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.

June 9th, 2011

CONCRETE SHOWCASE

4 Comments, Preserve Infrastructure, by Catherine Higgins.

A recent UDOT showcase demonstrated a quick and effective way to repair concrete pavement using precast panels.

Precast Concrete Panel Systems offer a fast and durable solution to replacing damaged pavement.

Precast concrete elements are commonly used for bridge girders, decks or associated structures like MSE walls. Use of Precast Concrete Panel Systems to repair or build pavement is gaining popularity across the country but is not yet widely used. The construction process for repairing pavement involves removing the damaged concrete, preparing the road base then placing, leveling and grouting concrete panels into place.

UDOT has been using two PCPS to replace damaged pavement – a proprietary system available locally from one contractor and a non proprietary system detailed in UDOT’s Standard Specifications. With the support from FHWA Highways for Life, UDOT held a workshop and on-site demonstration to showcase a newly designed non-proprietary panel. Over two hundred attendees from across the United States took advantage of the opportunity to learn about design, construction and installation of the new panels.

At the workshop, designer Dave Eixenberger with T.Y. Lin International gave a lot of credit to Dave Gilley with Harper Pre-cast “who was a big, big help.” Eixenberger started the design process by looking at other PCPS projects and assessing lessons learned. His objective was to develop another tool to “provide a cost-effective and durable pavement product.” Working with Gilley, Eixenberger eventually designed a standardized panel intended to minimize construction costs and simplify installation.

Dave Eixenberger

The new panel is 12 by 12 feet square and 9 inches thick. Uncoated black steel rebar provides reinforcement to support lifting the 17,000 pound panel. The unique aspect of the design is the inclusion of leveling bolts that are commonly used in bridge deck construction. After placement, the bolts are turned against steel panels on the sub-base to achieve correct elevation. Four bolts are placed in each panel during the casting process. Six grout ports are also included in each panel.

Gilley experimented with different methods of preparing the sub-base and two grout options by setting up mock roadway trials at the pre-cast yard. Gilley and his crew arrived at some important lessons learned: A thin, firm sub-base is needed to prevent grout displacement and an adequately wide leveling bolt panel is crucial. As for grout options, concrete urethane type grouts were tried and found to flow and fill equally well. The final decision was to select urethane grout for the demonstration project. With a cure time of 20 minutes, urethane is much quicker than concrete grout which means travel lanes can be opened sooner.

The on-site portion of the showcase took place on the south-bound on-ramp to I-215 at 3900 South.  Because UDOT requires work to be done with as little disruption to traffic as possible, “This process is schedule critical,” explains Gilley. “You need to get all of your ducks in a row.” Kilgore Construction crews had been placing panels during three previous nights so the process was executed with precision.

Director of UDOT Reserch Cameron Kergaye, left, with Daniel Hsiao, Research Project Manager

Daniel Hsiao, UDOT Research Division Project Manager who oversaw panel testing, design and the showcase event compares the new system to UDOT’s use of ABC construction methods. “We took bridges off the critical path — now we have to speed up the pavement,” says Hsiao.

As with bridges, using PCPS offers the advantage of a speedy repair which is great for road users. Using a cast-in-place method involves closing lanes and waiting for concrete to cure before traffic can resume. With PCPS, the cure time takes place is off site, so traffic lanes can be reopened soon after installation. And, another panel option in Utah will help support a competitive bidding environment, which conserves limited funding.

Other project personnel:

UDOT Project Manager: Matt Zundel, Region Two

Resident Engineer, John Montoya, Region Two

Information about the showcase will be posted on the UDOT website. Check the UDOT Blog for and update about project information documents.

June 7th, 2011

WMA JUNGLE

9 Comments, Preserve Infrastructure, by Catherine Higgins.

This post is fourth in a series about the Federal Highway Administration’s Every Day Counts Innovation Initiative.

FHWA’s Every Day Counts Innovation Initiative encourages the use of  Warm Mix Asphalt.

Granite Construction Company's Cottonwood Plant has been named to the Utah Department of Environmental Quality’s Clean Utah Program.

Using WMA can be a cost and energy saving approach with high quality results. UDOT allows the use of WMA as long as contractors provide a final product that meets the standards specified by UDOT engineers.

Hot Mix Asphalt and Warm Mix Asphalt have essentially the same basic components – asphalt binder and aggregate. Hot or cold, asphalt pavement comes in a variety of mix designs that vary the type, size and amount of asphalt binder and aggregate to determine the strength, thickness and durability depending on many variables, including underlying soil type, expected pavement life, climate and the traffic load carried by the road.

HMA uses heat to decrease the viscosity of the asphalt in order to be able to place and roll the pavement to the correct compaction. Adding Zeolite, surfactants or wax increases the ability of the asphalt to absorb water or makes the mix more workable so correct compaction can be achieved.

  • Adding water to hot asphalt during the mixing process causes mix to foam and achieve the viscosity that’s needed at lower temperatures to compact the product after installation. Granite construction has used WMA successfully in Utah for several years by using the water injection method to produce WMA.
  • “Zeolite is a mineral sponge used to transport water into the asphalt binder,” says Kevin VanFrank, UDOT’s Engineer for Asphalt Materials. “The foaming is more persistent and therefore the reduced viscosity lasts longer than simply adding water,” and lower compaction temperatures can be maintained for greater periods.
  • Waxes are thermosets “that lubricate and decrease viscosity of the mix at temperatures above their liquid phase transition but increase viscosity above the liquid phase transition,” explains VanFrank.
  • Surfactants (soap) are added to coat the aggregates to make the binder workable at lower temperatures without changing viscosity

WMA has several advantages. Less energy is expended to heat WMA; HMA is heated to 310 to 350 degrees Fahrenheit while the temperature range for WMA is as much as sixty degrees lower.

The compaction zone, or the temperature range at which asphalt can be successfully compacted, is wider than for HMA, giving workers more time to compact the asphalt once it’s placed.

WMA can be placed in the cooler months of spring or fall, which potentially lengthens the construction season. And, cooler asphalt has a milder odor, which can be good for road users and especially for workers.

WMA was successfully used on Wall Avenue in Ogden. During the project, WMA was placed side by side with HMA. “We couldn’t see any difference,” says Kevin VanFrank, UDOT’s Engineer for Asphalt Materials. The two asphalt mixes were tested extensively. “It all looks the same today,” says VanFrank.

 

Placing WMA on Wall Avenue in Ogden, Utah

See Granite’s Clean Utah Letter