September 3rd, 2014

UDOT U: Opportunities to Learn

No Comments, Employee Focus, by Guest Post.

Over the last three years, I’ve quite often been asked, what is UDOT U and what can it do for employees?

The simplest answer to the first part of this question is UDOT University is UDOT’s learning organization; in other words, it is a fancy name for the training the department delivers. To answer the second part of the question, what can [UDOT U] do for employees, I’ll list what UDOT U does, and then employees can decide if there is anything that might be of value to them.

UDOT U does the following things: (1) provide UDOT employees and stakeholders with opportunities for learning and development, (2) facilitate partnerships with other learning organizations, (3) provide tools and infrastructure to track training hours and training effectiveness, and (4) assist subject-matter areas find ways to fund needed training.

Photo of conference room and attendees.

Kendrall Draney and Bryan Allen at a UDOT Annual Conference breakout session on project management.

Providing learning opportunities

UDOT-hosted NHI courses, breakout sessions at the UDOT Annual Conference, and webinars using Adobe Connect are all examples of learning opportunities UDOT U has provided to 13,000 attendees over the last couple of years. We’re in the process of adding to our course catalog, powered by Adobe Connect; go here to browse the 100+ offerings: www.connect.udot.utah.gov. We’re adding more every day. We contract with groups and work with vendors to keep marginal costs down for our business units.

Developing employees

As a learning organization UDOT U attempts to provide development opportunities for employees. Funds, obviously, are not unlimited so we look for ways to get the biggest bang for our buck. Purchasing licenses for Lynda.com; bringing in external subject matter experts through NHI, AASHTO, and local universities; and refocusing the breakout sessions at the UDOT Annual Conference to center on training has provided employees easy access to learning opportunities. The tuition assistance program, although more strictly a benefit than a training program, has allowed many UDOT employees to seek accredited degrees from local colleges and universities.

Photo of three students watching as an eye dropper is used with a test tube.

UDOT Chemist Sara Carlock demonstrates pH testing, which is used in the transportation industry to assure materials meet specifications.

Fostering learning and sharing

UDOT U has assisted the department initiate TRAC and RIDES programs, AASHTO-sponsored STEM initiatives for primary and secondary schools. Through this program UDOT provides needed materials and expertise to schools. Teachers use the materials to present engineering- and transportation- related lessons to future engineers and technicians.

UDOT U is also in the beginning stages of partnering with the research division to develop ways to capture, organize, and manage employees’ considerable knowledge and experience. We are looking for ways to make institutional memory shareable. We’re at the very beginning of the project; your ideas for how this might best be accomplished are welcome.

Developing infrastructure

UDOT U has developed a central website that acts as a portal leading employees to the learning opportunities offered in the department. Our course catalog, webinar software, and other tools are available for use by all UDOT employees and in most cases outside contractors and consultants.

Providing funding for training

The training budget has steadily increased over the years as our internal groups and subject matter experts have made good use of the funds. This last fiscal year (FY 2014), the budget was double the previous year. This commitment to funding demonstrates senior leaders’ commitment to learning, innovation, and developing employees.

Hopefully, it’s clear that UDOT U is here to serve employees’ and our partners’ learning needs. If there are ways we can help, please do not hesitate to contact us.

This guest post was written by Richard Murdock, UDOT U Administrative Vice President, and was orginally published in the UDOT U Summer 2014 newsletter.

Screen shot of the interactive map show details about the Pioneer Crossing Exension

A new interactive projects map will utilize existing GIS layers and add project specific detail for use in meetings with local governments and stakeholders

UDOT Region Three is developing an interactive map to display project information in a GIS format.

Region Three will develop and test its use with plans to launch the GIS map as a statewide resource in the future. Internal staff and technical staff may be accustomed to using GIS, but this map is targeted for use with local government officials and other key stakeholders so that people not familiar with GIS can easily find meaningful information in a public-friendly format.

The map will utilize existing GIS layers and add project-specific details, such as concept and final design, for use in meetings with local governments and stakeholders. A limited number of layers will be pre-selected to keep the map interface simple and easy to use for non-GIS users.

The Interactive Projects Map development team is working toward a June launch date in order to begin using this resource through the summer. As we use the map, we will gather feedback from stakeholders and internal staff alike to refine the map and its functionality. An updated version of the map based on initial feedback is targeted to be launched in November. Link to the map from the UDOT Region Three homepage www.udot.utah.gov/go/region3.

August 25th, 2014

GIS at work: GETTING IT RIGHT

No Comments, Employee Focus, by Catherine Higgins.

A new GIS tool for retrieving right-of-way information is saving time and funding for UDOT.

Photo of GIS street view with colored line showing right of way data.Some of the UDOT Right of Way Division’s responsibilities include acquiring property for the expansion of the transportation system and regulating access to roadways by issuing permits. These important functions involve interaction with property owners and developers who need to know the location of a property line or the type of access granted on a roadway. Sometimes UDOT employees need answers about UDOT-owned property as well.

UDOT ROW employees respond to hundreds of complex inquiries each year. Getting answers used to be very time consuming, according to Randy Smith, UDOT Region Two Right of Way Manager. “It took about twelve hours per each request and up to 3 days to answer each question,” says Smith, because several data bases needed to be thoroughly searched.

Smith worked with UDOT Central Right of Way, UDOT Central GIS, and a team to develop a GIS tool as part of his course work for the Utah Certified Public Manager program offered to state employees.

Searching more easily

Much of the ROW data UDOT maintains is in ProjectWise, an online document storage system. Smith’s team built links that connects the map to ProjectWise documents. “The Arc Map has hyperlinks to ProjectWise and the original source data,” says Smith. Now finding answers takes minutes as opposed to hours or even days.

Called the Right of Way GIS Tool, the new process offers many advantages. It’s a “once-and-done” solution explains Smith, since inquiries are kept in the system to eliminate duplication of effort.

Smith’s team performed a cost-benefit on the system that’s quite impressive. Paying an employee to respond to an inquiry was determined to be $550 per request. UDOT Region Right of Way Two alone gets an average of 350 requests a year. The savings offered by the tool is a whopping $160,000 each year. “It’s an opportunity cost savings,” explains Smith, since employees are now freed up to work, to problem solve or improve processes.

Table showing annual savings of $161,358.75

Future benefits

The tool is only available to UDOT right now, but a tool for the public will be released in the near future. Smith suspects that the volume of questions may go down once people can find information on their own.

Other groups with information stored in ProjectWise may benefit as well. “While we developed this tool specific to right-of-way, we found that the environment is applicable to other disciplines,” Smith says.

For more stories about GIS Tools, see:

UDOT Receives National Award

Consider a Map

Pavement Marking Check-Up

Visit the UDOT Data Portal, a one stop shop for maps, apps and data.

Photo of Carlos presenting silver barrel awardsMike Bair and Kelly Andrew received a Silver Barrel Award at a Region One retirement party last month. They were able to save UDOT a significant amount of time and money by installing thirteen new heating units in the Region One Equipment Shop.

Following a recent installation in the Region One Paint Shop, Mike determined that by buying the units and installing them with Kelly’s help it would be cheaper and take less time. In the end they saved the Department over $50,000 and 2 weeks of install time. That’s some pretty great savings and well deserving of a Silver Barrel Award!

This post was taken from the Silver Barrel Nomination submitted by Kelly Barrett.

August 18th, 2014

400 South Corridor Assessment

No Comments, Optimize Mobility, by Guest Post.
LRT Study

Figure 1. Roadway and LRT Study Network

This study evaluated current and future traffic and transit performance along the light rail transit (LRT) corridors within the University of Utah area, 400 South and Downtown Salt Lake City before and after an introduction of an additional LRT line. The analysis of different scenarios and on different network levels was performed using VISSIM microsimulation coupled with Siemens Next-Phase Software-in-the-Loop traffic controllers. The scenarios were evaluated for three different target years: 2013/2014, 2020 and 2025. Additional scenarios included alternative intersection configuration, with modified left turn operations at intersections of 400 South and Main, 400 South and State, and 400 South and 700 East.

Screenshot of the intersection simulation

Figure 2. Main Street and 400 South Intersection in Simulation

The analysis showed that the additional LRT line did not have significant impacts on traffic and transit operations. The highest impacts were experienced at intersections close to the Downtown area, mainly 400 South and State Street, and 400 South and Main Street, and North Temple and 400 West. The study also recommended potential signal improvements at these locations consisting of re-phasing, re-timing and modifying LRT preemption. The analysis also showed that it might be beneficial removing the shared lane sites at intersections along 400 South, since close to 70% of drivers are using the non-shared left turn lane, resulting in sub-optimal intersection operations.

This study was coordinated between UDOT, Utah Transit Authority, and other agencies.

This guest post was written by Milan Zlatkovic, University of Utah, Ivana Tasic, University of Utah, Marija Ostojic, Florida Atlantic University, and Aleksander Stevanovic, Florida Atlantic University, and was originally published in the Research Newsletter.

Photo of guardrail end section

This new Type G end treatment replaced an old Texas-turndown style end treatment on S.R. 87

Region Three’s Traffic and Safety staff focus on improved roadside safety by replacing guardrail and guardrail end treatments.

Griffin Harris, Region Three Traffic Engineer, led the effort to replace aging infrastructure with an eye toward safety. He managed the funding and installation of almost 3 miles of guardrail and the replacement of over 60 outdated Texas-turndown style guardrail end treatments with new Type G end treatments on six different state routes in Region Three.

For example, one project installed 2.25 miles of new guardrail in Indian Canyon on U.S. 191 between Helper and Duchesne. This area has steep drop-offs and the guardrail installation is a great safety improvement.

For more information about UDOT’s Barrier End Section (Crash Cushion) Program check out our website.

Citizen Reporting LogoThe UDOT Citizen Reporting Program enlists volunteers to report on current road conditions along specific roadway segments across Utah. Since the program’s launch in November 2013, UDOT has received over 1,800 road condition reports on critical routes throughout the state. The accuracy rate of the reports continues to be very high, with only 0.03% of incoming reports determined to be inaccurate.

The long term goal of adding Citizen Reporters to UDOT’s weather operations road reporting is to supplement current condition reporting on segments where drivers are already traveling. The Citizen Reporter Program provides the traveling public with a conduit to report their observations directly to UDOT, saving time and money. UDOT employees also use the Citizen Reporting app to submit their reports.

Since the UDOT Citizen Reporter Program was launched volunteer reporters have submitted reports on 119 of the 145 road segments, helping to fill in gaps in locations where UDOT does not have traffic cameras or Road Weather Information System (RWIS) units.

Graph showing citizen reports by day. The most were received in Decemenger 2013.The volunteer reports are especially valuable during winter storms when conditions change rapidly. During a large winter storm that occurred in the beginning of December 2013, UDOT Citizen Reporters submitted over 130 reports, helping the traveling public as well as National Weather Service meteorologists and UDOT staff.

How do you become a UDOT Citizen Reporter?

In order to become a UDOT Citizen Reporter, you will need to complete a brief training (either online or in person), take a short quiz and complete a sign-up form. The training takes approximately 10 minutes to complete. Once a volunteer has completed these steps, they will be provided with a login and PIN, and can begin submitting reports. Reports are submitted through the UDOT Citizen Reporting app, downloadable for Android and Apple devices from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

If you would like to become a Citizen Reporter, please follow this link to take the online training: www.udottraffic.utah.gov/training/citizenreporter. For more information or to schedule an in person training, email UDOTCitizenReporter@utah.gov.

The Employee Advisory Council met April 10, 2014. Items that were included in the discussion included:

  • Discussion regarding .25 percent discretionary increase
  • New legislation from the 2014 session
  • Tuition reimbursement
  • Employee recognition
  • Internal communications

Notes from the meeting are available below.

EAC April 2014 Summary

Information from previous meetings has also been posted on the blog.

Employee Advisory Council

A new study led by UDOT and funded through the FHWA Transportation Pooled Fund Program began in March and is progressing well. The study is number TPF-5(296), entitled “Simplified SPT Performance-Based Assessment of Liquefaction and Effects.” A research team from Brigham Young University (BYU) is performing the two-year study. Other state DOTs participating in the study include Alaska, Connecticut, Idaho, Montana, and South Carolina.

Liquefaction of loose, saturated sands results in significant damage to buildings, transportation systems, and lifelines in most large earthquake events. Liquefaction and the resulting loss of soil shear strength can lead to lateral spreading and seismic slope displacements, which often impact bridge abutments and wharfs, damaging these critical transportation links at a time when they are most needed for rescue efforts and post-earthquake recovery.

Most commonly used liquefaction and ground deformation evaluation methods are based on the concept of deterministic hazard evaluation, which is related to the maximum possible earthquake from nearby faults. Recent advances in performance-based geotechnical earthquake engineering have introduced probabilistic uniform hazard-based procedures for evaluating seismic ground deformations within a performance-based framework, from which the likelihood of exceeding various magnitudes of deformation within a given time frame can be computed. However, applying these complex performance-based procedures on everyday projects is generally beyond the capabilities of most practicing engineers.

The objective of the new study is to create and evaluate simplified performance-based design procedures for the a priori prediction of liquefaction triggering, lateral spread displacement, seismic slope displacement, and post-liquefaction free-field settlement using the standard penetration test (SPT) resistance. Many of the analysis methods used to assess liquefaction hazards are based on SPT resistance values since the SPT is commonly used in site soil characterization for building, transportation, and lifeline projects.

This study represents a worthwhile pilot study which could prepare the way for additional research with the U.S. Geological Survey to further the use of the simplified, performance-based method.

Figure 1: Liquefaction loading map (return period = 1,033 years) showing con-tours of CSRref (%) for a portion of Salt Lake Valley, Utah

Figure 1: Liquefaction loading map (return period = 1,033 years) showing con-tours of CSRref (%) for a portion of Salt Lake Valley, Utah

The key to the simplified method is the use of a reference soil profile in development of liquefaction loading maps which are then used with the site’s soil data to estimate effects of liquefaction. An example map is shown in Figure 1, where CSRref represents a uniform hazard estimate of the seismic loading that must be over-come to prevent liquefaction triggering, if the reference soil profile existed at the site of interest.

Derivations for simplified performance-based liquefaction triggering and lateral spread displacement models have been completed in the study. Validation efforts have shown that the simplified results approximate the full performance-based results within 5% for most sites that were evaluated.

A summary of the study work plan and copies of current reports from the study are available at the TPF-5(296) study website.

This guest post was written by Kevin Franke, Ph.D., P.E., from BYU, and David Stevens, P.E., Research Program Manager, and was originally published in the Research Newsletter.

When Region Three began preparations for reconstructing State Street from 1860 North in Orem to 100 East in Pleasant Grove, the focus was on widening to three travel lanes in each direction plus a center turn lane.

The project team prepared plans for new asphalt pavement; traffic signal upgrades; curb, gutter, sidewalk and pedestrian ramp installations and reconstruction of the intersection at State Street and 400 North in Lindon. But what makes this project memorable was the partnership with the cities of Orem, Lindon and Pleasant Grove that brought about the addition of striped bicycle lanes to the project scope.

“We have been working with UDOT Central Planning and Mountainland Association of Governments to identify opportunities for bike improvements,” said Region Three Program Manager Brent Schvaneveldt.

“With UDOT’s emphasis on integrated transportation and these other bicycle connectivity discussions happening, we wanted to take the cities’ request for bike lanes seriously and take a hard look at whether they could be added into the design and construction.”

With the widening, repaving and re-striping already planned for State Street, the opportunity to reallocate space and stripe bike lanes made sense. But it wouldn’t have happened without the buy-in and support from local governments.

“Local government collaboration is key to making our transportation network work for the people who use it. Especially on a roadway like State Street that serves local trips as well as regional travel,” Brent said. “This is a great example of local government input helping us better serve the needs of a variety of roadway users.”