June 25th, 2012

TRANS TECH INITIATIVES

No Comments, Uncategorized, by Catherine Higgins.

From Kevin Griffin, UDOT Director of Maintenance and Rob Wight, UDOT Engineer for Construction: Over the past year our District Engineers have been working hard to address issues that had been identified with our Transportation Technician program.  The District Engineers have done a great job in addressing these issues and we felt it was important to identify what they have been working on.  Some of the issues with the Transportation Technician program that they have addressed are:

Better Communication/ Career Development

Training

Workload exceeds Resources

Project Specific Training

Geographic Challenges / Mentoring

Efficiency of using internal inspection

Identification of Cost Efficiencies

The District Engineers will be working closely with their staff at each region to explain the details of these initiatives and how the initiatives will improve the Transportation Technician program. We would personally like to thank all of the District Engineers for their efforts here.  The hard work they have done will have a lasting impact to the Transportation Technician program and to the department.

UDOT will use an innovative hybrid bridge system that combines the durability of concrete with the strength of Fiber Reinforced Polymer.

The system, called Bridge in a Backpack, uses stiffened FRP tubes that are shaped into aarches and filled with concrete. While design of the brides varies, the arches are typically attached to a concrete footing and covered with corrugated decking then covered with compacted soil. The new bridge, which is being designed, will be built in Ogden Canyon on SR 39 near Huntsville.

Hundreds of the tubular structures have built in the United States, although the building method is fairly new. The arches were developed by the University of Main. FHWA has developed an implementation strategy and is funding part of the construction costs of the new bridge.

Advantages of the Bridge in a Backpack system include:

  • Fast construction which benefits the driving public.
  • Light weight components that can be transported easily.
  • Potentially lower maintenance costs over the life of the bridge – FRP is not susceptible to road de-icing chemicals as is steel.

UDOT has used FRP in other structures. UDOT’s Beaver Creek Bridge on US-6 near Soldier Summit has a deck that is reinforced with FRP bars. The bridge is instrumented with sensors that measure strain. Researchers are collecting data that will show how the deck holds up under traffic.

UDOT will also build a bridge with hybrid-composite beams near Beaver. The design uses an FRP box to with a concrete arch inside that gives the beam compressive strength. More than just a covering, the box “provides shear strength and encapsulates the tension and compression elements,” according to the HCB Company website. The arch structure inside the beam is surrounded with low density foam core. A prestressing strand provides additional strength and steel shear connectors provide stiffness. Along with being very strong and durable, the beams are also light and easy to lift and place.

June 21st, 2012

SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO?

No Comments, Uncategorized, by Catherine Higgins.

It’s a decision that drivers face every day when approaching an intersection – to slow down and stop upon seeing a yellow signal or to maintain speed and risk running a red light.

Signal Systems Engineer Mark Taylor monitors dilemma zone detection online.

The dilemma zone is the space before entering an intersection where drivers make that sometimes tough call to stop or keep going. On a high-speed roadway, the decision needs to be made in seconds, and the wrong choice can be dangerous.

Intersections are complex configurations where two roadways intersect. Many of the most important driving skills – such as maintaining an appropriate speed, staying attentive and alert, and using good judgment – come into play all at once. The crash types that are common at intersections include rear-end and T-bone; both can cause serious injury or death.

To improve safety at intersections, UDOT has installed dilemma zone detectors. The detection equipment uses radar to see cars as they approach an intersection. Software used with the equipment is programmed to extend the signal phase to allow cars more time to get through the intersection.

Deciding when extra time is needed based on scientific studies that show how most drivers are likely to behave, explains UDOT Traffic Signal Operations Engineer Mark Taylor. Traffic signal engineers use those studies to define three fields drivers cross before entering an intersection. Drivers in the field closest to the signal usually always go through the light. In the field farthest from the intersection, most cars stop.

The middle section is the dilemma zone “where drivers realize ‘I’ve got a decision to make,’” says Taylor. Cars entering that dilemma zone at a pre-determined point in time trigger the system to extend the signal phase, eliminating the dilemma and also the potential for an un-wise decision. While the system is backed up by science, Taylor uses some engineering judgment as well. “I put logic in with that radar,” he says.

“UDOT’s policy is to install Dilemma Zone Detection on every approach that is 40 miles per hour or higher,” says Taylor. Over five hundred intersections in Utah have been equipped with Dilemma Zone Detection.

For more: Read this article about how Dilemma Zone Detection can show a twenty percent reduction of cars exposed to the yellow signal and 70% reduction in red light running.

The 2012 Research Workshop held on May 10 brought transportation experts together to present, discuss, and then prioritize potential research opportunities.

The UDOT Maintenance group prioritizes problem statements at the Research Workshop

At the workshop, transportation professionals meet to prioritize problem statements in order to select the ones most suitable to become research projects. The workshop serves as one step in the research project selection process and involves UDOT, FHWA, universities, private sector firms and other transportation agencies.

Good communication with all parties is essential before, during and after the workshop. “Success depends on a continuous dialog with UDOT’s technical experts and industry researchers to help determine transportation challenges to solve,” says UDOT Research Director Cameron Kergaye. Recent changes in the project selection process have been aimed at improving that ongoing internal conversation in order to produce:

High-value research – UDOT Senior and group leaders help select technical areas where the benefit-cost ratio is highest.

Timely preparation of statements – sending problem statements to  participants ahead of the workshop helps participants to be prepared for discussions.

Problem statements that address UDOT’s priorities – UDOT staff vote during the prioritization process, and UDOT division leaders also prioritize the problem statements based on organizational needs and available funding.

More research projects – After the workshop, the UDOT Research Division Staff works with division leaders to identify additional funding.

Before the workshop, UDOT Research Division solicits problem statements. This year, six focus areas were identified: Structures and Geotechnical, Environmental and Hydraulics, Construction and Materials, Maintenance, Traffic Management and Safety and Pre-construction. This year, the workshop enjoyed good support from the research community; fifty-two projects were submitted – 7 more projects than last year.

During the Workshop, participants divide into groups to prioritize problem statements. This year, three voting criteria were used:  importance of research, relevance to UDOT, and likelihood of implementation.  All attendees participated in the statement discussions and UDOT staff voted during the prioritization process.

After the workshop, UDOT Research Division staff reviews prioritization and funding for each problem statement with division and group leaders. The outcome of the 2012 workshop is that 17 projects will receive funding; ten projects will be funded through the Research Division, six will be funded by other UDOT divisions and UDOT Research will fund one pooled-fund project solicited  by another state.

Research Project Manager Kevin Nichol who coordinated the workshop explains that the projects enjoyed broad support. “We were excited that a number of projects received funding from other sources.” Many UDOT divisions including Maintenance, Planning, Traffic and Safety and the TOC contributed funding along with University Transportation Centers.

The additional funding support shows that UDOT divisions see the value in the process, according to Kergaye. He believes the strong show of support is a result of problem statements that are more carefully constructed and more closely aligned to UDOT’s priorities.

“We’ve got some good projects,” says Nichol. “Some are extending the scope of existing research and some new projects that are just coming about.”

To see details on the list of final projects, visit the UDOT Research Division website.

June 18th, 2012

EQUIPPED FOR EFFICIENCY

No Comments, Optimize Mobility, by Catherine Higgins.

New lanes and interchanges are not the only improvements coming to I-15 in Utah County.

April 2012, Lehi Main Street

The I-15 CORE Project between Lehi and Spanish Fork wraps up this December. But the wider freeway and 63 rebuilt or improved bridges are not the only features that will help ease traffic flow. Equipment — cameras, signs, fiber-optic cable and ramp meters — will put five systems into operation and help UDOT traffic engineers keep traffic moving efficiently. Here’s an overview:

The project will add a network of cameras, 37 in all, between the Point of the Mountain to Spanish Fork. UDOT uses the cameras to monitor congestion and to identify crashes and other incidents. If needed, the Utah Highway Patrol can dispatch an Incident Management Team to help clear the crash to keep traffic moving and prevent secondary crashes.

Forty-nine Traffic Monitoring Stations will be installed. TMS systems use radar to detect volume and speed. The data collected by TMS units feeds to the UDOT Traffic website. Road users can then view maps with routes marked in green, yellow and red representing real time traffic volume. The TMS data lets UDOT engineers see where backing is occurring on a similar password protected map. Some of the TMS units also have cameras.

Four overhead Variable Message Signs will be installed along the project corridor.The TMS data gathered also feeds to the VMS, giving road users travel times and notification of incidents ahead that are causing delay.

New Express Lanes in Utah County will help UDOT manage traffic flow throughout the freeway corridor.

The I-15 CORE project will also add Express Lanes to help UDOT manage traffic flow throughout the freeway corridor. Free for carpools, motorcycles and C-plate vehicles, solo drivers can use the lanes with an Express Pass. UDOT adjusts the price of using the lanes according to traffic conditions — so when traffic is heavy drivers will pay little more. The system allows maximum use of all lanes with the Express Lanes maintaining a speed of 55 mph during peak travel times.

Express Lanes in Salt Lake and Davis County have been popular with road users.  Over 10,000 people have purchased an Express Pass. Until the I-15 CORE project is complete in December, the Express Lanes will function as a carpool lane throughout the project. To learn more about Express Lanes, visit the website.

A total of 22 ramp meters will be installed at all interchanges help UDOT regulate traffic getting on and off of the freeway. Ramp meters help traffic flow by minimizing speed differential on the freeway – when all traffic is moving at a similar speed, traffic flow is more efficient and fewer crashes occur.

In all, 26 miles of fiber optic cable buried along the corridor will provide a data-moving artery that supports cameras, TMS, VMS ramp meters and the Express Lanes and lets UDOT communicate in real time. UDOT leaders have charged managers at the Traffic Operations Center with creating a world class Advanced Traffic Management System. Expanding the fiber optic system is an important part of reaching that goal.

June 13th, 2012

SHOW OF SUPPORT

1 Comment, Optimize Mobility, by Catherine Higgins.

Big events can cause big traffic delay — not so this year at Hill AFB’s popular Utah Air Show.

UDOT worked closely with the Utah Highway Patrol, Layton City and base officials to iron manage traffic flow on and off of the base for the Utah Air Show.

Thousands of people pour into the base each hour to watch the show and take a close look at military air craft parked on runways during the two-day event. Traffic to and from the event has been sluggish in the past. Traffic flow was much better this year; UDOT worked closely with the Utah Highway Patrol, Layton City and base officials to iron out some difficulties that have occurred in the past.

UDOT signal engineers have successfully managed other special events such as the Stadium of Fire and BYU and University of Utah Football games. So this year, the UDOT Region One Signal Team offered their capabilities and resources to help with the air show and law enforcement and Air Force officials accepted.

UDOT Region One Signal Engineer Carrie Jacobson headed a team of signal engineers to plan ways to keep traffic moving. To prepare, the team met with base officials to identify routes to and from the event and the location of parking areas. The team paid special attention to places where traffic congestion has occurred in the past. Jacobsen’s team then developed some signal timing plans that would provide more green light time where needed.

During the event, the signal timing plans were put to work. Approximately 225 thousand people during both days. Engineers at the Traffic Operations Center observed traffic and on-site traffic engineers stood by at signal cabinets where they could fine-tune signal timing when traffic backed up.

The team’s effort earned high praise from the event organizers and law enforcement. Air Force officials were very pleased and awarded Jacobson’s team a ‘challenge coin’ for supporting the event.

June 12th, 2012

LONG JOINTS

No Comments, Preserve Infrastructure, by Catherine Higgins.

The Federal Highways Association and the Asphalt Pavement association are working together to identify ways to prevent longitudinal joint failure.

A longitudinal joint in asphalt pavement is formed between two adjacent passes during installation. Joints that are not dealt with properly are subject to failure – visually, the pavement seems to unravel as weather and wear take a toll on the joint itself and sometimes the pavement section as a whole.

In a presentation given at the Asphalt Pavement Association, Howard Anderson characterized joints as a key part of the overall health of the pavement. When all other pavement characteristics are good, “you can still have failure with the pavement if the joint is poor.” The slide show below is a short version of Anderson’s presentation.

A good joint requires getting paving operations started off right. Some key considerations include having a balanced paving operation when it comes to plant production, the number of trucks, taking into account the travel time to and from the plant and paver speed coordinated to match the tonnage arriving on the project. Trucks should be loaded so the asphalt is not segregated by age.

June 11th, 2012

CLEAN SWEEP

No Comments, Uncategorized, by Catherine Higgins.

UDOT sweepers go full force spring through fall.

Holly Wilkins, Mark Makin, JB Shandrow, Mikal Perrine and Dave Kelly operate the 'brooms' -- trucks that remove debris from roadways.

Rock chips on windshields are one of the hazards of freeway driving. Besides being dangerous, debris on interstates can also be washed off the pavement and clog culverts with sand and dirt resulting in improper drainage. Cleaning the freeway prevents UDOT maintenance crews from having to use expensive and obtrusive means – like Vactor trucks – to clear out culverts.

In order to keep safety and drainage issues in check, UDOT has sweeper trucks that make regular trips along I-15 in Salt Lake County. Lee Nitchman, Area Supervisor for UDOT says Region Two crews run brooms 6 days a week during the spring summer and fall. “They usually run them at night on the interstates and during the day on the surface streets.”

The only time the trucks are not operating is when maintenance is being performed. “Some areas of the interstate, like the Spaghetti Bowl, get swept almost nightly. We spend hundreds of thousands every year sweeping with the majority of it on the interstate,” says Nitchman.

Nitchman points out that keeping road free of gravel and dirt from dump trucks is a challenge. If those trucks are not cleaned after they are filled, they lose gravel from tailgates and fenders. “That is the biggest problem with keeping the roads clean,” he says.

June 7th, 2012

EVENTS TEACH ROAD RESPECT

No Comments, Uncategorized, by Catherine Higgins.

Events in Draper and Salt Lake this Friday and Saturday will give kids a chance to learn the Rules of the Road and have some fun too.

This family friendly ride took place on the Road Respect Tour in 2011. This year, Salt Lake Police Department will escort kids on a ride downtown.

The 2012 Road Respect Tour is trekking through Utah to promote safety and respect between cars and bikes.  After five days and 418 miles, the Tour enters the Salt Lake Valley for two events in Draper and Salt Lake City before beginning its final 100 mile stretch from SLC to Logan. Events

DRAPER RALLY

WHEN: Friday, June 8, 5 to 7 p.m.

WHERE: Draper Park, 125000 South, 1300 East

Activities include games, prizes, booths, a helmet give-away, a bike rodeo, bike decorating and a kid’s parade.

SALT LAKE CITY PRESS CONFERENCE AND RIDE-OUT – Hosted by Salt Lake City, Downtown Alliance & Visit Salt Lake

WHEN: Saturday, June 9

  • Press conference, 8 a.m.
  • Ride-out, 9 a.m.

WHERE: Downtown Farmer’s Market at Pioneer Park, 400 S 300 W corner

WHAT: Mayor Ralph Becker, SLC Police Chief Chris Burbank and SLC Transportation Director Robin Hutcheson will each give a short address on the importance of bike safety; Tommy Nankervis of the Competitive Cyclist racing team will be in attendance.

Experienced cyclists will join the Road Respect Riders from Salt Lake City to Logan. Families and those who want to stay closer to home can enjoy a special one-mile bicycle tour of downtown Salt Lake under led by Mayor Becker and escorted by SLCPD. Road Respect tour riders will start with the kids, and then continue north on their way to Logan.

June 6th, 2012

MESSAGE RECEIVED

3 Comments, Uncategorized, by Catherine Higgins.

The Road Respect Tour is spreading the word about safety and helping to make Utah more bike friendly.


Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

“Road Respect: Cars and Bikes Rules to Live By” is a grassroots campaign that aims to educate people who drive and people who ride bicycles about the rules of the road and also encourage mutual respect so that everyone gets home safely. According to the Utah Department of Public Safety’s Crash Summary, six bicyclists are killed and 850 are involved in crashes with motor vehicles in an average year in Utah.

UDOT, the Utah Department of Public Safety considers safety to be job one, and the Road Respect Tour is a joint effort to increase peoples’ understanding of safety issues. It’s the only tour if its kind in the United States and there is evidence that people in Utah and across the country are paying attention.

Last year, a statewide survey showed that 43% of respondents were aware of the Road Respect program. Of those respondents, 96% were aware of the Road Respect message.

Movin’ on up

The American League of Cyclists rates states according to friendliness to bicycles. In one year, Utah’s ranking moved from 31 to 13. Part of that ranking change is due to the Road Respect Tour, according to UDOT Deputy Director Carlos Braceras who spoke at the Road Respect kick-off on Sunday. Braceras pledged UDOT’s continuing support in making the state more bike friendly. “We’re not going to stop until we’re number one,” he said.

Click to enlarge. This photo of a YMCA Bike Club was taken in downtown Salt Lake in 1906 -- Used by permission, Utah State Historical Society, all rights reserved.

Scott Lyttle, executive director of Bike Utah, the state’s cycling advocacy organization also spoke at the kick-off. He named other efforts that have made Utah a more bicycle friendly state. Bike Utah actively supported the state’s three-foot passing law, the Share the Road program and the annual Bike Summit.

Bike power

And while the Road Respect Tour is unique to Utah, it’s certainly not the first time cyclists have spearheaded an important transportation effort. The Good Roads movement that occurred in the United States between the 1870s to the 1920s was a initially was a push to improve roads for cyclists and later cars.

Horatio Earle, known as the Father of Good Roads, wrote in his autobiography: “I often hear now-a-days, the automobile instigated good roads; that the automobile is the parent of good roads. Well, the truth is, the bicycle is the father of the good roads movement in this country.”

Earle thought that by improving roads, industry and agriculture would benefit as well.

When you ride:

  • Ride as far to the right as practicable and as road conditions allow.
  • Ride single file when impeding traffic.  This is especially important in congested conditions and on narrow, winding roads.

When you drive:

  • Broken glass, potholes, debris, parked cars, garbage cans, and drain grates can be dangerous to cyclists. Recognize these situations and give cyclists enough room to maneuver around these trouble spots.
  • Do not blast your horn when approaching a bicyclist – you could startle the rider and cause a crash.