August 18th, 2010

CLEAN LIVING

2 Comments, Uncategorized, by Catherine Higgins.

What started as a search to find a way to remove litter from state highways has turned into training program for workers who need job skills.

A UDOT van with a fully-equip trailer stops along westbound S.R.-201. Crews pick up litter, fix guardrail, install sign bases and complete other tasks under the supervision of Robert Smith, UDOT Road Maintenance Crew Foreman.

Clean-up along state roads is often a low priority in lean budget times.  Since litter can cause safety and environmental problems in addition to being ugly, UDOT Maintenance Methods Engineer Lynn Bernhard went looking for a solution by calling other state agencies.

Workforce Services needed places for legal residents who are recent refugees to work in exchange for benefits. But just having workers pick up trash was not good enough. WFS clients needed mentors who could teach them the basics of getting and keeping a job. Both WFS and UDOT personnel were not sure a partnership would work. UDOT put uncertainty aside began to build an employment program based on road maintenance tasks.

Getting started

Region Two in Salt Lake City was chosen as the location for the new program. Jake Brown, Lead Maintenance Technician at Station 230, was given the job of developing the program. Soon, Jake had identified forty separate skill-based tasks that WFS clients could do without a computer or a commercial drivers license. The first fifteen-person crew started training then working in July, 2009.

There were early challenges. Teaching skills to workers who are not yet English proficient was difficult but UDOT employees developed effective ways to demonstrate how to change a snow-plow blade, maintain landscaping equipment or stay safe while working.

Bob Giolas, left and Jake Brown at UDOT Maintenance Station 230

During an eight week assignment, the WFS crew members learn entry level roadway maintenance skills under the supervision of UDOT employees.  Crew members are expected to show up on time, notify the supervisor in advance of absences, complete assigned tasks and perform quality work. At the end of the program, crew members are given a certificate listing the skills gained and contacts to use as references in future job searches.

Success feels good

The year-old training program has enjoyed success.  Many of the workers have found jobs.  Not all of the WFS sites have a waiting list but UDOT’s program does. “The waiting list is a good success meter,” says Jake.

Lynn and Jake both recognize the intrinsic value of helping people.  Lynn says the program is “sure something that feels good.” Jake is pleased that UDOT is teaching skills that can help these newcomers get long term work.  “They just want a better life too.”

Because of the success of the partnership, WFS and UDOT are talking about expanding to other cities. And, UDOT has found a way to benefit workers who have previous maintenance experience or a higher aptitude as a fixer.

Check back next week for an update!

August 11th, 2010

Don’t pass this up!

4 Comments, Uncategorized, by Catherine Higgins.

Enrollment in UDOT’s new Express Pass System is enjoying a strong start.

Nearly 6000 new Express Passes will soon be attached to the windshields of Utah motorists. An Express Pass will let drivers pay to use Express Lanes when car-pooling is not an option. UDOT kicks off the new system on August 23.

Catherine Cutler, Express Lanes Project Manager, shows her Express Pass

Why is the new system such a hit?

“This option has not been available before,” Says Catherine Cutler, the UDOT Express Lanes Manager. Catherine thinks that motorists see good value in the new pay-as-you-go approach.

A flood of new users begs the question; will the Express Lanes get too  crowded slow down too much?

“No,” says Catherine.  When traffic gets sluggish, “we will increase the price to discourage solo driver use of the lane, but maintain the benefit for carpoolers, who can always use the lane for free. The new system will allow UDOT to maximize the use of all lanes.”

Visit the Express Lanes website to enroll or see how the new system works.

August 9th, 2010

Successful first launch

No Comments, Uncategorized, by Catherine Higgins.

 

Crews carefully nudge the west span of the new Layton interchange into place

After rolling and sliding bridges into place, UDOT has now successfully completed it’s first launch.

Early Sunday morning, August 8, UDOT completed placement of the west span of the new Layton interchange, closing the freeway for a mere five hours. The bridge was built on the side of the freeway out of the way of live traffic. Crews used a hydraulic jack to carefully nudge the bridge into place inch by inch.

UDOT has used Accelerated Bridge Construction methods on 20 bridges since the first bridge move in 2008. ABC saves time for road users over regular construction because new bridges are built nearby then moved into place, keeping the freeway open during construction.

Read a story in the Ogden Standard Examiner for more details on the launch or watch a KSL story, below, to see a time-lapsed video and get an overview of other construction in the area.

 

Video Courtesy of KSL.com

August 5th, 2010

Take the bus

No Comments, Uncategorized, by Catherine Higgins.

Re-established transit route helps rural Utahns stay connected to the Wasatch Front

What happens when a resident of a rural Utah needs to see a doctor in Salt Lake City and a car ride is not an option?  Between 2004 and October 2009, residents of rural areas between Vernal and Salt Lake were out of luck when it came to daily travel options.  However, a re-established route makes reliable, regular travel convenient thanks to a federal-state partnership that subsidizes daily bus rides between Salt Lake City and Denver, Colorado.

Tracy Young, Rural Public Transit Manager with the Public Transit Team at UDOT is very happy about the service.  “It’s really going to help the people, especially low income, elderly and those with disabilities, get access to the Wasatch Front.”

Transit is important to rural Utahns who may not have access to the same level of medical services or, educational and employment opportunities along the Wasatch Front. The route is a regular Intercity Bus service that now receives funding through a Federal Transportation Administration grant managed by the Public Transit Team at UDOT .  Riders pay regular Greyhound rates.

Tracy Young, left, and Leone Gibson, right, pose with a bus driver on the new route.

The route was cancelled in 2004. Research showed the route needed to be revived to help improve the quality of life of rural residents. While visiting towns along the route, Tracy received a lot of positive comments. “People would stop us on the street and say how this service is needed. Every comment we got that day was positive.”  The Public Transit Team is planning on surveying riders to get feedback on the service.

August 4th, 2010

Intrepid and UDOT bring home the silver

1 Comment, Optimize Mobility, by Catherine Higgins.

Intrepid and UDOT have won a prestigious award for an innovative approach to providing public information.

Nate McDonald of Intrepid and Evelyn Tuddenham of UDOT hold the Silver Anvil Award given for the Innovate 80 campaign.

Innovate-80 was a communication strategy aimed at telling the public about construction on Interstate 80. The team responsible for the massive effort has won the Silver Anvil Award from the Public Relations Society of America.

“We needed to inform thousands of local motorists as well as travelers and cross-country truckers about the projects to minimize the impacts,” says Evelyn Tuddenham, who was UDOT’s Public Involvement lead for the project.  ”We knew we had to use a multi-media approach to increase our reach and hold peoples’ interest throughout construction.”

Amalia Deslis from Parsons Brinkerhoff and and Kim Clark from VIA Consulting also helped with the PI effort.

Intrepid, a Salt Lake-based Hybrid communications agency, has won three Silver Anvils. Only 10 Silver Anvils have been given to local organizations during the more than 60-year history of the award.

Intrepid and UDOT were among 59 Silver Anvil recipients from more than 800 entries nationwide, including the most respected public relations agencies in the world.

July 29th, 2010

It’s all in the timing

18 Comments, Uncategorized, by Catherine Higgins.

UDOT and Bountiful City have worked together to improve signal timing at major intersections.

A young pedestrian crosses at Main Street and Fourth North. Wait times are shorter and east-west travel is more efficient now east of the freeway in Bountiful.

Drivers in Bountiful, Utah now have shorter wait times at UDOT and Bountiful City intersections. Mat Luker, Assistant Signal Systems Engineer with UDOT worked closely with Bountiful City Engineering to re-time signals to reduce delay and provide longer left turn cycles in intersections east of the freeway.

“UDOT is a great partner and we appreciate them very much,” says Assistant Bountiful City Engineer Lloyd Cheney. Drivers in Bountiful should be seeing less delay while driving to the freeway during peak travel times. “Those who go east and west should see improvement.”

July 27th, 2010

HEAVY TRAFFIC CAUSING STRESS?

5 Comments, Preserve Infrastructure, by Catherine Higgins.

UDOT and University of Utah researchers are collecting data to find out how a new material reacts under the stress of freeway traffic.

A truck crosses Beaver Creek Bridge. Some of the equipment that measures stress is visible in the lower right corner under the bridge.

Instead of the usual steel rebar, the concrete deck panels on the Beaver Creek Bridge on US-6 are internally supported with Fiber Reinforced Polymer. The bridge has sensors that measure strain and trigger a camera to snap a photo when the bridge is stressed to a predefined limit. The photos and data collected by the sensors are part of a study that is helping University of Utah researchers and UDOT accumulate information about FRP, a material that may make make bridge decks last much longer.

“The number one cause of degradation of bridges is rusting steel inside concrete,”  says Fred Doehring, Deputy Structural Engineer at UDOT. Bridges are designed to last 75 years or longer while decks only last 40 to 45 years.

The GFRP is formed into bars that look similar to rebar. FRP has a tensile strength greater than steel but weighs much less, steel which means the grid is easy to place. Deck panels are also easier to transport.

Beaver Creek Bridge was designed by UDOT’s Rebecca Nix, who says she has really enjoyed the project. Nix is helping to evaluate the new information along with researchers.  By using FRP data collected in a real-world setting, UDOT will know how to “design based on what’s really happening.”

Rebecca Nix, Structural Designer at UDOT, stands near Beaver Creek Bridge.

July 19th, 2010

DO THE LOCOMOTION

2 Comments, Uncategorized, by Catherine Higgins.

UDOT’s brand new rest stop echoes Tucker’s railroad past.

Dave Babcock, Fleet Manager in UDOT Region 4′s Price Office wrote this article about UDOT’s newest rest area.

A railroad servicing area in the town of Tucker, Utah. This photo shows a coal bunker and stored coal, left, and a water tank, right. Click on the photo to enlarge. (Used by permission, Utah State Historical Society, all rights reserved.)

The Utah Department of Transportation has constructed a new Safety Rest Area and Visitor Center on US-6 at Milepost 202, at a location known as Tie Fork.  The new facility was a concept and design to pay tribute to the town of Tucker and also to the history of the railroad heritage from the Soldier Summit and Helper areas.

The town of Tucker, Utah, which was 2 miles south of Tie Fork, existed from the early 1900’s to about 1915, and was in it’s prime in about 1910, when over 200 residents called Tucker home.  Tucker was built because of a railroad spur toPleasant Valley.  The narrow gauge rail went directly south from Tucker and served the coal mines in the Scofield and Pleasant Valley areas.

Tucker Rest area (Milepost 204) was built in 1969 and served travelers for 40 years.      In 2009, the Tucker Rest area was removed to allow a highway safety project to be constructed.  At that time, the Tie Fork site was selected for the new rest area.

The UDOT concept team felt it was important to build the restroom and visitor center to resemble a train depot of the early 1900’s.  They also felt that a locomotive roundhouse look would be appropriate for the information kiosks and picnic table area.  Once this design was accepted, the idea of placing a locomotive on site was suggested. After exploring different possibilities, Original Creations was hired to build a replica of a 1900’s steam locomotive, which is proudly displayed on site.

Tie Fork Rest Area under construction -- the design of the building resembles a a locomotive roundhouse

Tie Fork will serve the travelers of US-6 for many years to come.  It will give them an opportunity to safely rest for 10 or 15  minutes, making the US-6 highway corridor a safer place for all.

July 15th, 2010

UDOT ENGINEER HONORED

No Comments, Uncategorized, by Catherine Higgins.
A UDOT Region One engineer known for his efforts to mentor fellow employees has won a national award.

Brad Humphreys

Brad Humphreys, P.E., of Millville, Cache County, was announced as the co-recipient of the 2010 Dr. L. I. Hewes Award, July 12, at the annual conference of the Western Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (WASHTO) in Bismarck, North Dakota.  Named co-recipient with Humphreys was Jeani Borchert, Tribal Consultation Coordinator with the North Dakota Department of Transportation.

Humphreys was presented with a cash award and plaque in winning this award.  According to UDOT Region One Director Jason Davis, the award committee was impressed by many of Humphrey’s qualifications, but specifically found the mentoring of his employees, which has been evident in every aspect of his position, along with his own commitment to continuing education in his profession and personal life, as very noteworthy.  Humphreys was joined by his wife, Terry, in traveling to Bismarck to receive this award, Davis said.

The Dr. L. I. Hewes Award was created in 1951 by the Western Construction Magazine, a journal devoted to engineering and construction in the western states, and annually recognizes the recipient’s outstanding contribution to national highway development programs.  The award was initiated to honor Dr. Laurence Isley Hewes, former Deputy Commissioner of the Bureau of Public Roads, Western Region (predecessor of today’s Federal Highway Administration), who directed the Federal highway construction programs in the 11 western States and the Territories of Alaska and Hawaii, and became one of the principle founders of WASHTO.

Vic Saunders, Public Involvement Manager, UDOT Region One

July 14th, 2010

PAINTING OVER GRAFFITI

8 Comments, Preserve Infrastructure, by Catherine Higgins.

UDOT workers paint over graffiti in the Spaghetti Bowl where I-80 splits to go to southbound I-15. Workers from Station 2445 always "find a way to get it down," says Dave Kelley, who is holding the sprayer. Looking on is Mike Ellis, also in the bucket. On top feeding the paint line is Jeffery Stephenson. Behind is Riley O'Brien and driving is Greg Fatzinger. Thanks, guys!

Graffiti vandals are getting better at defacing structures along state routes but UDOT workers are right on their heels.

“Some people don’t even know we have a graffiti problem because we find it and get rid of it so quick,” says Dave Kelley who works at UDOT Station 2445. Workers use a bridge inspection truck (sometimes called a “snooper” because the arm of the truck reaches under bridges) to get the tough spots. Kelley and others at that station are are also responsible for removing over-grown weeds along state routes.