees.”

Shane holds a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Brigham Young University and an A.S. in Applied Science from Utah Valley University. He has served on a number of national committees, including the Transportation Research Board’s Performance Measurement Committee and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials’ (AASHTO) Standing Committee on the Environment.

IPI Award

I-15 CORE received the highest partnering award in its category (diamond level).

UDOT and its I-15 CORE partners, Provo River Constructors and partnering facilitator Tom Warne and Associates, were awarded the prestigious International Partnering Institute’s (IPI) John L. Martin Partnered Project of the Year – Diamond Level, at a ceremony in San Francisco, May 16.

“I-15 CORE demonstrated world-class partnering. The team focused on developing a collaborative project and program culture both within the project team and by integrating stakeholders throughout the entire process,” said Rob Reaugh, IPI Executive Director.

The ceremony was comprised of representatives from various state agencies and private companies from across the nation, and contractors, designers and architects and other firms associated with construction, partnering and facilitation.

“For UDOT, partnering is part of our culture and has been for years,” said Todd Jensen, I-15 CORE Project Director. “The partnering process enables decision makers from the Department and the contractor to come together to set common goals and expectations and to discuss openly any issues or challenges and how to overcome them.  It’s a collaborative process that can be difficult and time consuming.  Without a strong commitment to the partnering process, I believe UDOT would not be a national leader in the transportation industry that it is today.”

Springville Paving

Springville – To meet the aggressive construction schedule, crews paved during the summer and winter months. During the winter months, both I-15 CORE and PRC would meet daily to evaluate weather conditions and ensure each new pavement section would be properly protected, heated and monitored before paving could begin.

“In terms of project success, (I-15 CORE) was delivered $260 million under budget, 48 days early and processed more than 125 contract change orders without having a claim, and considering the number of man hours, was pretty successful from a safety standpoint,” Reaugh said.

According to Jensen, the project’s success was predicated on three keys: shared project goals, a commitment to continuous communication and a commitment to both following the formal partnering process and encouraging building relationships through informal partnering at all levels.

“With such a large project and PRC’s aggressive construction schedule, continuous communication was vital. We decided to co-locate the field offices as well as the main office to help foster face-to-face communications. Our priority was to encourage team members to talk with each other face-to-face first, followed by phone calls then email and finally letter,” Jensen said. “It was challenging and it placed people in uncomfortable situations at times, but the results of creating and encouraging a culture of communication speak for themselves.”

Provo RR Girder Placement

Provo – Crews set a steel bridge girder over the Union Pacific Railroad. Much of the construction was done at night to minimize travel delays.

During the initial partnering sessions, leadership from both teams established a shared set of goals of safety, quality, trust, truth and teamwork, budget and profitability, communication, upholding the public trust, schedule and enjoying the process. The leadership team then further defined what each goal meant. This helped keep members focused on what was most important. Like all projects, there were disagreements, differing interpretations of the contract documents, but these were overcome or managed by keeping the project goals at the forefront of employees minds and trying to address issues as quickly as possible.

“As part of our monthly partnering surveys, we required that names be attached to comments. Not to single anyone out but to know where challenges were, so that we could talk with our counterparts and work with that respective group to help get things resolved,” Jensen said.

American Fork 100 EAst

American Fork – Partnering was key in the decision to split the travel lanes on I-15 in Orem and American Fork. UDOT was able to keep lanes open and traffic moving while allowing PRC to finish building the middle sections of I-15.

Another key to success was the emphasis on informal partnering outside of the formal process.

“Relationships can make or break a project. We tried to foster a culture that it was okay to escalate items if the team couldn’t come to a resolution. We encouraged working groups to meet individually and get to know one another on a personal level. Challenges will happen but if you get to know the person across the table, it can help you get issues resolved quickly,” Jensen said.

According to Warne, accountability was the last key to building a successful project.  At each partnering meeting, the participants would discuss issues and develop action plans with responsible parties and timelines identified. In subsequent meetings, an accounting of progress for each action item had to be reported on.

“This team was particularly attentive to addressing the issues. Working together to solve problems and address issues strengthened the team and better prepared them for future challenges. Nothing short of an exceptional level of team work allowed them to deliver this project in record time,” Warne said.

Completed I-15

Pleasant Grove – Because both teams were committed to partnering and established shared project goals, I-15 CORE was completed ahead of schedule and under budget.

Because of the commitment to partnering, I-15 CORE never needed to use the assigned Dispute Resolution Board or the project sponsors to help resolve issues; all the project’s goals were met or exceeded; and a sense of achievement developed among project team members.

For more information about the International Partnering Institute visit: www.partneringinstitute.org.

This guest post was written by I-15 CORE team member Geoff Dupaix.

UPLANThe Utah Department of Transportation was recently recognized by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation (AASHTO) at a national conference held in Boise, Idaho May 6-8. UDOT has been acknowledged for the way we utilize Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in transportation.

UDOT stands out as a leader among the nation’s DOTs for our advancements with the highway mapping system known as UPlan. UDOT also received an honorable mention in the Transportation Publication division map competition for the Utah State Highway Map.

UDOT GIS Manager Frank Pisani attended the conference and said he was approached by nearly a dozen states who expressed interest in emulating UDOT’s implementation of UPlan.

So what exactly is UPlan and UGate?  “UPlan is an interactive mapping platform that supports UDOT by helping visualize our data, track our assets and strengthen our transportation planning with better analysis and collaborative information,” Pisani explained.

“UGate is the database and UPlan is the front end,” Pisani said. “UGate is behind the scenes as the engine that powers UPlan.”

The UPlan website is used as an information system where data can be tracked and recorded for both internal and public audiences. Due to it success, the federal government is also encouraging state to implement a similar system..

The Federal Highway Administration also highlighted UDOT as a model for other states for our Highway Performance Monitoring Systems and the approach we use with Linear Reference Systems.

Frank Pisani explains Linear Reference Systems:  “This is how UDOT coordinates with other state organizations like 911, highway patrols and local governments to collectively maintain 1 road network.”

Pisani said he was approached by a fellow conference attendee who claimed he had been coming to the conference for more than 20 years., “Three years ago UDOT wasn’t even here,” the man said. “And now you guys have taken over.”

UDOT has surpassed other state DOTs in the way we have been able to accomplish more with limited resources.

“UDOT has direction, support and good technology that is helping us capstone a lot of our efforts,” Pisani said. “We are trying to use technology to the best of our ability to inform the department and also the public that we are using this as an information tool and we are making the best out of the technology and data that is out there. UDOT is innovative in all aspects of the department and our technology focus is just one of them.”

May 23rd, 2013

Employee Educational Assistance

No Comments, Employee Focus, by Becky Parker.

A benefit that UDOT offers employees is educational assistance. Employees are such a valuable asset to the department that we’ve had a policy in place since 1968 to help individuals better themselves through education. This in turn benefits the department since we are improving our workforce.

Employees can get 100 percent reimbursement on courses that are directly related to their job and courses that aren’t directly related may be eligible for 75 percent if they’re a benefit to UDOT. Funding for these reimbursements comes from an grant through FHWA.

We do have a few requirements to make sure this assistance is used appropriately.

  • It is only available to permanent employees and some interns with benefits.
  • Courses must be taught at an accredited institution for college credit; certification only programs with no college credit are not eligible.
  • Employees must complete the course with at least a “C”.
  • The reimbursement is only for tuition and mandatory fees not parking, books, etc.
  • There’s some upfront paperwork that has to be completed which includes a contract and disclosure of any other funding assistance that is being received.
  • Once a course is finished employees need to submit their receipt and report card within 30 days.
  • Courses and homework have to be completed on an employee’s own time.
  • And, if the employee leaves UDOT within 12 months of receiving assistance they will have to pay us back.

Employees should also keep in mind that if they’re interested they need to work with their supervisor and the educational assistance administrator before starting any course or program.

UDOT Comptroller Becky Bradshaw used the assistance program and was able to advance to the position she holds today thanks to the education she received. She explained that employees often think of their salary as the only benefit of working but that UDOT also tries to provide other advantages to our employees and this is a perfect example.

This may seem like a strange time to be talking about school since fall is usually when we’re thinking about it. But, this is graduation season and for most of us there’s no greater motivation than the prize at the end. Recent graduate Donna McNew understands this and sent thanks along to her supervisors and senior leaders for the educational assistance program. In her thank you she said, “This is a wonderful benefit for UDOT employees, not many individuals can say they graduated with a master’s degree and no debt.”

How many employees do you think are like Becky and Donna and jump at the chance to use this benefit? Not very many. For our current fiscal year there are around 25 employees using the assistance and we have over 1,600 employees total. Going back to school is daunting and we hope that by spreading the word about this great opportunity we can lessen some of the burden for those that feel it is right for them.

If you’re not employed by UDOT does your employer offer any great benefits like this one? Do they offer any benefits that seem to good to be true? For UDOT employees, did you know about this benefit or know anyone who has taken advantage it? Let us know in the comments!

A few weeks ago we shared on Twitter and Facebook something that around here goes for common knowledge. To our surprise  a discussion followed and character limits made explaining things difficult.

It all started with a simple tweet, “Did you know milepost numbering begins in the south and west? So, MP 10 on I-15 is in the St. George area and I-80 Exit 115 is 115 miles from NV.” This has been such a handy thing to know, even away from our work environment, that we wanted to share it.

U.S. 6 and U.S. 50 are concurrent highways

Near the Nevada border U.S. 6 and U.S. 50 are concurrent highways.

This information on its own is pretty simple however there are a few places around the state that complicate things. In several locations we have highways that run concurrently like U.S. 89 and U.S. 91 between Brigham City and Logan. U.S. 6 is another good example. It runs concurrently with other routes in several places. There’s U.S. 50 near the Nevada border, I-15 in southern Utah County, U.S. 191 between Helper and Price, and I-70 from Green River to Colorado.

The surprising part to us was that our followers wanted to know what we do on these concurrent highways, what mileposts are used. To be honest, it’s kind of tricky.

The way it works is when a route joins another route the first route’s mileposts are used. Wait, what? That IS tricky. Let’s try it with an example. U.S. 91 begins at I-15 southwest of Brigham City and continues to the Utah-Idaho state line near Franklin, Idaho. U.S. 89 joins this route at 1100 South in Brigham City and then leaves the route at 400 North in Logan. For this distance U.S. 91′s mileposts are used but, U.S. 89 mileposts aren’t forgotten, we don’t pick up in Logan where we left off in Brigham City. Instead the mileposts include the 25 miles where U.S. 89 ran concurrent with U.S. 91, so, the milepost on U.S. 89 in Brigham City where it joins U.S. 91 is 433 and the milepost on U.S. 89 in Logan where it leaves U.S. 91 is 458.

There you have it, more than you ever wanted to know about mileposts. If you’re ever curious, we have highway reference reports for every interstate, U.S. Highway, and state Route on our website.

Note from the administrator: This post was written by guest writer Stephanie Fulton and UDOT Intern Sarah Stephenson. 

Pit House

Excavation units from early archaic or possible Paleoindian site.

The Southern Utah Parkway is a 33-mile project that will eventually become an eastern belt route for Washington County. Eight miles are complete from I-15 to the new St. George Airport. The third segment of the parkway is currently under construction at Washington Dam Road, where more than 15 archaeological sites have been found.

Stairs

Archaeologists working on uncovering ancient Anasazi pit houses.

Crews have discovered prehistoric Native American ruins, one of which has been named one of the oldest sites investigated in Southwestern Utah. After significant research, scientists have discovered that the area has had continuous human habitation for up to 10,000 years.

UDOT has worked closely with local Native American tribes throughout the project. The Shivwits tribe, a native Utah tribe, was invited to the archaeological sites to search the ruins. They were also highly involved in the decision-making process regarding the preservation of the many ruins found.

Obsidian

Obsidian Lake Mojave and Bajada projectile points recovered from construction site.

Arrowheads, pottery, pit-houses and even prehistoric ruins including dinosaur fossils have been discovered throughout the project site and have been dated as far back as 400 B.C. During construction, 200-million-year-old fossils were also found, including the teeth from nine species, three of which could be new species. These were archived for future data and research.

Furthermore, UDOT has worked to protect threatened and endangered species throughout the project’s construction.

Overall the construction has gone fairly smoothly and the experiences during the archaeological findings have been incredibly valuable to UDOT as a whole. Dana Meier, project manager for UDOT, said, “We are an organization that learns,” which is what UDOT will continue to do throughout this project.

The project has received considerable public support because it allows for the future growth and expansion of St. George and its surrounding areas. Construction continues this spring and summer to extend the new highway another eight miles.

Photos were taken by Bighorn Archaeological Consultants, and Eric Hansen. 

May 16th, 2013

West Davis Corridor Draft EIS

1 Comment, Optimize Mobility, by Becky Parker.

The West Davis Corridor Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is now available for review and public comment on the study website. The Draft EIS includes our locally preferred alternative. To help explain the process and the our recommendation the study team created the follow videos.

The Draft EIS will be available for public comment for the next 90 days, closing on August 23. Formal comments should be submitted to the study team on the website, by e-mail at westdavis@utah.gov or mailed to:

West Davis Corridor Team
466 North 900 West
Kaysville, UT 84037

There will also be three public hearings and open houses where comments can be submitted.

So, this is your chance to part of the process and to have your voice heard. Please get out there and check out the Draft EIS and submit your comments.West Davis Corridor Logo

May 6th, 2013

A Season of Safety

1 Comment, Employee Focus, by Guest Post.

This guest post was written by Region 2 Deputy Director Tim Rose to remind UDOT employees of important safety practices.

Spring is finally here. The tulips in my yard are blooming, the trees are budding and orange barrels are starting to sprout and multiply.  It’s that time of year again: construction and maintenance season.

As we begin our construction projects and start working on maintaining our road system after a long winter, I would like to take this opportunity to discuss some work zone safety tips and other general safety thoughts. All UDOT employees have a responsibility to make safety a priority—for the sake of our teams, our contractors, our families and our traveling public. Here are some important things to remember as we ramp up our construction and maintenance activities:

1) Traffic Control

  • Ensure all signs and traffic control devices are clean, undamaged and being used correctly for the job at hand.
  • Never stand, talk with a coworker or walk with your back to oncoming traffic. Keep your eyes on oncoming traffic at all times. Whenever possible, use a spotter or second set of eyes to watch your back.
  • Make sure that your traffic control is set up correctly.

2) Working in Trenches

  • Make sure trench boxes are used when needed and that the contractor or your team provides a proper means of ingress and egress.

3) Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

  • UDOT Team in PPEMake sure you, your coworkers and contractors wear the proper PPE for the job or task at hand.
  • While working with hand or power tools, make sure the tools are in proper working order and that all guards/safety features are attached and functioning.
  • Make sure you are using the tools in the manner intended and that you wear the required face shields, eye protection, hearing protection, etc.

4) Entering and Exiting Vehicles

  • When getting in and out of your vehicle within a work zone, or on the open road, make sure your vehicle is parked in a safe location, out of the way of contractor equipment and active areas of work.
  • Check your mirrors and make sure that you are clear of oncoming traffic before you open the door to exit the vehicle.
  • Make sure you have good footing before you step out of the vehicle. Look for slick surfaces and loose ground.

5) Equipment and Vehicle Inspection

  • Inspect all equipment before use to make sure it is in good condition and working order prior to use. Repair the equipment before use if necessary.
  • Make sure you conduct your pre-trip inspections each time you start your shift. This applies to everyone and all vehicles, from motor pool cars and assigned pickup trucks to one-tons and ten-wheelers.
  • Report vehicle maintenance issues or warning lights to your regional equipment shop or maintenance area supervisor so that small issues don’t become major problems.

6) Think

  • Take a few minutes at the beginning of each day and think about the things that could go wrong or dangerous situations that may occur during your shift. Also consider how to mitigate those risks.
  • During your shift, always think about what you can do to improve safe work practices for yourself and your team.
  • At the end of each day, ask yourself what you are going to do tomorrow that will enhance a safe work environment for all of us.

If you ever have a question about how to handle any safety-related situation, please call your region safety manager immediately. They are always available and happy to assist you with any questions or concerns. And as always, wear your seat belts, your orange and your protective gear. Work safely and have a great summer.