The Employee Advisory Council met January 21, 2015. Items that were included in the discussion included:

  • Flexible Schedules
  • Performance Plans
  • Team Building Exercises
  • Employee Opportunities
  • Random Drug Testing for all UDOT Employees
  • Mechanics Salary Increases for ASE Certification
  • Policy Limiting Length of Time for Plowing
  • Reimbursement Amount for CDL Physicals

Notes from the meeting are available below.

EAC January 2015 Summary

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

Employee Advisory Council

You’ve used the app. You’ve seen the traffic cameras on TV or online, and you might have even seen the Traffic Operations Center in person. But have you ever wondered what exactly goes into getting the information? We’ll take you on a “ride along” and show you how.

Through the technology and data of the Advanced Traffic Management System (ATMS), UDOT can Keep Utah Moving. Recently, a critical part of the system was updated along the I-15 corridor, as newer controllers were installed and programmed. The controllers gather volume and speed data from passing vehicles. Although no identifying information is collected, it does give a wealth of data on the speed of traffic, the density of traffic, weather conditions, etc.

The replacement process starts when the new lane controllers are programmed with the proper software to collect the data. The controllers run on Linux-based command prompts and also use custom software add-ons. The base software is programmed at the UDOT Traffic Operations Center.

Kent (left) and David (right) are in charge of maintaining and upgrading the ATMS systems along the Wasatch Front.

Kent (left) and David (right) are in charge of maintaining and upgrading the ATMS systems along the Wasatch Front.

Once the controllers are programmed, they are ready to be deployed into the field. The first set to be replaced was along southbound I-15 at 3300 South.

Kent and David working in an ATMS cabinet alongside I

Kent and David working in an ATMS cabinet alongside I-15.

The new controllers are wired in and turned on. They also have to be programmed once they are in the cabinet by using data from a controller at a different location. This process requires time, patience and many command prompts.

atms crew 3

The lane controllers are installed as a pair, in case one fails while in the field. One acts as the primary and one as a secondary. They both have ability to function independently, but also as a pair.

Once the new controllers are field-programmed, they are brought online and tested to make sure that they are working properly. Once they are tested and confirmed to be working, the ATMS crew moves on to calibrate and install the next set of lane controllers. The whole process of removing the old boxes and installing and testing the new ones takes just under an hour per cabinet.

An overhead sensor that collects data from Express Lane users.

An overhead sensor that collects data from Express Lane users.

UDOT also uses in-pavement “pucks” that collect traffic data. All of this information is sent to a nearby traffic cabinet and then to the UDOT Traffic Operations Center. The information is used to create the congestion layers on the UDOT Traffic app and website, so travelers can know about delay and congestion information for their trips.

An in-pavement "puck" that collects speed data from passing vehicles.

An in-pavement “puck” that collects speed data from passing vehicles.

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

TAMPA, Fla. — The American Traffic Safety Services Association has chosen Jed Boal, reporter and anchor for KSL-TV in Salt Lake City, as the winner of the ATSSA National Media Award. This award goes to “A reporter/news organization, blogger or freelancer who has been fair, balanced, and informative in reporting transportation related issues on radio, television, newspaper and the web”.

KSL-TV's Jed Boal (left), and UDOT Public Information Officer John Gleason pose with Boal's plaque.

KSL-TV’s Jed Boal (left), and UDOT Public Information Officer John Gleason pose with Boal’s plaque.

Boal, who has worked for Utah’s NBC station for 16 years, has the tenacity and skepticism that a good reporter needs to “dig deep” and combines that with a skillful blend of transparency, relationship building, and storytelling. He’s always looking at new ways to tell a story and inform the public — whether it’s riding along with an Incident Management Team, purposely depriving himself of sleep to conduct a study for a story, or pulling out rumble strips to help the public see what they do.

“There are very few journalists in the entire country that are more fair, balanced, and informative than Jed Boal of KSL-TV,” UDOT Public Information Officer John Gleason said.  ”Jed is the kind of journalist who turns the stereotype of reporter on it’s head, all while making sure he’s still got the public’s right to know in mind.”

ATSSAaward

The ATSSA chose KSL-TV’s Jed Boal as its recipient of its 2014 National Media Award.

We’re grateful to work with professionals like Jed Boal in the Utah media. It’s obvious Boal not only loves being a community watchdog, but also cares just as much about letting the public know what amazing things UDOT is doing for the state. This attitude makes it very easy for UDOT to get the word out to the public, knowing Jed will give UDOT a fair shake regardless of whether the story is a positive one or a negative one for the department.

 

 

The STIP Workshop Gallery, now available through UPlan, enhances planning, decision-making and transparency.

The projects on the map are showing UDOT’s Statewide Transportation Improvement Program, or STIP, a four-year plan of funded state and local projects for the State of Utah.

The STIP is updated and published annually after a yearlong cycle of events that includes input from other government agencies, fiscal analysis, and public meetings and comments. The STIP serves as UDOT’s official work plan for developing projects from conception, through design, to advertising and construction.

A screen shot of Region One's STIP map gives the public a look the status of projects and how much is being spent.

A screen shot of Region One’s STIP map gives the public a look the status of projects and how much is being spent.

Before UDOT’s GIS team produced maps showing the STIP, the list of projects were published as static hard-copy maps or as a list of projects. The new STIP maps are web-based and dynamic, and change as UDOT makes changes to the program. The data on the maps are obtained from ePM, UDOT’s electric program management system, and are refreshed nightly.

Policy makers, program managers and the public

The maps will be used at the Utah Transportation Commission Workshop in April. “It gives them a view of the planned and recommended projects in the regions they represent,” says William Lawrence, UDOT Director of Program Finance. Lawrence will use the maps to zoom in to see the exact location, scope, planned schedule and budget of each project at the workshop.

The maps help “open a conversation up among groups at UDOT,” says Lawrence. Portfolio and project managers can use the maps to coordinate or combine projects. For example, a bridge program manager and a pavement program manager can coordinate projects to reduce impact to the public.

The maps help UDOT’s goal to be a transparent public agency. “In a nutshell, it basically says here’s the funding we have and here’s where we’ve planned to spend it,” says Lawrence. It lets the public see “exactly what’s coming in their direction.”

To find the maps, start from the UPlan Map Center website, enter STIP in the search field and select “search for apps” in the drop down box.

This post was written by Catherine Higgins of the UDOT Project Development division. It will also appear in the GIS bi-monthly newsletter.

With hundreds of miles of interstate weaving through Utah, have you ever wondered how UDOT deals with transportation issues where highways and interstates cross state lines? This video, produced by our friends at the Arizona Department of Transportation, shows what happens on a project in the Virgin River Gorge, which Interstate 15 runs through. Our own Dana Meier, a UDOT Program Engineer assigned to Washington County in Southern Utah, is featured in it.

The Gorge is a main thoroughfare for those seeking to get between Salt Lake City and Las Vegas, and is a huge connection point for those moving on to Los Angeles and Phoenix. A shutdown of this 29-mile section of road in Arizona can have wide-reaching effects nationally.

In the video, Region 4′s Meier, a 16-year veteran of the department, explains why interstate collaboration is so important.

“That little stretch of I-15 is a critical link for commerce from the port of Long Beach to the rest of the nation,” Meier said. “Maintaining the continuity and communication is critical for the entire system to function. It doesn’t just affect Utah. It affects Nevada and Arizona. It affects all of us.

At UDOT, collaboration is one of our valued emphasis areas. Teaming with local and interstate partners helps meet local and out-of-town traveler needs by providing a better product, and helps various entities share much-needed knowledge and skill. Collaboration also saves time and taxpayer dollars by avoiding costly arguments, claims and litigation.

 

 

Photo of a verticle earthquake drain

Vertical earthquake drains developed by Nilex, Inc.

Limited blast liquefaction testing, vibration testing, and centrifuge testing suggest that vertical drains can be effective in preventing earthquake-induced soil liquefaction and associated settlements or lateral spreading. However, no full-scale drain installation has been subjected to earthquake-induced ground motions. This lack of performance data under full-scale conditions has been a major impediment to expanding the use of this technique for mitigating liquefaction hazards.

To determine the viability of large diameter (4 in.) prefabricated vertical drains for preventing soil liquefaction and associated settlements under full-scale conditions, the pooled fund study no. TPF-5(244) was initiated in 2013 by UDOT, Brigham Young University (BYU), and other state DOTs from California, New York, and Alaska, in conjunction with the National Science Foundation’s George E. Brown Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES) Facility at the University at Buffalo (UB) of The State University of New York.

Photo

NEES-UB 20-ft high laminar box with hydraulic actuators.

In August and September 2014, two test series with vertical drains in liquefiable (loose and saturated) sand were completed using the laminar shear box and high speed actuator system at NEES-UB. Tests involved level ground conditions with two drain spacings: 4 ft for the first series and 3 ft for the second series. For each drain spacing, the soil profile was subjected to a total of nine sinusoidal motions at increasing peak base accelerations of 0.05g, 0.10g, and 0.20g. The settlement of the soil profile was measured using surface settlement plates, string potentiometers, and Sondex profilometers. Pore pressure transducers were used within the sand at various depths to measure pore water pressures. Accelerometers and LVDTs were located along the height of the shear box to define the acceleration and deflection profiles induced by the shaking at the base. Example data plots are shown below.

A few video recordings from the first series of tests at NEES-UB are available for viewing at this link. Progress reports and the overall scope of work for the study are provided on the web page for study no. TPF-5(244).

Graph

Settlement and excess pore pressure ration versus depth plots during the first shaking test at 4-ft drain spacing, with 15 cycles of shaking and 0.05g peak acceleration.

Remaining tasks on the project include data analysis, comparison with previous tests on untreated sand, evaluating predictive methods, and preparing the final report regarding drain effectiveness. If full-scale tests prove the effectiveness of the drainage technique, significant time and costs savings can be achieved for both new construction and for retrofit situations, as compared to other mitigation techniques.

This guest post was written by Kyle Rollins, PhD with Brigham Young University and David Stevens, PE with UDOT Research Division and was originally published in the UDOT Research Newsletter.

BYU asphalt test

Students from BYU’s Civil Engineering program get hands-on training on asphalt tests

A countertop with baking pans, spatulas and mixers is not something you’d expect to find when you think of UDOT. But they’re all important tools that help us preserve our infrastructure in Utah.

How, you ask? On Tuesday, Jan. 27, students from Brigham Young University’s Civil Engineering program found out during a trip to Region Three’s Materials Lab in Orem.

Using oil, water, a vacuum and a lot of ovens, the students took part in hands-on training on asphalt testing and verification of asphalt mix design by baking, scooping, calculating and compacting the material.

DSC_5554

BYU Civil Engineering students pose with William “Billy Bob” Larson, Region 3 Lab Manager (t-shirt) and Clint Tyler (far left).

Before paving occurs on a roadway, engineers determine the appropriate materials for the project, document the specifications for a concrete or asphalt mix and test the pavement design in the lab. These tests help ensure that the road surfaces we lay down are the most efficient, longest-lasting they can be. We believe that good roads cost less: less to build and less to maintain. Through quality assurance tests at our region labs, we maximize the value of taxpayer dollars.

 Lab Manager William “Billy Bob” Larson said his lab invites students from BYU and Utah Valley University to take part in hands-on learning on a regular basis to enhance what they learn in the classroom.

 “If you don’t actually get out and do it, all your learning is just words,” Larson said.

IMG_7958

BYU pride on one student’s asphalt core

Concrete bridge structures are typically designed to last 50 to 75 years, but seldom last half that time before needing major rehabilitation, due to degradation caused by corrosion of steel reinforcement similar to that shown in Fig. 1. Corrosion in commonly used epoxy-coated steel bars has raised concern with its use and has raised interest in the use of alternative reinforcement like fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) bars. Glass FRP (GFRP) bars are a cost-competitive alternative to epoxy-coated steel bars and have been found to not corrode (see UDOT Report No. UT-11.16).

Photo of bridge columns showing corrosion

Fig. 1. Typical corrosion found on bridge structures

Many transportation costs and user impacts associated with typical corrosion problems could be potentially eliminated with a proactive approach of using non-corrosive reinforcement (e.g. GFRP) in the original construction of concrete elements. Experimental tests were conducted recently at the University of Utah on circular concrete columns reinforced with GFRP and/or steel longitudinal bars and GFRP confining spirals to evaluate their behavior and viability as a potential construction alternative.

One set of columns was reinforced with GFRP spirals and GFRP longitudinal bars, another set of columns was reinforced with GFRP spirals and steel longitudinal bars, and a final set of columns was reinforced with double GFRP spirals and a combination of GFRP and steel longitudinal bars (see Fig. 2). Tests were performed on 12 in. diameter short (3 ft tall) and slender (12 ft tall) columns. These are the only tests known to the authors which have investigated the stability of slender FRP-reinforced concrete columns.

Photo of GFRP columns

Fig. 2. GFRP reinforcement using in column tests.

An analytical confinement and buckling model was developed and validated against the tests to provide a means to predict the behavior and capacity of FRP-reinforced concrete columns. This enabled the analysis of additional reinforcement scenarios utilizing FRP (glass or carbon) longitudinal bars and spirals.

In general it was found that FRP spirals and FRP longitudinal bars can be a viable method of reinforcement for concrete columns, particularly in corrosive environments. FRP spirals, however, need to be placed at a closer pitch spacing to provide confinement levels similar to steel spirals due to the lower modulus of elasticity of FRP composites. On the other hand, FRP longitudinal bars can provide increased deflection capacity as compared with steel bars due to the higher tensile capacity of FRP composites.

Additional research is needed to better quantify the confining capacity of FRP spirals and the required pitch spacing needed. Also research investigating the behavior of FRP-reinforced columns under seismic loading will be an important consideration.

This guest post was written by Thomas A. Hales, PhD, SE with the UDOT Research Division and Chris P. Pantelides, PhD, SE with the University of Utah and was originally published in the UDOT Research Newsletter.

SALT LAKE CITY — In an effort achieve the goal of Zero Crashes, Injuries and Fatalities, the Utah Department of Transportation unveiled a new reminder for state employees last week. The message isn’t new, but the placement is, and people are noticing (and hopefully remembering to buckle up).

Elevators at the State’s Calvin Rampton Complex in Salt Lake now remind employees and visitors to buckle up their seat belts to save their own lives as well as the lives of those riding with them.
ZeroElevator
“Convincing people to buckle up, not drive impaired, stop texting and stay awake while driving is no easy task,” said Zero Fatalities Program Manager Stacy Johnson. “These elevator doors grab your attention and, in a very creative way, encourage seat belt usage.”

Executive Director Carlos Braceras said while UDOT’s mission and goals  touch a variety of topics, one item is more important than any.

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

Zero Fatalities’ seat belt statistics are eye-opening:

  • Ninety-three percent of all crashes are due to driving behavior
  • National traffic fatalities are the lowest they’ve been since 1958, but people who don’t buckle up represent more than half of those fatalities
  • Unbuckled passengers can become a projectile, and increase the risk of hurting or killing others in the car by 40 percent
  • People are 30 times more likely to be ejected from a vehicle during a crash
  • 75 percent of people who are ejected during a crash die from their injuries

While road engineering and law enforcement help to decrease fatalities, education is an important part of the road to Zero Fatalities as well. The education comes in a number of ways:

School Assemblies and Events: With programs like Zero Fatalities, Don’t Drive Stupid, and Click it or Ticket targeting soon-to-be-drivers and their parents, over 500,000 people have been reached in the first five years. In 2014 alone, Zero Fatalities did approximately 214 presentations to schools around the Beehive State.

ZeroPresentation1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Commercial Public Service Announcements such as this one, which was originally shown during the 2014 Super Bowl.

Advertising: Using a variety of messaging,  like radio spots or posters, Zero Fatalities keeps messages about life-saving habits are always on the minds of people in Utah.

Social Media videos, Facebook posts, and tweets make it easier to share the message with more people daily.

 

Results: The number of traffic fatalities in Utah has dropped 22 percent since the Zero Fatalities program began in 2006. In the year 2000, Utah had 373 fatalities, but by the end of 2013, Utah had 221 fatalities. And awareness of the program is rising: public opinion research shows that 3 out of 4 Utahns (age 18 to 54) are aware of the Zero Fatalities message. Of course, awareness does not always translate to behavior modification, but of those who are aware of the Zero Fatalities message, an average of 51 percent admit that the Zero Fatalities program “definitely” or “probably” influenced them to avoid the five Zero Fatalities behaviors: driving drowsy, distracted, aggressive, impaired, or unbuckled.

ZeroJazzDraft1

Zero Fatalities program has also become a model for other states: Arizona, Iowa and Nevada have embraced the Zero Fatalities message and are running similar programs at varying levels. We’re happy that Utah’s Zero Fatalities program is the state’s contribution to the national and international visions to reduce traffic fatalities, and we wanted to make sure the message started at home as well.

To learn more about the program, or to schedule a member of the Zero Fatalities Team to come and present to your division or group,  visit www.udot.utah.gov, or www.zerofatalities.com.

One of the trending topics for today on twitter was #explainthe90sin4words. We here at UDOT got nostalgic thinking about the fashion, music and sports from the decade that brought us flannel shirts, boy bands, and the Utah Jazz in the NBA Finals.

An artist's rendition of what the "new" I-15 would look like

An artist’s rendition of what the “new” I-15 would look like

Our memory jogged back to 1997, when we started the Interstate 15 reconstruction project, which was UDOT’s first design-build procurement. The project involved the reconstruction of 16.2 miles of the interstate in the Salt Lake Valley, including the addition of new general-purpose lanes to go along with high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes. The project involved the construction or reconstruction of more than 130 bridges, the reconstruction of seven urban interchanges, and the reconstruction of three major junctions with Interstate routes 80 and 215.

The project was the largest ever undertaken by the State of Utah, and is still the largest single design-build highway contract in the United States. It cost $1.63 billion, with $448 million coming from federal funds and 1.184 billion coming from the state.  Construction was finished in the summer of 2001.

The reconstruction project presented the Department with significant challenges in scheduling and construction, especially with the goal of finishing prior to the Winter Olympics in 2002, and without prolonged traffic disruptions. The design-build approach allowed us to meet those demands while also benefitting from several private sector innovations and value-added features.

We’re happy with the effect this monumental project has had on the lives of Utahns, and those who have traveled in our great state. We’re also grateful for all of you who were patient with the process a decade and a half ago.

And thanks to twitter for taking us back to memory lane.

A photo from the I-15 reconstruction in the late 1990s.

A photo from the I-15 reconstruction in the late 1990s.