November 17th, 2011

2011 UDOT ANNUAL AWARDS

3 Comments, Uncategorized, by Catherine Higgins.

UDOT employees and teams were recognized for excellent job performance.

Dave Babcock, UDOT 2011 Career Achievement Award Recipient

The annual UDOT Conference is an opportunity to honor employees and private sector partners for bringing outstanding projects into existence – projects that that have improved the transportation options for all who use Utah’s highways and byways.

Many men and women have worked to forward UDOT’s, goals and have thereby helped UDOT to continue to lead the way in transportation design, construction and maintenance innovation.

UDOT 2011 Awards, nominees and winners:

Technician of the Year

This award is presented annually to the individual who, in a supportive role, provides superior technical analysis or problem solving skills that significantly advance the efforts of their discipline and Region team.  The nominees for the 2011 Technician of the Year Award are:

  • Stacey Paskett, Region One
  • David Kelley, Region Two
  • Linda Secklestewa, Region Three
  • Lisa Anderson, Region Four
  • And Mark White, of the I-15 CORE project.

The recipient of the 2009 Technician of the Year Award is Mark White, of the I-15 CORE Project!

Mark joined the I-15 Core team last year and has taken on the roles of both Deputy Segment Manager and Paving Manager.  He has an extraordinary breadth of technical experience, including an extensive surveying background.  Mark knows and understands UDOT requirements and is a respected, preeminent resource for all construction-related materials issues, including asphalt binder, portland cement concrete, hot-mix asphalt, and untreated granular materials.  In fact, he has more experience and knowledge of portland cement concrete pavement than almost anyone else in UDOT.

Mark is regularly called on to work through every asphalt and concrete challenge there is – about 1.6 million square yards worth to date, and he has over five million square yards of concrete paving experience.  Additionally, he is asked to help determine the solution to any other materials question, and he has not only met but usually exceeds the lofty expectations placed on him.

It’s for this kind of dedication to his work that Mark White has earned the 2011 Technician of the Year Honors.

Congratulations to Mark White, UDOT Technician of the Year!

2011 UDOT Consultant of the Year

This award is presented to a consulting firm who, in representing UDOT publicly, or working for the agency in some other capacity, went beyond the expected to help energize the public, a project, or project team, and whose efforts provided USOT with extraordinary value and assistance.

Whether it is the management of a construction project, outstanding contracting, design or engineering work, or public involvement-related problem-solving efforts, UDOT relies on a variety of consultants to help us carry our load each year.  This year’s nominees are noteworthy by their accomplishments in the past year. The nominees for 2011 Consultant of the Year are:

  • The construction management division of Stanley Consultants, Salt Lake City, Utah.  Stanley was nominated by Region 1 for their work this past year on the South Layton Interchange, the SR-252/Tenth West Reconstruction in Logan, and the North Ogden Divide project.  In the past, they also played an instrumental role in the I-15 New Ogden-Weber Reconstruction project in Weber County.
  • T-E-A Group, Salt Lake City, Utah, nominated by Region 2 for its expertise in interstate concrete rehabilitation projects, and contract negotiation and scheduling skills.
  • H-D-R Engineering, Salt Lake City, Utah.  Nominated by Region 3, HDR and engineer Jose Luis Rodriguez are highlighted for their design build management, and Diverging Diamond Interchange design work.
  • H.W. Lochner, Salt Lake City, Utah.  Lochner has been nominated by Region 4 for the work of Brent Jensen this past year, and their extensive design and construction experience in transportation and general civil engineering.
  • H-N-T-B, of Salt Lake City, Utah.  Nominated by I-15 CORE project for its work in reviewing the advantages and challenges of various design-build project delivery strategies, their recommendation of procurement approaches for this massive project.

Congratulations to the T-E-A Group! 

T-E-A Group has become an expert at interstate concrete rehabilitation projects, which are completed mostly at night to minimize disruptions to traffic, and are difficult under the best conditions.  Darren Rosenstein and the T-E-A team understands that one of UDOT’s main interests is to minimize disruptions to the traveling public during construction, and they are vigilant in making sure the contractor is only closing lanes during allowed times, and when a lane closure is absolutely necessary.  T-E-A Group is also among the best at negotiating with the contractors and getting a fair price for the work.  While changes are inherent to major construction projects, it takes superior analysis, experience, and negotiation to be able to get a good price, and T-E-A Group has helped saved thousands in change order costs due to their estimating and negotiating skills.

T-E-A Group is very adept at understand project schedules, and keeps a close watch on the quantities being used by contractors to avoid over-runs.  Their quantities tracking system ensures accurate tracking and management of project supplies.   This allows project managers to skillfully manage financial resources, ensuring key project areas have those resources they always need.

Congratulations to TEA Group, UDOT Consultant of the Year!

2011 UDOT Professional of the Year

  • Ryan Halverson, nominated by Region 1
  • Ryan Williams, nominated by Region 2
  • Dale Ashcraft, nominated by Region 3
  • Eric Hansen, nominated by Region 4
  • Frank Pisani, nominated by Systems Planning and Programming.

The recipient of the 2011 Professional of the Year Award is Ryan Williams, nominated by Region 2.

A Utah native, Ryan is a 2005 graduate of the University of Utah with a degree in Business Administration.  Ryan came to UDOT in March of 2008 as a financial analyst, and is a very diligent worker who is vigilant to seek out areas where precious funds can be saved, or where he can be of assistance to others.  Ryan has personally been responsible for several initiatives that have saved over $260,000, showing that he really goes the extra mile for UDOT and the State.

Congratulations to Ryan Williams, UDOT’s 2011 Professional of the Year!

2011 UDOT Team of the Year Award

  • The Region 1 Signals Maintenance Team— Dale Lake, Scott Harris, Dave Townsend and Jeremy Fullmer.
  • Region 2’s Environmental Section, consisting of Becky Stromness, Mason Palmer, Peter Steele and Jennifer Elsken
  • Region 3’s Parker Construction Crew —Manned by Matt Parker, Marco Palacios, Andy Anderson, Kurtis Park, and Mike Rymer
  • Region 4’s Assets Analysts— Mike Blotter and Gale Davis
  • I-15 Corridor Expansion Traffic Management Team— Rob Clayton, Eric Rasband, Glenn Blackwelder, Bryan Chamberlain, Mark Taylor, Grant Jackson, Larry Montoya, Scott Smith, Mike Merkley and Kelly Ash
  • Operation’s Maintenance Innovations and Efficiency Team, consisting of Tim Ularich, Ken Berg, Jessica Andrews, Shauna Lindsey, Lynn Bernhard and Lloyd Neeley

The I-15 CORE’s Traffic Management Team is UDOT’s Team of the Year.

The I-15 CORE Traffic Management Team has formed regional and local partnerships, used intelligent contractor selection, participated in active corridor management, and utilized cutting edge public information efforts to overcome a variety of challenges in ensuring relatively smooth traffic movement while helping to pull off the largest construction project in state of Utah’s history.

Congratulations to all the members of the I-15 CORE Traffic Management Team, UDOT’s 2011 Team of the Year!

2011 UDOT Safety Project of the Year

  • The US-91 Concrete Median Barrier Project, from milepost 14 in Wellsville Canyon to milepost 16 in Mt. Sterling, nominated by Region 1.
  • The I-80 Cable Median Barrier Project, nominated by Region 2
  • The US-189 Provo Canyon Median Improvements Project, nominated by Region 3

The winner of the 2011 UDOT Safety Project of the Year Award is US-189 Provo Canyon Median Improvements Project, nominated by Region 3. 

The US-189 in Provo Canyon median barrier system is designed to effectively catch and contain vehicles that could cross-over the median and cause deadly collisions.  The entire system also allows maintenance personnel to wait until a storm subsides and conditions are safer in order to make repairs. The entire project represents a significant improvement in safety to the benefit of all motorists who will drive this scenic route.

Congratulations to Region Three, for being awarded the UDOT Safety Project of the Year!

Rural Project of the Year

  •  I-84 Taggart Bridges Rehabilitation Project, nominated by Region 1
  • The I-80 Summit Park Bridges Project, nominated by Region 2
  • The U.S. 40 Daniel Summit to Soldier Creek Pavement Rehabilitation Project, nominated by Region 3
  • US-191, Milepost 12 to 21 Crack Repair Project, nominated by Region 4

The winner of the 2011 Rural Project of the Year is I-84 Taggart Bridges Rehabilitation, nominated by Region 1.

The purpose of this project was very basic: to remove and replace the bridge decks on the twin bridges of Structure F-114, just 8/10ths of a mile east of Taggart in Morgan County.  The Overland Route of the Union Pacific Railroad sees from 18 to 30 trains a day, with trains passing through the project 15 minutes during peak service times.  Additionally, I-84 itself is a heavily traveled truck route. These issues caused several challenges with the construction phasing and scheduling on the project, especially since the project had to come to a fully stop while each train passed through the project limits.

Congratulations to Region One and the I-84 Taggart Bridges Rehabilitation Project Team, Winners of the 2011 Rural Project of the Year Award!

2011 Urban Project of the Year

  • The South Layton Interchange Project, nominated by Region 1.
  • The 114th South: State Street to Bangerter Highway and new I-15 Interchange Project, nominated by Region 2
  • The Mountain View Corridor 2100 North Project, nominated by Region 3
  • And the Fast-Fix Concrete Rehabilitation and Replacement project, nominated by Operations

The winner of the 2011 Urban Project of the Year is the South Layton Interchange Project, nominated by Region One.

UDOT Urban Project Winners

Construction of the South Layton Interchange is a Single Point Urban Interchange, valued at $97.5 million, and constructed by Ralph L. Wadsworth Construction Company. Construction included two major ABC bridge structures built over I-15 in two hydraulic jack-launched sections; and one structure built conventionally over the Union Pacific and UTA FrontRunner rail corridor, incorporating pre-cast deck sections.  Additionally, the project included the complete reconstruction of Layton Main Street.

The project opened to traffic six months ahead of the original schedule, exhibiting the cohesive relationship that existed between the construction team and UDOT. This benefits highway users and will strengthen the economy in this area for years and years to come.

Congratulations to Region One and the South Layton Interchange Project, winner of the 2011 Urban Project of the Year Award!

2011 Engineer of the Year Award

  • Nathan Peterson, nominated by Region 1
  • Lisa Baird, nominated by Region 2
  • Matt Parker, nominated by Region 3
  • Braden Andersen, nominated by Region 4
  • John Butterfield, nominated by the I-15 CORE Project.
  • Matthew Luker, nominated by Operations.
  • And Matt Swapp, nominated by Systems Planning and Programming.

The recipient of the 2011 Engineer of the Year Award is John Butterfield, of the I-15 CORE Project.

John Butterfield, center is the UDOT 2011 Engineer of the Year

John joined UDOT after running a successful construction company focused primarily on concrete placement and finishing, where he developed a very practical common-sense understanding of construction materials.  While working full time at the Department, he obtained his civil engineering degree, and has continued on to become a licensed professional engineer.

John has served as the pavement engineer for the I-15 Reconstruction Project in Salt Lake County, as the Chief Construction Engineer, the Region 2 Materials Engineer, and is currently the Materials and Paving Engineer for the I-15 CORE Project.

With I-15 CORE building about a million dollars of highway per day at a breakneck pace, the materials challenges inherent in any project become even more amplified.   But John’s experience and technical expertise has allowed Provo River Constructors to innovate and provide a high-quality product exceeding UDOT’s standards, while also meeting its demanding timeline.  John has redefined cold-weather paving to better consider the influence of cold subgrade on the curing of concrete, and has established new parameters for Open Graded Base acceptance.  And, he’s done all of this while overseeing the materials testing on the project, aiding the Regions and other projects in their own materials challenges, helping in the development of the new UDOT standards, and continuing to serve as a resource to the construction industry.

In sports, some players simply transcend the team, making contributions so critical on a daily basis that they are not only sought, but truly needed to win.  Like Michael Jordan, the legendary basketball MVP, John Butterfield makes these needed contributions every day.  Because of his tremendous skill and expertise, he could probably receive the UDOT Engineer of the Year award on an annual basis.

Congratulations to John Butterfield, UDOT’s 2011 Engineer of the Year!

2011 UDOT Career Achievement Award

  • Patty Jones, nominated by Region 1
  • Daniel Betts, nominated by Region 2
  • Glen Wahlberg, nominated by Region 3
  • Dave Babcock, nominated by Region 4

The winner of the 2011 Career Achievement Award is Dave Babcock, UDOT Region 4.

Dave grew up in Helper, Utah, a town known for railroads and coal mining. Dave started his career with UDOT 36 years ago as a highway operations specialist at station number 435 at Colton, north of Price on US-6.

Over the years, Dave worked his way up in the Colton shed, eventually becoming Station Supervisor in 1983.  He held this position until 1997, when he became the Area Supervisor responsible for the Colton station and three other maintenance facilities.   In this position, Dave’s many years of maintenance experience have paid off, as he is able to point out many aspects in the design process of projects that made finished product more maintenance friendly.

With Dave’s thorough understanding of maintenance and snow removal, he has been able to suggest many minor adjustments to project designs that resulted in long-term maintenance savings.  He’s also a big believer in value engineering teams, and he’s taught his station supervisors that they have a lot to contribute to project development, and encourages them to actively participate on project teams in their area.

An avid sportsman, Dave is also concerned about ways to help reduce wildlife strikes on state roadways, and one idea he has advocated for is the installation of electric cattle guards in lieu of the traditional double cattle guards. He also designed a delineator-mounted bracket to allow the region’s “Road Work Ahead” signing to be mounted on delineator posts, and saw it through the national crash test process to get it approved to use in daily maintenance operations.

In 2009 Dave became the first Region 4 Fleet Manager. His first goal was to find equipment in Region 4 that was not being utilized, or in failing mechanical condition and getting rid of it. In all, 60 pieces of equipment were removed from the Region 4 fleet, allowing the savings to be used on better equipment. He has initiated an equipment awards program for the Region, and spends many hours inspecting equipment, and rewarding those who are the top in each category.

The new Tie Fork rest area pays homage to the railroad history. Dave grew up around in Helper, and he was instrumental in the development of the theme and layout. Dave also helped design the model locomotive added to the rest area, which bears the number 435.  This little touch is in honor of his first job at old number 435, the Colton Station

Congratulations to Dave Babcock, the recipient of UDOT’s 2011 Career Achievement Award!

November 16th, 2011

TOGETHER WE’RE BETTER

No Comments, Uncategorized, by Catherine Higgins.

UDOT Deputy Director Carlos Braceras stressed upcoming areas of focus, agency accomplishments, communication and supporting the local business community in a speech at the general session at the UDOT Conference.

Braceras identified two areas of future focus: Signal timing and bridge replacement. A Quality Team evaluation of signals in the state shows that re-timing needs to be done on an ongoing basis have the most beneficial impact on improving traffic flow. To accomplish the benefits of having optimally timed signals, UDOT will combine central signal maintenance and timing operations, and add staff positions to the Traffic Operations Center will augment that effort.

UDOT Deputy Director Carlos Braceras mentioned four projects and praised team members who are guiding the projects to completion – all will be completed on time and under budget

Bridges in the state are in good shape. However, many bridges are reaching their useful life and need to be replaced. Capacity projects have allowed UDOT to replace many bridges, however, 40 to 60 year old bridges still in operation need to be replaced at 50 per year. Many older bridges need significant rehabilitation.

Private sector partnership

UDOT projects impact the local economy by working with 602 companies and over 12 thousand employees. Supporting the local economy through working with private industry will be an central focus of communication efforts and how UDOT works with local businesses during construction.

Notable projects

Braceras mentioned one project for each of four UDOT Regions and praised team members who are guiding the projects to completion – all will be completed on time and under budget.

  • Geneva Road extends and expands a five lane section of roadway in Utah County
  • Ogden 12th Street, Washington to Harrison rehabilitates pavement on the busy arterial.
  • 4100 South and Bangerter Highway, part of the Bangerter 2.0 project group, improves west to east travel in Salt Lake County.
  • Two signals in Moab were completed very quickly and expertly in three months time.

 Communication

Braceras gave an overview of a communication plan in formation – while the work to form the plan is not complete, some good information has been obtained through research conducted among UDOT employees and the general public.

Overall, UDOT enjoys a positive image among members of the general public. People who were questioned see UDOT as innovative, and road users see benefits of work done to improve traffic flow.

Feed back from the general public included good and not-so-good comments. Road users named the Express Pass and the ABC-move-into-place bridges as benefits to travel. Frustrations include too many projects at once, and barrels and cones in place when no apparent work is taking place.

UDOT leaders will use the information obtained to build a communication plan for internal and external use. Employees will be involved in communicating UDOT’s message – to friends, family, neighbors – every one at UDOT will be a communicator. And, since some customer groups have expressed a desire to hear about the good work done by UDOT, more time will be spend bragging, said Braceras.

To support a better communication with employees, Braceras has opened a Twitter account and will tweet regularly. Follow Carlos on Twitter at @carlosudot.

Taking Care of Business

With the addition of a new strategic goal, UDOT will have the opportunity to step back and evaluate what projects mean to the local community. Project Managers, Resident Engineers and all project team members need to understand businesses on the construction corridor during and after construction. Braceras charged the listening audience – largely UDOT employees and private sector partners, to evaluate “everything we do” and think carefully how work can be accomplished more effectively ad efficiently.

Four statements that underscore UDOT’s responsibility as custodian of the state transportation system have been re-tooled to meet the changing technological, political and economic climate.

UDOT Director John Njord

The “Final Four,” statements that sum up UDOT’s core responsibilities, have been learned and recited by UDOT employees for nearly a decade. Now the components of the old statements have been shifted, and a new goal has been added, to give an updated emphasis to what it means to improve the transportation system.

UDOT Director John Njord introduced the new goals at the Annual Conference this week.

Times change, and backed by advice given by former Governor Mike Leavitt, UDOT Director John Njord has opted to “lead change and prosper.”

“When I consider where we are as a department, I believe we are leading change and for the most part, we are prospering.”

Njord listed the new goals:

  1. Preserve Infrastructure — Our primary goal is to take care of the transportation infrastructure. The most effective way to preserve the transportation system is to maintain a regular schedule of up-keep to prevent deterioration.
  2. Optimize Mobility — The former goals, Increasing Capacity and Make the System Work will be combined into a new goal, Optimize Mobility, which will incorporate making improvements that reduce delay on freeways, at intersections and along major corridors and judiciously expanding system capacity.
  3. Improve Safety — Safety will always be a core responsibility of UDOT. That work includes improving safety on roads as well as work sites.
  4. Strengthen the Economy — “The work we do is fundamental to a strong economy,” said Njord. While prosperity is the role of the private sector,  “government can however facilitate, enable and in some cases, stimulate and in the case of our business, we can actually strengthen economic prosperity.”

UDOT Director John Njord outlined new strategic goals at the UDOT Conference.

Keeping a proper focus

Njord pointed out that while the economic path ahead is uncertain, one certainty does exist for all who work for a better system. “Let’s not focus on those things we cannot control but, rather focus first on the things completely within our control and work our way out from there,” said Njord.

“Let’s make sure that at the end of our work, communities in which we perform can honestly say they would have us back to do it again.”

Njord said UDOT and valued partners in the local transportation industry have proven to be the “gold standard” in work accomplished during the past year. “I have great confidence in your abilities to tackle whatever comes next.”

Read the full text of Njord’s speech here: Njord address at 2011 UDOT Conference .

November 15th, 2011

ROBERT BENNETT

No Comments, Optimize Mobility, by Catherine Higgins.

The development of America transportation infrastructure has formed the basis of our economic, political and social way of  life.

Former U.S Senator Robert F. Bennett spoke at the annual UDOT Conference today

Former Senator Robert Bennett has been an interested and astute witness to the history of the modern interstate highway system. In an engaging narrative at the UDOT Annual Conference, Bennett told how he began his political career working for President Lyndon B. Johnson as the Director of the office of Congressional Relations. The Department of Transportation was a “tinker toy box” of various components. His job was to put the office together.

During the time he worked in the Johnson Administration, he met Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who would later become the Senator from New York. Moynihan was a great thinker, writer, statesman and historian. While some people believe the core changes in the modern American way of life were facilitated by later presidential administrations, Moynihan gave the credit for change to Eisenhower, said Bennett. By developing the interstate highway system, “Eisenhower changed America more fundamentally” than did Johnson or Kennedy.

Before the interstate highways, travel from state to state was largely accomplished on trains. “Wonderful four-lane highways” replaced train travel as people saw car travel as more convenient. As highways spread across the nation, goods became more readily available, people could be more mobile and the economy blossomed.

Bennett expressed his optimism for the economic and political future. He is looking forward to economic recovery and noted that transportation will be a part of the eventual economic upswing.

“One of the keys to recovery will be the economic contribution made by a good transportation system — intelligently planned, soundly built and properly maintained,” according to Bennett. “And that is the business you are in and I salute you for it.”

November 11th, 2011

SMART KIDS

1 Comment, Optimize Mobility, by Catherine Higgins.

A class of sixth graders from Morning Side Elementary is making wise travel choices.

Students took center stage at a kick-off event with a songs presentation aimed at motivating others to care about the air we all breathe.

In an effort to cut back on emissions and save energy, the students have been trip chaining, carpooling, walking to school and using UDOT’s TravelWise Tracker to chart how many trips are saved as a result of those wise choices.

The four week effort was in preparation for the “Care to Clear the Air” campaign, which invites Wasatch Front residents to choose strategies that reduce emissions during the winter inversion season. Students took center stage at a kick-off event with a songs presentation aimed at motivating others to care about the air we all breathe.

Utah’s Division of Air Quality monitors pollutants along the Wasatch Front throughout the year and issues green, yellow and red alerts. Inversions happen when cold air is trapped below warm air between the Wasatch and Oquirrh mountain ranges. Pollution from cars or other sources, such as wood burning stoves, can sit on the valley floor until the weather patterns shift– that change could take several days.

DAQ encourages drivers to take actions to curb pollution during red alert days. UDOT’s TravelWise website lists strategies that can help drivers curb trips, reduce traffic congestion and save energy during inversion season or any time of year.

Each of us has a chance to make small choices that eventually add up to big results.

The TravelWise Tracker is an online tool that lets users calculate the amount of energy and emissions saved by using alternatives to driving alone. Even small changes can save emissions, time and energy.

“You guys are the next generation of leaders,” said Charlie Lansche, who spoke at the event on behalf of Fidelity Investments. Fidelity is representative of hundreds of businesses that have participated in the annual summer Clear the Air Challenge. By using TravelWise strategies, Fidelity employees saved 11 thousand trips that added up to 320 thousand pounds of emissions.

Lansche and others at the event encouraged area residents to pay heed to the kids. “I can’t think of better spokespersons,” said Lansche of the enthusiastic group of students.

Check back to see an upcoming blog post about the trips and emissions saved by the students and their families.

For more:

  • Sign up to use the TravelWise Tracker
  • Road users who adopt TravelWise strategies can see many benefits including enjoying a less stress-free commute or a more economical use of time when running errands
  • Get air quality alerts on your smart phone by texting “cleartheair” to 69302
  • Check current air quality conditions
  • Read a past post about how UDOT conforms to air quality standards

November 10th, 2011

MOVE FREEWAY FENDER-BENDERS

No Comments, Uncategorized, by Catherine Higgins.

Motorists involved in a crash with no injuries should move to the side of the interstate, drive along the emergency lane, stop at the nearest ramp and call 911.

So far this year, 20 troopers have been involved in crashes that have occurred on Utah freeways. "We're working for Zero," says UHP Superintendent Danny Fuhr.

Staying on the freeway after a minor crash is dangerous for the people involved, the traveling public and for Utah Highway Patrol Troopers who respond to help. Last weekend, a trooper’s car was hit and he was nearly killed while responding to a crash.

UDOT Director of Traffic and Safety Robert Hull explains how a minor crash can put others at risk. Hull is working to reduce Utah fatalities to Zero.

With higher traffic volumes on interstates, UHP has seen an increase in secondary crashes caused by traffic congestion following fender benders. Clearing crashed vehicles off the interstates helps prevent a minor crash from turning into a tragedy.

So far this year, 20 troopers have been involved in crashes that have occurred on Utah freeways. “We’re working for Zero,” says UHP Superintendent Danny Fuhr.

UDOT is helping spread the message by placing signs that read “Fender Bender, move vehicles to next exit, call 911.”

Utah Law allows drivers involved in minor crashes to move off of the freeway to the next exit before calling law enforcement.  Moving the vehicle will not affect the determination of fault in the accident.

For more:

Utah Department of Public Safety

ZERO Fatalities

 

November 9th, 2011

SNOW SCHOOL

No Comments, Preserve Infrastructure, by Catherine Higgins.

Men and women who work to keep state roads clear of snow and ice during winter months meet to yearly to share ideas and hear about new technologies.

Ralph Hilsman, Jeff Walker, Lloyd Muhlestein and Travis Jeppsen work at Station 1423. “They care,” says Muhlestein about Snow School presenters. He appreciates the chance to learn from other employees and also share what he has learned during his extensive 23 years of experience at UDOT.

UDOT Central Maintenance conducts yearly training meetings for snow removal crews. While some informally call it “Snow School,” the meeting is an information exchange rather than just instruction from the top down.

Equipment Safety Training Manager and former “shed guy” Curtis Sanchez coordinates the one-day training in all UDOT regions. About 700 employees attend to get reminders, updates and new information about winter operations.

UDOT crews need to be proficient at using weather information and a variety of snow removal equipment and road anti-icing agents specific to a location within Utah. When a new winter operations approach is added to the mix, the weather team and Central Maintenance counts on getting good feedback from the crews who use the new approach on the snow removal front lines.

The day-long event is “shop to shop communications,” says Maintenance Supervisor Lloyd Muhlestein. “It’s all about equipment, the weather and what worked last year.”

Talking weather

“We’re here to support you,” says UDOT Weather Information Systems Manager Leigh Sturges, who works with a team of seven meteorologists on duty 24-7 to gather, report and forecast weather conditions. UDOT uses the Road Weather Information System to collect weather data on state roads, air temperature, road temperature, solar radiation and humidity. Some RWIS stations detect anti-icing agents on the road and some have remote controlled cameras to view the surrounding areas.

Sturges uses regular email updates and the RWIS website to monitor conditions and the progression of storms. If a conditions change unexpectedly, supervisors get a phone call from a meteorologist – even if conditions change late at night or early in the morning.

The weather team is working on expanding and improving weather gathering equipment, and works directly with maintenance station personnel to identify places for new or mobile RWIS stations or other devices that detect road conditions.

Equipment

UDOT has over 500 trucks that are used to plow roads during winter. Trucks are expected to have a useful life of least 14 years. UDOT Central Maintenance puts a lot of emphasis on taking care of equipment.

New tankers mix water and salt into a slurry that's less likely to bounce or blow off of the road.

New tow plows and “first responder” tanks have been added to UDOT’s snow arsenal. Tow plows attach to the side of a truckand double the road area that can be plowed. The tanks combine salt and water before depositing the slurry-like mix on the road in front of a storm. Wetting the salt is a much more effective approach for keeping roads clear since dry salt can bounce or blow off the road.

This year, the Provo Canyon crew will use a triple blade plow equipped with an ice breaker, a squeegee and a standard blade. Each blade can be adjusted independently from the truck cab, and the blades can be used alone or in any combination. Along with new anti-icing agents, crews in Provo Canyon should be able to improve snow removal operations where some areas “never see the sun in winter,” says Sanchez.

Keeping it real

Sanchez and staff from UDOT Central Maintenance keep the topics current and relevant in order to provide the most help and support possible to UDOT road maintenance crews.

“They care,” says Muhlestein about Snow School presenters. “There are a lot of things we forget about during the summer.” He appreciates the chance to learn from other employees and also share what he has learned during his extensive 23 years of experience at UDOT.

 

November 8th, 2011

WALKERS WIN

1 Comment, Uncategorized, by Catherine Higgins.

The “Walk More in Four” competition gives students a great incentive to walk and bike to school – prizes and improved safety around schools.

Cherissa Wood presents a Taylor Canyon Elementary Student with a helmet and scooter in the Walk More in Four competition

Nearly 4,000 Utah students from 76 schools kept track of the days they walked or biked to school for a chance to win donated prizes for the UDOT Student Neighborhood Access Program’s (SNAP)™ annual “Walk More in Four” statewide competition. To be eligible, students were required to walk or bike to school at least three days each week in September leading up to International Walk to School Day on Wednesday, October 5. Thirty children from around the state won donated bikes, helmets and scooters.

Nationwide, the number of students walking and biking to school has decreased in recent decades. Approximately 50 percent of children in 1969 walked or biked to school. Today, that number has dropped below 15 percent.

UDOT’s SNAP team is dedicated to encouraging kids to “build the habit of walking and biking to school,” says Cherissa Wood, UDOT SNAP Coordinator. Walking or biking reduces traffic around schools and improves safety. Health benefits are also a good reason to go self-propelled.

The competition is a fun way to encourage kids to walk or bike to school. The excitement over the annual event is catching on – over four times as many students participated this year over last year.

Parents can help their children practice safe walking and biking habits by discussing the following safety tips:

• Follow the safest route to school using the school’s SNAP Map (contact the school for a copy).

• Walk with a buddy or group.

• Walk on sidewalks where possible.

• Look left, then right, then left again when crossing a street.

• Cross only at crosswalks. Obey directions from school crossing guards, and walk bikes and scooters across crosswalks.

• Always wear a helmet when riding a bike or scooter. Make sure the helmet has a safety certification and fits properly.

• Wear bright clothing, especially when riding a bicycle or scooter, to make it easier for traffic to see you — or tie a bright handkerchief around your backpack.

• Never walk or ride with headphones. They are distracting and keep you from hearing traffic.

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

About SNAP

The Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) Student Neighborhood Access Program (SNAP)™ is a fun and comprehensive program for walking and biking safely to school that 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. SNAP provides free resources, including mapping software, a 35-minute musical assembly and DVD, student activity booklets and teacher lesson plans, to assist in getting more students walking and biking safely to school. More information about SNAP is available at udot.utah.gov/snap or by contacting Utah’s Safe Routes to School Coordinator, Cherissa Wood, at 801-965-4486 or cwood@utah.gov.

November 4th, 2011

WINTER SAFETY

5 Comments, Uncategorized, by Catherine Higgins.

Utah storms are on the weather horizon and road users need to be prepared for driving on icy, snowy roads.  

An Incident Management Truck worker warns motorists of a crash in Provo Canyon

UDOT keeps state roads as safe as possible during storms. Do your part by driving the appropriate speed, monitoring traffic conditions, driving with care around snow plows and adjusting trip plans whenever possible.

Drive for Zero Fatalities

In any weather, drowsy, distracted, aggressive or impaired driving is unsafe. Icy or snow packed roads are especially unforgiving, so a heightened level of attention is required. Sometimes drivers don’t adjust speed to conditions. According to the Utah Department of Public Safety, Highway Safety office crash data report “speed is the leading unsafe driving behavior that contributes to deaths.”

High speeds extend the distance necessary to stop, reduce a drivers’ ability to steer safely around curves or objects in the road and reduce vehicle stability. Mix high speed with ice and snow and tragedy can quickly result.

CommuterLink

UDOT’s CommuterLink website is a great resource for road users. It’s a good idea to bookmark the site and check road conditions before you leave on your commute or errand. The site integrates camera views and information about accidents and traffic delay on an interactive map. Users can take a virtual look at the ride through the storm to anticipate conditions like ice or snow on the road or crashes that slow traffic.  Better yet – avoid delay altogether by taking an alternate route or adjusting travel time.

Stay safe around snow plows

  • Motorists should always slow down and travel about a football field’s length behind snowplows to increase highway safety for all drivers.
  • Following a snowplow too closely often results in broken windshields or damaged paint caused by salt or abrasives being distributed on highways.
  • Drivers should use extreme caution when passing a snowplow and never pass on the right side or use the shoulder to pass. Drivers should watch for snowplows equipped with wing plows, which can extend several feet off either side.

Other things to remember:

  • Bridges freeze first. Ambient air temperature cools the bridge from both sides. On the road itself, “the ground holds the heat,” says Rich Clarke, UDOT Maintenance Operations Engineer. So, pavement on a bridge can be icy while road pavement on either side can be wet.
  • Ice can be very difficult to detect.  A thin layer of water on pavement “can change from wet to ice in a moment,” says Clarke. Visually distinguishing unfrozen water from black ice while driving is extremely difficult if not impossible.
  • If you can, stay home during the first part of a storm. Plow operators clear the road as quickly as possible. “The first hour of a storm can be the most treacherous,” since a vigorous storm can cover roads quickly, explains Lynn Burnhard, UDOT Maintenance Methods Engineer. Delaying your departure gives UDOT a chance to clear the roads.
  • Don’t make weather assumptions.  “Be careful not to generalize,” when it comes to storms cautions meteorologist Joel Dreessen who works with UDOT. Since the storms vary greatly in temperature and duration in Utah, it’s very difficult to know what kind of winter conditions to expect. Utah can get hit with a heavy snow storm followed by sun. While the roads may look clear after such a weather event, a quick drop in temperature can turn melted snow to ice.  A very cold storm can cause road water and snow to glaze quickly.  So, even a storm that appears to be light can in reality can create very hazardous conditions.

Be careful out there!

November 3rd, 2011

SNAP AWARD

No Comments, Uncategorized, by Catherine Higgins.

AASHTO praises UDOT for encouraging kids to walk and bike safely to and from school.

The AASHTO President’s Transportation Award for Highway Traffic Safety has been given to UDOT’s Student Neighborhood Access Program team.

UDOT’s  SNAP  team has been helping elementary and junior high schools identify safe routes to schools for four years. The program provides free web-based software that produces area specific printable maps that identify safe routes. Encouraging kids to safely walk or bike to school helps reduce automobile traffic around schools and improves safety. Walking and biking also provides great health benefits for kids. Seventy four percent of schools in Utah use SNAP software.

Not all schools are surrounded by sidewalks. When funding is available, the SNAP team helps schools identify and obtain funding to build sidewalks in critical areas.

The SNAP team sponsors a fun assembly with catchy music and dancing. The program has been so popular that the team made a video of the assembly so the safe walking and biking message could get to more students in Utah.

SNAP also sponsors an annual event called “Walk More in Four” that encourages kids to bike or walk to school at least 60 percent of the time in a four week period. Schools and students are awarded prizes for participation.