July 6th, 2011

DON’T ZONE OUT

2 Comments, Uncategorized, by Catherine Higgins.

Four out of five work zone fatalities are motorists. UDOT transportation project work zones are set up to be as safe as possible – do your part as a motorist, cyclist or pedestrian by traveling with care.

Use care when driving through construction zones.

UDOT is committed to making construction zones as safe as possible as well as reducing travel delay for road users who travel through those zones. However, with the construction in full swing, some road users will inevitably face inconvenience or feel the need to speed or drive carelessly through a work zone. Please drive carefully!

UDOT uses the industry standard, FWHA’s Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices, for configuring construction zones for traffic. UDOT also uses more stringent traffic control standards when necessary in an effort to further improve work zone safety.

Using the MUTCD as a standard ensures that work zone traffic control provides the safest possible environment and helps maintain consistency from zone to zone to help motorists know what to expect. From St. George to Salt Lake City, “motorists should know what to do where ever they drive,” says John Leonard, UDOT Traffic and Safety Operations Engineer.

While driving through work zones:

Expect the unexpected – Avoid distractions and place your full attention on the road. Because construction is an ongoing process, changes – like lane shifts or ramp closures – can happen often. Construction vehicles can enter or exit the roadway, and vehicles can slow down unexpectedly.

Don’t tailgate – Follow other vehicles at a safe distance.
Obey the posted speed limit – Fines for speeding double in work zones. Workers are performing complex tasks just a few feet away. Speeding puts those workers and you and your passengers at risk.

Before you go, get information about road work near your home or on your commute – UDOT provides information to road users about all projects in the form of web updates, emails updates and live traffic information. Getting the information you need is easy using the UDOT website to find projects or checking CommuterLink.

July 5th, 2011

SAFETY COMES FIRST

2 Comments, Uncategorized, by Catherine Higgins.

UDOT workers do all they can to make construction zones safe for workers and road users.

Dottie Weese, left, and Cheryll Benner, UDOT Risk Management, view the Juniper Canyon Bridge under construction on the Mountain View Corridor project.

A big part of Dottie Weese’s job is to inspect construction projects to make sure the proper safety protocols are being followed, protective gear is being worn and appropriate equipment is being used. “I am not here to beat anybody up…I’m just here to make sure workers are safe.”

Weese, Safety Inspector for UDOT Region Two, visits projects monthly and sometimes makes surprise visits. She looks at tours the sites, talks to workers and submits reports about what she observes. Safety is UDOT’s top priority on any project. Weese and her UDOT counterparts in Region One, Three and Four, work side by side with safety professionals who work for UDOT contractors.

Her job can be challenging because of the dynamic nature of construction – work zones change fast, and to stay safe, workers need to be focused on safety at all times. The Mountain View Corridor is an example of a work zone that changes rapidly. While many transportation projects are improvements to existing roads, MVC is being built from the ground up, and workers are using heavy equipment to dig large trenches for utility work and move earth for the new road.

MVC workers on the project are on top of their safety game, according to Weese. “With so much going on, including a lot of really deep excavation, this team has done an awesome job,” she reports.

Chelly Heninger with Granite Construction Company is part of the MVC safety team. Her role is to promote safety among workers and the public, including partnering with UDOT’s Zero Fatalities program to give “Think Safety” presentations to school children near the construction zone, and an conducting upcoming safety week for workers in August.

While construction workers have the needed equipment and understand important safety practices in construction zones, non-workers need to stay out.  Lee Young, General Foreman for Structures on the MVC project reports that people are using the construction zones for recreation. He sees the evidence – like motorcycle, three wheeler and horse tracks – in the morning when he returns to work.

What should road users do to stay safe near construction zones?

First of all, stay out of the construction zone, pay attention while driving and observe all posted signs,  says UDOT Traffic and Safety Operations Engineer John Leonard. His job is to make sure construction project workers maintain traffic control devices in line with standard industry practice. Whether working in or driving through the zone, “we want everybody to go home safely at the end of the day.”

Check back tomorrow to see how UDOT makes construction zones safe for road users.

June 29th, 2011

DETECTING A DISTURBANCE IN THE FORCE

4 Comments, Optimize Mobility, by Catherine Higgins.

Traffic signal detection devices help optimize traffic flow and reduce delay.

A camera type detector, perched on the signal mast arm, senses changes in pixels when cars enter the intersection.

Nationwide and here in Utah, increased population has given rise to more traffic volume on our roads. While UDOT has been successful at holding the line on traffic delay through new construction, roads are expensive to build. Making our current system work more efficiently is more important now than ever. Using signal detectors helps move traffic efficiently.

Most intersections in Utah have vehicle sensors installed in, under, or above the pavement. UDOT uses variations of four technologies:

Inductive loops are circular wires installed in or under the pavement that generate an electromagnetic field when a small amount of electricity passes through the wires. When a car, truck or motorcycle passes over the loop, the field is disrupted which tells the traffic signal to change.

Magnetometers detect the presence of cars, trucks or motorcycles, by sensing metal.

Video detection “sees” vehicles by using cameras to detect changes in pixels. Some people believe that the cameras, which are usually placed on signal arms, take actual video, catalog images or provide real-time images — this is not the case!

Radar detectors see cars within 500 feet of the intersection.  The radar extends the green light to keep vehicles, especially trucks, out of the decision making zone created when the signal changes from green to yellow — that’s when motorist decide “should I go or stop?”

Each of the technologies have certain advantages and disadvantages; however, all will detect the presence of motorcycles, cars and trucks at intersections.

The signal detection devices are placed at the stop bar and 15 feet back from the stop bar for the through-movements.  The radar zones are larger than inductive loops, magnetometers or video detection and are typically in the range of 65 feet and 500 feet from the intersection.  For lanes that switch from protected turn (a green arrow) to permissive turn (a green ball) detection is placed roughly 50 feet back from the stop bar.

In some cases, UDOT has “Prepare to Stop” signs along high-speed roads where vehicles have not seen a traffic signal within the last mile.  These signs come on a few seconds before the green light changes to yellow to give drivers additional time to stop.

If you see a traffic signal that isn’t working correctly, please call UDOT at 801-887-3700.

 

 

June 28th, 2011

EXCELLENT VIEW

1 Comment, Uncategorized, by Catherine Higgins.

Utility trench on the Mountain View Corridor

The Mountain View Corridor team recently earned the 2011 Excellence in Utility Relocation and Accommodation Award from FHWA.

Relocation of utilities in preparation for road construction can be very challenging. The process involves a lot of time and expense for businesses on top of day-to-day maintenance. Sometimes, utility companies and transportation agencies can be at odds.

The Mountain View Corridor project, a freeway, transit and trail system under construction in western Salt Lake County and northern Utah County has had its share of potential utility challenges. The alignment crosses 13 municipalities, includes difficult terrain and encroaches or crosses a 300-foot-wide power and gas corridor. All together, the construction area includes about 900 separate impacts to existing utility facilities. With so many potential utility conflicts, the cost estimate to address these conflicts was $30 Million.

To meet these challenges, the MVC project team laid out a strategy to work hand-in-hand with utility companies to hold down costs, find workable solutions and keep on schedule. Partnering, master agreements, project-funded engineering, cost sharing, collaborative engineering, and acquisition of rights-of-way on behalf of the utilities all played a part in a cooperative problem-solving among UDOT, the construction contractor and the utility companies.

Team building

Wanting to better understand objections, constraints, internal processes and politics, the MVC team hired former Rocyk Mountain Power and Kearns River Gas employees. Knowing the needs of utility companies helped strengthen existing relationships, and opened doors at the senior management level so UDOT, the construction contractor and utility companies could work together to reach viable solutions.

Cost and schedule savings

The MVC team used master agreements, allowed by state code, and evenly split relocation costs between the state and private utilities. The local natural gas company agreed to use a time and cost-saving design-build contract to accommodate the MVC schedule. Qwest Communications agreed to MVC hiring an approved designer to work directly with the team to accommodate MVC’s schedule. The team collaborated with KRG and RMP to develop protect-in-place strategies for several conflicts that otherwise would have required replacement.

Success and rewarding relationships

Acquiring property for the corridor, accommodating or relocating existing utilities, phased construction and difficult terrain are factors that have posed challenges. But careful partnering and hard work has helped the project team and utility companies come to a meeting of the minds while saving time and money for the state and utility companies too.  As a result, the major utility budget was reduced $11.6 Million and the construction schedule for utility work was shortened one full year, making the project deserving of national attention.

June 23rd, 2011

CLOSED MEANS CLOSED!

1 Comment, Uncategorized, by Catherine Higgins.

Drive with care this spring on Utah’s high mountain roads.

Monte Cristo Highway -- This photo, taken June 22, 2011, shows that crews needed to remove a whole lot of snow before the road opened.

High alpine pass roads in Utah, used primarily to gain access to recreation areas, are closed during the winter months. UDOT crews aim to have those roads open by Memorial Day for people who take advantage of the long holiday weekend. But with the high snowfall this winter and spring, some roads have opened late and some are still closed.

SR-39 in Monte Cristo east of Ogden has just opened but the area is still snowy. Most roads will be open by late June. Until then then, don’t jump the gun!

It's illegal and dangerous to go around a "ROAD CLOSED" sign.

What people don’t realize is that crews may have a lot of work to do in order to get the road ready for motorists. For example, SR-39 was  snow packed, and deep, unstable snow drifts blocked the road. Crews needed time to clear the snow.

It’s also common for snowfall to cause landslides so that trees, rocks and dirt block the road. Crews need time to repair damage to roads and bridges, remove snow and debris and clear drainage systems so water and debris won’t back up on the road before the route can be opened.

Motorists who ignore road signs put themselves and others at risk. “Some people just blatantly disregard the ROAD CLOSED signs and stumble into the middle of our efforts to repair landslides and frankly, startle the crews running heavy equipment at these sites,” says Vic Saunders, Public Information Manager at UDOT Region One. He urges motorists to stay off of closed roads. “Following this advice can keep road openings happy events not marred by an accident involving overeager alpine enthusiasts.”

Even though flowers are blooming in valleys below, motorists should be ready for some snowy patches on some open mountain roads. And always obey all signs. Before traveling on high mountain roads, check  CommuterLink. UDOT’s TOC maintains a Seasonal State Route Closure List. Another information source is UDOT’s Road Conditions page online or call toll-free 866-511-UTAH (8824).

For more:

  • Read a Deseret News story about the Monte Cristo Highway.
  • See this KSL story which includes some beautiful photos of UDOT’s great maintenance workers clearing snow.

June 22nd, 2011

TAKE THE HIGHWAY

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

Enjoy a view of transportation past on Utah State History’s website.

Ogden Canyon was open to traffic during construction while workers placed asphalt on the dirt road. This photo, taken May 26, 1921, is part of a transportation themed slide show. (Photo used by permission, Utah State Historical Society, all rights reserved. )

A new slide show available through the  Utah State History website shows images in black and white — but the photos are still colorful. Men working on a bridge with no safety gear, steam powered equipment and construction of a road in front of the newly-built Utah State Capitol all attest to Utah’s fascinating transportation past. The slide show is a cooperative effort between UDOT and the Utah Division of History.

Lynn Bernhard, Maintenance Methods Engineer for UDOT

The images were chosen from over 40,000 historic photographs available online. Lynn Bernhard, Maintenance Methods Engineer for UDOT looked at the photos, reviewed the captions.

It only took Lynn a few minutes to spot features that a non-engineer (like yours-truly) might not see. For instance, Lynn knew that the asphalt being placed in front of the Utah State Capitol is hot mix because “you have to roll it right away,” and the equipment used to move a bridge girder is called a stiff-leg derrick.

Alycia Aldrich, Webmaster for the Division of State History, developed the slide show “as part of State History’s commitment to connect people with stories and images of Utah’s past.”

Aldrich noticed that the old machines looks quite different that what’s used to build roads and bridges today. “The images used in the slideshow are very interesting, the equipment they had available for their use was very primitive.  Its amazing that they were able to get the job done with such limited resources.”

But get the job done they did, while trying to reduce inconvenience to motorists. A caption on a photo of workers placing asphalt in Ogden Canyon (above) reads in part “traffic open during construction.” Today, UDOT places a high priority on reducing delay caused by construction projects.

“In addition to these online images, our Research Center has thousands of additional photographs that are available,” says Aldrich. She hopes the slideshow will encourage people to search and use the images for use at work, historical research or personal enjoyment.

June 16th, 2011

ROAD RESPECT IS A TWO WAY STREET

2 Comments, Uncategorized, by Catherine Higgins.

The Road Respect program encourages riders and drivers to know the laws and to drive with respect for others.

Manti Mayor Natasha Madsen, left, with Road Respect rider Mary Margaret Williams

Both riders and drivers need to know the rules of the road. “When cyclist and motorists both take responsibility to show respect, that makes the most difference,” says Evelyn Tuddenham, UDOT’s Statewide Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator. Tuddenham has responded to numerous calls and email messages from motorists and cyclists who are concerned about road safety. Those calls and messages led Tuddenham to develop the Road Respect program.

Logan Mayor Randy Watts, left, and UDOT Bicycle Pedestrian Coordinator Evelyn Tuddenham, spoke at the Road Respect Rally in Logan.

The Road Respect tour is the first effort to bring public awareness to the importance of driving and riding together safely. As Road Respect cyclists have traveled across Utah, speakers at events and rallies along the way have emphasized the importance mutual respect. Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker summed it up by saying “Everyone on the road needs to have a safe environment.”

Logan Mayor Randy Watts said drivers and riders need to “mellow-out.” Sometimes cyclists and motorists have negative attitudes about sharing the road. Both groups need to realize there should be safe space for all to ride or drive.

Provo Mayor John Curtis pointed out that many people assume that Road Respect means motorists need to mend their ways. He reminded the audience that respect goes both ways – cyclists need to be conscientious about safety too.

Manti Mayor Natasha Madsen cycles “nearly every day” for recreation and exercise. She has observed more people taking up cycling in the last few years. She and Council Member Alan Justesen signed the Road Respect Pledge. Justesen is concerned that motorists are not informed about the rules of the road. “How many automobile drivers know the rules — that’s the question.”

Know the rules — visit the Road Respect website.

June 15th, 2011

ROAD RESPECT IS ABOUT SAVING LIVES

7 Comments, Uncategorized, by Catherine Higgins.

The Road Respect Program stresses important Rules to Live By – laws that govern how motorists and cyclists share the road. Like other Zero Fatalities programs, Road Respect promotes choices that save lives.

Gary Peirce signs his name to the Road Respect Pledge Board.

Gary Peirce knows first hand about the importance of obeying laws. Ten years ago, his wife Judy was killed when a driver swerved while reaching for a fallen cell phone. “It’s personal, real personal,” he explains. He joined the tour in Park City and now is very concerned about road safety.  Judy’s death changed lives forever. Gary believes that sometimes non-cyclists don’t see cyclist as someone they can relate to. He hopes that by sharing his family’s story, others may adopt attitudes that are more safety oriented.

Road Respect Tour has used a good dose of fun to convey the underlying serious message, thanks to a variety of supporters who have helped at events along the route.

Cyclist arrive in Provo

First and foremost are the 25 elite riders who demonstrate Road Respect as they ride through Utah. Their participation in the tour is bringing a lot of attention to safe riding rules. If yu are a motorist, motorist or both, you need to know the rules of the road. Visit the Road Respect website for more information.

Carolyn Shugart met the tour at the first stop in Logan. She’s the wellness coordinator at Utah State University. Keeping students and faculty “happy, healthy and balanced” is her job. Having balance is achieved by including a combination of activities in one’s life – work, play, exercise, community engagement – that’s what keeps people feeling well, whole and in touch with the world. Cycling can be a part of achieving balance.

Salt Lake City Bicycle Patrol Officers came to the Sugar House Event with a mobile bike rodeo designed to teach kids how to ride safely. Kids took turns riding bikes donated by Wal-Mart and riding through an obstacle course. Residents of Salt Lake City can request a bike rodeo by calling 801 799-3000.

 

June 14th, 2011

ROAD RESPECT

No Comments, Uncategorized, by Catherine Higgins.

Safety depends on mutual respect between motorists and cyclists.

UDOT Deputy Director addresses cyclists and audience member at Sugar House Park.

In an average year in Utah, six bicyclists are killed and nearly 850 are involved in crashes with motor vehicles, according to the Utah Department of Public Safety’s 2009 Utah Crash Summary. As cycling becomes more popular, UDOT, the Utah Department of Public Safety and elected officials across Utah consider safety to be job one.Today, 25 elite cyclists rode from Logan to Salt Lake City as safety ambassadors as part of the Road Respect Tour. Here are a few highlights:

The Road Respect Tour got underway on Monday June 13 and at each stop, met with leaders who expressed support for the tour goals – to keep cyclists and motorists safe on Utah’s streets.

Road Respect Tour Participants

Keri Gibson with DPS Highway Safety Office and Jeff Erdman with UDOT Region 1

Mayor Godfrey of Ogden touted the “miles and miles of bike lanes” that have been established under his administration. Godfrey says that a redesign of downtown Ogden made it possible for safe bicycle lanes to be installed, making a safe space for cyclists who want to commute. Fresh-Air Fridays and bike racks all over town offer a welcoming atmosphere in Ogden. Godfrey will continue to work with UDOT to make more improvements.

Infrastructure is not the only approach to improving safety – good safety practices on the part of motorists and cyclists are imperative. A recent tragic death of a cyclist in Salt Lake City “is a sad reminder to all of us that we all need to be responsible for safety,” said UDOT Deputy Director Carlos Braceras at Sugar House Park Monday afternoon. Both motorists and cyclists share responsibility.

June 13th, 2011

ROAD RESPECT TOUR

1 Comment, Uncategorized, by Catherine Higgins.

More Utahns are choosing cycling to commute, get in shape or enjoy plentiful recreation opportunities.  As more cyclists take to the road, it’s more pressing that motorists and cyclists to know and comply with the rules of the road.

 

Show some respect by learning the rules of the road.

A recent survey shows that over half of respondents unaware of Utah’s laws regarding motorist and cyclist safety. UDOT and the Utah Department of Public Safety are partnering to promote knowledge of the rules. A new public education program, “Road Respect,” is designed to promote public knowledge of Utah law for motorists and cyclists. The campaign features billboards, radio ads and an information-rich website. To kick off the Road Respect campaign, Utah cyclists will participate in rides and events throughout the state starting Monday, June 13.

Do you know the rules? Whether you cycle, drive or do some of both, check out the Road Respect website to learn more about how you can share the road.