A yearly publication outlines accomplishments and shows how UDOT plans to move forward.

bridges under construction in being built in the interchange infield near Provo Center Street.

UDOT publishes the Strategic Direction and Performance Measures yearly to set the state’s transportation stage, communicate how construction, maintenance and safety projects improve the system, and to chart the road ahead. Utah is facing unprecedented growth in population and Vehicle Miles Traveled. The combination of factors poses a challenge, but efforts to expand capacity and make the system more efficient are helping Utahns avoid transportation gridlock.

“We have stemmed the tide,” when it comes to travel delay, explained UDOT Director John Njord today at the Utah Transportation Commission Meeting. Njord reviewed pages from the Strategic Direction, which has recently been added to the UDOT website, and highlighted some key points for commission members.

Delay has been defeated by tactically executed capacity projects. CLICK TO ENLARGE.

A graph that tracks travel delay with and without recent and planned capacity projects illustrates Njord’s point. Delay has been defeated by tactically executed capacity projects without witch road users would experience three to five times the amount of delay. Njord hopes to continue to make system wide improvements and believes that planned projects, if funded, will leave a “legacy for the citizens that come after us.”

Other important themes in the new Strategic Direction include:

  • Increasing capacity—a look at major capacity projects, including the I-15 CORE project and the Mountain View Corridor. Both projects will be completed by the end of 2012
  • Employing Innovation – UDOT has long taken pride in the innovative techniques. Last year, UDOT used Accelerated Bridge Technology to build and move the Sam White Bridge into place on I-15 – the pioneering process holds the record in the Western Hemisphere for the longest structure to be moved into place.
  • Express Lanes success – Thousands of Utahns saving travel time by using the Express Lanes. During peak traffic, users travel about 14 miles per hour faster than the general lanes.
  • New technology – the best and most up-to-date information from UDOT’s Traffic Operation Center is available in a new smart phone app. Nearly 30,000 people downloaded the app in the first four weeks since its release.

The Strategic Direction, which has recently been added to UDOT’s website, can be viewed online or in PDF.

February 6th, 2012

TALKING TRANSPORTATION

1 Comment, Optimize Mobility, by Catherine Higgins.

Transportation projects are planned, designed and carried out by teams of engineers, construction workers and, wait for it…communicators.

Public open house

While their role varies depending on the type or stage of the project, communicators who talk to and interact with project teams encourage public participation, which is critical to the engineers, construction crews and stakeholders that plan, build and drive on transportation facilities. The International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) is a professional organization that focuses on ways to encourage effective interaction with the public.

IAP2 promotes decision-oriented, values-based, goal-driven Public Participation. Skilled practitioners understand that interacting with the public honestly and fairly is an ethical responsibility. And, that getting good participation ultimately makes for a better project.

The Utah Chapter of  IAP2 is hosting training for communicators who work in public participation March 12-16, 2012 at the UDOT Traffic Operations Center. The classes will help students establish a knowledge base to help them work effectively with the public on a range of activities from influencing the direction of a project to informing the public about construction progress. It’s a fast-track route for Public Participation novices.

February 3rd, 2012

QUALITY CHOICE

No Comments, Optimize Mobility, by Catherine Higgins.

An urban reconstruction project in Ogden, Utah received high honors from the American Concrete Pavement Association.

Concrete

The Riverdale Road reconstruction project is a Gold winner in the National Excellence in Concrete Pavement Awards. Every year, an independent panel of judges selects quality concrete projects from the United States and Canada to receive special recognition. Engineers, project owners and contractors on each project team share the award.

Riverdale Road intersects a vital business district and connects four Utah cities with Interstates 15 and 84. Over 47 thousand vehicles travel the corridor daily. The project expanded the major arterial from five lane roadway to a seven lane concrete corridor between 55o West to Washington Boulevard.

The success of the project hinged on the construction team maintaining a demanding construction schedule while also maintaining access for nearly 100 businesses located along the corridor. High utility conflicts The PI team was stellar at keeping business owners informed and responding to questions and concerns.  To accommodate busy winter road use, construction took a break between mid December and January 1.

Work resumed in early 2010 and even with the interruption, the project was completed 24 days ahead of schedule. The project also finished within budget with zero recordable incidents or lost time accidents.

The prime contractor was Granite Construction. Geneva Rock Products placed the concrete pavement on the roadway. The design and engineering was performed by Michael Baker and Parson’s Brinkerhoff. Public Involvement was provided by Frontline Public Involvement Inc. and Penna, Powers, Brian Haynes Public Relations.

In addition to awards programs, the ACPA offers a wide range of education, training seminars, workshops, symposia, and other events to support the concrete paving industry.

February 2nd, 2012

ALL NATURAL

3 Comments, Preserve Infrastructure, by Catherine Higgins.

Pavement made from natural asphalt mined in Utah will be placed in Uintah County this spring.

A Plant Mixed Oil Sands Asphalt demonstration took place in fall of 2011. Natural occurring asphalt in the oil sands acts as the binder – no additional binder is specified in the in the mix design.

The Uintah Transportation Special Services District’s Seep Ridge Road Project will use a newly formulated specification for Plant Mixed Oil Sand Asphalt – PMOSA. According to Kimball Young, the spec produces pavement that is reverse-engineered to live up to oil sands roads that are still in good shape 40 years after being placed.

Pavement made from oil sands has been shown to be flexible and durable in the field.

Young is President of Natural Asphalt Solutions, Inc., a privately funded company focusing on research and development of products using oil sands.

Pavement made from oil sands has been shown to be flexible and durable in the field. Randlett Road, the Bonanza Highway and SR-121, between Maeser to Lapoint near Vernal, Utah, show minimal wear and very few ruts and cracks compared to other asphalt roads that carry similar loads. However the mix used on those roads differ – the Maeser pavement was placed using road-mix method and the Bonanza Highway pavement is a hot-mix design. Young’s challenge is to develop a mix design that is reproducible.

Just like a conventional HMA project, paving with PMOSA needs to be “reviewed, monitored and tested throughout the process,” says Young. The oil sand content of PMOSA varies from 33 to 40 percent with the average about 36 percent, Young explains. The variation allows for some field judgment when formulating the product, “depending on how it coats the aggregate.” Natural occurring asphalt contained in the oil sands acts as the binder – no additional binder is specified in the in the mix design.

Finding an effective way to introduce the oil sands to aggregate at the plant is an ongoing challenge. Oil sands particles can be anywhere from “pea sized to orange size” in the field, according to UDOT Engineer for Asphalt Materials Kevin VanFrank. Under laboratory conditions, tests of the PMOSA mix design meets UDOT standards for low volume roads. But, “it’s the scale up, the transition between the lab and the plant that has yet to be demonstrated.”

During the mixing process, the oil sands particles need to get hot enough to bond to the aggregate, and that bonding is not likely to occur with large particles. According to VanFrank “the problem is delivering the material uniformly…they face continued challenges.”

Problems aside, the technology along with the properties realized by using oil sands in pavement is promising. Van Frank believes the effort is worthwhile. Providing new products to the market is a function of the free enterprise system, and so far no other organizations have stepped forward to take on that role.

The Seep Ridge Road will be built south of US 40 and extend to the Uintah County line.

January 31st, 2012

RECYCLED BRIDGE

2 Comments, Optimize Mobility, by Catherine Higgins.

One road’s lost pedestrian bridge will be another road’s gain.

UDOT is building a new grade separated intersection on 7800 South and Bangerter Highway in Salt Lake County. The overall project also includes CFI intersections at 6200 South and 7000 South  — both similar in operation to the intersection of Bangerter Highway and 3500 South.  The improvements will benefit traffic flow in the area.

The configuration of the 7800 South intersection made it necessary to remove and rebuild a pedestrian crossing in another location. The old bridge, which still has some functional life, could not be used on the new, wider and reconfigured roadway. But UDOT will put the used bridge to good use on U-111.

8200 South on U-111 has been identified as needing a safer pedestrian crossing. The old bridge will help pedestrians cross safely over U-111. If all goes well, the new crossing could be put into place by Fall 2012.

A pedestrian bridge that was removed for an intersection improvement project will be reused on U-111 at 8200 South.

January 30th, 2012

TALKING TRASH

1 Comment, Preserve Infrastructure, by Catherine Higgins.

UDOT offers citizens the chance to clean up state roads.

Volunteer groups that commit to adopt a road segment free up state workers to complete tasks like fixing potholes and repairing roadway safety features.

People who participate in the Adopt A Highway program “like it because it’s rewarding and it doesn’t cost anything,” says Ashlee Parrish who coordinates the program in the Salt Lake, Tooele and Summit County.  UDOT has six Adopt a Highway Coordinators across the state.

It is free to participate, but when groups clean up roadways, taxpayers benefit. Clearing trash from state roads is labor intensive and time consuming. Volunteer groups that commit to adopt a road segment free up state workers to complete tasks like fixing potholes and repairing roadway safety features. Adopt A Highway crews contribute labor valued at about $ 900 thousand per year, according to UDOT Maintenance Methods Engineer Lynn Bernhard.

Ashlee Parrish

Parrish coordinates cleanup efforts of about 100 volunteer groups who commit to remove trash at least three times a year. Road segments are divided into two mile increments. And, according to Parrish there are a lot of segments “that don’t have dibs called on them.” While she has been successful at recruiting groups for the program, she’d like people to know that there is “lots of opportunity out there.”

Getting the word out has been done by word of mouth in the past, but Parrish started a Facebook page that has also helped to bring some groups to the program. She asks groups who have participated in the past to send in photos and tag their friends in the shots. Social media is a good way to create enthusiasm because it allows people to share photos and comments about activities.

Some groups have been active in maintaining the same route for years. The Stockton Ward LDS Youth began volunteering with the program on June 9, 1991. “They adopted SR36 that goes right through Tooele and have done a stellar job keeping it beautiful,” according to Parrish.

Parrish likes seeing clean highways. “I am a crazy litter-hating hippie,” she says, and like other citizens in Utah, appreciates the beauty of the state.

Top 10 reasons to Adopt a Highway:

10. It’s less work than cleaning up after your kids
9. Any change you find on the side of the road is yours to keep
8. Orange vests make a great fashion statement
7. You only have to clean three times a year, but you can brag about it for 730 days
6. It’s another two year commitment you can put on your resume
5. The best time you’ve spent on the side of the road with family and friends since the car broke down in 1989
4. You’ve always said you should spend more time outdoors
3. Nobody likes a dirty road
2. You’re helping keep Utah beautiful
1. It’s the right thing to do

For more:

Like Adopt a Utah Highway on Facebook

Community groups who want to participate should contact the nearest Adopt A Highway Coordinator.

 

January 26th, 2012

UDOT FX

No Comments, Preserve Infrastructure, by Catherine Higgins.

A technology that is used to create magic on the silver screen will help UDOT take better care of transportation assets.

LiDAR creates a point cloud for a continuous accurate measurement of pavement and all surrounding roadway assets.

State roads along with many associated features comprise UDOT’s transportation assets. Determining a long term, cost effective asset maintenance strategy starts with knowing the location and condition of each asset.  UDOT cares for thousands of miles of pavement and hundreds of other assets, like bridges, signs and guardrail, so collecting data on location and condition can be a challenge. Departments of transportation across the nation, including UDOT, have traditionally maintained stand alone data bases for each asset category.

To better care for roadway assets UDOT Traffic and Safety, Maintenance, and Asset Management will use Mobile LiDAR, a vehicle mounted system that sends out bursts of light to measure the distance to an object. The technology has many applications, including creating special effects for movies.

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 point cloud for a continuous accurate measurement of pavement and all surrounding roadway assets. “Nobody else is collecting as much data in a single pass,” says Stan Burns, Engineer for Asset Management.

Using LiDAR will allow UDOT to have a single data base for all assets. “And, because will do this every other year we will be able to produce a deterioration curve for individual assets” so engineers to have a better understanding of the life of each asset category. The one source advantage will make for a “much more robust” maintenance strategy.

For example, the LiDAR collection method can include measuring the precise location, size and even the level of retroreflectivity of on signs along interstates. Measuring retroreflectivity is typically a hands-on process that is expensive and time consuming.  “This technology would allow us to break down the percent of the signs meeting or failing only replace the ones that need it,” says Burns.

Another advantage of the LiDAR system is that data can be collected on both sides of the road at once. In the past, UDOT has obtained directional data in alternate years.

In addition to LiDAR, the data collection vehicle has a GPS unit and video cameras. After collection is complete, UDOT employees will have access to the information on desktop computers. The desktop software is easy to use and will allow users to see video and virtually drive a roadway, take still shots from the video, access data on the condition of assets and navigate to locations by milepost.

The Mobile LiDAR collection project is a joint effort among UDOT departments, including Traffic and Safety, Maintenance, and Asset Management. Mandli Communications, Inc. was selected to provide the services through a competitive selection process. The three groups along with the Utah Department of Technology Services and UDOT Engineering Technology Services will develop an integrated database for displaying, querying and analyzing assets. Assets collected will include pavement distress of the entire state system including ramps and collectors, the number of lane miles, surface areas including width of shoulders and medians, all signs, guardrail, cable barrier and rumble strips.

This guest post was written by Catherine Higgins.

January 25th, 2012

MAKING A LIST

No Comments, Preserve Infrastructure, by Catherine Higgins.

An approved products list will save time and costs for UDOT construction teams.

Crews build retaining walls and bridge supports on the I-15 CORE project. A new Approved Products database should help save time for inspectors, expedite the project close-out process, and allow construction teams to work more efficiently.

UDOT construction teams, made up of Resident Engineers and the engineers and technicians they manage are some of the busiest people at UDOT. “We really stretch them,” says UDOT Engineer for Materials Scott Andrus. REs often manage several projects that can range from pavement preservation to constructing a bridge.  “They’ve got a lot of work to do.” Some of that work includes gathering the “fist full of paperwork” it takes to document the use of products used in the construction process.

UDOT identifies products that are approved for use in construction. It’s up to the construction team inspectors on the job to obtain all the documentation necessary to show that contractors are using approved products. All materials need a certification letter and testing documentation.

Materials Technician Barry Sharp is compiling an Approved Product List that includes many of the products that are used repeatedly. The database is available online now, and will soon be available in Project Wise, UDOT’s online project management system.

The Project Wise database will have PDF versions of paperwork for inspectors to see. A few projects will be chosen to test the Project Wise database this summer “to make sure it will function as expected before implementing it fully,” according to Andrus.

Both the online and Project Wise versions will contain the same products divided into about 25 categories. Approximately 300 products are listed. Contractors can still use products not on the list – suppliers will just have to submit the right paperwork.

The Approved Products database should help save time for inspectors, expedite the project close-out process, and allow construction teams to work more efficiently.

January 24th, 2012

MANAGING NICELY

No Comments, Optimize Mobility, by Catherine Higgins.

UDOT’s Incident Management Teams help keep traffic flowing along the Wasatch Front.

The IMT program is a key element in the TOC’s ability to maintain safety and movement on urban freeways. UDOT engineers estimate that for every one minute saved by clearing an incident quickly, five minutes of traffic delay can be prevented.

Stalled cars, crashes or other incidents on the freeways can cause minor slowing to severe delay for motorists. Traffic delay is not just inconvenient; the risk of secondary crashes is increased when motorists slow or switch lanes suddenly. Emergency responders at the scene of a crash are also at risk. The IMT program was started in 1994 to improve safety and assist disabled motorists.

UDOT IMTs provide a critical safety function in clearing crashes quickly, helping to manage the scene and providing a highly visible presence to warn motorists to drive carefully.

IMT vehicles are easy to spot. The high-profile one-ton trucks are white with reflective markings. Vehicles have sirens, overhead lights, flashing headlights and large yellow lights in the rear. The lights and sirens are only used as necessary to help trucks gain access to a crash scene.

All IMT Technicians need the know-how to get a stranded motorist back on the road.

IMT Technicians need a variety of skills and special training to be qualified for the job. All technicians need the know-how to get a stranded motorist back on the road. Formal training includes medical first responder, emergency traffic control set-up and driving with lights and sirens. All IMT technicians need to know the law enforcement 10-code, possess a Commercial Driver License and have good computer and radio skills.

Good feedback

IMTs patrol assigned areas and are also dispatched to a crash or stranded motorist. The teams work closely with the UDOT Traffic Operations Center and the Utah Highway Patrol. “We help [troopers] out quite a bit – they seem to like us,” says David Stallworth, IMT Supervisor in the Salt Lake County area. With a highly visible IMT truck on scene, UHP Troopers have “extra protection so they can go about the investigation of the accident,” or provide assistance to motorists.

Trooper Mike Freeman says he always appreciates the improved safety of a “Tango Unit” on the scene of a stop or crash. “People just don’t see these red and blues,” referring to the official UHP car.

Although the goal of the IMT program is to provide assistance as quickly as possible, technicians stay on scene as long as troopers, motorists, emergency responders and tow truck operators need protection. “We don’t leave them” until safe conditions are restored, says Stallworth. Motorists who are helped by the IMT Technicians are often “surprised and grateful” for the assistance, says Stallworth.

The IMT program is a key element in the TOC’s ability to maintain safety and movement on urban freeways. UDOT engineers estimate that for every one minute saved by clearing an incident quickly, five minutes of traffic delay can be prevented. Those few minutes saved means that fewer secondary crashes occur and normal traffic flow is quickly restored.

January 23rd, 2012

PEER TO PEER

1 Comment, Uncategorized, by Catherine Higgins.

A yearly video contest invites teens to tell their peers why smart driving is important.

Don’t Drive Stupid is a Zero Fatalities  communication effort that tells teens to take driving seriously. Unfortunately, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens across the nation. A combination of factors may contribute to the sad statistic. Teens tend to drive with multiple passengers which puts young drivers at risk for being distracted. And, teens lack experience in high risk driving situations. The Don’t Drive Stupid video contest lets teens create a message that resonates with other young drivers.

Kasper Kubica is the winner of the 2012 contest: