Photo of the Award of ExcellenceA multidisciplinary team at UDOT recently received national recognition for developing the Outdoor Advertising Control Map.

The Highway Beautification Act of 1965 gave state departments of transportation the responsibility of enforcing rules governing outdoor advertising, aka billboards. UDOT has developed an online mapping system that helps the general public and UDOT staff to efficiently identify the location of all highways where outdoor advertising is controlled, and where all permitted billboards are located along these controlled highways.

In April, UDOT became one of only three states to receive a national award from the National Alliance of Highway Beautification Agencies for developing this innovative mapping system.

The following statewide team collaborated to bring this award winning map to life:

DTS

  • Monty King

Central ETS/GIS

  • Becky Hjelm
  • Frank Pisani

Central Right-of-Way

  • Lyle McMillian
  • Krissy Plett
  • Rod McDaniels

Project Development Administration

  • Randy Park
  • Lisa Wilson

Region Permitting Operations

  • Tommy Vigil
  • Nacey Wilson
  • Nazee Treweek
  • Mark Velasquez
  • Tony Lau
  • Rux Rowland
  • Rhett Arnell
  • Dale Stapley
  • Steve Kunzler
  • Scott Snow

Central Attorney General’s Office

  • Renee Spooner

Central Asset Management

  • Stan Burns
  • Kelli Bacon
  • Abdul Wakil
  • Peter Bigelow

Risk Management

  • Brandi Trujillo

For more information about the the map check out Show Me a Sign.

Thank you to Rod McDaniels for his help writing this post.

June 18th, 2014

Auto-generated summary sheets

No Comments, Preserve Infrastructure, by Catherine Higgins.
Photo of John Guymon

John Guymon, UDOT Rotational Engineer

For each roadway preservation or rehabilitation project, UDOT designers fill out a summary sheet that provides a tally of measurements and material quantities needed for the project. Collecting data on-site, compiling data and figuring quantities can take a week or more. “You go out into the field with a wheel and tape, and you measure everything,” says UDOT rotational engineer John Guymon. His work to integrate online data with a spreadsheet is helping UDOT designers work more efficiently.

Guymon used coding and Microsoft Excel to create a form that uses asset management data and standard formulas for figuring material quantities to populate the summary sheet. The data sets are housed in the UDOT Data Portal, UDOT’s online data repository.

The Auto Report Generator is simple to use, and works along with the Linear Bench tool, both accessible on the UDOT Data Portal. Step-by-step instructions are available with the form. Once produced, the summary sheet shows:

  • Pavement type, surface area and material amounts for granular borrow and base course. The pavement type generated in the report is specific to the region, since climate differences around the state call for different pavement types.
  • Barrier in the project area, including location, total feet, and post type, all sorted into standard and non-standard types to show any areas in need of full replacement.
  • Signs, including location, sign type, size and any damage present during data collection.
  • Pavement marking type, paint amounts, messages, and rumble strips or grooved-in paint.

Once the summary sheet has been populated, the sheet can be used to verify measurements, barrier type, roadway geometry, pavement messages, etc.

So far, the new form has been downloaded over 600 times since it became available, about two months ago, and users have become instant fans. Kendall Draney says that one advantage is that using the form keeps employees out of harm’s way. Draney used the form as a design rotational engineer in Region Three. Sometimes getting measurements necessitates a dash across a busy roadway. “It’s really nice to have something that you’re using to verify,” says Draney. “It’s much safer to be on the shoulder.”

Engineering Tech IV Lynda Seckletstewa likes the consistency of the quantity amounts generated by the reports and “quantities for the existing features pulled by the report generator are within 2% of field quantities.”

The reports also provide “an instant checklist for field reviews,” says Seckletstewa. “Generated notes for various features point out deficiencies that we may have otherwise overlooked.”

The new summary form is an example of how UDOT is making good use of data collected on everything on a state roadway that can be viewed through a car window. “I didn’t realize how useful the Mandli data would be,” says Guymon. He views the tool as a first effort that can be improved over time.

Find out about other ways to view data, including the Linear Bench and Highway Reference Online, on the UDOT Data Portal.

Read about the Mandli data-gathering effort here.

Photo of UDOT and Region leadership with Brian and Colton.Colton Peterson is assigned to the Salina Maintenance Station but was asked by his supervisor, Brian Quarnberg, to help with facility management within Region 4 since he has previous work experience in this arena. Brian had the foresight to notice the building maintenance needs within the Region and immediately offered Colton’s services. Colton accepted the challenge and worked tirelessly in getting the buildings in the best shape possible for the Division of Facilities Construction and Management (DFCM) inspections.

As a result of Brian’s unselfish attitude and Colton’s efforts the Oak Springs Rest Area on S.R. 24 near Fish Lake and the Pines Rest Area on S.R. 12 near Bryce Canyon have been improved, refurbished and were ready for opening. The Hoover’s Rest Area on U.S. 89 near Marysvale has been painted and refurbished and handed over to the new facility management contractors. Many region upgrades have been put in place thanks to Colton and the new facilities coordinator has been trained on UDOT procedures and systems.

Brian and Colton have shown themselves to be an example to others in regards to UDOT’s strategic goals, and Region 4 would certainly have experienced budget issues without their leadership and team work.

This guest post is from the Silver Barrel Award nominations written by Tim Walden, Region 4 Administrative Services Manager.

June 16th, 2014

Optimizing Mobility

No Comments, Optimize Mobility, by Adan Carrillo.

As we continually look for ways to improve our processes with the ultimate goal of keeping drivers moving on Utah’s roads, UDOT has deployed a number of technological tools that align with our strategic direction to preserve infrastructure, optimize mobility, reach our goal of zero fatalities, and strengthen the economy. I wanted to particularly emphasize what we are currently doing as a department in regards to our goal of optimizing mobility, which, in our day and age, no longer only applies to people’s ability to keep moving but also to their ability to do things as they are moving (but not driving), via phone apps.

These UDOT phone apps are allowing citizens to perform a variety of tasks, like reporting road conditions directly to operators at the Traffic Operations Center (TOC), or finding out what kind of delays to expect due to construction projects, and receiving severe weather event warnings. In addition to this ever evolving field of mobile technology, we continue to rely on innovative projects based on traffic models and engineering to not only improve mobility, but also safety, which in turn helps us achieve our goal of Zero Fatalities. Last year, Region Two completed several projects that illustrate exactly how we continue to optimize mobility through road and signal technologies.

MOBILE TECHNOLOGY

UDOT Traffic

Screen shot of UDOT Traffic app
UDOT Traffic is the department’s portal for statewide traffic information and can be accessed through the UDOT Traffic website or via mobile application for iOS or Android devices. Citizens can use the site to view real-time traffic conditions, construction and emergency alerts, road weather forecasts, and current lane and ramp closures. New to the UDOT Traffic app is a map layer that displays designated bike routes across the state, and state roads with shoulders wider than four feet. The map also displays routes that are restricted to bicycles such as I-15 in the Salt Lake Valley.

UDOT continually upgrades the UDOT Traffic portal to make it even more useful for drivers and the public. This year, the Lane Closure tool will be used for all projects on interstates as well as major highways including Bangerter Highway, Legacy Parkway, S.R. 201, and U.S. 40.

Future updates will improve integration between construction projects and the Lane Closure tool, and will allow contractors and department employees to make changes to UDOT Traffic information using mobile devices.

Citizen Reporter

Screen shots of the citizen reporting app
UDOT Citizen Reporter is a mobile application that enlists volunteers to report on current weather conditions for specific roads across Utah. This app is designed to provide both TOC operators and travelers with more accurate and timely road, weather and travel impact information and forecasts.

To participate as citizen reporters, members of the public are required to take a short course (either online or in person), complete a quiz, and then submit a sign-up form. Once those steps are completed, the volunteer receives a login and password, and can then download the app and begin submitting reports.

Citizen reporters are able to confirm weather data received through other sources (Road Weather Information Systems, meteorological forecasts, etc.) and can provide data for roadways where RWIS systems or other information sources may not be available.

ROAD & SIGNAL TECHNOLOGY

Variable Speed Limit

Photo of Variable Speed Limit sign with a semi passing by on I-80 in Parley's Canyon

Variable Speed Limit sign on I-80 in Parley’s Canyon

In January 2014, 15 new variable speed limit (VSL) signs were activated along I-80 in Parleys Canyon. The new signs are controlled by the TOC to help maintain consistent traffic flows and assist drivers in adjusting speeds when necessary due to weather conditions.

The TOC monitors speed limits in the canyon. In the event of poor weather or low visibility, a traffic engineer reviews information, such as current road conditions, weather forecasts, snowfall rates, observed speeds, and reports from maintenance personnel. Based on this information, the engineer can make the decision to reduce the speed limit as needed. Speed limits typically range from 35 to 65 miles per hour depending on conditions.

The new VSL signs are the first of their kind in Utah. UDOT is also considering installing variable speed limit signs in other locations around the state, such as Provo Canyon and Sardine Canyon, based on the results of this project.

Bike Detection

Photo of open signal cabinet
Last year, Region Two and the TOC worked together to develop and install reliable bicycle detection at nine signalized intersections in Salt Lake City, along with new pavement markings to show bicyclists where to stop. Often, bicyclists stop at red lights, look to see if they feel it is safe to cross, and then proceed through the intersection without waiting for a green signal; these upgraded intersections help encourage cyclists to obey traffic signals.

Additionally, upgrading bicycle detection systems encourages cycling as a viable means of transportation. This helps improve air quality by reducing automobile emissions, and is an asset for local economic development since many companies have reported that Utah’s alternative transportation options (such as bicycling and mass transit) were a significant factor in their decision to come to the state.

Moving forward, the department is working with the bicycling community to identify additional high-priority intersections where this detection technology can be installed.

HAWK Crossings

Photo of HAWK signal with traffic flowing underneath

HAWK

HAWK (High Intensity Activated CrosswalK) crossings have been installed in a number of locations in Region Two where arterial streets intersect with minor streets. These crossings include pavement markings, signs, and red and yellow lights on an arm over the roadway.

When a pedestrian pushes the button to activate the signal, the lights over the roadway begin flashing yellow, alerting drivers to slow down. A solid red light then activates, along with a “walk” sign for the pedestrian. Once the “walk” phase is complete, the light flashes red, indicating to drivers to treat the intersection as a stop sign – they may proceed if the crosswalk is clear. When the lights are off, drivers are not required to stop at the crosswalk.

These signals are in use at several locations throughout the Region where large numbers of pedestrians cross major roadways. UDOT continues to evaluate other locations for these signals and will install them as needed.

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.

The UDOT public transit team is currently developing their federal fiscal year 2015-2017 Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) goal for its Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Program. Part of this process includes public input.

The proposed DBE goal and methodology can be found on the UDOT website at www.udot.utah.gov/publictransit under the Hot Topics and Quick Links section. It is titled “UDOT FTA DBE FY2015-2017 Proposed Goal and Methodology.” A hard copy is also available for review at the UDOT Calvin Rampton Complex in the Program Development division at 4501 South 2700 West on the third floor in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Comments may be provided to the UDOT via email at publictransit@utah.gov or via mail addressed to:

UDOT Program Development
Attn: Public Transit Plans and Programs Director
4501 S 2700 W
P.O. Box 143600
Salt Lake City, UT 84114-3600.

Please include the page number, section number, and a detailed comment with your submission.

The document will be available for review from June 5, 2014 through, and including, July 4, 2014 and comments will be accepted through July 19, 2014. Only comments related specifically to the DBE goal and the development of the goal will be accepted. All other UDOT or DBE-program related comments should be directed to the appropriate contact provided on the main UDOT website.

Photo of cast members in costume standing along a railroad track with Ray in the middle.

Ray on location in the Heber Valley with the principle cast of Saints and Soldiers: Airborne Creed.

UDOT Region 2 Preconstruction’s Ray Meldrum, has an interesting hobby: he’s a producer of the locally made Word War II “Saints and Soldiers” films.

Ray became friends with Ryan Little, the director, in 1998 when he was a promising BYU film school student. For Ryan’s first short film, “The Last Good War”, Ray provided all the military uniforms, equipment, vehicles and weapons. This short film received an Emmy, as well as the Jimmy Stewart Award and the Heartland Film Best Picture Award. This success began the seed that spawned the Saints and Soldiers film series.

The first “Saints and Soldiers” movie was produced in 2003 and followed a group of American soldiers behind enemy lines who somehow managed to escape the Malmedey Massacre that occurred during The Battle of the Bulge in early 1945. For a locally produced film, it was very well done and was highly regarded by critics and audiences. Because of its success in the U.S, it was eventually distributed worldwide where it was also highly successful. At the time of its release in 2004 it outsold more copies in the UK than Steven Spielberg’s “Saving Private Ryan.”

Photo of a camera with Ray and other cast members in the background

Setting an outrigger camera off of an American general’s Jeep in Saints and Soldiers: The Void

The success of the original Saints and Soldiers movie and the continued interest in WWII films, eventually led to a second film in 2010 called, “Saints and Soldiers; Airborne Creed.” Airborne Creed followed a group of troopers from the 517th Parachute Infantry Regiment in, “Operation Torch”; the allied invasion of the south of France in August 1944. This film was also highly successful worldwide and gained the attention of entertainment investors.

On the heels of the second film’s success, a third movie was quickly funded. “Saints and Soldiers: The Void,” was filmed in September 2013 and January 2014, and is scheduled to have its theatrical release in August of this year. The film depicts the end of the war in Europe as the German forces are making a last ditch attempt to harass and defeat the American Army as it moves into Germany. This film follows two M-18 Hellcat tank crews that are sent on a fateful mission through the Harz Mountains of Germany, and are ambushed by three German Panzer tanks.

Photo of an M-18 tank with Roger sitting on top and Ray standing by the side.

Ray on set in Provo Canyon with tank operator Roger Condron and Annie, the M-18 Hellcat.

Ray has co-produced all three films, which means he has a wide variety of responsibilities including; Technical Advisor, Armorer, Vehicle Wrangler, Extra Coordinator, Costume/Set Designer (e.g., helmets, gear, tents, bayonets, blanks, props etc.).

Ray says he has always enjoyed reading American History, but his passion is WWII. “I am fascinated by the sacrifice of the people at this time and the accomplishments they achieved during a short period of time. They out produced every other nation on earth, defeated two great enemies in two theaters of war and on opposite sides of the globe. They demonstrate when a nation, team, or department is united and individuals are dedicated to a cause, it creates a practically unstoppable force.”

This guest post was originally written by Ray for his division’s newsletter but was edited slightly for broader use by Region 2 Project Management Specialist, Heather Barthold.

Photo of award recipients standing as a group with Executive Director Carlos BracerasThe 2013 Access Management Rule Revision Steering Committee recently received a Silver Barrel Award. The committee assembled on short notice to completely revise and overhaul the Department’s aging Access Management Rule (Utah Administrative Code R930-6), the first comprehensive rewrite of this rule since the program’s inception in 2003.

Some of the major achievement highlights from this project include:

  • Reducing document size by 50% (from 100 to 50 pages)
  • Significantly reducing redundancies and conflicts
  • Clarifying procedures and requirements
  • Updating statutory references
  • Revising document organization
  • Converting to rule format
  • Creating a presentation version of rule

Members of the committee included:

  • Rhett Arnell – Region 4
  • Doug Basset – Region 3
  • Cali Bastow – Project Development
  • David Benard – Office of the Attorney General
  • Tim Boschert – Systems Planning and Programming
  • Mark Burns – Office of the Attorney General
  • Diego Carroll – Parsons Brinckerhoff
  • Paul Egbert – Region 1
  • Todd Finlinson – Region 1
  • Hugh Hadsock – FHWA
  • Griffin Harris – Region 3
  • Jason Henley – Project Development
  • Gaye Hettrick – Project Development
  • Amanda Kirkendall – Parsons Brinckerhoff
  • Tony Lau – Region 2
  • Richard Manser – Project Development
  • Rod McDaniels – Project Development
  • Lyle McMillian – Project Development
  • Teri Newell – Region 3
  • Randy Park – Project Development
  • Renee Spooner – Office of the Attorney General
  • Mark Velasquez – Region 2
  • Lisa Wilson – Project Development

 

Map image showing the Salt Lake Valley with colors indicating how CommuterLink would expand through 2002

The original expansion plan for the UDOT CommuterLink system (now known as “UDOT Traffic”)

April 27, 2014 marked the 15 year anniversary of the UDOT Traffic Operations Center (TOC) opening its doors. The UDOT TOC was built to manage congestion and traffic during the 2002 Olympics. While managing traffic for this important special event was a catalyst for building the TOC, UDOT fully understood that there would be significant benefits to operating the TOC long term.

As Utah continues to grow, so does the challenge of mobility. To address Utah’s transportation challenges, the Utah Senate passed a Senate Bill in 1995 and established a Traffic Management Committee which consisted of representatives from Salt Lake City, Wasatch Front Regional Council, Mountainland Association of Governments, Salt Lake County, the Department of Public Safety and the Utah Department of Environmental Quality. This committee recognized the benefits of a Traffic Operations Center to manage traffic and improve roadway efficiency.  The Utah Transit Authority and Federal Highway Administration also partnered with the committee. The committee determined that a TOC was necessary and shortly after, planning started on where the TOC would be built, what components it would have and how the information would be distributed to the public.  A common ITS architecture was established, which now allows all Utah jurisdictions with ITS devices to share resources.

Screen shot of a map of Utah from the UDOT Traffic website. The map has several images on it indicating the location of traffic cameras and variable message signs.

The UDOT Traffic network today. Each blue icon is one traffic camera and every yellow or black rectangle is a VMS. There are also congestion, construction and weather layers available on the UDOT Traffic app and website.

When the doors opened in 1999, the TOC was staffed Monday – Friday 5:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m. and covered a limited number of routes on the Wasatch Front. Utah’s ITS system was given the name “CommuterLink” because it was largely commuter-centric traveler information and congestion management for Salt Lake City. Today, the TOC is staffed 24/7/365 and manages traffic statewide. To reflect the statewide approach, the system is now known as “UDOT Traffic”.

Over the years, the TOC has grown its traffic management capabilities and has added extra equipment to keep up with Utah’s transportation demands. In 1999, UDOT had deployed 150 traffic cameras and 57 Variable Message Signs (VMS). Today, UDOT has a sophisticated statewide network that includes over 900 traffic cameras and over 150 VMS! These valuable tools can be viewed on the UDOT Traffic smartphone app and website. Traffic camera images are also shared with the media and can help commuters make travel decisions while watching the morning news. UDOT’s fiber optic network is also robust – with over 1800 miles of fiber optic cable deployed, UDOT has one of the most complete and useful fiber optic networks in the nation. This network helps to establish lightning-fast communications with traffic signals, VMS, traffic detectors and other equipment throughout the state. From the TOC, UDOT can manually operate over 85% of the traffic signals throughout the state… as far away as St. George, Moab, Vernal and Logan!

Table showing the number of Traffic Cameras in 1999 as 150 and today as over 900, number of variable message signs in 1999 as 57 and today as over 150, number of traffic signals in 1999 as 550 and today as over 1400, number of fiber optic communcations in 1999 as 298 and today as over 1800 and the area of focus in 1999 as the Wasatch Front and for today it is statewide.

The UDOT Traffic Operations Center has deployed a statewide traffic management network.

From its first years of operation, the TOC has proven its effectiveness. The system has helped to increase peak-hour freeway speeds, reduce freeway delays and improve traffic signal efficiency. Traffic management is an important component of a healthy transportation network. UDOT’s TOC supports other UDOT divisions to successfully build, maintain and operate Utah’s highways. UDOT’s TOC also helps to support UDOT’s Strategic Goals: Preserve Infrastructure, Zero Fatalities, Strengthen the Economy and Optimize Mobility.

For a tour of the TOC or for more information, visit www.udottraffic.utah.gov.

Photo of the grand opening celebration with dignitaries preparing to cut a cake.

UDOT TOC Grand Opening – April 27, 1999

 

Photo of the TOC building under construction with scaffolding surrounding a brick structure.

The UDOT TOC building under construction

 

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.