Map image showing the Salt Lake Valley with colors indicating how CommuterLink would expand through 2002

The original expansion plan for the UDOT CommuterLink system (now known as “UDOT Traffic”)

April 27, 2014 marked the 15 year anniversary of the UDOT Traffic Operations Center (TOC) opening its doors. The UDOT TOC was built to manage congestion and traffic during the 2002 Olympics. While managing traffic for this important special event was a catalyst for building the TOC, UDOT fully understood that there would be significant benefits to operating the TOC long term.

As Utah continues to grow, so does the challenge of mobility. To address Utah’s transportation challenges, the Utah Senate passed a Senate Bill in 1995 and established a Traffic Management Committee which consisted of representatives from Salt Lake City, Wasatch Front Regional Council, Mountainland Association of Governments, Salt Lake County, the Department of Public Safety and the Utah Department of Environmental Quality. This committee recognized the benefits of a Traffic Operations Center to manage traffic and improve roadway efficiency.  The Utah Transit Authority and Federal Highway Administration also partnered with the committee. The committee determined that a TOC was necessary and shortly after, planning started on where the TOC would be built, what components it would have and how the information would be distributed to the public.  A common ITS architecture was established, which now allows all Utah jurisdictions with ITS devices to share resources.

Screen shot of a map of Utah from the UDOT Traffic website. The map has several images on it indicating the location of traffic cameras and variable message signs.

The UDOT Traffic network today. Each blue icon is one traffic camera and every yellow or black rectangle is a VMS. There are also congestion, construction and weather layers available on the UDOT Traffic app and website.

When the doors opened in 1999, the TOC was staffed Monday – Friday 5:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m. and covered a limited number of routes on the Wasatch Front. Utah’s ITS system was given the name “CommuterLink” because it was largely commuter-centric traveler information and congestion management for Salt Lake City. Today, the TOC is staffed 24/7/365 and manages traffic statewide. To reflect the statewide approach, the system is now known as “UDOT Traffic”.

Over the years, the TOC has grown its traffic management capabilities and has added extra equipment to keep up with Utah’s transportation demands. In 1999, UDOT had deployed 150 traffic cameras and 57 Variable Message Signs (VMS). Today, UDOT has a sophisticated statewide network that includes over 900 traffic cameras and over 150 VMS! These valuable tools can be viewed on the UDOT Traffic smartphone app and website. Traffic camera images are also shared with the media and can help commuters make travel decisions while watching the morning news. UDOT’s fiber optic network is also robust – with over 1800 miles of fiber optic cable deployed, UDOT has one of the most complete and useful fiber optic networks in the nation. This network helps to establish lightning-fast communications with traffic signals, VMS, traffic detectors and other equipment throughout the state. From the TOC, UDOT can manually operate over 85% of the traffic signals throughout the state… as far away as St. George, Moab, Vernal and Logan!

Table showing the number of Traffic Cameras in 1999 as 150 and today as over 900, number of variable message signs in 1999 as 57 and today as over 150, number of traffic signals in 1999 as 550 and today as over 1400, number of fiber optic communcations in 1999 as 298 and today as over 1800 and the area of focus in 1999 as the Wasatch Front and for today it is statewide.

The UDOT Traffic Operations Center has deployed a statewide traffic management network.

From its first years of operation, the TOC has proven its effectiveness. The system has helped to increase peak-hour freeway speeds, reduce freeway delays and improve traffic signal efficiency. Traffic management is an important component of a healthy transportation network. UDOT’s TOC supports other UDOT divisions to successfully build, maintain and operate Utah’s highways. UDOT’s TOC also helps to support UDOT’s Strategic Goals: Preserve Infrastructure, Zero Fatalities, Strengthen the Economy and Optimize Mobility.

For a tour of the TOC or for more information, visit www.udottraffic.utah.gov.

Photo of the grand opening celebration with dignitaries preparing to cut a cake.

UDOT TOC Grand Opening – April 27, 1999

 

Photo of the TOC building under construction with scaffolding surrounding a brick structure.

The UDOT TOC building under construction

 

Graphic outlining Traffic Incident Management BenefitsThree injury crashes occur every minute in the United States, putting nearly 39,000 incident responders potentially in harm’s way every day. Congestion from these incidents often generates secondary crashes, further increasing traveler delay and frustration. The longer incident responders remain at the scene, the greater the risk they, and the traveling public, face.

Photo of TIM Training group with Colonel Daniel Fuhr in front addressing the group.

UHP Colonel Daniel Fuhr giving welcoming class participants.

To minimize delay and improve responder safety, UDOT and UHP hosted a Traffic Incident Management (TIM) workshop on April 9 – 10 in Salt Lake City. Participants from UHP, Unified Fire, Unified Police, UDOT, trucking companies, the St. George Police Department and other agencies were in attendance. UHP Colonel Daniel Fuhr and UDOT Traffic Management Division Director Rob Clayton welcomed the participants with information on crash statistics, our responsibility to the public, and the importance of protecting first responders from harm.

Photo of TIM Training table top exercise on scene management

TIM Training attendees participated in a table-top exercise on scene management.

The National TIM Responder Train-the-Trainer (TtT) program provided participants the knowledge and materials necessary for them to conduct TIM training for TIM responders in their area. The TtT is a 1½-day course that covers the fundamentals of Traffic Incident Management, safe crash scene set-up, quick incident clearance and on-scene coordination.

Participants were able to learn from course instructors who were former first responders. Participants were also able to participate in a tabletop exercise as well as learn about proper accident scene set-up.

Traffic incidents, including crashes, disabled vehicles and debris on the road create unsafe driving conditions, put motorists and responders at risk, and account for approximately 25 percent of all traffic delays.

Photo of Incident Managment truck with compartments open so Supervisor Jeff Reynolds can show what is in them.

UDOT’s Incident Management Team Supervisor Jeff Reynolds showing TIM class participants the equipment on his vehicle during the outdoor scene setup exercise.

For each minute that a freeway travel lane is blocked during peak use, an estimated 4 minutes of delay result after the incident is cleared. This estimate accounts for 4.2 billion hours per year in delays. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Transportation reports that Americans burn more than 2.8 billion gallons of gasoline every year while stuck in incident-related traffic. TIM Training can give us the tools to clear incidents more quickly, saving time, money and lives. More information can be found on the National Unified Goal for Traffic Incident Management website.

The training was made possible through a Federal Highway Administration Strategic Highway Research Program.

The Employee Advisory Committee met January 16, 2014. Items that were included in the discussion included:

  • An explanation of UDOT’s funding process
  • Employee recognition program
  • Market comparability adjustments
  • Employee communication

Notes from the meeting are available below.

EAC January 2014 Summary

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

First Meeting of the UDOT Employee Advisory Council

 

 

AASHTO occasionally posts a video they call the “2 Minute Update”, featuring transportation leaders from different state DOTs across the country. This month’s video profiles UDOT’s Executive Director Carlos Braceras. Carlos explains his vision for UDOT and discusses our emphasis on integrated transportation and the importance of educating new engineers. AASHTO distributes the video to reporters nationwide, and a few have already filed stories, including this one from CE News.

 

The Utah Department of Transportation’s 2014 construction season will start soon. With more than 175 projects worth more than $800 million, UDOT is in for a busy summer.

A few large-scale expansion projects will help optimize mobility by adding new lanes and roads to accommodate Utah’s growing population. In addition, many preventive maintenance projects will help preserve the state’s infrastructure – keeping roads and bridges in good condition, and avoiding the need for more costly repairs in the future. The department will also continue to use innovative technology to improve traffic flow with the installation of the sixth and seventh diverging diamond interchanges in the state.

The following is a list of the top 10 projects statewide in 2014:

  1. I-15, South Davis County 
    UDOT will extend the longest continuous Express Lanes in the country with the reconstruction of I-15 in Davis County this summer. This project also includes the replacement of multiple bridges from North Salt Lake to Farmington in addition to new interchange configurations at 2600 South and 500 South, which will help improve traffic in those areas. A new pedestrian bridge at Parrish Lane and sidewalk improvements on 500 North and 500 South are also included in the project. Construction is scheduled to start in mid-April and is expected to be complete in 2015. Budget: $117 million
  2. S.R. 201 Reconstruction, Salt Lake County
    Crews will be placing new concrete pavement on S.R. 201 between 5600 West and 9450 West, and widening ramps at the 5600 West interchange. As part of this project, utilities, street signs, and traffic signals will also be upgraded. Work is scheduled start in late April and is expected to be complete in fall 2014. These improvements will prolong the life of the road and reduce congestion in the area. Budget: $20 million
  3. Bangerter Highway/Redwood Road interchange, Salt Lake County 
    UDOT will construct a new interchange at the Redwood Road and Bangerter Highway intersection, similar to the interchange at 7800 South and Bangerter Highway. Construction will start this summer and last for approximately one year. The completed project will improve the flow of traffic in a rapidly growing area of Salt Lake County and enhance safety. Budget: $42 million
  4. I-15, South Cedar City DDI, Cedar City 
    Crews will reconfigure the I-15 interchange at Exit 57, on the south end of Cedar City, as a Diverging Diamond Interchange (DDI) to improve the flow of traffic for cars, bikes and pedestrians. It includes new ramp construction and modifications to Main Street and the frontage roads. This will be the sixth DDI in Utah. The project is underway and is expected to be complete in fall 2014. Budget: $10 million
  5. Riverdale Road Reconstruction, Roy
    UDOT is reconstructing Riverdale Road between the I-84 interchange and S.R. 126 in Roy to improve traffic flow and reduce delays in the area. The project will replace the existing asphalt with new concrete pavement, add a northbound off-ramp and a southbound on-ramp at I-15, and construct two new intersections as well as a new bridge over the freeway. Construction is underway and is scheduled for completion in late fall 2014. Budget: $24 million
  6. I-15, 1100 South DDI, Brigham City 
    UDOT is converting the existing 1100 South interchange on Interstate 15 in Brigham City to a DDI – the seventh in the state, and the first in northern Utah. This innovative interchange will improve the flow of traffic for drivers traveling to and from Logan on U.S. 91. The north half of the interchange is under construction and will be completed in summer 2014. Once the north half is complete, traffic will be switched to the new bridge, crews will demolish the existing bridge, and the south half of the interchange in scheduled to be constructed by fall 2014. Budget: $$10 million
  7. I-80, Parleys Resurfacing, Parleys Canyon
    UDOT is resurfacing Interstate 80 in Parleys Canyon from the mouth of the canyon (near Foothill Drive) to the Ranch exit (exit 132).This maintenance project will replace several areas of rough pavement throughout the canyon with new durable asphalt. Construction scheduled to start this summer and is expected to be complete in fall 2014. Budget: $4 million
  8. State Street Resurfacing, Salt Lake County
    UDOT will perform regular maintenance repaving State Street from 400 South to 3300 South, removing the top layer of pavement and replacing it with new asphalt. In addition, crews will reconstruct pedestrian ramps and median islands. Construction is scheduled to start in late April and is expected to be complete by summer 2014. This project will prolong the life of the pavement and provide a smoother ride for drivers. Budget: $4 million
  9. I-80, Silver Creek to Wanship, Summit County
    This project will reconstruct a seven-mile section of Interstate 80, one of the most heavily-traveled highways in Utah, using new concrete pavement to prolong the life of the roadway. Crews will also replace the westbound bridge over Silver Creek. Construction is expected to start in June and is scheduled to be complete in 2015. Budget: $43 million
  10. U.S. 40 improvements, Wasatch, Duchesne, Uintah Counties 
    UDOT crews will be working in several locations along U.S. 40: extending passing lanes near Daniels Summit and Vernal; repaving near Fort Duchesne and Jensen; and upgrading lighting in Roosevelt. These projects will enhance safety for drivers and help traffic flow more smoothly between the Wasatch Front and the Uintah Basin. Construction is underway and is scheduled to be complete by fall 2014. Budget: $13 million

Construction activities, dates and times are subject to change because of weather or delays. For the latest information, download the free “UDOT Traffic” app on any iPhone or Android device or visit udottraffic.utah.gov.

UDOT 2014 Top 10 Road Construction Guide (745KB PDF Download)

Next week (March 17th-21st) state employees are encouraged to use public transportation to travel to and from work. This ‘Ride Public Transportation to Work Week’ represents a concerted effort by the state to increase transit ridership as a means of improving air quality and reducing congestion.

Photo of two representative of ride public transportation to work week at a Trax StationBy participating in this effort, employees have an opportunity to lead by example in using our innovative, accessible and efficient public transportation system to make Utah an even better place to live and work.

Representatives from UDOT’s TravelWise program and the Utah Transit Authority will be available at the North Temple and Salt Lake Central TRAX Stations on Monday, March 17th and Wednesday, March 19th from 7:00-9:00am to answer questions and distribute materials for participating employees.

In addition to public transportation, employees have been asked to use a combination of proven strategies that promote alternatives to driving alone. The UDOT TravelWise program strategies are aimed at optimizing mobility, reducing energy consumption and improving air quality. They include:

  • Carpooling and vanpooling
  • Taking public transit
  • Active transportation (walking or biking)
  • Teleworking (conference calling, video conferencing or working from an off-site location)
  • Trip chaining
  • Skip the trip (planning ahead to bring a lunch or grocery shop once each week rather than a few times for a few items)
  • Alternative and flexible work schedules

Many Utahn’s are already using TravelWise strategies such as trip chaining, they just don’t realize it. Research has shown that 87 percent of Utahns support a program that promotes these kinds of strategies. State employees can be part of the solution by incorporating these strategies into our daily lives.

For more information about TravelWise, visit travelwise.utah.gov and for more information about the Utah Transit Authority’s services, visit rideuta.com.

Recently Alta Mayor Tom Pollard reached out to Executive Director Carlos Braceras to express his appreciation for the Little Cottonwood Communication Tool. This tool was developed by the Traffic Operations Center and allows the Alta Marshal and other designated individuals to deliver impact and closure details regarding the road through Little Cottonwood Canyon.

“Our Marshal’s department has initiated over 160 alerts using this technology and has experienced a marked and meaningful improvement in the delivery of information related to the safety and efficient traffic flow for motorists using S.R. 210,” Mayor Pollard explained in a letter to Carlos.

UDOT leadership expressed their gratitude by presenting silver barrel awards to those involved with the project. Award recipients included:

Rob Clayton
Chuck Felice
Liam Fitzgerald
Paul Jencks
Robert Miles
Lisa Miller
Lee Nitchman
Brady Roberts

What does the future hold? That question is nearly impossible to answer unless we’re talking about ways to optimize mobility and reach zero fatalities. Then, we do have a few ideas. The U.S. Department of Transportation, state DOTs and automakers have been working on connected vehicles for several years and Google and some universities have been working on autonomous vehicles. Both of these efforts will allow for the safest and most efficient transportation system we’ve ever imagined.

Photo of an intersection

Connected vehicles can improve safety at busy intersections

So, what are autonomous and connected vehicles? Autonomous vehicles use sensors and photo imagery to drive themselves. Connected vehicles would assist the driver by providing information and resources. Blaine Leonard, Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Program Manager, explained it to me this way. When an autonomous vehicle approaches a signal it sees that it is green and that it can proceed. In comparison, a connected vehicle would have information from the signal including how long it will remain green as well as what the next signal phase is. It would even know what another unseen connected vehicle is doing down the road.

Recently the U.S. DOT National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced a rulemaking process which will ultimately mandate vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication as standard equipment in the future. This will allow these vehicles to share information and alert a driver in order to avoid a crash. This is just the first step though. As Blaine mentioned, the next step will enable transportation infrastructure to also communicate with vehicles. The Volpe National Transportation Systems Center estimates that these technologies could save over 5 million crashes a year.

There are concerns that transportation officials and automakers haven’t forgotten about, including privacy and security. For these technologies to work correctly they must be accurate and impenetrable to common problems we face such as hackers and viruses. There is also the question of privacy which is a sensitive and personal subject for each individual. At this time vehicle communication would be anonymous.

In Utah we have technology in place that makes us well suited for these advancements. One is the LiDAR data that includes a complete picture of roadway assets along state Routes and interstates. We also have an extensive fiber optic network that allows for statewide communication.

March 4th, 2014

IMT Receives Silver Barrels

No Comments, Employee Focus, by Becky Parker.

Group photo of IMT with CarlosIf you’re a long time reader of our blog you already know about our Incident Management Team (IMT) and how valuable they are. You especially understand this if you’ve ever been stranded on the side of the road and they came to your rescue. Yesterday Executive Director Carlos Braceras presented IMT with silver barrel awards. Award recipients included:

Todd Abbot
Brent Beach
Bill Frashure
Nick Jarrett
David Jean
Steve Johnson
Alan Peterson
Jeff Reynolds
Curtis Sanchez
Dave Stallworth (recently retired)
Dave Tuttle
Travis White
Mark Whittaker
Ron Williams
Robert Woolsey
Matt Zwemke

Thank you to these very deserving individuals and be sure to check out the reasons why we appreciate them so much:

Job Well Done
Managing Nicely
Incident Management Teams: UDOT’s angels in white trucks provide assistance to stranded motorists

February 6th, 2014

Region 4 Silver Barrel Awards

No Comments, Employee Focus, by Becky Parker.

We have great employees statewide but today we want to highlight a few from the southern part of our state, Region 4. Last week region director, Rick Torgerson, presented Silver Barrel Awards to six deserving recipients.

Dale Sellers from the Hanksville Maintenance Station has always been an excellent employee but last September while covering for his ill supervisor Dale excelled. A major flooding event closed S.R. 95 and caused unsafe conditions on S.R. 24 north and west of Hanksville. Dale mobilized the crew and was able to reopen most of the areas very quickly. Dale continued to work on the clean-up for the next two weeks as well as monitored work performed by a contractor brought in to repair S.R. 95.

Kim Manwill was the project manager on the recently completed Diverging Diamond Interchange (DDI) at milepost 8 (St. George Boulevard) on I-15. The project presented him with a new opportunity for involvement with a Design Build project. Prior to the project beginning Kim took advantage of opportunities to learn from other project managers in Region 3 in order to assure success on his project. The project included an aggressive schedule with a goal to have the interchange functioning prior to the Thanksgiving holiday. Kim not only met the goal but was able to beat it by opening a week early.

Monte Aldridge, Chet Johnson and Randall Taylor assisted researches from Utah State University with their study of wildlife use of various bridges and culverts. The result of the study includes design recommendations such as culvert length and fencing that will reduce wildlife collisions. Because of their assistance the State of Utah will see substantial cost savings due to the reduced number of collisions.

Nancy Jerome is project manager for a project on U.S. 89 from Kanab to Kanab Creek. There have been many obstacles up to this point including environmental, right-of-way, public, local and business concerns as well as roadway closures and difficult constructibility issues. Nancy has been able to rise above all of these issues to meet the needs of the Department as well as the needs of the affected entities.

Congratulations to all these well deserving employees!