February 23rd, 2011

CROSSING LINES

5 Comments, Optimize Mobility, by Catherine Higgins.

UDOT’s system for helping to optimize travel on I-15 is working, but some bad driving behaviors really cross the double white lines.

 

Crossing the double white lines can also land you a hefty fine -- $82.

The good news about UDOT’s new Express Lane system is that it’s working.

Travel time on I-15 is improved when drivers use the Express Lanes. Vehicles with more than one passenger can use the Express Lanes for free. Solo drivers can purchase a pass and pay to use Express Lanes. UDOT manages travel time in the Express Lane by charging pass users a variable rate base on travel speed on I-15.

The smart new system allows vehicles to take up available space in the Express Lanes so travel time on I-15 is better for everyone.  But when drivers  cross the double white lines,  they risk causing a crash. Crossing the double white lines is un-safe practice and illegal for that reason.  Why?

Catherine Cutler is the engineer in charge of letting you know that crossing the double white lines is unsafe and illegal.

“There’s a speed differential between the Express Lanes and the general purpose lanes,” says Catherine Cutler, UDOT Express Lanes Project Manager. “My job is to make sure drivers are aware of how dangerous that practice is. Weaving in and out of the lanes by crossing the double white lines can cause drivers to break suddenly or swerve and cause a crash. ”

The Express Lanes on I-15 have been engineered to be as safe as possible. Double white lines provide a buffer to separate traffic traveling at different speeds from merging unexpectedly while dotted white lines provide an expected point for vehicles to move in and out of the Express Lanes.

Cutler hopes more drivers will be aware of Express Lane safety issues as they see some new billboards along I-15 at 1550 North and 12645 South. If everybody follows the law, drivers can enjoy Express Lane benefits without the risks caused by crossing the double white lines.

February 15th, 2011

WEB 2.0-RAMA

7 Comments, Optimize Mobility, by Catherine Higgins.

Lots of available social media tools make it easy for state DOTs to tell their story.

UDOT is among many state DOTs using social media tools like Facebook, Twitter and blogs primarily to communicate with the public.  A report posted online by the TRB‘s Volpe Center shows how social media tools are being used effectively to share information with the public and also internal audiences.

The report is full of great information and worth a read for anyone interested in using web 2.0 to talk to the public or find ways to collaborate online. An overview of all states shows who’s using what. Selected case studies offer valuable lessons learned for other agencies.

Do you like us?

Debbie DeLaMare, IT Programmer/Analyst with the Utah Department of Technology Services, views Utah DOT's Twitter page.

Before social media, UDOT and other agencies relied on print or T.V. media outlets to report issues. Now, social media tools let agencies send messages straight to the public.

Here are some of the tools UDOT uses:

Utah DOT on Facebook posts about transportation news from blogs or traditional media, or events such as public meeting announcements.

Utah DOT on Twitterbrief text messages on traffic delay, dates or events. Some individual projects also use Twitter or other text messaging services.

Commuterlink.utah.gov – a mashup that integrates Google Maps with UDOT traffic cameras. Users can click on a camera icon and see real time traffic views.

ProjectWise — an application that allows project team members to store and share documents in-the-cloud.

Online meeting — UDOT Region One recently held an online and in-person official public meeting simultaneously.

Other blogs — some programs use blogs to stay in touch with members of a work group or to tell a specific story about UDOT. For example, the UDOT Energy Team Blog posts about how UDOT saves energy and resources.

The advantages of being a social butterfly

In addition to disseminating information quickly, social media tools work together to:

  • Facilitate quick information exchange. Blog viewers or Twitter followers can ask or answer questions from a PC or smartphone.  Tweets to Utah DOT abut traffic delay can be re-tweeted so other drivers can choose an alternate route.
  • Offer the same messages in a different format. Sometimes, short Tweets are not as sweet — Tweets to Utah DOT about road conditions recently prompted UDOT Blog posts with long format answers about pavement markings and potholes.

What do you think?

Comment on this post, post on Facebook, or send us a Tweet!

February 10th, 2011

A PATRIOT SUPERVISOR

No Comments, Preserve Infrastructure, by Catherine Higgins.

A UDOT supervisor recently got a high-five for supporting a Utah National Guard employee.

The Employer Support of Guard and Reserve Patriot Award was presented to Shane Williamson, a UDOT Maintenance Supervisor in Parowan. Trans-Tech Scott Mackelprang nominated Williamson, his supervisor, for the award. Employers that practice personnel policies that support employee participation in the National Guard and Reserve are eligible for the award.

Scott Mackelprang and Shane Williamson

Williamson is proud to have received the a award. ”It was cool. It made me feel good, like I am making a contribution to a bigger cause.”

Mackelprang serves one weekend a month and two weeks once per year in the 222 Field Artillery Unit of the Utah National Guard, also known as the “Southern Utah Pride”  and “The Triple Duce.”  The unit is scheduled to deploy soon.

For Williamson, scheduling manpower around Mackelprang’s absence is a bit of a challenge but worth the effort.  Guard participation “makes employees better people…more prompt and disciplined. It helps the department,” he adds.

February 8th, 2011

SOLID SUCCESS

1 Comment, Uncategorized, by Catherine Higgins.

UDOT project teams use innovative solutions to reduce the inconvenience and traffic delay caused by road construction.

Examples of innovation in construction methods, phasing or delivery can be seen in several UDOT projects that recently received awards from the Utah Chapter of the American Concrete Pavement Association. The annual event provides a forum for transportation professionals to keep up with news about the concrete pavement industry.

Projects were chosen based on innovation and how team members worked to minimize inconvenience to road users while maintaining schedule, scope and budget. The judging committee looks for “innovative, unique projects with challenges,” says Mitzi McIntyre, Executive Director of the Utah Chapter.

The team from the 3500 South widening and BRT addition project show off a national award.

The awards were presented at ACPA’s Concrete Workshop in Salt Lake City. Here’s a list of the winning projects along with a few of the innovative solutions that were employed:

3500 South, Bangerter Highway to 2700 West widening – This busy travel and business corridor was widened from two to three lanes in each direction with a dedicated center-running BRT lane for the Utah Transit Authority.  A moveable concrete barrier was used to maintain traffic flow through the construction zone – a first for a UDOT urban/non-freeway project. Work was completed 8 months ahead of schedule.

The 3500 South project won Gold in the National Excellence in Concrete Paving Awards.

I-15 EXPRESSLink – This Design-Build project added an Express Lane, rebuilt general purpose lanes, replaced bridges and added ramp improvements between Salt Lake and Davis Counties.

To limit travel delay, traffic was shifted to one side of the freeway

New concrete on the EXPRESSLink, better known at UDOT as the Beck Street project.

while the other side was constructed, and a movable barrier was used to keep three lanes of traffic moving in the peak direction. EXPRESSLink was completed three months ahead of schedule.

Riverdale Road widening – A five lane roadway was expanded into a seven lane arterial that connects four cities with I-15 and I-84. More than 47,000 vehicles travel this busy corridor daily to access freeways and a business district.

Project success hinged on keeping business owners informed and keeping the project on schedule. To accommodate busy winter road use, a construction hiatus took place between mid December and January 1. Even with the break, the project was completed 24 days ahead of schedule.

Bangerter Highway CFI at4700 South and 5400 South – Two  innovative intersections were added to help traffic flow more efficiently.

To minimize construction impacts, crews worked in confined areas and reconfigured traffic control several times a day to not impede peak traffic flow.  Precast concrete panels were used in some locations to avoid long lane closures.

CFI team members

I-80 Airport ramp Concrete pavement restoration – Most work was completed at night to limit inconvenience to road users. Access to the airport was maintained at all hours.  The project was completed in 32 days, eight days ahead of schedule.

Syracuse Road widening – The original project scope called for using asphalt pavement. Using CMGC, an innovative contracting and delivery approach, UDOT determined that using Portland cement concrete pavement would not only provide longer design life, but also save over $1 million.

ALL AWARDS: See this presentation for a description of all award winners, including non-UDOT projects and contractors for each project.

February 4th, 2011

WHAT SAY YOU?

No Comments, Optimize Mobility, by Catherine Higgins.

Transportation planning takes many factors into account — population growth, traffic congestion, funding projections — and your comments.

UDOT’s Long Range Transportation Plan is a list of recommended projects that will address the needs of rural and small urban areas through 2040. Gathering comments from citizens about the LRP is an important part of the planning process.

U.S. 6 near the new Milepost 200 Bridge in Spanish Fork Canyon. UDOT's LRP lists two widening projects near this location.

Please comment by March 10

The LRP can be viewed in an PDF document with links that identify project locations.

UDOT is requesting that citizens review the LRP and comment by email or by using an online comment form.

More information:

Google Earth Map showing project locations


February 2nd, 2011

UDOT GETS FLASHY

No Comments, Optimize Mobility, by Catherine Higgins.

Have you noticed? UDOT is installing  safer, driver friendly, and energy saving flashing yellow arrow left-turn signals in many intersections.

Flashing yellow arrows are easier to understand for most drivers.

A seven year study done by TRB‘s National Cooperative Highway Research Program shows that flashing yellow arrow left turn signals (FYA) offer operational flexibility for traffic engineers. And because FYA are more easily understood, drivers make fewer mistakes.

Improved flexibility equals more turn time: FYA allows traffic engineers to change the order of the signal phases to allow green time to be staggered to accommodate vehicles arriving at intersections.

Flexibility allows “more options to handle variable traffic volumes, including the ability to change by time-of-day between protected only, protected/permissive only and permissive only indications,” according to Mark Taylor, Signal Systems Engineer at UDOT’s Traffic Operations Center.

Flashing yellow arrow signals were recently installed at 9620 South State Street in Sandy, Utah.

Improved safety: The FYA was shown to be more intuitively understood, resulting in  fewer crashes during heavy traffic.

The traditional signal box houses five signals, three of which are indications for both through traffic and left turns. ”The FYA separates the signals out from the through vehicles and left turn vehicles to keep it more simple,” explains Taylor.

For road users, FYA use results in reduced delay, fewer crashes, less pollution from vehicle emissions and decreased fuel consumption.

It’s official: A new updated UDOT policy incorporates flashing yellow arrows and establishes warrant criteria required for signalized intersections.

UDOT will switch to FYA where funds allow.  For new construction, FYI will be installed where warranted, according to the new policy.

In existing intersections, FYA left turn signals will be installed depending on conditions. For example, the mast arm must be long enough to accommodated the signal head. Replacing a mast arm and possibly installing a new support column can be prohibitively expensive.

January 31st, 2011

SAFE STUDENTS WIN

No Comments, Uncategorized, by Catherine Higgins.

Some Utah students were awarded bikes and scooters for walking safely to school during a month-long challenge last fall.

Students earned the prizes for being among the more than 1,000 participants in the second annual “Walk More in Four” challenge in September.

A Fairview Elementary student

UDOT’s Safe Routes to School encouragement campaign and the Student Neighborhood Access Program (SNAP)™, awarded 49 donated helmets, bikes and scooters in classrooms and assemblies statewide.

Students from 25 school districts and 66 schools charted their progress for a chance to win prizes, including bikes, scooters and helmets, with support from Walmart. Utah’s SRTS Coordinator, Cherissa Wood, presented the prizes to the surprised students in classrooms and assemblies with the entire student body.

Walk More in Four encouraged K-8 students to safely walk or bike to and from school at least three times each week during the four weeks in September leading up to International Walk to School Day, October 6.

Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert joined UDOT, parents and students at Rosecrest Elementary School in Salt Lake City, one of five kickoff events throughout the state. The Governor greeted and walked with students to school to encourage healthy and safe walking habits.

January 26th, 2011

WAY TO GO

7 Comments, Uncategorized, by Catherine Higgins.

Custom web-based software makes mapping safe routes a snap!

 

SNAP Maps, like the one on this poster, can be generated easily and printed, posted online or shared via email.

Utah’s Safe Routes to Schools program, administered by UDOT, has launched the newly redesigned Student Neighborhood Access Program (SNAP)™ software, a custom tool to assist schools in creating their safe routing plan maps. Already more than 20 percent of Utah’s elementary, junior high and middle school principals have accessed the free SNAP Software online to create a safe routes map for their school.

Improved convenience

The Web-based software allows use on any PC/MAC and principals can share the map online with parents and students. SNAP Software interfaces with Google™ Maps to provide improved accuracy and ease of use. The program includes mapping symbols specific to identifying a safe route. Other features include a Spanish option and large format and quadrant printing.

“We believe that by providing Utah schools with an easy-to-use

SNAP helps schools plan safe routes and promotes healthy, safe walking and biking to school.

resource to create a safe routes map, they will be more likely to get these maps into the hands of their students and help us encourage more children to walk and bike to school safely,” said Cherissa Wood, Utah’s Safe Routes to School coordinator.

Principal approved

The redesigned SNAP Software was created with feedback from more than 100 principals. UDOT also provides a detailed planning guide on how to map a safe route and create an inventory of the school’s walking and biking area.

SNAP Software is available online or by email.

Cherissa Wood, UDOT SNAP Program Coordinator

January 24th, 2011

DESIGNED TO LAST

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

I-15 CORE pavement layers stack up to a durable, weather resistant, low maintenance, 40-year life.

Traffic has switched to new concrete pavement between Lindon and American Fork, marking I-15 CORE as twenty-five percent complete. The new smooth ride is a predictor of good things to come.

 

PAVEMENT PANORMA: Click on this image to view a larger version. Thanks goes to John Butterfield, UDOT Materials/Pavement Engineer, for this great photo.

More than just a pretty surface

“Any pavement design is a multi-layered system,” says John Butterfield, UDOT Materials and Pavement Engineer on the I-15 CORE project. I-15 CORE pavement consists of four layers from the bottom up: granular borrow, drainable granular borrow, asphalt base and Portland Cement concrete.

The amount of material in each layer is adjusted according to different factors, like drainage requirements, availability of materials or project budget. Traffic volume is the most important factor engineers consider when designing pavement.

Where the rubber hits

“The main thing that drives pavement design is traffic,” says Butterfield.  ”It all has to add up to the structural value that is predicted from traffic volume expected on that road.”

The forty-year pavement design on the I-15 CORE project is a value-added feature that the contractor, Provo River Constructors, included in their winning proposal.  UDOT asked for 30-year pavement, “they gave us forty,” says Butterfield.

Why concrete?

Going the extra mile: A worker makes smooth concrete even smoother for a bump-free ride.

UDOT prefers concrete on high-volume roads. “Under heavy interstate traffic, concrete is the best investment,” Butterfield explains, because it’s smooth, rigid and less maintenance is required compared to asphalt. “We just know it works and it will last if it’s done right.”

Concrete is also weather resistant. In engineer-speak, concrete has “an air void system to allow for the pressures generated when internal water freezes.”

Translated, that means potholes are exceptionally rare!

VIDEO: This  KSL story below shows concrete installation, and the video after the story shows the layers that make up the pavement.

 

Video Courtesy of KSL.com

January 24th, 2011

URBAN UPGRADE

No Comments, Preserve Infrastructure, Uncategorized, by Catherine Higgins.

A familiar road rehabilitation process can be made urban-friendly thanks to a new way to spread cement slurry.

UDOT has used full-depth reclamation for about five years. The process recycles installed concrete or asphalt and base material into new road base by pulverizing, grading, stabilizing and compacting the old material.

Dr. Spencer Guthrie, Associate Professor at BYU and Research Assistant Charles Hope presented a case study to illustrate the advantages of cement stabilized FDR at the 2011 Annual Utah ACPA Concrete Workshop last week.

A smart strategy

FDR can be part of an overall smart pavement strategy. “If a project is suitable, you get a lot of benefits,”  said Guthrie, including reduced project costs, less impact on stakeholders and better conservation of natural resources.

Here’s why:

  • The process reuses materials “your mom and dad paid for,” so project costs are reduced.
  • FDR reduces mining of virgin materials.
  • Materials do not need to be hauled off, so there is less impact on surrounding roads and roadusers.
  • Only brief access closures are necessary since traffic can drive over the FDR surface during most of the process, so resident and business inconvenience is minimal.

Stabilization is the key

FDR can sometimes be mechanically stabilized, but usually stabilization agents, including cement or emulsion are used.

A new spreader makes cement stabilized FDR urban-friendly.

Cement powder has been used with FDR in rural areas for decades. But, powder use results in fugitive dust which is unacceptable in an urban setting.

Guthrie and Hope’s presentation showed how a cylindrical spreader with spouts, attached to a ready-mix truck, can be used to distribute cement slurry evenly without producing fugitive dust. The newly developed spreader should be available for use soon.

Cement vs. emulsion

When emulsion is used to stabilize FDR, full strength is achieved after evaporation occurs. This factor makes using emulsion risky during cold or rainy weather — not so with cement.

“Cement loves water,” said Guthrie. “If it rains, no problem.”

Using cement stabilized FDR has other advantages over emulsion:

  • Increased rigidity
  • Elimination of rutting below the surface
  • Reduced susceptibility to moisture, frost and fatigue cracking
  • Thinner pavement sections

Because of the elimination of fugitive dust, the new spreader has potential for making cement stabilized FDR available for use in urban areas.

More information:

Slurry Spreader Handout

FDR Design Process Overview

ACPA-CementSlurry-20110118b