January 12th, 2012

KEEPING UTAH AWESOME

No Comments, Uncategorized, by Catherine Higgins.

Governor Gary Herbert’s vision for achieving long term, sustained economic growth includes transportation.

Governor Gary Herbert spoke to transportation professionals this week. “There is correlation to what you do and successful economic outcomes,” he said.

Thursday January 12, Herbert spoke to members of the Institute of Transportation Engineers, a professional organization that focuses on ways to optimize transportation mobility and safety. To grow the economy and expand the state’s tax base, the state’s chief executive advocates a broad approach that includes job creation, a better educated work force and a well maintained transportation system that can support mobility.

Herbert explained that choosing between education and transportation is a false dichotomy. “You can have both and you need both” in order to sustain economic growth.

Herbert opened his remarks by reading a letter written by a grade school student. “I think people need jobs,” wrote the would-be staffer, who also congratulated Governor Herbert for helping to keep Utah awesome. Transportation projects support job creation and sustain the economy beyond construction, explained Herbert, who sited some examples of how improvements have benefitted the local and regional economy beyond the orange barrel stage.

An uphill passing lane was added to U.S. 89 in Severe and Sanpete counties recently, and the project reduced delay for road users. The new lane is not just a “quality of life” improvement, Herbert explained. Better mobility on U.S. 89 now supports better movement of vital goods through the area.

Business owners from the area have told the governor how the improvement has “helped their businesses be more successful.” A better transportation system allows businesses to expand to more customers and “enjoy a better bottom line.”

Herbert related the experience of a business owner near the newly constructed South Layton Interchange. The florist, who is located in the area locals call Old Town, is “doing quite well” after experiencing a lull in business before construction. “People had a hard time gaining access to that part of town,” said Herbert. The local area which seemed to be “dying before” is now being considered as a location for a new shopping center because of the interchange that “opened up that sector of town.”

In addition to supporting local businesses, transportation mobility also attracts companies that seek to put down roots in the state. In Utah “we can still get around town,” as opposed to other metropolitan areas that have slow commuter traffic.

Herbert shared the credit for keeping Utah awesome with the transportation professionals to whom he addressed his comments. “There is correlation to what you do and successful economic outcomes,” he said.

January 11th, 2012

NEW I-15 CORE VIDEO

No Comments, Optimize Mobility, by Catherine Higgins.

A new AASHTO video released today showcases UDOT”s cutting-edge solutions to deliver a 24-mile, $1.725 billion interstate improvement faster, safer, and cheaper.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yt2LFVr7vaQ

January 11th, 2012

CIR STUDY

2 Comments, Uncategorized, by Catherine Higgins.

UDOT is working to improve specifications for Cold In-place Recycling, an important cost saving option for resurfacing roads.

The CIR process rejuvenates old asphalt into a new road.

Cold In-Place Recycling is a way to reuse asphalt on site. The process uses a long train of equipment to pulverize and add binder to old asphalt, then compact the rejuvenated material a new road. CIR is a cold process, so the energy used to heat Hot Mix Asphalt is also saved. There are also many CIR processes and uses, which gives contractors and engineers at UDOT options for bidding and designing good solutions for maintaining roads.

At about one half to one one-third of the cost of new asphalt CIR is a cost effective process when used in the right location. In order to gain more knowledge about the process UDOT is working with researchers and contractors to identify the best types of emulsion and understand the curing process.

Knowing more about emulsion used with CIR will ultimately help UDOT achieve a more durable product. The curing process is critical since prematurely putting traffic on the new road will cause rutting.UDOT puts a premium on getting traffic back on the road, so understanding the curing process will help engineers pinpoint the right time to open the roadway.

Knowing more about the process is a “big benefit for everybody” in the local transportation industry, says engineer Tim Biel of CME Transportation Group. Biel and other contractors are working together to find out more about the cost-saving process. The contractors have a vested interest in “being part of the solution” so CIR can continue to be an effective tool to rejuvenate UDOT’s roads.

January 10th, 2012

TOC AWARD

No Comments, Optimize Mobility, by Catherine Higgins.

Smart staffing changes have improved efficiency and provided better customer service at Traffic Operation Center.

Making a few smart, customer focused changes has helped improve efficiency at the UDOT's Traffic Operations Center

The UDOT TOC is the nerve center for managing traffic flow across the state. Operators view real-time traffic cameras and computer models that show traffic movement and how signals operate. When problems arise, operators make quick and important decisions to prevent delay, un-snarl traffic and improve safety.

Making a few smart, customer focused changes in the way the group operates has helped improve efficiency at the TOC and in turn, helped reduce delay and improve safety for the traveling public. For improving the TOC, managers Glenn Blackwelder, Chris Siavrakas, Michael Evans have earned a WASHTO Award.

UDOT Director John Njord congratulates TOC Managers for making the TOC more customer centered and efficient

First, managers decided to staff the control room 24 hours a day, 7 days a week so customers can always reach someone an operator. Managers also defined very precise hand-off procedures to maintain communication and consistency from shift to shift.  “By instituting shifts with defined hand-off procedures, we created small, cohesive groups that were selected to work well with each other,” according to Blackwelder.

Managers also increased the number of operators working each shift to three instead of two. With more operators insures that there is always someone to take action – like posting a warning message on the freeway signs – during a crash or other incident that causes delay. One of the three operators is an engineer/operator that helps out with operator tasks as needed but also does engineering work.

“We made the system work better,” says Blackwelder. Making the TOC Control Room work better has helped increase capacity by managing traffic during incidents, and helped improve safety by getting more effective warning messages out to the public more quickly.

January 6th, 2012

HEBER’S SMART SIGNALS

No Comments, Optimize Mobility, by Catherine Higgins.

Signals that communicate with each other and adapt in real time are improving travel time in Heber City.

Called ACS Lite, traffic signals in Heber City are optimized in real time as traffic patterns change. Travel times have improved by 7 percent.

Adaptive traffic signals were installed in Heber City, Utah this summer. While most signals are synchronized by time of day with an internal clock and operated through UDOT’s centralized Traffic Operations Center, the new computerized signals adjust automatically to real-time traffic demand. The sophisticated system is providing a corridor with less delay for road users.

Called ACS Lite, traffic signals on the system are optimized automatically as traffic patterns change. Signals at each intersection communicate with each other electronically to provide more green light time or other adjustments as needed. As the system detects more or less traffic, changes are made gradually so road users can benefit from improved travel time in the peak travel direction.

Before installation, traffic on the corridor was over capacity at peak times with waits of 7 to 10 seconds but those wait times have decreased. “It’s almost surprising” to get this degree of improvement in travel time, explains Jamie Mackey, Assistant Signals Engineer for UDOT.

The corridor was working fairly well before the system was installed – signals were adequately spaced and optimized. But data shows that travel time on Main Street (U.S. 40) “has benefited by about 7 percent in every time period” without drastically hurting the cross streets. “A 7 percent gain is pretty impressive,” says Mackey.

The project received funding from FHWA as part of a program to provide systems that improve signal operation and travel time. UDOT is learning from operating the system to gain experience to possibly use ACS Lite for other appropriate locations.

This is a follow-up to a previous post.

January 5th, 2012

TEAM SIGNALS SUCCESS

1 Comment, Optimize Mobility, Preserve Infrastructure, by Catherine Higgins.

The hard working Signals Maintenance Team took on increased responsibilities and has delivered improved safety, efficiency and value to UDOT customers.

Region One Signals Team

WASHTO lends support to transportation agencies that have a quality improvement program. Each year, state agencies choose winners according to how those employees support the mission of the agency. UDOT has a committee that judges nominations and selects the team or employees that are most deserving.  UDOT’s program is called Achieving Great Performance. This week and next, blog posts will highlight award winners.

The four-person Signals Maintenance Team from UDOT Region one has responsibility for optimizing and maintaining 325 signals and traffic sensors in the northern part of the state. Keeping signals optimized and operational is demanding and important work. Signals that are not operating correctly can cause delay, inconvenience and sometimes confusion for road users.

Despite the important responsibility to take care of nearly 30 percent of all signals statewide, the Region One Signals Maintenance Team took on the additional responsibility of replacing or updating lighting on all Region One interstates. By performing both areas of responsibility expertly, the Region One Signals Team has earned a Quality Award.

A bright idea

Because of team only consists of four members, a strategic approach was necessary. Team members too stock of the talents and abilities of each group member and executed a divide-and-conquer approach. Two team members took on lighting and two tackled signals. Each service call was handled strategically as well. In order to provide the best use of time per call, team members took care of immediate needs first and then performed additional work if warranted and if time allowed. By taking thoughtful, deliberate approach, team members eliminated a backlog of signal and lighting work.

Darin Fristrup, Region One Traffic Operations Engineer nominated the team. Fristrup points out those team members “spent over 766 hours on the lighting issues, replaced or repaired 256 luminaires and other lighting hardware, and pulled nearly 15,000 feet of copper wire.”

“They did all this while continuing to be on call to repair, replace, or maintain Region One’s 325 traffic signals, and provided numerous hours of assistance to local government agencies in the maintenance of their signals, as needed,” said Fristrup. “There is no group more dedicated to their responsibilities than the Region One Signals Maintenance Team, who is highly deserving of this award.”

Congratulations to team members: Dale Lake, Scott Harris, David Townsend, Jereme Fullmer

 

January 4th, 2012

I-15 CORE FINAL STRETCH

2 Comments, Optimize Mobility, by Catherine Higgins.

This post is based on a press release written Leigh Dethman, I-CORE Public Relations Manager.

UDOT’s I-15 Corridor Expansion Project will be completed in December.

This new Diverging Diamond Interchange near 500 East in American Fork is one of 10 interchanges being rebuilt or replaced as part of the I-15 CORE project.

I-15 CORE, the largest highway project in Utah history, has entered the final year of construction and is on schedule for completion.

“We’re delivering a complete reconstruction of the freeway that will meet traffic demand through the year 2030, while at the same time we’re using innovation to minimize delays for the traveling public,” according to Todd Jensen, UDOT I-15 CORE project director. The project adds two additional lanes in each direction from Lehi to Spanish Fork, extends the HOV lane from University Parkway to Spanish Fork, rebuilds or replaces 63 bridges and 10 freeway interchanges and places new 40-year concrete pavement throughout the project.

“Construction crews are out working hard every day in order to wrap this project up in an unprecedented 35 months,” said Todd Jensen, UDOT I-15 CORE project director. “Although the end is in sight, there is still a lot of work left to do and we appreciate everyone’s patience.”

Plenty of work has been done already. As of Nov. 30, I-15 CORE crews had:

  • Excavated and placed 6.3 million tons of fill dirt — enough to fill 12 BYU Marriott Centers
  • Erected 420,000 square feet (or 31,000 linear feet) of sound wall — enough to build a wall around The Gateway, Energy Solutions Arena, the Salt Lake Convention Center, Temple Square and City Creek Center — or 11 whole Salt Lake City blocks
  • Poured 249 lane miles of concrete pavement — enough to construct a two-lane highway from Provo to Logan.
    Painted more than 6 million feet of temporary striping and roadway markings (roughly 1,100 miles) — enough to paint a line all the way from Provo to Houston
  • Installed 40 miles of drainage pipeline — more than 1.5 times the length of Utah Lake

Crews will be busy in the coming months. The section of I-15 CORE between Lehi and Lindon is scheduled for completion in early June. Interchanges at 1600 North, 800 North and Center Street in Orem are being reconstructed. A new I-15 overpass at 500 West in Provo is nearing completion. A Continuous Flow Intersection is being constructed at University Parkway and Sandhill Road in Orem and two pedestrian undercrossings are being completed near Utah Valley University.

Drivers can stay informed about I-15 CORE construction activities by signing up for weekly email updates, following the project on facebook.com/i15core and twitter.com/i15core and receiving text updates by texting “i15core” to 53535.

January 4th, 2012

QUALITY RECOGNIZED

No Comments, Preserve Infrastructure, by Catherine Higgins.

Dedication, cooperation and hard work has earned the crew from UDOT Region Two Maintenance Shed 237  a Quality Award supported by the Western Association of State Highway Officials.

Each spring, Maintenance Station 237 has the job of clearing away snow on the Mirror Lake Highway. Even with the ominous amount of snowfall last season, the efficient crew buckled down and removed the snow quickly.

WASHTO lends support to transportation agencies that have a quality improvement program. Each year, state agencies choose winners according to how those employees support the mission of the agency. UDOT has a committee that judges nominations and selects the team or employees that are most deserving.  UDOT’s program is called Achieving Great Performance. This week and next, blog posts will highlight award winners.

UDOT Region Two winners: Maintenance Station 237

Lonnie Marchant, Region Two Materials Engineer nominated the crew from 237 “because they strive for and achieve high quality work.” Whether it’s partnering with local agencies, keeping roads clear from snow, completing important routine maintenance or participating in construction functions, crew members “quietly go about their work and consistently do a great job,” says Marchant.

Crew members take a personal interest in their work to maintain roads, bridges and drainage systems, and they grade their own performance by “how it will affect their own families and neighbors,” according to Marchant. The crew works with local agencies including the United States Forest Service, Summit County and Kamas City. Because the shed crew really cares about the local area, they work hard to keep strong positive relationships with other agencies and work with them to maintain the highways in the area.

Keeping traffic moving

Located in Kamas, Station 237 is a mountainous region that includes heavily traveled routes that connect to I-80 and provide access to popular recreation areas. Keeping the roads clear during the winter is important to keeping residents connected to I-80 and maintaining the safety and connectivity of local traffic. Even though the area typically receives high snow fall, “there is no doubt that the roadways will be cleared in time for the morning commute and the school buses to get to school,” says Marchant, who also lives in the area.

Each spring, the crew has the job of clearing away snow and opening the Mirror Lake Highway to traffic. Even with the ominous amount of snowfall last season, the efficient crew buckled down and removed the snow quickly.

With last winter’s heavy snowfall, the shed crew and local residents worried that flooding would wash out some roads. To avert problems, the crew installed an additional pipe crossing that helped avoid flooding. Crews also helped with sand bagging and were vigilant at removing debris from drainage systems.

Taking care of what we have

All members of the crew contribute to UDOT’s productivity and efficiency by participating in the Transportation Technician program. Trans-techs are trained to do double duty. Winter tasks, such as snow removal, take half of the year. During construction season, Trans-techs support construction by conducting inspections or taking samples for materials testing. Because of their training and knowledge about the transportation and safety issues specific to their area, crew members have been able to participate in the construction projects and give needed input to mitigate a variety of issues.

All of the equipment used by the shed crew during all seasons is maintained to high standards. Keeping equipment like trucks, plows or snow blowers, in good condition gives taxpayers added value since up-keep prolongs the life of the expensive assets.

Through their diligence, Marchant believes the team members “have definitely had a positive impact on the quality of the end products that are delivered to the public. “I believe this demonstrates that Shed 237 is committed to Achieving Great Performance.”

Congratulations to:

Tyler Page

Shane Bushell

Tim Mitchell

Tom Snyder

Ted McCormick

Earl Walsh

January 3rd, 2012

AASHTO APP

2 Comments, Optimize Mobility, by Guest Post.

AASHTO's smart-phone app provides access to real-time traffic conditions and news

An AASHTO  smart-phone app that provides access to real-time traffic conditions and news is now available on Android operating systems.

AASHTO introduced a smart phone app for iPhone in July of 2011.  The popular app provides easy access to the daily Transportation Update and weekly AASHTO Journal. Both versions of the app were developed by iENGINEERING of Chantilly Virginia.

December 30th, 2011

MOVING FORWARD

No Comments, Optimize Mobility, by Catherine Higgins.

Ten stories from 2011:

UDOT’s biggest ever I-15 CORE project passed the halfway point in September. The project is on schedule to be completed by December of 2012. This photo shows construction of mechanically stabilized earth walls to support the a wider bridge at Orem Center Street.

1.  The Sam White Bridge was moved into place using Self Propelled Modular Transporters on March 26.  Part of UDOT’s I-15 Corridor Expansion Project, the football field long structure was built on the east of the freeway in a “bridge farm.”

2.  UDOT’s biggest ever I-15 CORE project passed the halfway to completion point in September. The project is on schedule to be completed by December of 2012. The corridor expansion adds 2 additional lanes in each direction from Lehi to Spanish Fork, extends the HOV lane from University Parkway to Spanish Fork, rebuilds or replaces 63 bridges and 10 freeway interchanges and places new 40-year concrete pavement throughout the project.

3.  Four statements that define UDOT’s responsibilities as custodian of the state transportation system were been re-tooled to meet the current technological, political and economic climate. The goals were introduced by Director John Njord at UDOT’s Annual Conference in November.

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.

Optimize Mobility – UDOT will make improvements that reduce delay on freeways, at intersections and along major corridors and judiciously expand system capacity.

Improve Safety — Safety will always be a core responsibility, and includes improving safety on roads as well as work sites.

Strengthen the Economy — 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,” said Njord.

4.  A major landslide that closed State Route 14 put a massive rebuilding effort in motion at UDOT. A team of UDOT engineers, along with local design and construction experts, is conducting preliminary investigations and use an innovative contracting method to accelerate the removal of the landslide material in a safe manner, re-establish the stream bed and construct a new road. UDOT has selected General Contractor Kiewit from proposals submitted by construction companies to bring private construction expertise to the design table.  Their services include determining risks and costs associated with this unique project as well as providing expedited construction solutions to the design team.

5.  The Mountain View Corridor project, a freeway, transit and trail system under construction in western Salt Lake County and northern Utah County earned the 2011 Excellence in Utility Relocation and Accommodation Award from FHWA. The construction area includes about 900 separate impacts to existing utility facilities and crosses 13 municipalities, difficult terrain and a 300-foot-wide power and gas corridor.

6.  UDOT completed Bangerter Highway 2.0 , an expansive mobility upgrade from the Salt Lake City Airport to 13400 South. The effort has reduced travel delay on Bangerter Highway by incorporating innovative intersections and improved pavement.

7.  The Black Ridge to Iron County project improved safety and traffic mobility on I-15 north of Cedar City. An extra lane was added to provide better mobility. Wildlife fencing was installed along both sides of I-15 from the lower part of the Black Ridge to the overpass west of Kanarraville, providing protection for over 12 miles of freeway. “This area has long been plagued with high numbers of collisions between vehicles and deer, particularly during the late fall to early spring period,” according to Randall Taylor, UDOT Resident Engineer.

8.  Utah’s first ThrU-Turn Intersection was built at 12300 South and State Street. UDOT has adapted a Michigan U-Turn, commonly built from scratch in the mid-west, in an innovative retrofit improvement to upgrade the safety and function of the busy intersection. The TTI provided significant relief from traffic delay on the first day of operation and well past 20 years, according to UDOT traffic studies. The budget for the project was relatively small at just under $5 million. During the first year of operation, road users will save almost $1 million–a lot of user-cost savings for the money spent.

9.  UDOT received a coveted national award for developing a cutting edge Geographic Information System based web application. uPlan, an online map that integrates data from many different sources, was recognized by Esri with a Special Achievement Award for as being in the top tier of web GIS applications in the United States. UDOT was one of only 100 to be recognized from a field of over 100,000 projects. “Getting this award indicates that UDOT is in-step with the world in employing the latest GIS technologies,” said John Thomas, Director of planning at UDOT.

10.  Visiweb is a new, easy to use web-based photo log that merges images and data to provide a better view of UDOT’s roads. Visiweb provides high resolution pictures of the road along with data such as  IRI,  GPS with elevation and cross-slope. The new view of state roads will help UDOT maintenance workers and engineers identify problem spots and plan for future improvements, all from the comfort of an office PC. While it has taken some time to develop, the new tool was worth the wait, says Russ Scovil, UDOT Pavement Condition Engineer. “It enhances what we had before,” says Scovil. The application allows users to configure the operation to meet their needs when it comes to accessing information about the road.