UDOT has received or will be receiving implementation funding on five SHRP2 projects. They are:

SHRP2 Logo

We are undergoing operations assessment to improve travel-time reliability. The goal is to improve safety, increase efficiency, and reduce the cost of congestion to drivers, freight operators, and other users. The work is ongoing.

UDOT has been awarded $200K.
Rob Clayton is the UDOT contact for this project.

This is a web-based collection of information and guidance developed from over 40 technologies that are used for new roadways or widening embankments constructed over unstable soils.

Jon Bischoff is the UDOT contact for this project. Liz Cramer is the division FHWA contact.
UDOT has been awarded $30K.

This is a report and program to help design long-life pavements that are cost effective and that minimize the impact on roadway users. We were awarded the User Incentive Assistance which is approximately $20K. We look to begin Spring 2015.

Jason Richins is the contact with technical assistance provided by Steve Anderson, both from UDOT.

T-PICS is a web tool that planners can use to see the impacts that occur as a result of different types of projects in different settings.
This product was just launched.

Jeff Harris is the UDOT contact and Steve Call is the division contact for FHWA. UDOT anticipates up to $25K for this project.

New spreadsheets were developed that estimate the economic impact for a proposed highway project.
This product was just launched.

Jeff Harris is the UDOT contact and Steve Call is the division contact for FHWA. UDOT anticipates up to $125K for this project.

This is two petabytes of video and data from 3,150 drivers aged 16-80 with nearly 50 million miles under actual driving conditions. Dr. R.J. Porter and his team from the U of U will be studying driver behavior at entrances and exit ramps on interstates. This research will begin in January 2015.

Phase I has a budget of up to $100K and the option of a phase II and III. The combined value of phase II and III could be close to $1M.

Scott Jones is the UDOT contact for this project.

Five additional SHRP2 implementation products will be released in Round 5 which will begin January 16, 2015.

This guest post was written by Jason Richins, S.E., UDOT Research Project Manager and was originally published in the Research Newsletter.

Prepare to Stop VMSThis summer, Region Two began work on Redwood Road from I-80 to North Temple to rotomill and resurface the roadway with a thin bonded PCCP 6” overlay. One of the biggest challenges on the job was maintaining traffic through the work zone while also maintaining side-street and business access. This issue was complicated by the high number of large trucks in the area. These trucks not only utilize a significant amount of available queue space on the ramps, they also take more time to climb the incline at the interchange before clearing the signal. These factors required significant coordination to keep traffic moving.

Our contractor, Dry Creek Structures, and construction crew worked closely with the Traffic Signal Maintenance group to split phase signals and move detection zones to accommodate traffic through the work zone. We also worked closely with Grant Farnsworth at the TOC Traffic Signals Desk to adjust signal timing as the work zone configuration changed.

From a traffic safety perspective, our top priority was to minimize queuing on the
westbound I-80 ramp and prevent stopped traffic on mainline I-80. Despite the team’s best efforts, traffic was occasionally still backing onto mainline I-80 while waiting to exit at Redwood Road. To help address this queuing problem, working with Marge Rasmussen in Region Two Traffic and Safety, and Project Manager Peter
Tang, an Automated Queue Warning Detection System was change ordered into
the project and installed on the I-80 westbound off-ramp to Redwood Road.
With this system, the occupancy rate was monitored near the gore point of the off-ramp. When the system detected stopped cars at this location, a warning message was activated at a Variable Message Sign (VMS) upstream of the off-ramp alerting motorists of “STOPPED TRAFFIC AHEAD” and “PREPARE TO STOP.”

How it works: A sub-contracted vendor (Ver-Mac) installed a radar sensor, cellular
modem and solar panel on a highway lighting pole near the bottom of the off
ramp. They also placed a VMS equipped with a cellular modem upstream of the off
ramp. When the vendor’s software system (Jam-Logic) detected an occupancy rate greater than 10 percent at this location, a message was activated at the VMS alerting travelers to the stopped condition ahead. Once the queued traffic had dissipated, the VMS message was automatically turned off and remained off until ramp queuing was detected again.

In addition to the VMS message activating when a queue was detected, email messages were also sent to the TOC Operators, the Signal Timing Engineer and the Resident Engineer, alerting them to the situation. When possible, adjustments were made to the signal timing to help clear the ramp traffic.

Results: The project team is not aware of any accidents at this location after the automated queue warning system was installed. Typically, the system was activated 10 times each day throughout the week or an average of 13.4 times on weekdays. Even during low traffic volumes, just a few long trucks on the ramp can back up traffic and activate the system. While the system was live, the queue warning messages were displayed 256 times for a total of 2,327 minutes. The average display time was 9 minutes. The maximum display time was 56 minutes (on August 23 starting at 9:19 a.m.).

Logical Automation Rules Chart“Doing advanced queue warning is a great operational benefit, but what the TOC appreciated most was the communication between the project and the control room. When the control room knows what’s going on, we’ll help out in any way that we can. In this case, we monitored the queue system and helped ensure that it was functioning as advertised – which it was,” explained Glenn Blackwelder, Traffic Operations Engineer.

Future Applications: The automated queue warning detection system was a valuable addition to our “tool box” for managing traffic issues in the construction work zone on the Redwood Road project. In the future, perhaps other projects could benefit from this or other types of technology to help address traffic control issues within construction work zones.

This guest post was written by Bryan Chamberlain, Region Two Resident Engineer, and was originally published in the Region Two Fall 2014 Newsletter.

The Employee Advisory Council met November 3, 2014. Items that were included in the discussion included:

  • Overtime
  • Communicating Meeting Informaiton to Groups
  • Team Building and Morale Issues
  • Training and Conferences
  • Learning from Other States
  • Department Safety Initiative

Notes from the meeting are available below.

EAC November 2014 Summary

Information from previous meetings has also been posted on the blog.

Employee Advisory Council

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.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Utah Department of Transportation is known for exciting innovations such as accelerated bridge construction and advanced intersection designs. But innovation doesn’t have to be flashy to be valuable.

GIS Manager Becky Hjelm speaks after winning the 2014 Vanguard Award at the AASHTO Annual Conference in Charlotte.

GIS Manager Becky Hjelm speaks after winning the 2014 Vanguard Award at the AASHTO Annual Conference in Charlotte.

Becky Hjelm, GIS Manager at the Utah Department of Transportation, has been integral to some of UDOT’s recent innovations through data-driven projects aimed to Keep Utah Moving.

For her efforts, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) is honoring Hjelm as its 2014 Transportation Vanguard Award winner.

The national award is given by AASHTO to recognize an individual aged 40 or younger who is leading the way in doing extraordinary things in the field of transportation by “exemplifying a commitment to excellence and implementation of innovative technologies and processes.” It was created in honor of Jim McMinimee, a UDOT leader who passed away in 2012.

Hjelm, who has been at UDOT for just under three years, has proven herself to be a visionary, with the ability to build effective teams and work strategically to accomplish more than thought possible. She does it by using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) along with her attention to detail, outreach and collaboration talents.

“Through her leadership, UDOT has embraced GIS,” said Randy Park, UDOT’s Director of Development. “The way we do business is changing rapidly, and the increased reliance on data is making us more efficient.”

Hjelm has been part of a big culture change at UDOT, through her contagious excitement about the technology. During her short time at the department, she’s identified and implemented many projects and opportunities, including geo-referencing CAD files, creating an Outdoor Advertising Control Map, implementing ProjectWise layers statewide, and establishing a new Emergency Management Tool.

Becky Hjelm (center) poses with her UDOT GIS team.

Becky Hjelm (center, in vest) poses with her UDOT GIS team.

Some of her most valuable work has been her work on an asset management data project. UDOT had already asked Mandli Communications to perform LIDAR scanning, which allows engineers and scientists to examine natural and built environments across a wide range of scales with greater accuracy, precision and flexibility. The state has scans of every state route, which includes pavement and other asset data.  Using that large amount of data would prove to be difficult without using GIS. So Hjelm organized a cross-departmental team to accomplish the task of building the tool in a timely manner, saving countless hours and hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars.

Park said UDOT expects the culture change and innovation to continue to benefit the State of Utah for years to come.

“There isn’t just one innovative idea that Becky has implemented. She’s put in place an entire program that continues to grow,” he said.

 

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.

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.

The program provides support for local government bicycle planning efforts by providing resources and generating ideas that will ultimately lead to a more bicycle friendly community. We are excited to acknowledge the communities that have taken the steps to become Road Respect Communities and urge others to consider becoming a Road Respect Community.

Level 1 – Activate

  • Start an inventory of bike infrastructure
  • Identify connectivity gaps
  • Set up initial evaluation criteria for the bicycle plan
  • Level 1 Road Respect Communities = Town of Springdale and Logan City

Level 2 – Ascend

  • Involve bike advocacy groups/individuals
  • Initiate “share the road” dialogue between drivers and cyclists
  • Develop the bicycle plan
  • Roll out a local law enforcement bicycle safety and enforcement program
  • Organize a community ride
  • Level 2 Road Respect Communities = Park City/Snyderville Basin and the City of Moab

Level 3 – Peak

  • Adopt the bicycle plan and begin implementation
  • Work with businesses to determine and promote the economic benefits of bicycling
  • Develop and conduct bicycle safety campaign
  • Promote respect between drivers and bicyclists on the road
  • Evaluate the bicycle plan
  • Apply for League of American Bicyclists’ Bicycle Friendly Community Status
  • Level 3 Road Respect Communities = Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, City of Ivins, St. George City, Provo City and Ogden City

For more information please contact the Road Respect Team at roadrespect@utah.gov.

This guest post was originally published in the Road Respect Fall 2014 Newsletter.

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.

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.