September 23rd, 2010

I-CORE SELECTION: A CLEAN PROCESS

2 Comments, Uncategorized, by Catherine Higgins.

A letter from the Federal Highway Administration calls the selection process for the I-15 CORE project “fair and objective.”

The letter was received by the Governor’s office this week with. A copy was also sent to UDOT Director John Njord.

FHWA was a partner with UDOT before construction during the environmental process and Record of Decision.  After the ROD was issued, a FHWA official acted as non-voting member during the procurement process.

UDOT was required by FHWA to conduct a competitive selection process.


September 23rd, 2010

UDOT DIRECTOR SPEAKS TO EMPLOYEES

1 Comment, Uncategorized, by Catherine Higgins.

UDOT Director John Njord

UDOT Director John Njord is visiting employee groups this week to talk about the I-15 CORE selection process and the decision to pay a monetary settlement to resolve a contract dispute.

The selection process and settlement has been the subject of recent media coverage associated with the Utah gubernatorial race.

Njord wanted to visit employees face to face in order to explain the situation and answer any questions posed by employees. His presentation on Wednesday included a narrative of the selection of Provo River Constructors as the contractor for I-15 CORE, a $1.1 billion contract, largest contract ever awarded by UDOT. He also explained in detail how he arrived at the decision to pay Flatiron/Skansa/Zachry $13 million to refrain from filing suit against UDOT for selecting the winning bidder.  Presentations will be scheduled through Monday of next week or as needed.

After his explanation, Njord asked employees to ask any and all questions about the matter saying “there’s no question you can’t ask.” Employees asked a broad range of questions about the selection process, why decisions were made, and in hind sight, what would he have done differently. Some employees offered personal support and some agreed with Njord about the decision to pay money to FSZ.

UDOT has also posted information about this process online. For a timeline and look at documents associated with the I-15 CORE process visit the front page of the UDOT website to see links to that information.

Do you have questions you’d like to ask Director Njord? Post questions below and answers will be posted as soon as possible. Please read the UDOT Blog disclaimer before posting questions.

September 21st, 2010

HANKSVILLE STATION VS. SCOUR

7 Comments, Uncategorized, by Catherine Higgins.

Mike Ellis, Structural Maintenance Coordinator in the Structures and Bridge Operations Division, sent in this post about the Hanksville crew’s skill and resourcefulness in repairing a box culvert.

Front, left to right: Max Conder, Wellington crew; Pete Johansen, Colton crew; Phillip Merancio, Hanksville crew; Dale Sellers, Hanksville crew; Von Bowerman, Thompson crew;Back row, left to right: Stan Roberts, Hanksville crew, Dave Roberts, UDOT Region Four Area Supervisor; Ozzie Trujillo, Price crew; Ronnie Albrecht, Hanksville crew; Todd Randall, Monticello crew; George Leighton, Price Safety; George Peterson, Hanksville Station Supervisor; A J. Rogers, UDOT Region Four Area Supervisor

This summer, the UDOT Hanksville Maintenance Station crew took on project typically advertised for bid to contractors and lead an effort to repair a culvert and create a safe route for S.R.-24 road users.

The Hanksville Station, working with the Structures Division and the Hydraulics Section, developed a plan to repair a scoured box culvert. The scour was caused by the change in the Fremont River’s water level due to the removal of a diversion dam.

Stacked barrier is secured with cable

The crew excavated the area below the box culvert then placed five levels of barriers stacked to match the bottom level of the box culvert. The barriers were stacked two upright and one down in the middle creating a flat surface for the next level. The barriers were also tied together by cable to establish an integrated block.

After getting four levels of barriers placed and being one level of barrier from the bottom of the box culvert, a flash flood occurred. The flood created a new structural safety problem by eroding the fill beneath the box culvert to the centerline of the road. The Hanksville Station coordinated with the Structures Division and created an emergency plan to address the erosion problem and finish the scour project.

A flash flood that occurred during the work caused a new problem: erosion of fill under the culvert.

The plan consisted of finishing the last level of barrier, drilling four holes in the box culvert floor (2 holes in each barrel), containing the area, and pumping concrete under the box culvert to support the structure.

The roadway was restricted to one lane over the box culvert until the concrete was in place. Approximately 120 yards of concrete was placed.  The crew then finished placing large rip-rap in front of the barriers to prevent future scour from occurring.

The Hanksville Station utilized all the available materials within the area, including obtaining rip-rap by blasting a near-by slope, making this project very cost effective while providing a long term solution. The Hanksville Station worked endless hours to resolve the emergency situation and create a safe driving condition for the traveling public.

Culvert repair at 90% complete

Those involved accomplished a remarkable feat; the project required fast response, skillful work and resourcefulness.  The Hanksville Station brought all this in abundance and really went the extra mile to serve the citizens that rely on this route.

The Department is fortunate to have great people and all involved should be proud of the work they provided.

Repaired culvert during a recent flash flood -- it works!

September 16th, 2010

JOHN NJORD ON I-15 CORE SELECTION

No Comments, Uncategorized, by Catherine Higgins.

UDOT Director John Njord has been interviewed by media regarding questions that have arisen surrounding the I-15 CORE procurement process.

Below are some links interviews where he explains some of the decision making that went on during the process.

In the first video, KSL reports the story. The second video is an interview of Joseph Rust, a construction attorney. The third is an interview of Director Njord.

Video Courtesy of KSL.com

John Njord was featured on the first hour of the Doug Wright Show on KSL radio on September 14. To hear the podcast, visit the Doug Wright Show website, scroll down to the podcast box and click the orange XML button.

Director Njord was interviewed for this September 15 Deseret News story.


September 14th, 2010

DON’T DRIVE DISTRACTED

No Comments, Uncategorized, by Catherine Higgins.

Online communication tools will help get the word out about distracted driving.

Even if you’re not traveling to Washington D.C to attend the U.S. Department of Transportation’s  Distracted Driving Summit on September 21, you can still hear, see, read about and comment on the event as it occurs. The summit will offer live webcasts, blogging and tweets to carry the important message to more people and ”make an even bigger dent in the deadly epidemic of distraction,” says U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in a recent blog post.

Experts from the transportation, law enforcement and communications industries will present information and participate in panel discussions.  Event organizers are inviting the public to submit questions to panelists before the event by emailing DDSummit@dot.gov by close of business on September 20. Before emailing, check out the agenda and list of speakers so you can indicate who should answer your question.

To take advantage of the online access to the summit, visit www.distraction.gov on the day of the event.

Traffic deaths have fallen to an all time low in Utah and across the nation. Eliminating distracted driving can help promote that downward trend. Utah’s goal is to eliminate all fatalities.

UDOT Director talks to reporters at a Zero Fatalities media event. Preventing distracted driving is part of the Zero effort.

September 8th, 2010

HOT SHOTS ON THE ROAD

3 Comments, Uncategorized, by Catherine Higgins.

UDOT has has great success in partnering with the Department of Workforce Services to provide opportunities for workers to develop job skills.

A recent UDOT Blog post and an article written by Station 230 Lead Maintenance Technician Jake Brown details the new program, called Road to a Better Future, and the achievements of the participants. UDOT is building on the success of the WFS partnership by starting a Hot Shot team that will travel throughout Region Two and complete pressing maintenance tasks.

An experienced UDOT maintenance worker will accompany the Hot Shot crew in a refurbished trailer loaded with all the necessary equipment. The used trailer was rebuilt by UDOT Heavy Equipment Shop workers.

Jake Brown shows off some equipment in the Hot Shot trailer as Bob Giolas, Hot Shot Crew Foreman, looks on.

The Hot Shot crew will be able to respond quickly to fix signs, repair guardrail barriers, respond to customer requests, remove over grown trees, and other jobs that need special equipment or a more advanced skill level.

The Hot Shot crew evolved because “many of the workers did more than we expected,” says Jake.  He and others at UDOT wanted to give the WFS  clients opportunity to use their skills. The new Hot Shot crew will benefit UDOT too, by supplying “another tool in our arsenal,” to stay on top of maintenance tasks, says Jake.

Left to right: Jake Brown, Robert Smith, Road Maintenance Crew Foreman and Bob Giolas show off the Road to a Better Future trailer.

September 8th, 2010

OVER THE LIMIT

2 Comments, Uncategorized, by Catherine Higgins.

Getting drunk drivers off the road is the aim of the nation wide “Over the Limit, Under Arrest” campaign.

The T.V. spots aren’t new, but some newly published data shows compelling evidence why the message is needed: nationwide, more people may be driving drunk.

According to results of a survey conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, one out of five people who consume alcohol get behind the wheel of a car within two hours.

The survey also showed that young people may put them selves and others at risk when drinking. Eight percent of the population 16 or older reported that they had driven after drinking or ridden in the car of an impaired driver.

This message aired on T.V. more frequently during the recent Labor Day weekend:

The NHTSA also announced that law enforcement efforts would be stepped up across the country during the holiday weekend.

In Utah, troopers were out in full force over Labor Day weekend, says Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Todd Johnson. “During holidays we try to have every available trooper working.” Troopers target aggressive and impaired drivers by observing driving patterns and investigating crash scenes, then making arrests when necessary.

UDOT partners with the Utah Department of Public Safety on the Zero Fatalities safety campaign that aims at eliminating all crashes, not just those caused by alcohol consumption. Statistics tracked by Zero Fatalities show that crashes caused by driving under the influence of alcohol are still a big problem.

Some good news: Utah enjoys the lowest rate of alcohol related crashes in the nation. And, Utah is also seeing a favorable downward trend in all crashes, not just those related to alcohol. UDOT and the Department of Public Safety will continue to use proven strategies to help Utah reach zero.

September 2nd, 2010

AIMING FOR ZERO ON U.S. 6

No Comments, Uncategorized, by Catherine Higgins.

Safety on a heavily traveled commercial and tourism route in Utah has improved significantly.

A truck crosses Beaver Creek Bridge on U.S. 6. In 2007 (the last year data is available) 32 percent of vehicles traveling U.S. 6 at Soldier Summit were trucks.

U.S. 6 between Spanish Fork and Price, Utah includes 130 miles of highway and is a primary transportation artery for energy, commerce and tourism. UDOT has improved safety on the important route by adding new lanes, better signs, rumble strips and by changing the roadway alignment.

Over the past 10 years, the Utah Transportation Commission and UDOT have demonstrated their commitment to improving the U.S. 6 corridor by completing construction on 56 projects with a total project value of $239 million.

This photo shows a rumble stripe -- bumps in the center of the road make a noise so drivers know when their tires cross the center line. Rumble stripes are an effective way to prevent cross-over collisions.

As a result of safety improvements, the average number of fatal or serious accidents has declined. Between 2000 and 2005, an average of 27 fatal or serious injury crashes occurred per year.  Between 2006 and 2009, average dropped to 14 fatal and serious injury crashes per year.

While improvement in the average accident numbers is good, UDOT remains committed to eliminating all accidents on U.S. 6 and all other State and Federal roads in Utah. Visit the Zero Fatalities website for more information, including ways you can join UDOT in preventing crashes.

August 31st, 2010

SINGLE DRIVER SEEKS FASTER COMMUTE

No Comments, Uncategorized, by Catherine Higgins.

Signs show drivers who have an Express Pass the price to use the Express Lanes

UDOT’s new system of charging solo drivers for I-15 Express Lane use is live!

For motorists who travel alone and want to reach Wasatch Front destinations more quickly, using the Express Lanes may be a good solution. Express Lanes on I-15 are still free for carpools, motorcycles and C-plate vehicles.  Solo drivers can use the lanes with an Express Pass.

Over 6,000 drivers are benefitting by having an Express Pass. What about you? In case you’re trying to decide whether or not to commit, here are a few answers to the most common questions and some links to more information.

Q: How do Express Lanes work?

A: The Express Lanes are divided into four payment zones. Electronic overhead signs show the current price to use each zone. Readers along I-15 detect in-vehicle Express Passes, and a pre-paid account is debited.

UDOT will manage Express Lane use by adjusting the price according to traffic conditions — so when traffic is heavy drivers will pay little more. The new system will allow maximum use of all lanes with the Express Lanes maintaining a speed of 55 mph during peak travel times.

Q: What if I have a pass but decide to carpool now and then?

A: When car pooling, the Express Pass can be easily turned off to prevent a charge for Express Lane use.

Q: If I enter the Express Lanes at the last access point before the next zone begins, will I be charged for two zones?

A: No, drivers will only be charged for the next zone entered.

For more information or to enroll, visit the Express Lanes website.

See UDOT’s video about the Express Pass system:

For news about the new Express Lanes system, read UDOT’s press release about Express Lanes or watch a recent KSL story:

Video Courtesy of KSL.com

August 25th, 2010

SAFE, HEALTHY KIDS

No Comments, Uncategorized, by Catherine Higgins.

Need a winning way to encourage your kids to stay safe and develop healthy habits? Utah Governor Gary Herbert has a suggestion: participate in Walk More in Four 2010.

Photographers snap away as Governor Herbert presses the flesh at Rosecrest Elementary.

Elementary, middle and junior high students who walk or bike to school safely three days per week during four weeks in September can enter to win prizes including a bike, scooter or helmet. To participate, students should chart their progress using a downloadable form, then mail in the form by October 5.

A SNAP Map shows the safest ways to get to and from school.

The Governor introduced the Walk More in Four 2010 to students of Rosecrest Elementary this morning.  The iniatiative is sponsored by UDOT’s  Student Neighborhood Access Program, which helps schools map the safest routes for students to travel to and from school.

For more information about Walk More in Four 2010, and some helpful resources for parents and school administrators, see SNAP program information on UDOT’s website.

And, the U.S. Department of Transportation blog recently included a post about a stay-safe strategy called “Walking School Buses.”