April 28th, 2011

PUSHING INNOVATION

2 Comments, Optimize Mobility, by Catherine Higgins.

The Utah Transportation Research Advisory Council Workshop is an important step in selecting  research projects that help UDOT stay innovative.

The Construction and Materials Group discusses proposed research topics at the UTRAC Workshop

Research helps UDOT adopt innovations — many new technologies and practices at UDOT have an origin in research. UDOT’s Research Division’s UTRAC Workshop is aimed at narrowing the field of potential research topics that will ultimately help UDOT improve standard practices and incorporate innovations. “UTRAC’s purpose is to prioritize needs for the department,” says David Stevens, Research Project Manager who coordinated the event. “Most of the research we do comes out of the workshop.”

Cameron Kergaye

In April, UTRAC gave experts from UDOT, FHWA, university researchers, private sector partners and other transportation agencies a chance to meet, network, share solutions and most importantly, prioritize research topics. Having a broad range of participants makes a strong process – each brings a different point of view or expertise to contribute.

The Research Division is working hard to make the product of research “responsible, relevant and accessible,” says Director of Research Cameron Kergaye in introductory remarks he gave at the event.  Kergaye and his division are looking for new ways to present that information about research to end users – the people who will benefit from the knowledge gained by researchers.

FHWA Administrator for Utah James Christian (left) and UDOT Director of Systems Planning and Programming, Cory Pope

The event also features a keynote address – this year James Christian,  FHWA Administrator of the Utah Division, spoke about the Every Day Counts initiative, a USDOT effort to prompt departments of transportation to adopt practices that contribute to safe, quick project delivery. UDOT is a leader in many forward-looking transportation practices.

The Research Division solicits topics by inviting participants to submit well thought-out problem statements each year the UTRAC Workshop is held.  Problem statements are grouped into similar topic areas and posted online for participants to read before the event.

Participants divided into groups to consider problem statements and then vote on priorities for each topic area. 2011 topic areas included Construction/Materials, Maintenance, Traffic Management/Safety, Geotechnical, and Structures. Each group had a leader to direct discussion. The next step in the research selection process is to present the prioritized list to the UTRAC Council, a five member board representing groups and regions at UDOT.

To learn more:

About UTRAC, see the UDOT Research Division website.

Blog posts that give information about 2009 research topics:

HISTORY MAKERS

BURIED SECRETS

April 28th, 2011

RESEARCH TRAILBLAZER BLAINE LEONARD

No Comments, Optimize Mobility, by Catherine Higgins.

Once a year, the UDOT Research Division presents a Trailblazer award to someone who makes a long-time contribution to the success of research. Blaine Leonard has been both face and voice of the Utah Transportation Research Advisory Council Workshop and the research selection process at UDOT.  His expertise as an engineer, communicator, motivator and leader has benefited the research process at UDOT for nine years.

Leonard is a “practical engineer with a very curious mind,” says Cameron Kergaye, UDOT’s Director of Research. Leonard sees the value in trying a new approach to solve problems.

Blaine Leonard and David Stevens at the UTRAC Workshop

Along with his problem solving expertise, Leonard is a great communicator. His ability to communicate results goes to the heart of what makes research successful: transmitting knowledge to others.

Motivating others to keep making incremental advancements in technical knowledge is a Leonard strong suit. He inspires people to keep trying and sees the value in making continual progress. “That kind of discovery process helps us,” says Kergaye, who presented the award at the 2011 UTRAC Workshop in April.

Leonard has led at UDOT and nationally as the past president of the American Society of Civil Engineers. “He has worked beyond the bounds for our engineering profession,” says Kergaye. As the former Program Manager in the Research Division, he contributed to the UTRAC process by improving the workshop format, providing workshop instructions, and program overviews for participants, and he has helped frame research for workshop breakout sessions.

According to Leonard, research fuels innovation. “All the new things we do have a research component.” He truly deserves thanks and recognition for his role as a Trailblazer.

Leonard is the Intelligent Transportation System Deployment Engineer at the Traffic Operations Center in Salt Lake County.

Area specific, accurate and timely weather forecasts make UDOT more efficient thanks to the weather team forecasters and Road Weather Information Stations.

Roger Frantz stands near an RWIS

 

For the average weather watcher, TV or internet news does a good job – knowing the expected temperature or probability of rain or snow means leaving earlier for work, wearing a jacket or taking an umbrella. UDOT Maintenance crews need more detailed information, such as road temperature, air temperature, and the exact hour a storm will hit a specific area of the state. That detailed information helps workers make better use of equipment, manpower and chemicals (including salt water, other anti-ice compounds and buffering agents that minimize corrosion) that prevent ice formation on roads.

RWIS provides that information to weather UDOT forecasters who email information to maintenance crews. “We totally rely on weather reports to do our job, that’s for sure,” says Roger Frantz, Parley’s Canyon Maintenance Station Supervisor for UDOT. Knowing the weather is the first step in scheduling shifts during winter months,  spring storms and also during summer. “The weather people understand the elevations and where our station boundaries are located,” and that specific knowledge is paramount to Frantz and his crew who plow and maintain roads from 700 East through Parley’s Canyon, and from the U of U campus to 3300 South. Crews work round-the-clock shifts during winter to keep roads open and extended hours as needed during the rest of the year.

Time and temperature

RWIS stations spread around the state record air temperature, road temperature, solar radiation, humidity and some detect chemicals on the road. Some RWIS stations have remote controlled cameras to view the surrounding areas. If needed, mobile stations can be placed at a location near a maintenance or construction project.

“The further out the forecast and the more accurate that forecast is, the better I can plan,” says Frantz. Knowing that a storm is coming a week in advance helps managers schedule time so a minimum amount of overtime is used.

During a storm, knowing the air and road temperature determines how much chemical is needed. Chemicals can bring the freezing point down to 6 degrees below zero, but Frantz aims at using just enough chemical to keep the precipitation from freezing. And, if the road temperature is warm enough, chemicals may not need to be used at all – Frantz estimates that his crew now uses one-third to one-half of what was used before detailed weather information was available.

Parley's looking east on a not-so-clear day

Using too much chemical can be bad because of the endothermic reaction, explains Frantz. Salt reacts with the energy in the road to prevent ice from forming. Too much chemical can drop the temperature of the road so “you’re better off to use the bare minimum…you just want to keep the road from freezing.”

Area specific

Knowing where and when a storm will arrives helps Frantz get work done ahead of time. If valley locations stay snow-free during a storm, he may be able to borrow equipment to get more work done in a limited window of time. During summer months “we’re working and they’re watching the weather,” so crews can finish paving or doing other work before a summer storm arrives. Frantz remembers a paving project at the U of U two years ago –“we finished paving at 1:00 and it rained at two.”

Frantz also likes to check the history of a specific location to compare how crews handled a weather event. Reports from plow operators record conditions, temperature and how much chemical was used. Knowing that history means “we can tweak our program” to save time and money, says Frantz.

For more information:

Motorists can make use of weather information from the RWIS system on the CommuterLink Website. RWIS stations are indicated on a map – click on the “Road Weather” tab at the top (in the green stripe). Move the cursor over each station to see specific information.

Internal UDOT staff can request a mobile RWIS station by contacting Leigh Jones, UDOT Road Information Systems Manager.

See a previous blog post: STILL RAINING

April 21st, 2011

HISTORY MAKERS

16 Comments, Preserve Infrastructure, by Catherine Higgins.

A recent study provides an inventory of post-war bridges and identifies bridges that are historically significant.

Rare and beautiful: This bridge at 600 North Main in Logan is eligible to be included on the National Register because of it's high artistic value and rare type.

 

Many transportation projects require a state or federal environmental study process before construction. Part of that process requires the UDOT study team to consider the significance of the built environment. Bridges are often part of that built environment, along with other structures or properties such as homes, public buildings or sometimes the road itself.

One step in the environmental study process is to determine whether or not a bridge is eligible to be listed o the National Register of Historic Places.  The survey of post-war bridges will help UDOT during environmental study processes by providing a reference of National Register eligible existing post-war bridges.

The SR 95 Bridge over Dirty Devil River is historically significant and eligible to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places because it represents "important bridge building practices of an uncommon bridge type in Utah after 1945."

Elizabeth Giraud, Architectural Historian in the UDOT Environmental Services Division had the responsibility of guiding the study process which was conducted by Mead and Hunt. A report of the study is posted on the UDOT Environmental Services website in three parts.

Volume l details the study methodology and purpose of the study along with a history of bridge construction that provides historical context for Utah’s bridges. The history section is interesting and very informative and well worth reading for anyone interested in bridge construction.

Volume ll contains a list of bridges along with criteria used for evaluation and a recommended list of bridges to be included on the National Register. Inventory forms for each bridge are also posted.

“People don’t often know what makes a property historically significant,” says Giraud. Just being “old” or “pretty” does not qualify a bridge for NRHP inclusion — three areas of importance must be considered and evaluated.

First, a bridge must be 50 years old. UDOT uses 45 years as the determining age to account for time between the end of an environmental study and beginning of construction.

Second, the bridge must be historically significant, “meaning that the features that render the bridge historically significant are still intact,” says Giraud. To have historical significance, a bridge must have examples of structural or aesthetic elements that show bridge construction trends or standards in place at the time of construction.

This railroad bridge south of Magna "is significant for its direct role in the transport and processing of natural resources by the Kennecott Utah Copper rail line."

Third, a bridge must have significance in relationship to historic trends, events or people or “be noteworthy for its type of construction or design,” according to Giraud.

Out of the 409 bridges evaluated, Mead and Hunt determined that only 32 were eligible for inclusion on the National Register. Next, UDOT’s Central Environmental staff will work with the Utah State Historic Preservation Office to formulate a Programmatic Agreement that will “further streamline the environmental process for bridges,” explains Giraud.

The following is guest post written by John Njord, Executive Director of the Utah Department of Transportation.

As many of you are aware, an audit of the I-15 CORE procurement process was released last week. I believe the auditors did an admirable job of analyzing a very complex process and identifying potential improvements.  The difficulty of their job is compounded by their limited expertise in the area of innovative contracting practice.  They admitted to me that the audit was very difficult and challenging.

Auditors are prone to use the terms “might have” “could have” “should have” and “may be.” This was certainly the case in many of their findings in this audit.  Unfortunately, some interpret these terms not as they were intended.  The auditors were quick to point out to me that just because they said something “might have” happened does not mean they think it actually happened.  In their findings, they attempted to merely point out what they considered potential weaknesses.

Before I discuss the actual findings, I want to step back for a moment and recall when we first launched the effort to procure a contractor for the I-15 CORE project. We launched in a direction of innovation and created new processes that extended our ability to stretch precious and limited tax dollars for the benefit of our customers and to deliver as much project as we possibly could. We essentially adopted a new, unique solution to a complex and difficult problem, answering the question of: How do we put a $1.7 billion patch on a $5 billion hole and make it last for 40 plus years?

The approach we used is called Fixed-Price, Best-Design; a process that takes traditional Design-Build to the next level. This approach, and our overall philosophy to quickly adapt and be an innovative agency, exposes our flank to unwarranted criticism and second guessing by those who desire us to be more “traditional.”

Each of you knows how much we push ourselves as an agency to be innovative at every level of a project.  When we decided to be innovative with the I-15 CORE project, we decided to subject ourselves to criticism.  We could have been “traditional” in our approach, but, I am thoroughly convinced the project would not look anything like what we obtained without using innovative techniques.  Lest anyone has forgotten, when we launched this project, we hoped for 14 to 15 miles of new freeway within the budget we had available. Today, 24 miles are being constructed in just 35 months with minimal impact to ongoing traffic.

This mantra of innovation has enabled us to do many incredible things, like moving bridges overnight, or delivering projects in half the time they take in other states.

I doubt the eventual users of this facility will remember or care about the interpretations of the auditors or the subsequent misinterpretations of the audit in the media. I believe this will be a mere footnote in history as our children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren enjoy the benefits of this project for the next 40 years.  The bridges will be designed to last nearly into the next century.  Nobody will remember the discomfort we as an agency have endured to deliver this critically important project; they will however enjoy the economic opportunities and improved quality of life as a result of our work.  In my mind, that makes it all worth it.

Now let us discuss the actual audit. Looking back to last fall, it was during a particularly contentious political campaign that charges of undue influence and score tampering occurred. In response to this, the Governor called for an independent audit of our processes in procuring the I-15 CORE project. The resulting audit documented no evidence of either allegation, a fact that seems conveniently overlooked by many and one that affirms our position from the onset. I can tell you that is because (as we have said for months) neither of those accusations occurred.

What the audit did find was 13 technical areas of suggested improvements. These included ideas like blinding more procurement processes, improving the security of some of the software used as part of the contract procurement, having more rigorous conflict of interest documentation and using manuals that more clearly defined the roles of the people involved in selection. We are in the process of implementing these suggestions.

Another area it pointed to was that we did not have full documentation in hand justifying the settlement amount that was paid to the FSZ team. What we had was their certification, which is the standard practice in the industry. They provided certification that their costs were in excess of the amount paid. Subsequent documentation proves that they actually expended $14.5 million, $1.5 million more than settlement amount.

Going through a months-long audit is never an easy thing for those being audited. We did take from this process some valuable lessons-learned and appreciate the work our team did in providing open access to the auditors. In every project and process we do, we strive to learn as much as we can so that we can do it better next time.

In this situation, while we can make tweaks to our processes that can improve them, I don’t believe the end result to taxpayers would have been better: a 24-mile, 35-month reconstruction project with minimal impacts to the public and delivering 40-year pavement and 75-year bridges.

The project itself stands as a testament to the quality and integrity of our people and our process.

April 19th, 2011

STILL RAINING

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

UDOT is monitoring roads and bridges and taking preventative measures as accumulated mountain snow melts and more spring storms hit Utah.

Traffic control devices warn motorists and sand bags keep water off roads.

UDOT roads and bridges are designed and built to accommodate most heavy spring run-off. This year, with higher than usual snow accumulation and more storms coming, Transportation Technicians and engineers are doing as much as possible to prevent flooding on state roads. For the last six to eight weeks, crews have been busily taking the following precautions:

Checking bridges and drainage systems daily. Crews watch for debris that could cause water to spill over bridges or drainage systems and onto roads.

Cleaning out drainage ditches, inlets, pipes and culverts. Keeping drainage systems clear of  debris can help keep water off of the road. “Debris can severely limit the amount of flow that can pass through and cause flooding to occur,” says Jeff Erdman, Region One Hydraulogic Roadway Design Engineer.

“Taking a proactive approach at inspecting pipes helps mitigate any potential of flooding.  By the time a flood stage level occurs it is too late to prevent flooding but only to react to the problem to minimize it. ”

UDOT Region One has a remote controlled inspection device that can spot blockages in pipes and culverts. The camera-on-wheels has been put to good use this spring, says Erdman, to identify debris that can prevent proper drainage and cause flooding.

Filling sandbags. Over four-hundred thousand sand bags have been purchased and deployed statewide.

Getting heavy equipment ready. Back-hoes and front-loaders, used to clear away debris from the road, have been filled with fuel and “placed in strategic locations so they’re ready to go,” says Rich Clarke, UDOT’s Director of Maintenance.

Preparing traffic control devices. Orange barrels and other safety devices are used to warn motorists to steer clear of water on state roads.

Readying trucks for carrying riprap. Very large rocks and riprap can be used to re-direct water off roads. Truck bed liners are installed to prevent damage while hauling rocks.

Weather or not

Monitoring forecasts plays a very important role in almost everything UDOT does, from maintenance to construction.

Scot Chipman (background) and Jeff Williams, both Meteorologists, watch weather and make forecasts for UDOT.

Weather forecasters are playing a part in predicting where and when run-off may threaten a state road. Data collected from Road Weather Information Stations placed throughout the state, snow measurement sites and stream flow sites is  monitored and analyzed to predict run-off levels. When streams near state roads run high, UDOT maintenance crews get a warning call or email.

“There’s really no way to predict exactly what’s going to happen with flooding on the roads” says Leigh Jones, UDOT Road Information Systems Manager. “But we can give a general sense of what to expect so crews can prepare for what might come their way.”

Leigh Jones

A sudden rise in temperature may cause snow in the mountains to melt quickly, while slow warming may cause a more gradual run-off to occur. “A lot of it will have to do with how the spring weather pans out,” says Jones.

Motorists, be advised: Please use caution, avoid flooded areas and obey all warning and closure signs.

For weather information related to UDOT roads, see the CommuterLink Website and click “Road Weather” (in the green bar at the top) to get current road conditions, forecasts and emergency alerts.

The CommuterLink site has current weather and forecasts — very helpful information for motorists, especially those who travel through a flood-prone area.

April 14th, 2011

NEW BRIDGES TO CROSS

3 Comments, Uncategorized, by Catherine Higgins.

UDOT bridges on U.S. 191 over the Colorado River in Utah have received an award for excellence.

Graceful arches span the Colorado River near Moab.

 

When it came to replacing an old bridge with two new bridges across the Colorado River, the beautiful landscape near Moab called for a environmentally sensitive approach to design and construction. And, great team work also helped move the project forward to completion.

“The arched design was intended to blend in with the surrounding scenery and enhance rather than intrude upon the Red Rock Canyon Country experience of visitors” says says Jim Chandler, UDOT Region Four Resident Engineer for the project.

And, the construction method was unique. “These bridges are the first to be built in Utah using balanced cantilever construction which required a smaller less, intrusive footprint on the environment,”  says Chandler. While the old bridge required seven piers, the new bridges only needed two piers on each bridge. The smaller footprint reduced the impact on the river flood plain and on Threatened and Endangered Species in the area.

The bridges took nearly two years to complete. Because the construction method was new to Utah, “the schedule from day one was a challenge,” says UDOT Project Manager Rustin Anderson. Early on, issues with the drilled shafts used in the construction of the massive piers required special equipment to be brought in, putting the team behind schedule.

Some UDOT team members, left to right: Fran Randolph, Trans-Tech 4; Inspector Kevin Marshall, Trans-Tech 4; Russ Pogue, Trans-Tech 4 and Jim Chandler, Project Manager.

Project team members worked together and “found ways and innovations to get back on track,” says Anderson. Eventually the bridges were built on time.

Project Manager Rustin Anderson holds the award.

The American Concrete Institute has presented an Excellence in Concrete Construction Award to the team for the “innovative and excellent use of concrete.”

The design and construction team:

UDOT is the project owner. Figg Engineering of Denver Colorado provided design and construction management and inspection services. Wadsworth Brothers Construction was the prime contractor.

Bridge facts: The center span of the bridges arch 438 feet between the piers, and the end spans are 292 feet from the piers to the river banks. Over 14,000 cubic yards of concrete and over 3,000,000 pounds of steel was used.

See construction images: An on-site camera provided a view of the construction progress. Still images and a time-lapse are still available online.

About cantilever construction: In this video, UDOT Public Involvement Manager Kevin Kitchen explains the construction method.

April 12th, 2011

DRIVING THE BIG TRUCKS

9 Comments, Preserve Infrastructure, by Catherine Higgins.

A two-week training teaches newly-hired Transportation Technicians the basics of materials inspection and equipment operation.

 

New Trans-Tech Preston Pritchard says hello before being tested on driving a UDOT truck.

Trans-Techs are the Jack and Jills of all transportation trades at UDOT — they operate front loaders and road sweepers, repair safety features like guardrail and road delineation markers and gather and test construction materials just to name a few important jobs they perform. Many Trans-Techs move back and forth between maintenance and construction duties by operating a snow plow in the winter and working in a construction team spring through fall. The Trans-Tech program allows UDOT to use man-power effectively and efficiently throughout the year.

Skill building is critical

Curtis Sanchez is the Equipment Safety Trainer at UDOT.

UDOT holds a twice-yearly academy to give new Trans-Techs an overview of the skills they need to work in a demanding environment. But, “it’s not a pass-fail kind of thing “says Ira Bickford, Operations Manager at UDOT. The academy is a way to make sure new workers are capable to perform the core duties needed to take care of the transportation system — one of UDOT’s Final Four Strategic Goals.

Bickford helps organized the academy along with Curtis Sanchez, Equipment Safety Trainer at UDOT. Bickford and Sanchez are supported by maintenance workers who are also trainers at the academy. All have a wealth of experience in a wide range of UDOT functions. Some trainers have up to 25 years of experience — they are “very dedicated and very good at what they do,” says Bickford.

Trainer Dwayne Schoenfelder tests Troy Brunker. A pre-ride check ensures that vehicles are ready for a safe, efficient ride.

Trans-techs spend 65 hours a week doing classroom and field study on all topics so they can learn skills and  “start speaking the UDOT language,” says Mike Adams, a Construction Trainer from UDOT Region Two. New workers need to know about road way features, surveying, plan sets or specifications, roadway signs, names for all parts of roads and associated structures like bridges or culverts — “a Trans-tech really has to know a lot,” says Bickford.

The hands on work comes in the second week when Trans-Techs have two days of practice operating heavy equipment and learning how to sample construction materials. Students move through a series of learning modules manned by experienced trainers who test their skills. Each student has a check-off sheet that will go with them to the job site. If more training or experience is needed, a supervisor or trainer will follow up with that new employee to develop skills and knowledge.

A Trans-Tech backs front-loader onto a trailer.

The 2011 Trans-Tech Academy was the “biggest group ever with 44 students participating,” says Ira. That number is nearly twice the typical number of 25 to 30.  Many have construction and maintenance experience already or have worked in a related industry. Bickford says they are a “great crew. We feel pretty lucky to to be bringing these new employees on board.”

Trainer Mike Adams shows how to sample soil and rocks used as fill in embankments or retaining walls. Trans-Techs take samples of all materials used in construction. Samples are tested in a UDOT lab to ensure the right materials are used on UDOT projects. Fill that is too acidic or alkaline can cause steel reenforcement to corrode more quickly and reduce the useful life of a structure.

Station Supervisor and trainer Jake Brown, left, tests Lucas Rivera on front-loader components.

Related posts:

BURIED SECRETS — Fill used in MSE walls needs to be tested.

UDOT LEADER — An Area Supervisor supports the Trans-Tech program.

PATRIOT SUPERVISOR — a Station Supervisor gets an award.

April 6th, 2011

HIGH FIBER

No Comments, Preserve Infrastructure, by Catherine Higgins.

Added fiber may help make asphalt pavement more durable.

 

UDOT hopes a new product will extend the life of asphalt pavement. This photo shows an area where flexible and conventional microsurfacing is being tested side by side.

 

UDOT roads are built to last. “UDOT typically designs our asphalt pavements for a 20 year design life, meaning they have the structural thickness to support 20 years worth of traffic,” says Gary Kuhl, UDOT’s Statewide Pavement Management Engineer.  Once built, preservation keeps the road surface in good shape so pavement can reach or extend beyond that 20 year life.

UDOT is testing a new preservation treatment called flexible microsurfacing. Conventional microsurfacing is a thin asphalt “wearing course” that contains aggregate, emulsion and binder (usually cement) that is mixed on-site and applied to the road.

The new product has an additional ingredient – a strong, flexible type of fiber – that is intended to help the asphalt reduce cracking and resist damage from traffic and snow plows. Flexible microsurfacing uses a regular microsurfacing machine and a blower to add fibers to the conventional mix.

Fiber adds durability to conventional microsurfacing.

The two products were placed side by side on a busy arterial road in Davis County. After a two year evaluation, the flexible microsurfacing “shows little to no damage from snowplow activities and no raveling,” states a report on the test. Raveling happens when binder fails and rocks and asphalt chunks break loose. The conventional microsurfacing side shows reflective cracking (cracks from the bottom up) that stops where the flexible microsurfacing starts.

Scott Nussbaum, Materials Engineer for UDOT Region One, thinks “the initial performance is positive.” But its use is “still experimental” continues Nussbaum. UDOT will need to continue to study this product and develop specifications for its use.

UDOT engineers believe that the additive increases the toughness and durability over conventional microsurfacing to help reduce or delay cracking and resist raveling and snowplow damage. Kuhl is optimistic about the new product. “For a small extra cost we expect to get a stronger surface that will have less cracking.  UDOT continues to test new ideas and will be monitoring how this one performs.”

For more information:

  • Read a report on the test
  • Read about how good roads cost less in UDOT’s Strategic Direction Performance Review and Measures
  • More from Gary Kuhl: “UDOT found out a long time ago that ‘Good Roads Cost Less,’ so our approach has been to try and keep our pavements in good condition by strategically utilizing lower cost preservation treatments on a regular basis.  Combined with a mix of rehabilitative overlays this has had the effect of extending the pavement life indefinitely. For the most part our reconstruction work is primarily due for widening and capacity needs, and rarely due to pavement failure needs.”

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.

As seen from Visiweb, a cyclist enjoys a ride on SR 167 in Weber County.

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. A link to Visiweb, which replaces Road View Explorer, can be found on the UDOT website.

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.

A two-screen view shows close and far views of the Shepard Lane Bridge over I-15 in Davis County. Data at that location is listed under the image.

The data was gathered in a new way that is more reliable. “It’s repeatable and less subjective,” says Scovil. The new information will improve the decision making processes that takes place at UDOT from planning through construction and maintenance.

The data and images — 250 images per mile — were collected by a specially built Fugro truck during the annual pavement condition survey. The user can use the application to zoom in to see signage or other features.  The viewer can also customize the data, for pavement condition, or elevation, etc. that are shown integrated with the images. Still shots can also be captured easily.

People at UDOT are putting the tool to good use. “I use road view a lot, says Wes Starkenberg, UDOT Operations Design Engineer. “The new version is better in that it loads much faster and the clarity of the photos is much better. It appears it will be easier to navigate as well.”

Herscher and Starkenberg like the new tool

UDOT’s Statewide Pavement Engineer Gary Kuhl uses Visweb “to check if the pavement images to match what the reported condition data says, or to find examples of different levels of distress for presentations,” says Kuhl. ” I also check to see where the number of lanes change, or what the shoulders look like.” The road characteristics that can be viewed from Visiweb effect the scope and cost of maintenance projects that Kuhl plans.

Crash Studies Engineer Danielle Herscher likes “how it lists the County and Region for each route selected.” Users can narrow a search very quickly and “high resolution images allow users to see more details of the roadway. Also, I like how fast the program is.”

To get started, here are some helpful tips:

  • Follow this link to the find Visiweb.
  • The online application works with Firefox, Netscape Navigator and the two most recent versions of Internet Explorer.
  • Use the “configure” button to select the data you need. First, choose the data from the drop-down menu, then click the “add” button to populate your customized list.
  • Use the “help” button if you have questions.

The new Visiweb tool is an easy to use and very helpful tool for anyone at UDOT, from traffic engineers to Public Involvement Managers, and will improve the way UDOT manages the state transportation system.