June 5th, 2012

ACCENTUATE THE POSITIVE

1 Comment, Uncategorized, by Catherine Higgins.

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


Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

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

Cyclists have played a very important role

Keri Gibson and Evelyn Tuddenham

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

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

When you ride:

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

When you drive:

  • Give at least three feet of space when passing a person on a bike or more if traveling on a high speed road.
  • Broken glass, potholes, debris, parked cars, garbage cans, and drain grates can be dangerous to cyclists. Recognize these situations and give cyclists enough room to maneuver around these trouble spots.

June 4th, 2012

BIKES AND CARS TOGETHER

1 Comment, Uncategorized, by Catherine Higgins.

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

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

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

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

It’s about saving lives

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

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

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

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

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

When you ride:

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

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

When you drive:

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

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

June 1st, 2012

ROAD VIEW ROCK STARS

No Comments, Preserve Infrastructure, by Catherine Higgins.

By Catherine Higgins and Gary Kuhl

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


Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

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

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

Data collection will be accomplished by using five integrated systems:

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

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

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

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

May 31st, 2012

RESPECT — GIVE IT TO GET IT

2 Comments, Uncategorized, by Catherine Higgins.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Speakers at the event will include:

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

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

May 30th, 2012

SEE THE SIGNS

2 Comments, Uncategorized, by Catherine Higgins.

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

State Route 201 meets SR 202 in Tooele County.

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

Alex Fisher is an intern at UDOT

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

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

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

Sign operation

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

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

May 25th, 2012

UGATE

2 Comments, Optimize Mobility, Preserve Infrastructure, by Catherine Higgins.

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

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

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

The big picture

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

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

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


View Larger Map

Successful data integration

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

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

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

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

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

May 24th, 2012

THE DDI ADVANTAGE

No Comments, Optimize Mobility, by Catherine Higgins.

Presentations give insight on the design of Diverging Diamond Interchanges.

A group of engineers gathered for a lessons-learned discussion and tour of UDOT Diverging Diamond Interchanges. Participants listened to presentations given by Richard Miller, with Parsons Transportation Group lead designer of the Pioneer Crossing DDI, HG Kunzler with Lochner Engineering who designed the retrofit DDI at SR 201 and Bangerter Highway and  Michael Lasko with CH2M Hill who designed the SR 92 DDI. View each of the presentations here.

The event was held to coincide with a visit by Gilbert Chlewicki, a nationally known expert and proponent of the DDI. Though it’s “not a silver bullet” that will solve any traffic problem, Chlewicki believes the design is best used in an urban or suburban environment. In fact, Chlewicki predicts that the design should be considered first in an urban or suburban environment and will “make the SPUI extinct.”

UDOT has four DDIs, each built to meet mobility needs in their respective locations. According to UDOT’s Mark Taylor, Signal Systems Engineer, DDI’s have the following advantages:

DDI’s are more efficient because of fewer phases.  “Cars on the red have to wait for one phase instead of three.  Why, because left turns are eliminated.  Eliminating left turns mean that the green time that you would normally give to the left turn can be given to other movements.  Eliminating and shortening left turn green time is usually always more efficient for the overall intersection.”

DDI’s are safer.  “There are fewer conflict points for vehicles.  A conflict point is where conflicting movements would collide if every direction had a green.  A diamond interchange contains 30 conflict points.  A Single Point Urban Interchange (SPUI) has 24.  A DDI has only 18.  Fewer conflict points are safer.”

Glen Blackwelder with UDOT Region Three gave this presentation on DDI Operations:

May 23rd, 2012

OPEN FOR BUSINESS

No Comments, Optimize Mobility, by Catherine Higgins.

A newly completed capacity project will provide better north-south mobility for road users in Utah County.

“When you only have three north-south corridors in the county, it’s a central piece,” said UDOT Region Three Director Shane Marshall at a celebration of the project’s completion.

Geneva Road is one of three major north-south corridors in the area, which made the road widening project a priority for UDOT and Utah County officials. “When you only have three north-south corridors in the county, it’s a central piece,” said UDOT Region Three Director Shane Marshall at a celebration of the project’s completion sponsored by Kiewit Western Co. Utah County provided some funding for the project, which along with other funding, allowed UDOT to build sooner than expected.

Utah State Representative Brad Daw praised UDOT and the contractor for building the road quickly while maintaining a high quality project. “UDOT knows how to get the most road for the dollar,” he said. The project was bid as a Design-build contract, which allows construction and design processes to take place simultaneously. The advantages of this method are speed of completion and low cost. Finding the balance point with Design Build requires an open relationship with the contractor to achieve a best value project.

The new pedestrian-friendly five lane facility between University Parkway and 1600 North in Orem can now provide a needed alternate route for the duration of the I-15 CORE project, scheduled for completion in December 2012; three nearby interchanges will require closures between now and the end of the project. Located just west of I-15, Geneva Road has good connectivity to the freeway to allow road users to get around the interchange closures.

Another benefit of the project is the new bridge that carries Geneva Road over Union Pacific and Frontrunner rail lines at 400 South. Before the bridge was built, traffic could be backed up several minutes many times a day waiting for a train to pass.Commissioner Larry Ellertson from Utah County pointed out the advantage at the celebration. “Doesn’t it look great to see those cars continue to move across that rail road?”

Building and designing the project took expertise and careful partnering. “For an urban facility, it was challenging,” said Lead Designer Russell Clark with Parsons Corporation. The bridge at 400 South required a high skew. Maintenance of traffic was also tricky – the design accounted for all traffic movements that were in existence before the bridge was built.

The location is a “utility corridor,” according to Clark and had a high number of conflicts for a project of its size. Over 8 hundred utility conflicts were identified and moved or protected in place.

The soils in the area presented a geo-technical challenge as well. Over two-thousand telephone poles were hammered into the ground to provide soil stability and support for the bridge, and geo-membrane was used extensively.

After the I-15 CORE project concludes, the road will continue to support future mobility and economic vitality. Major growth in the area includes an extension of the UVU campus and an 18-hundred acre commercial and residential development. Daw said that the project is an example of how new roads help business and residential developments flourish. “It just helps everyone in the community.”

Click to see a slide show of the road in the Provo Daily Herald.

For the last three months, transportation planners have been asking Utahans how, when and where they travel.

The Utah Travel Study will help planners prioritize highway and transit projects for the 30-year long range transportation plan.

Sponsored by six agencies, including Metropolitan Planning Organizations and UDOT, the Utah Travel Study has contacted more than five thousand households across Utah so far. Over eight thousand college students have also participated. And this summer, a special bicycle and pedestrian survey will collect information to help planners “understand more about bike and walk travel behavior and needed improvements in Utah,” says Elizabeth Greene, with Resource Systems Group, Inc. Research firms RSG and Westat, are administering the survey on behalf of the sponsoring agencies.

The survey asks participants to provide basic demographic and vehicle information, including the number and characteristics of adults and children and number and type of vehicles available in the household. Participants are also asked to report information about trips made in one 24-hour weekday period and answer questions about transportation priorities.

Once compiled, the database will help planners prioritize highway and transit projects for the 30-year long range transportation plan. UDOT and other transportation agencies spend billions of dollars on highway and transit projects, and the data gathered by the survey will help planners ensure that money is well spent.

All six sponsoring agencies will have access to the database for planning and research. The data base will not include personal information – such as names or contact information – of the respondents. Some of the results will be published as a brief report so sponsoring agencies can share what they’ve learned with the public.

“Travel demand modelers, transportation planners, and policy-makers across the state of Utah will all analyze the data as part of their jobs,” explains Greene. “The first and foremost goal is to understand travel patterns and travel needs in order to best plan for future transportation improvements and investments.”

UDOT and other transportation agencies “really values the participation of Utahan’s from across the state.”  It’s important to hear from everyone who is contacted. Only by hearing from everyone can the state of Utah best understand the overall travel patterns and travel needs in the state and thereby best plan improvements and investments in the future,” explains Greene.

“To prepare for the Olypmic Games ten years ago, Utah invested heavily in transportation projects. Since then, development of our transportation system has continued, benefiting our economy, safety, and quality of life,” says UDOT Director John Njord. ” The Utah Travel Study will help UDOT in making decisions about future investments as we continue to develop our transportation system while preserving our existing assets and infrastructure.”

Data collection will continue throughout the summer.

May 18th, 2012

INTELLIGENT COMPACTION

No Comments, Preserve Infrastructure, by Catherine Higgins.

UDOT Project Manager Jim Golden and UDOT Engineer for Technology and Support Brent Gaschler

The Federal Highways Administration and UDOT will partner to study an innovative method for compacting pavement.

Proper compaction of asphalt pavement is critical when building or reconstructing roads. Without proper uniform compaction, differential settlement can lead to cracking and water intrusion can cause breaks and potholes, and overall, both conditions can shorten pavement life.

UDOT and FHWA will study the use of Intelligent Compaction equipment this summer on a project on US 89 and SR 180 in UDOT Region Three. The purpose of the study is to relate IC measurements to nuclear gauge or coring density tests to demonstrate how the system can be used for improved quality control and quality assurance.

IC systems are similar to regular compactors equipped with GPS to determine the location and number of passes, sensors to determine the increasing stiffness of the pavement. As the compactor makes passes, the GPS and stiffness measurements are integrated to a digital display that gives the operator a comprehensive real-time picture of the compaction process. All information is recorded and can be downloaded for review by the project owner.

Core samples of the HMA will be taken “to see the correlation between stiffness and density” and demonstrate the value of this tool for QA/QC, says Brent Gaschler, UDOT Engineer for Technology and Support, who is working with FHWA to coordinate the effort. The demonstration of the IC method will take place during four days in late July or early August at the contractor’s discretion.