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.

 

June 5th, 2012

ACCENTUATE THE POSITIVE

1 Comment, Uncategorized, by Catherine Higgins.

For the second year, Road Respect is touring the state and seeking to be a positive influence on people who ride and drive.


Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

The Road Respect Tour is grass-roots effort organized by community volunteers. “It’s taken many, many hours to get to this point,” explains UDOT Deputy Director Carlos Braceras. Months before the tires hit pavement, tour co-organizers Evelyn Tuddenham with UDOT and Kari Gibson with the Utah Highway Safety Office networked with communities throughout the state to organize Road Respect events.

Cyclists have played a very important role

Keri Gibson and Evelyn Tuddenham

The Tour includes 30 Road Respect cyclists who represent law enforcement, public safety, transportation and bicycle advocacy groups. Additional cyclists join the group for legs of the tour or to ride into their town for Road Respect events. Not only do tour cyclists volunteer their time to ride, they also to help organize stops and rallies.

Rallies and stops along the way promote respect between people who drive and people who ride bikes with games and fun activities. The events are designed to “catch the eye of the public,” says Braceras, with 40 communities and 18 events. Rallies and stops are designed to facilitate interaction at the community level; people who attend can meet the cyclists, motorists and hear the message that respect is a two way street.

When you ride:

  • Always wear a snug fitting helmet. Your helmet should sit level on your head and the chin straps should be tight when you open your mouth wide.
  • Always use lights at night and wear bright clothing that increases your visibility to motorists.

When you drive:

  • Give at least three feet of space when passing a person on a bike or more if traveling on a high speed road.
  • 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.

June 4th, 2012

BIKES AND CARS TOGETHER

1 Comment, Uncategorized, by Catherine Higgins.

The addition of cars to the Road Respect Tour illustrates a good point – whether riding or driving, it’s important to show respect by obeying the rules of the road.

Clyde Stauffer with the Road Respect Tour gives an interview at a press event. Stauffer helped organize the tour and is one of 30 experience cyclists who will ride over 500 miles in six days to share an important safety message.

Road Respect Tour participants are traveling around the state and seeking to be a positive influence on people who ride and drive. This year, cyclists have been joined by motorists driving replica Shelby Cobras. Some of the Rallies on the Road Respect Tour will feature mini car shows.

While the tour involves bikes and cars, there’s really one group – people. More and more Americans ride and drive for work and for fun. All people deserve to be shown respect, whatever the chosen transportation mode.  “That way, everybody wins,” said  Col. Daniel Fuhr of the Utah Highway Patrol.

It’s about saving lives

Like many Utahns, Fuhr owns a car and a bicycle and uses both for transportation and recreation. He explained his approach to safe riding and driving at a kick-off event on Sunday, June 3. When riding or driving people need to  “have respect for one another,” he explained.

Motorists driving Shelby Cobra replicas have joined the 2012 Road Respect Tour.

When riding, people need to pay attention, listen to the sounds of the roadway and look out for hazards like pot holes or debris. He urged cyclists to avoid distractions like listening to music.

When driving, people need to give cyclists adequate time to get through an intersection or make a turn, explained Fuhr. Be careful when approaching and never honk, which startles people on bikes.

Fuhr believes it’s important that all road users understand that people who ride and people who drive have the same rights and responsibilities– and without respect “tragedy will occur.”

When you ride:

Your bicycle is considered a vehicle and you have the same rights, rules and responsibilities riding as when you are driving.

Ride like you would drive – communicate with other road users by being predictable. Always make eye contact and signal your intentions prior to turning right, turning left, changing lanes or coming to a stop. Avoid swerving, riding against traffic or ignoring traffic signals and signs.

When you drive:

Watch for bicycles, motorcycles and children in traffic. They are smaller and harder to see than cars or trucks.

Don’t underestimate the speed of a bicyclist. Many cyclists can easily travel at 25-30 miles per hour. Do not pass a bicyclist on a narrow two-lane road when oncoming traffic is near.

June 1st, 2012

ROAD VIEW ROCK STARS

No Comments, Preserve Infrastructure, by Catherine Higgins.

By Catherine Higgins and Gary Kuhl

An innovative and robust data collection system will help UDOT take better care of assets associated with state roads.


Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

The Mandli Road View’s decked out Hummer gets attention when it cruises through town. Some onlookers even have concerns about privacy. But the sophisticated gear mounted on the front and back of the vehicle does not  spy on people; the equipment collects information about assets associated with roads. For UDOT, those assets include thousands of miles of pavement and thousands of bridges, overpasses, signs, barrier and guardrail.

Mandli Communications, Inc. recently displayed the vehicle for UDOT engineers from UDOT Traffic and Safety, Maintenance, Structures, Motor Carriers and Asset Management. The three UDOT departments are combining forces to collect asset data. UDOT engineers overseeing the project are not aware of any other departments of transportation that are collecting as much data in one pass as is occurring in Utah.

Data collection will be accomplished by using five integrated systems:

High definition LiDAR sends out bursts of light to measure the distance to an object. LiDAR can collect “over a million points per second” according to the vendor’s website. While other methods collect asset data like pavement condition every few feet, LiDAR creates a spatially accurate point cloud for a continuous accurate measurement of pavement and all surrounding roadway assets, including vertical clearance for the overpasses.

  • Three HD cameras that record two hundred frames per mile will take a right-of-way inventory for a visual record of roads and associated assets. The photographs will allow users to take a virtual drive on any state route. The images will also be available for public view.
  • A Laser Crack Measurement System will detect, measure and classify pavement cracks and wheel path rutting.
  • An ARRB Hawkeye profiling system uses accelerometers and lasers to measure the profile of the road surface and from that data, will derive IRI, a measure of pavement smoothness.
  • Together, a GPS system, Gyroscopic Aplanix and distance measuring system will Geo-reference all of the data and provide integration with UDOT mile posts. Additionally this data will provide GIS linework for each route, horizontal curve, elevation and grade data.

Mandli was selected to provide the services through a competitive selection process. Asset data collection will be colleced on entire state system including ramps and collectors, and will include the number of lane miles, surface areas including width of shoulders and medians, all signs, guardrail, cable barrier and rumble strips. After collection, the Utah Department of Technology Services and UDOT Engineering Technology Services will develop an integrated database for displaying, querying and analyzing assets on an easy to use desk top application.

Departments of transportation across the nation, including UDOT, have traditionally maintained stand-alone data bases for each asset category to track maintenance and inspection data. An integrated data base will help UDOT have a better understanding of the transportation system as a whole and make better use of funding, staffing and other resources used to care for state assets.

May 31st, 2012

RESPECT — GIVE IT TO GET IT

2 Comments, Uncategorized, by Catherine Higgins.

The 2012 ‘Road Respect, Cars and Bikes Rules to Live By’ tour will kick off on Sunday, June 3.

2011 Riders on the Road Respect tour -- The Road Respect message is being heard in Utah. A statewide survey shows that 43% of respondents are aware of the Road Respect program and of those respondents, 96% are aware of the Road Respect message.

Join the Department of Public Safety, UDOT and Bike Utah as a group of 30 experienced cyclists get ready to ride 518 miles in six days to spread an important safety message: Respect is a two-way street. When you give respect, you get respect. And that message is especially true on Utah’s roads where drivers and cyclists meet in potentially life-threatening situations thousands of times a day.

WHEN: Sunday, June 3, 2 p.m.
WHERE: 250 South, 600 West, at the Salt Lake City Intermodal Hub, also known as UTA’s Central Station, in the circle.

The ‘Road Respect, Cars and Bikes Rules to Live By’ program is a grassroots safety campaign that aims to educate drivers and cyclists about the rules of the road and encourage mutual respect so that everyone gets home safely. This event will be the first of many throughout the state. Touring cyclists will be joined by Shelby Cobra replica cars along the way. And, some of the events feature mini car shows.

‘Road Respect’ cyclists are touring the state and seeking to be a positive influence on people who ride and drive. Cyclists on the tour serve as a ‘moving billboard’ that demonstrates how to follow the Rules of the Road.

The Road Respect message is being heard in Utah. Last year, a statewide survey shows that 43% of respondents were aware of the Road Respect program and of those respondents, 96% were aware of the Road Respect message.

Speakers at the event will include:

  • Matt Sibul, Chief Planning Officer, Utah Transit Authority
  • Colonel Daniel Fuhr, Superintendent, Utah Highway Patrol
  • Carlos Braceras, Deputy Director, Utah Department of Transportation
  • Scott Lyttle, Executive Director, Bike Utah

For more information about the tour, visit the Road Respect website or contact Keri Gibson at 801 243-7571 or kgibson@utah.gov.

May 30th, 2012

SEE THE SIGNS

2 Comments, Uncategorized, by Catherine Higgins.

UDOT is improving the safety in a location that has recently seen some tragic crashes.

State Route 201 meets SR 202 in Tooele County.

State Route 201 meets SR 202 in Tooele County. Traffic on SR 201 can be fairly heavy and fast while traffic on SR 202 is very light. Crashes that occur at the location tend to be severe due to the speeds on SR 201 and the angle of the crashes. Motorists going both directions are sometimes surprised by slower traffic entering from SR 202, and when crashes occur, cars on SR 201 hit oncoming traffic at an angle.

Alex Fisher is an intern at UDOT

A UDOT intern has researched a way to warn motorists on both routes to be aware of oncoming traffic. Her research is seeing fruition – new signs with auto-activated warning signs with flashing lights will be installed soon.

Alex Fisher is an intern soon to be Rotational Engineer at UDOT. Her assignment to find improvements for SR 201 and 202 led her to look at research done by engineers in Missouri. In an intersection with similar characteristics, auto-activated signs resulted in 51 percent reduction in crashes and a 77 percent reduction in sever angle crashes. Since Missouri has similar specifications for intersection configuration, speed and signs, Fisher believed auto-activated warning signs would work in Utah too.

Fisher proposed using LED stop signs on SR 202 and LED message signs on SR 201. UDOT Central Traffic and Safety liked her proposal and has designed the project.

Sign operation

Radar detection will trigger the lights on the signs to activate when traffic is approaching. The stop signs on SR 202 have LED lights on the perimeter. Under the stop sign, a LED message sign will display the text “cross traffic does not stop” when traffic is approaching. On SR 201, message signs with the words “watch for entering traffic when flashing.”

According to UDOT Region Two Traffic Engineer Robert Miles, Fisher did an excellent and thorough job with her research and proposal. The project was handed off to Rotational Engineer Brandon Weight for design. Check back to see an update of the project after construction.

UDOT is developing a GIS backbone for sharing and viewing information about the state’s transportation system.

This screen shot shows the straight line diagram component of the Explorer Application. Designed to have broad utility, the application helps us display linear relationships which can be hard to view in a typical map.

UGate is a robust data repository that is automatically populated by many data base systems already in place. Once uploaded to UGate, data can be integrated with other information and accessed by end-users via web application portals like UPlan.

The big picture

The effort is allowing UDOT’s information to be less fragmented and “more consistent and concerted,” says Frank Pisani who heads the Enterprise GIS Team. Stand-alone databases exist in many forms all departments ac cross UDOT. Now, layers of information, such as future and past projects, bridge inspections, pavement quality, can be viewed together to give a more complete picture of the state’s transportation system.

As an illustration, Electric Program Management is a database used to track project funding, scheduling and staffing. Currently, ePM automatically uploads to UGate and along with other information, is part of Transparency In Government Spending, an application portal that lets end users see the ePM information integrated with an interactive map (like the example below) and query tools.

Department of Technology Services programmer Ruben Schoenefeld is on the UGate development team. He points out that having a data set on display via a web-based application instead of a spreadsheet or other stand-alone form has  advantages. Quality control can be managed more easily. “Even though it may be scary for the data owners to put their data ‘out there’ for others to see, they profit from it by getting feedback.”


View Larger Map

Successful data integration

Data collection needs to be web-based in order to auto-feed into UGate. Culvert inspection data, for example, will soon be collected via smart-phone. The GIS capability of smart phones will make data upload seamless, not to mention easy and accurate.

Besides TIGS, “there are now multiple applications that use that structure,” says Schoenefeld, naming Highway Reference Online as another example. Once a feature of the UGate system is put in place, multiple applications can take advantage of that feature. The interactive map is one example.

Schoenefeld has enjoyed being part of the effort to improve the way data can be used. “It’s fun to see it all come together,” he says.

Learning the system that creates features like the interactive map has been challenging for programmers. But the promise of integrated data in a system that will have years of utility for UDOT is worth the effort. Pisani believes UGate is a “web tier delivery architecture that we feel can accommodate future changes in technology.”
Getting the word out

Steve Quinn, UDOT Director of ePM and ETS and Pisani are planning to take the message on the road – visits to the UDOT Regions are being planned for this summer. Both are anxious to show what GIS can do to help improve the way UDOT builds and maintains the state’s transportation infrastructure.