September 11th, 2012


No Comments, Preserve Infrastructure, by Catherine Higgins.

Change at Central Maintenance is aimed at giving the four UDOT Regions an expanded role in setting the direction of maintenance functions.

Regional maintenance station personnel do the work to preserve the transportation system. Here, workers repair a longitudinal crack in asphalt pavement. Many maintenance workers have decades of accrued knowledge about area roads, structures, and even typical weather patterns.

Soon after taking charge in early 2012, Central Maintenance Director Kevin Griffin named two Deputies.  Method Engineers Tim Ularich and Shana Lindsey have been given the responsibility to spend more time working closely with the regions. Region personnel are the ones directly responsible for maintaining the state transportation system.

Ularich and Lindsay are part of a cultural shift at Central Maintenance that will let regions take a larger role in developing innovations, setting performance standards, and deciding on budget distributions.

Giving the regions more say makes sense – after all, regional maintenance station personnel work to preserve the transportation system and perform core functions like snow and ice removal.  Many maintenance workers have decades of accrued knowledge about area roads, structures, and even typical weather patterns.

Tim Ularich, Ken Berg, Jessica Andrews, Shana Lindsey, Lynn Bernhard, Lloyd Neeley.

That institutional expertise can be valuable if tapped. Each year, Central Maintenance conducts method studies that investigate new or better technologies. Those studies have typically been developed at the central level. Ularich says he and Lindsey will spend face time getting the region’s take on what is needed. “Then, we’ll bring it back and implement the studies.”

The role of the two deputies will not be limited to the method study process. Lindsey says she and Ularich are on hand for anything, including obtaining standards and specifications, putting contracts in place and procuring materials – “we are coordinating that help.” Both deputies know the UDOT organization and can provide adept support. Central’s role will be to insure consistency across the state, she explains.

Regions will also play a larger part in determining performance standards. And that new role will come with commensurate responsibility; each region will be accountable for the performance of its maintenance crews.

Along with organizational and process changes, two web-based tools are being developed to help the regions. A Performance Dashboard will show performance measures in real time and a procurement system will help maintenance crews acquire necessities, like plow blades and sand, more easily.

The new direction at Central Maintenance will help the regions “achieve the departments goals” with the help and guidance of Central Maintenance says Griffin. “We’re not going to tell them how to do their work; we’re here to work with the regions to set performance standards and to support them.”

September 7th, 2012


No Comments, Optimize Mobility, Preserve Infrastructure, by Catherine Higgins.

UDOT’s Communication Office uses Flickr to share photos of the state transportation system. 

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

Flickr is an easy to use photo platform that provides a way to share visual essays of how UDOT improves the state transportation system.  UDOT’s Flickr photostream contains images of media events, conferences, construction and maintenance projects and equipment.

One great feature of Flickr is that photos can be arranged in ordered sets with captions. Those sets can explain a process or show progress on a construction project. For example, this set contains images of the Telegraph Street Bridge replacement in St. George.

Flickr also integrates well with other forms of social media. Slide shows on the UDOT Blog are Flickr sets. Links to photos or photo sets are easy to share by email.

The UDOT Communications Office would like to expand the use of Flickr to include a wider range of photos from across the state so a variety of UDOT activities can be shared among employees, private sector partners, media and the general public.

Send in your photos

Here are some general guidelines for sending in photos:

  • Make sure the images are high quality JPEG images that are 1200 x 800 pixels.
  • For subject ideas, choose subject matter that shows UDOT’s four areas of focus: Improve Safety, Optimize Mobility, Preserve Infrastructure and Strengthen the Economy.
  • Show candid shots of events or work processes. Real life scenes are the most interesting.
  • Take photos from different perspectives to get a good overall view of an event or construction or maintenance project.
  • Send in photos taken recently.
  • Send in a series of photos or a single photo.
  • Anyone can send in photos as long as the subject relates to UDOT.
  • Photos will be used on Flickr at the discretion of the UDOT Communications Office.

Photos can be sent by email or delivered on a disk or other storage device to the Communications Office at the Calvin Rampton Complex. Please include photo descriptions and your contact information.

September 6th, 2012


No Comments, Optimize Mobility, Preserve Infrastructure, by Catherine Higgins.

I-15 CORE project concrete drainage pipes were installed under the freeway without shutting down traffic lanes. 

Provo River Constructors installed drainage pipe using by using augers or a tunneling machine with a cutting head to excavate under the freeway while lanes stayed open.

Some of the ways UDOT keeps lanes open during construction are easy to see – for example lane shifts that allow work to occur safely next to traffic. And, UDOT is famous for moving already-built bridges into place. But some lane-saving construction takes place out of the public eye.

The I-15 CORE contractor, Provo River Constructors, used a method of installing drainage pipe that avoids open cuts that require lane closures. Called jacked pipe, the system uses augers or a tunnel boring machine with a cutting head to excavate under the freeway while simultaneously pushing pipe segments through to the other side. I-15 CORE recently won a Project Achievement Award from the Concrete Pipe Association for the jacked pipe installation.

Minger Construction of Chanhassen, Minnesota installed over two miles of pre-cast reinforced jacked pipe. The innovative construction methods used by the sub-contractor made for accurate and efficient installation.

Additionally, the project used long -rebar as reinforcement in small-gauge pipe, which is not common. “The rebar keeps the pipe straight,” according to Randy Whalen, Marketing Engineer of Oldcastle Precast, producer of the pipe. Keeping pipe “dimensionally accurate,” is more critical with smaller pipe since “pipe that is even one eight inch off can induce a curve.”

Given the maintenance of traffic constraints coupled with the aggressive schedule, the process of jacking pipe under the freeway was very important to the overall project. Provo River Constructors was required by UDOT to keep traffic lanes open during construction, explains Robert Stewart, I-15 CORE Deputy Project Director. “I don’t think you could have built this project without jacking and boring.”

For a more detailed description of jacked pipe construction methods, read an article posted by Scroll down to the previous post to see a slide show of the work on the I-15 CORE project.

September 5th, 2012


No Comments, Optimize Mobility, Preserve Infrastructure, by Catherine Higgins.

These slides show pipe jacking operations on the I-15 CORE project.

Concrete drainage pipes were installed under the freeway using a augers or a tunnel boring machine to excavate. Pipes were then pushed through segment by segment to the other side.

To see photo descriptions, click the large image. To select images, place the cursor in the black portion at the bottom of the show.

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

August 31st, 2012


No Comments, Optimize Mobility, by Catherine Higgins.

The “Walk More in Four” challenge offers the chance for schools to win $500,
and for students to win bikes and scooters.

The UDOT Student Neighborhood Access Program (SNAP)™ is a fun and comprehensive program for walking and biking safely to school

Any parent who has a school aged child has probably observed traffic congestion around a school drop-off point.  Too many cars can increase the risk of fender-benders and make watching out for pedestrians and cyclists more difficult.

UDOT’s Student Neighborhood Access Program (SNAP)™ “Walk More in Four” challenge is an annual month-long event designed to encourage more Utah K-8 students to walk or bike safely to school at least three days each week during the month of September. This is the fourth Walk More in Four event, and the messages of the campaign seem to be reaching Utah students according to Cherissa Wood, UDOT SNAP Coordinator.

A voluntary survey of participants indicates that most students rarely walked or biked to school during the previous year. “By encouraging students to walk or bike to school at least three times each week during September, SNAP positively changed the travel behaviors of Utah students and provided the means for develop a lasting, safe and healthy habit,” says Wood.

And, student participation in Walk More in Four is increasing. About 1000 participated statewide during the first two years. Last year, that number shot up to 4000. Wood expects that more students will chose to take part in the 2012 Walk More in Four promotion.

To participate, students should track their trips to school by using the Walk More in Four progress chart. Each student who turns in a completed chart by Wednesday, October 3 will be eligible for a chance to win prizes including helmets, bikes and scooters.

The school with the highest percentage of participating students will win $5oo for its safety committee, along with The Golden Tennis Shoe traveling trophy. To participate, schools must register by September 7 by visiting the  SNAP website.

SNAP is a fun and comprehensive program engages and educates students, parents, school administrators, crossing guards and communities. As part of the federal Safe Routes to School program administered by UDOT, SNAP focuses on student safety as its first priority.

More tips and resources are available to parents and school administrators on the SNAP website.

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

August 30th, 2012


1 Comment, Preserve Infrastructure, by Catherine Higgins.

A four-year project to collect data on all UDOT-owned culverts shows that most are being well cared for by maintenance workers.

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

Since 2009, Jessica Andrews has been involved in the process of collecting baseline data on over 25 thousand cross-cut culverts that direct water under roadways. Andrews’ involvement started when she joined the project as college engineering summer intern. After one year, she led the program under direction of Lynn Bernhard, UDOT Maintenance Methods Engineer. The project is nearing completion.

The goal of the project is to view and record data on all culverts, then to develop a central database that can be used by anyone at UDOT. Culverts are critical to roadway health. “The water has to go somewhere,” explains Andrews. If a culvert fails, water can excavate soil from under the roadway, leaving the pavement with no support.

Collection process

The program deployed summer interns all over the state to collect data. Interns visited each culvert location and recorded details including the GPS location, route, nearest milepost, condition, estimated amount of sediment in the culvert, fill above and sometimes pavement condition in the case of a damaged culvert. Interns took about five photos of each culvert showing the inlet, outlet, barrel and pavement above.

Each culvert was given a rating between 0 and 9, with 0 through 2 representing poor culverts.  Only ten to 15 percent of culverts state-wide were rated poor and in need of attention soon. The overall good condition of culverts shows that maintenance workers are doing a  great job of maintaining culverts in their areas.

During the four year effort, many improvements were made to the collection process. Better GPS equipment helped pinpoint exact locations. The interns recorded all information by hand the first year. Later, a handheld data recorder with an app tailored to UDOT’s needs made data collection more accurate. Finding the location of culverts was made easier when the project truck was equipped with a Distance Measuring Instrument.

Expect the unexpected

Interns encountered some surprises along the way. “We saw a lot of animals, both dead and alive,” says Andrews. Snakes, badgers and the glowing eyes of unidentified animals show up in project photos. Some culverts were very interesting to view, such as giant culverts blasted out of red rock in southern Utah and wood culverts under I-80 in the desert west of Salt Lake City.


With only one-hundred miles of roadway to go, Andrews says the collection effort will be complete by the time the summer interns go back to school. The database is already serving as an important big picture view of culvert health and a decision making tool at UDOT.

Region Four Area Supervisor Patrick McGann has used the database to prioritize culvert rehabilitation. “The culvert database project that Jessica is working on is very helpful because it gives an estimated height of fill over culverts,” says McGann.  “This is good to know because rusted, deteriorating culverts that are deeply buried move to the top of the priority list because if a deep pipe fails, it is more expensive to excavate and replace than a failed culvert that does not have as much cover over it.”

Andrews shares credit for the projects with others. ” The success of this project can be largely attributed to our hardworking summer interns and the help and cooperation of our maintenance station personnel.”

The data can be viewed by logging in to ARC-GIS. Andrews is working with UDOT GIS Manager Frank Pisani to integrate the database into UPlan.

August 29th, 2012


No Comments, Preserve Infrastructure, by Catherine Higgins.

UDOT is implementing a Quality Management Plan to prevent stripping and improve the durability of asphalt pavement.

In hot mix asphalt pavement, stripping occurs when the asphalt does not adhere well to the aggregate. The result of stripping is pavement that crumbles under the wear and tear of traffic and weather.

Howard Anderson, left, and Clark Allen, manager of UDOT's central lab stand near Hamburg Wheel Tracking equipment

UDOT requires hot mix plants to add lime to the asphalt mix. Lime works as a bonding agent so the asphalt sticks to the aggregate. In the mixing process, the lime is combined with a precise amount of water to make slurry, blended with the aggregate, and then heat-dried before the treated aggregate is mixed hot with the asphalt binder.

Lime added correctly prevents stripping and makes the pavement more durable, especially during the winter and early spring when the freeze-thaw cycle takes its toll, according to Howard Anderson, UDOT Quality Assurance and Aggregate Engineer. Added incorrectly, the pavement is at risk for stripping.

Anderson has been working with Kevin VanFrank, UDOT Engineer for Asphalt Materials, Kleinfelder and Tim Biel of CME to develop a comprehensive plan to ensure that the correct lime-water slurry is used in the mix design.


When the QMP is fully implemented, UDOT will only accept HMA from certified plants that keep records documenting their processes.  UDOT has also recently required the contractor to use their own Hamburg Wheel Tracking equipment to check their HMA mix designs.  This change allows the region Hamburg Wheel Tracking equipment to be used on field produced material to insure a quality material is delivered to the pavement.

The ultimate goal of the QMP is to extend the life of HMA pavement which is one important way UDOT uses funding efficiently to provide good value to the public.

August 28th, 2012


No Comments, Preserve Infrastructure, by Catherine Higgins.

The Utah Seismic Safety Commission brings a diverse group of experts together to reduce earthquake risk.

Joshua Sletten

The fifteen member board was created to assess Utah’s earthquake risks, to promote awareness and to support state and local government efforts to protect public safety during and after a quake.

“The commission provides an integrated picture of seismic concerns for the whole community,” says Josh Sletten, UDOT Structures Design Manager and USSC Commissioner. Sletten represents the transportation point of view as the commission plans and implements ways to improve earthquake readiness in Utah. While the commissions efforts are not transportation centered, Utah’s transportation system is an important part of the overall picture since the transportation system is a vital part of response and recovery after a quake.

Keeping roads open

Two of UDOT’s key roles are to have an emergency response plan in place and to identify key routes that will remain operational after a major earth quake. The emergency response plan uses workers that are nearest the scene of the emergency to quickly inspect and identify the risk to the traveling public on structures and roadways. Next, engineers will strategically visit locations, starting with the most vulnerable areas first, to properly address affected structures.

Identifying key routes that provide access to hospitals, shelters and emergency services is an ongoing process as the community changes. Once key routes are identified, UDOT engineers take all aspects of the roadway into account. Structures especially are of great concern and UDOT builds structures like bridges and overpasses to withstand major quakes.

UDOT bridges are designed and constructed to AASHTO design standards which account for hazard events such as earthquakes.  Many of the bridges on I-15 through the Wasatch Front have been rebuilt in the last 15 years. While UDOT does not anticipate extensive damage to the transportation system, some damage will occur. And, uncertainty exists when it comes to events, such as power outages and how those events will affect the transportation system.

Risk ID

The USSC works closely with the United States Geological Survey on ways to identify potential risk during a quake. The USGS has developed a software program called ShakeCast to generate estimated damage data for structures like buildings and bridges. In an actual seismic event, ShakeCast can also be used to send notification to infrastructure owners indicating the level of shaking and estimated damage from the quake. For UDOT, using ShakeCast means that we know the level of damage that is likely to occur, according to Sletten.

When it comes to seismic safety, planning is critical. The USSC issued a strategic plan in 1995. Since that time, 27 of the 35 critical objectives have been met. By participating in the USSC, UDOT and other critical infrastructure owners and emergency service providers can work together to ensure that Utah citizens are as safe as possible during and after a major earthquake.

August 24th, 2012


No Comments, Optimize Mobility, Preserve Infrastructure, by Catherine Higgins.

The UDOT Blog is intended to inform a transportation audience.

The UDOT Blog debut was April 21, 2010, and since then, 371 articles have been posted. The topics range from safety to geo-tech, and the intended audience is UDOT employees, private sector partners and members of the general public.

The blog is designed to allow readers to share ideas and find out about programs, projects and practices at UDOT. The format is based in part on an initial survey of UDOT employees. A total of 803 employees answered the survey, and provided feedback that became guidance for the blog.

The UDOT Communications Office invites you to take another survey so the blog can be improved.

August 23rd, 2012


1 Comment, Preserve Infrastructure, by Catherine Higgins.

UDOT is just one of the agencies working to repair erosion that occurred during a flash flood in Huntington Canyon in the Manti-La Sal National Forest.

UDOT is also in the process of rebuilding the road in two areas where water flow washed out embankment and shoulder.

A rain storm that occurred on August 1 caused a flash flood that washed trees, soil and rocks from the canyon walls into cut-ditches and culverts and onto SR-31. The flooding event was made worse by the Seeley Fire that occurred in the area before the flood. Because much of the vegetation was burned away, the runoff washed debris down the canyon. “It was an incredible flood,” says Jim Chandler, UDOT Region Four Area Engineer.

UDOT crews made a herculean effort to clear and open the road during the week after the flood, according to Chandler. But without the natural vegetation on the slopes, rain or snow melt in the spring could cause more erosion in Huntington Canyon. “It damaged more than just a highway,” says Chandler.

The flood also took its toll on the natural environment explains Darren Olsen, U.S. Forest Service District Ranger. The flash flood “scoured out the natural drainage areas” including seasonal stream beds that carry spring runoff or flooding to Huntington Creek and out of the canyon. Ash from the fire washed into the streams and killed fish and downstream agricultural users are dealing with sediment that clogs irrigation systems.

The most significant fire damage and erosion occurred on north-facing slopes where conifers typically grow. Many of those trees had been killed by beetles, and that dry wood provided fuel for the fire.

Olsen is helping to plan some mitigation in targeted areas to prevent similar flash floods in the future. “Already Mother Nature is doing a good job at re-vegetating the south facing slopes” where new growth is coming in. The USFS is planning to place wood mulch on 540 acres of area on steep slopes. The mulch will slow down runoff until vegetation can be reestablished. Reseeding areas of the Seeley Fire will be flown in to help get plants established.  This reseeding effort aims at encouraging “quick plant growth that will capture the rain.”

Olsen says that between Mother Nature and the USFS efforts, two to five years is the expected time for vegetation to fill in the burned areas. He says one concern is spring weather; a cold spell followed by warm weather could cause heavy runoff from snow melt.