I-15 CORE’S “OLD FAITHFUL”

By Aaron Mentzer, I-15 CORE Social Media Manager

Drivers on I-15 in Springville may have noticed a large fountain of water gushing into the air like a geyser west of the freeway in early March.

Water from Hobble Creek is pumped into the air near I-15 in Springville. Photo courtesy I-15 CORE.

All of the water flowing into Hobble Creek — approximately 20,000 gallons per minute — was pumped through five 12-inch-diameter pipes a few hundred feet downstream while I-15 CORE construction crews installed a new box culvert to allow the creek to pass under I-15.

“The existing culvert was just too small to handle the quantity of water in the creek,” said Ray Stillwell, Environmental Compliance Manager for I-15 CORE contractor Provo River Constructors (PRC). “It was almost always full, with no additional capacity to deal with runoff or heavy rainfall. The new culvert is much wider and includes two additional overflow culverts adjacent to the main box to accommodate higher-than-normal flows.”

Rerouting a creek or canal is common in construction, but this was not a typical case. Hobble Creek is a key spawning site for the endangered June sucker, which is only found in Utah Lake and its tributaries. Farther downstream, the creek

Five pumps were used to reroute Hobble Creek during construction: four operating at all times and one spare in case of high water flows. Photo courtesy I-15 CORE (Click to enlarge)

channel had recently been reconstructed by the Utah Transit Authority, in cooperation with the Utah Department of Natural Resources (UDNR) and Bio-West, to create the Hobble Creek Wetland Mitigation Site. PRC needed to divert the creek in a way that (a) followed the existing channel as much as possible; (b) prevented erosion and sedimentation within the wetland mitigation site downstream; and (c) preserved the June sucker’s spawning habitat.

To solve this problem, the CORE team developed a creative solution. They installed five pumps in the creek with 12-inch outlet pipes to route Hobble Creek around the new box culvert and into the existing channel. Ninety-degree elbows were attached at the end of the five pipes so the high-pressure flow of water exiting the pipes would be directed upward, minimizing erosion and sediment generation.

During design and construction of the new channel, PRC coordinated with UDNR and Bio-West, and the resulting design limited wetland impacts to a much smaller area. “Working with these other agencies, we were able to re-build the channel in a way that minimizes impacts and maintains or enhances the spawning areas for the June Sucker,” Stillwell said.

Workers installed carefully selected, native rock at different locations in the channel as well as in the box culvert itself to restore the habitat in the new creek bed. With the channel reconstruction and rock placement completed, workers removed the temporary upstream dam, and water began flowing through the new culvert last month.

“This new culvert is a great example of the cooperation and innovation taking place throughout the I-15 CORE project,” said Mike Brehm, I-15 CORE Environmental Manager. “Parties from several agencies worked together to construct this culvert in a way that actually benefits the environment.”

The completed culvert with Hobble Creek flowing in its new permanent location. Photo courtesy I-15 CORE.

LIGHT ROCKS

Lightweight concrete proved to be a good solution for a deck replacement project in rural Utah.

Lightweight concrete is not commonly used for constructing bridge decks according to Joshua Sletten, Structures Design Manager at UDOT. Some of the barriers to using lightweight concrete are availability of aggregate and slightly higher cost. Additionally “many engineers simply aren’t familiar with it and may shy away from it for that reason.”

However, light weight concrete was a good choice for the Taggart Bridge. The twin structures that carry I-84 over the Union Pacific Railroad were originally built in 1967. Lightweight concrete allowed the bridge deck to accommodate a thicker deck and asphalt overlay to meet the adjoining freeway profile and not exceed the load capacity of the older, pre-stressed concrete girder bridges.

 


Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.
The bridge geometry, along with the need to keep the freeway open during construction, presented challenges that were met by UDOT, Hanson Structural Precast and Granite Construction Company Inc. Design was the project’s first hurdle.

Both bridges are three-span structures on a curved alignment. A total of sixty individual deck panels were designed, and “no two panels were the same,” according to UDOT Design Engineer Robert Nash. He kept the outside dimensions the same where possible but “the location of shear blockouts and leveling devices were different for every panel.” Each panel was designed utilizing reinforcing bars grouted into the top flanges of the concrete beams.

Hanson created precise shop drawings for each pre-cast panel. An indoor pre-cast yard made Hanson immune to weather delay, and a rigorous internal quality control process eliminated fit issues at the construction site. Panels used concrete with Expanded Shale Lightweight Aggregates from Utelite Corporation, a local supplier.

Granite Construction achieved UDOT’s aggressive construction schedule requirements while keeping traffic moving during construction. Workers even kept pace during snow flurries and low temperatures that would have stopped a cast-in-place deck pour.

In addition to the deck replacement, Granite also completed extensive substructure repair work on columns, pedestals, bent caps, wingwalls beam ends and backwalls. The project was completed ahead of schedule and under budget and won Granite’s project of the year award among entries costing up to $5 million and UDOT’s Rural Project of the Year.

The lightweight concrete deck panels seem to be performing well, according to Sletten. “I think you will see it utilized more frequently in the future.”

PROJECT ROADWAY

A UDOT engineer with an eye for safety wants construction workers to wear his attention-getting shirts. 

Hexagons retro-reflect light and minimize a barrel chest.

Workers who build maintain roads and bridges are required to wear clothing that is brightly colored with retroreflective bars meant to make workers visible to drivers during the day and especially at night. Sam Grimshaw, a UDOT Field Engineer, has come up a new idea for clothing that he thinks will make workers even more conspicuous.

The issue as he sees it is that the commonly used clothing makes workers look similar to traffic control devices – the cones and barrels that delineate a construction zone. Instead of the typical horizontal and vertical stripes, Grimshaw placed retroreflective hexagons on bright orange fabric.

To prove his point about how workers can look barrel-chested, he took photos of workers wearing the typical shirts and his shirts at night.

Commonly worn clothing has bars and colors that make workers look similar to traffic control devices. Grimshaw's photos show the contrast between the typical and his design on the left.

He showed his prototype shirts to fabricators who said the new designs could be put into production without any trouble.

Grimshaw’s idea seems to have merit – however, the new clothing needs to have the appropriate review and approval before workers can make the switch.

DIVIDE AND SPONSOR

The UDOT Research Workshop allows participants to prioritize research projects. Register by May 3 to participate.

Cameron Kergaye speaks at 2011 UTRAC

Usually held yearly, the Research Workshop is organized by the UDOT Research Division as a way to allow researchers and transportation experts from UDOT, FHWA, universities, private sector firms and other transportation agencies meet, network, share solutions and most importantly, prioritize research topics.

The May 10 2012 Research Workshop is approaching quickly and Kevin Nichol, Research Project Manager and workshop organizer hopes all who can be involved in the process will register  by May 3 to participate. Good participation – that is having a broad cross section of experts and a high number of participants makes for a healthy process – all involved can bring a different point of view or expertise to the table.

For researchers, that participation means presenting problem statements that detail proposed research. It’s a way for researchers to “engage their expertise,” says Nichol. This year, research problem statements are being accepted in six specialty areas:

  • Structures and Geotechnical
  • Environmental and Hydraulics
  • Construction and Materials
  • Maintenance
  • Traffic Management and Safety
  • Pre-construction

Problem statements need to be submitted by April 26.

A national expert on the Diverging Diamond Interchange will be the keynote speaker at the Research Workshop. Pioneer Crossing was UDOT's first DDI.

UDOT employees can participate in the workshop by registering for one of the specialty areas. At the conference, groups will meet separately to hear and prioritize problem statements.

It’s always exciting to see how the groups view and prioritize the research problem statements, according to Nichol. The Workshop draws a vibrant, intelligent community of transportation experts who take an important step in putting research in motion.

Ultimately, the knowledge and understanding gained by research will make for a better transportation system. For example, the 2011UTRAC Workshop produced studies that examined cost effective snow plow blade selection, sign management, and design of integrated abutment bridges.

General session

This year, workshop attendees will have a chance to hear from Gilbert Chlewicki — a national Diverging Diamond Intersection expert and advocate. Chlewicki is a leading expert on DDIs with respect to “geometric design, signal placements, traffic design, driver acceptability, pedestrian and bicycle issues, and locations for implementation,” according to his website.

SHAKE OUT UDOT

To test readiness for dealing with damage from a quake, UDOT participated in a scripted simulation along with the state Emergency Operations Center at the State Capitol.

As simulated earthquake damage was reported, GIS experts at UDOT began building an online map showing the damage to the transportation system. Emergency Operations Center participants at the state capitol could view the map in real time as changes were made.

In the aftermath of an earthquake, UDOT employees will be responsible to make sure the transportation system is safe. The first step in that process is assessing damage to roads and bridges. As part of the Shake Out earthquake drill, UDOT used a United States Geological Survey Earthquake Hazards software program called ShakeCast to generate estimated damage information for roads and bridges.

GIS, Electronic Asset Management and communication experts gathered in one room to interact with the state EOC at the state capitol. Minutes after the quake drill at 10:15 today, scripted calls and email started arriving at the UDOT Traffic Operations Center. As simulated damage was reported, GIS experts began building a map showing the simulated damage to the transportation system. EOC participants at the state capitol could view the map in real time as changes were made. The UDOT participants used a color coded system to identify critical routes and the status of each route.

While UDOT does not anticipate extensive damage to the transportation system, some damage will occur. And, uncertainty exists when it comes to events, such as crashes or power outages and how those events will affect the transportation system.

“We are one of the critical infrastructure owners,” says Chris Siavrakas, Emergency Management Coordinator at UDOT. Transportation, along with other critical systems, including energy, water and health care, is part of an interdependent system. The simulation was good practice for what would occur in the first several hours after an earthquake.

ROAD RESPECT 2012

Cyclists and motorists will tour the state to spread good will, safety education and family fun.

Mike Loveland, pictured second from the left, is an avid cyclist and a lieutenant with the Utah Highway Patrol. He sees the Road Respect campaign as a way to promote a cooperation and consideration between cyclists and motorists.

For the second year, avid cyclists with the Road Respect Tour will travel through the state and stop for rallies that celebrate respect between cyclists and motorists.  “Road Respect, Cars & Bikes Rules to Live By” is a grassroots campaign that seeks to encourage safe practices and good relationships between motorists and cyclists. The centerpiece of the campaign is a six day 509 mile ride through the state that will take place June 4-9.

Mike Loveland

Thirty cyclists representing law enforcement, public safety, transportation and bicycle advocacy will stop along the tour route to join community rallies meant to educate the public about rules for sharing the road. Local cyclists are encouraged to join the cyclists on their route and ride with them into the rallies.

Activities at the rallies will include bike rodeos, helmet give-aways, street and trail rides and speakers. Some of the rallies will include mini car shows. Participants will be encouraged to sign a pledge to signify compliance with obeying rules of the road.

Mike Loveland is an avid cyclist and a lieutenant with the Utah Highway Patrol. He participated as a cyclist last year and is helping to plan this year’s tour. Because of his job and his pastime, Loveland sees both sides of the issue.

The Road Respect campaign and tour is a way to encourage a “get-along attitude” between cyclists and motorists, he explains. Cooperation and consideration is necessary since both groups, according to Loveland “own a piece of the road.”

For more, read an article in Cycling Utah Magazine.

NEW ENGINEERS

UDOT Engineers In Training are finding their work at UDOT challenging and rewarding.

Greg Merrill is an Engineer in Training in UDOT's Rotational Engineer Program

Short bios on the newest engineers at the agency describe some of the experiences and knowledge that are being gained by UDOT Rotational Engineers and Interns as they work to design, build and take care of the transportation system. The bios are a way to introduce the Engineers in Training to others at UDOT and associated private sector firms.

UDOT’s Rotational Program gives engineers a chance to “understand the overall role of the department,” says Richard Murdock, who has managed the program for 7 years. The program has existed for more than 20 years in a similar organizational form. UDOT gains by welcoming in enthusiastic, newly graduated engineers who view the world of transportation with new eyes. The Rotational Engineers come from diverse backgrounds and varied experiences.

Engineers apply to the program right out of college. Once at UDOT, EITs work under the supervision of Professional Engineers and rotate from one UDOT department to another about every six months. UDOT has a reputation for providing a good EIT experience, so more candidates apply that the program can accommodate. UDOT also offers a number of year-round internships that include full state benefits.

The EITs like the opportunity to work in the different specialty areas and gain broad experience. The rotations allow new engineers “to see how each [department] works and functions and how they each tie together,” says Greg Merrill who is assigned to Region One Construction. Rotations provide “a chance to find your niche” in preparation for later specialization.

Mandatory rotations include construction, design, maintenance and traffic and safety. Many of the EITs mention design as being particularly challenging. “I had no idea what went into a project from either the design or construction side, so I had to ask a lot of questions and do a lot of research,” writes Megan Leonard, “ Being able to actually design projects is an amazing process and learning how many little details go into each project was an eye opener.”

Many of the Rotational Engineers appreciate the chance to network and learn from others at UDOT. “I have had great supervisors that have provided plenty of guidance whenever I have needed assistance understanding a concept or completing a project,” writes Aaron Pinkerton.

Leonard appreciates the respect she is shown at work. “I recommend this program to everyone who can apply for it. I feel like I’m trusted and treated like an actual staff member and not just a glorified intern.”

Read the bios:

Brian Allen

Zack Andrus

Jeremy Bown

Eric Buell

Scott Esplin

Ryan Ferrin

Alex Fisher

Megan Leonard

Greg Merrill

Ryan Nuesmeyer

Phillip Peterson

Aaron Pinkerton

Kayde Roberts

Brandon Weight

KWKW

Know Where Know Why is a communication effort that’s aimed at helping motorists avoid construction-related delay.

The KWKW website shows pop-up descriptions of projects that may cause delay to the traveling public.

A printed guide, interactive website, radio and TV spots and now, a traffic app – all are components of “the overall communication campaign for construction information for the general public,” according to UDOT Public Information Officer Nate McDonald.

Twenty high-impact projects are featured in UDOT’s new Know Where, Know Why 2012 Road Construction Guide. New this year, the guide has been distributed to auto repair and oil change shops along the I-15 corridor. UDOT is hoping that motorists who are preparing for a road trip will notice and pick up the guide. Guides have also shipped out to hotels, motels and truck stops across the state.

KWKW also includes television and radio spots that highlight the highest impact projects for weekend travelers.

UDOT Traffic is a new smart phone app available at the iTunes Store and Android Market and includes:
• A Google Maps display
• Traffic conditions
• Crashes, construction and hazards
• Special events
• Road weather and forecasts
• Seasonal road closures
• Traffic camera images
• Roadway sign messages

MORE GREEN

UDOT’s Continuous Flow Intersections have been used to enhance east-west traffic mobility in Salt Lake County.

CFI’s provide more green-light time by eliminating potential points of conflict. Watch this new video to see how the innovative configuration can increase the number of cars moving through an intersection by up to 70 percent.

NJORD ON RESEARCH

The role of transportation researchers is to be continually “scouring the river looking for those valuable gems of truth that will enable us to be even better.”

“Our business is dynamic and it’s changing all the time,” according to UDOT Director John Njord. In the constantly shifting world of transportation, it’s important for leaders to understand the leading edge. To set the stage for progress, Njord prefers taking a step forward to the “bleeding edge.” In a recent interview Njord explained the bleeding edge, how UDOT has benefited from research and what the future holds for transportation.

Conservatism dominates the world of civil engineering; transportation delivery has not changed radically over the last fifty years. Leading safely will produce a good transportation system, but “the bleeding edge is where you’re cutting new territory,” explained Njord. He believes that leaders need to be willing to say “ok, nobody has done this, we don’t know if it will be successful, but we’re going to try it anyway.”

To reach the bleeding edge, executives need to create an environment where failure is not punished. Njord hopes researchers and others at UDOT feel comfortable enough to “step out on the edge” while weighing risks against benefits and doing as much as possible to ensure success.

Recent success

Research has helped UDOT’s efforts to improve system mobility and reduce construction related delay. When many intersections along the Bangerter Highway in Salt Lake County were facing operational challenges, UDOT engineers “launched out to Juarez, Mexico” to investigate Continuous Flow Intersections. UDOT has since built many CFIs. With design changes that make operation better suited to Utah locations “they are tremendously efficient,” explains Njord.

The Sam White Bridge replacement was the longest bridge to be moved into place in the Western Hemisphere. UDOT has rolled more new bridges into place than all other states combined.

Bridge moves allow road users to collectively realize savings in the millions of dollars by avoiding construction related delay. Nearly a decade ago, Njord and others from UDOT traveled to Florida to learn about accelerated bridge construction.

Today, UDOT has rolled more new bridges into place than all other states combined, he explains. “The time savings we’ve been able to generate for people who travel on the highways is worth finding new ways to work; we’re on that bleeding edge,” said Njord.

Great expectations

Njord looks forward to seeing new research generate products that will make the transportation system safer and more reliable. SHRP 2, a Transportation Research Board effort, is focusing on developing ways to improve safety at intersections, rehabilitate highways and bridges without disrupting traffic, minimize unpredictable traffic congestion and expand highway capacity while also considering the natural and built environments.

As chair of the USDOT Executive Committee for the Connected Vehicle Program, Njord sees a day when “your children and grand children will be able to purchase a car that will never crash.” Connected vehicle technology will make use of smart roads integrated with other systems to anticipate and eliminate collisions. “That’s pretty awesome, said Njord. “ We don’t see the whole picture today but we will.”