REAL WORLD ESTIMATES

UDOT’s Estimate Support Team scrutinizes all associated project costs for better pre-bid estimates. 

The team also lends expertise to project teams to appropriately price change orders. The process, called cost-based estimating, is a departure from using average historical costs. Project costs, such as materials, can be subject to fluctuation due to market forces and project location, so an average of historical costs may not provide a good representation of specific project costs. Estimates that are close as possible to market costs allow UDOT to:

  • Allocate funds more wisely – high estimates leave money on the table when bids come in lower than expected. Better estimates mean funds can be shifted to other projects an average four months sooner.
  • Minimize re-advertizing – pre-bid cost estimates that are too low result in bids that may not be subject to approval. Re-advertizing is costly and delays improvements to the transportation system.
  • Be wise stewards of public funds during construction – pricing change orders correctly keeps the construction budget under control and allows UDOT to get the most out of every project dollar.

Chris Wilson, Abdi Fatemi, Jason Henrie and George Lukes are the Estimate Support Team. The team's cost based approach is producing estimates closer to the expected bid amounts.

Since June 2011, the UDOT Estimate Support team members George Lukes of UDOT and Jason Henrie, Abdi Fatemi and Chris Wilson of Stanley Consultants have been integrating with project teams. The team’s cost based approach is producing estimates closer to the expected bid amounts — the percentage of estimate funds awarded at bid opening jumped from 77 percent in 2010 to 91 percent in 2011.

Working together

Estimating project costs is more than just taking a look at market values. Estimators need to be experienced in the contracting world – “It takes a long, long time to be a good estimator,” says Fatemi. He has over three decades of experience working as a contractor and pricing projects.

Randall Taylor, UDOT Region Four Constructability and Environmental Engineer, has been working with the team since September 2011. He appreciates Fatemi’s extensive background and thinks cost based estimates give project teams “greater confidence that the budget is sufficient” and that the bids will come in near the expected range.

Fatemi knows the contracting world and Taylor knows the characteristics of region projects and local material sources. “We make a good team,” says Taylor. The two have come up with ways to save costs. For example, a Region Four project will re-use milled off tailings where possible instead of purchasing new material  – “energy savings and savings to the project” will result explains Taylor.

Taylor believes the present approach is an advantage. “We’re getting better estimates. We know better where our costs are going to be and we’re in a stronger position to negotiate change orders.”

LET THERE BE LIGHT EMITTING DIODES

LED fixtures installed near the Salt Lake International Airport will provide low maintenance, energy saving bright light.

Mike Bishop with UDOT's Light and Signal Crew holds one of the new fixtures.

UDOT crews will install LED fixtures on highways in Region Two, starting with fixtures on the I-80-Bangerter Highway Interchange near the airport. LEDs emit white light that “Produces far more color within the color spectrum” which allows drivers to see roadway objects more clearly at night, explains Richard Hibbard, UDOT Traffic and Safety Signal and Lighting Engineer. LEDs have been installed in several locations along the Wasatch Front, including Foothill and 7th East in Salt Lake City, on 13th East in Sandy City and on 6200 S in Holladay.

The more efficient, long lasting fixtures will save costs. A typical 400 Watt HPS fixture costs UDOT about $10 per month. Considering that Region 2 alone has about 1,000 400W fixtures on the Rocky Mountain Power grid, anticipated savings could be as $5 thousand per month. LED fixtures are expected to last 20 years or longer with no maintenance at all. Standard fixtures need to be replaced every five years.

High mast fixtures are still in development. “When manufacturers begin producing viable, cost-effective LED fixtures for high-mast, then we will begin a replacement program for that system,” according to Hibbard. “I don’t anticipate that happening for at least two to three years.”

GOOD TIP

Planners at the Wasatch Front Regional Council are finalizing the 2012-2017 Transportation Improvement Program or TIP, a six-year program of highway and transit projects for Salt Lake, Ogden and Layton.

Projects included in the program will help meet the transportation needs of the area. Updated yearly, the systematic process of putting together the TIP is designed to be continual, comprehensive and cooperative. WFRC works closely with UDOT, the Utah Transit Authority elected officials and the public to finalize the TIP.

The program lists priority projects for the Wasatch Front region that are developed and approved by the WFRC Board and local elected officials, and presented for public review and comment.

The process starts in the fall of each year when WFRC invites project sponsors to submit letters of intent. WFRC planners evaluate each project and determine conformity to the air quality standards. The Technical Advisory Committee, Councils of Governments and the Transportation Coordinating Committee and WFRC planners approve and rank projects.

The projects are incorporated into UDOT’s Statewide Transportation Improvement Program  after approval by the UDOT director as the governor’s designee. The STIP is also submitted to Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Transit Administration for approval and adoption.

The projects listed in the TIP are incorporated into UDOT’s Statewide Transportation Improvement Program

TO LIFE

Highways for Life is a Federal Highways Administration funded program to promote the use of new technologies to improve the transportation system.

Geo synthetic Reinforced Soil, layers of "fabric" and soil, allows settlement to occur more quickly and speeds up construction time.

Nationwide, our transportation system is facing increased ADT which can cause greater than anticipated wear on roads and bridges. Transportation research has lead to safer practices and new features that can save lives. With increased traffic, construction that shuts down highways becomes very inconvenient for the traveling public.

New tested technologies that can extend the life of highway infrastructure or improve safety are ready for widespread use – that is, if transportation agencies know about the technologies and have access to funding needed for deployment.

HfL provides up to twenty percent of the total project budget and expertise needed so transportation agencies can adopt market-ready technologies. Projects must serve at least one or all of three main goals: improve safety during and after construction, reduce congestion caused by construction, and improve the quality of the highway infrastructure. The performance goals are meant to serve road users and represent “the best of what we can do,” according to the HfL website.

This year, HfL will support 17 projects being built in the next several months, including an pre-cast bridge in Idaho, an ACS signal system in New Jersey and a DDI in Wyoming. Many of the projects will involve showcase events that will allow people from other transportation agencies to see the new technologies being employed.

UDOT received support for a HfL project using Geosynthetic Reinforced Soil – Integrated Bridge System on I-84 over the Echo Frontage Road. UDOT is a leader in using accelerated bridge construction to reduce inconvenience and delay caused by construction. However, this project is different than other ABC projects UDOT has employed, according to Bridge Design Engineer Rebecca Nix. “The design removes the traditional concrete abutments and the superstructure bears directly on GRS. Using GRSwill allow the bridge to settle uniformly with the adjacent roadway providing a smooth transition onto the structure.”

Construction of the project will be phased to allow traffic to use the roadway during construction. The superstructure will be built in the median, and traffic will be routed over the structure to allow for the construction of the modular block wall foundations. Once the foundations are completed, the superstructure will be slid into place.

SAFE KIDS

UDOT’s SNAP campaign representatives talked with children and parents at the Safe Kids Fair in Sandy.


Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

The Safe Kids Fair is designed to be an entertaining event with activities that teach kids to stay safe, says Stacy Sappenfield, who works for event sponsor Clear Channel. “Every booth has an interactive component so it’s fun for the kids.” UDOT wants to spread the word about the importance of safety when driving, walking and riding. The Student Neighborhood Access Program booth involves kids in fun activities that teach kids safe habits.

The fun, colorful booth draws kids in and invites them to color a picture, pick up a workbook and make a commitment to safety. Paper footprint cut-outs have a place for children and parents to write names – posting the footprints on a pledge board gives participants a chance to publicly show their promise to observe safety rules. “The idea is that they pledge and then get their picture taken,” says Cherissa Wood, coordinator of the SNAP program.

SNAP provides free resources to encourage safe walking and biking, including mapping software, a 35-minute musical assembly and DVD, student activity booklets and teacher lesson plans, to assist in getting more students walking and biking safely to school. SNAP also sponsors the Walk More in Four Challenge during September. The four-week event encourages students to practice safe walking and biking for a chance to earn prizes and money for their school.

PLEDGE TO STAY SAFE

Two ZERO Fatalities displays, one serious and one fun, encourage kids and parents to always buckle up.


Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

A Zero Fatalities display at the entrance to the Safe Kids Fair was the one exception to the fun-and-games booths at the otherwise festive event. The startling display that features a wrecked car stopped two teenage boys in their tracks. “It is sad, definitely,” said Cameron after reading a description of the crash; a young driver who fell asleep at the wheel was seriously injured, but nevertheless, probably would have died if he had not been wearing a seat belt. Both boys viewing the display agreed that it’s important to take safety seriously.

Taking safety seriously is the focus of another Zero Fatalities booth manned by Lora Hudson and Jeff Bleak.  Hudson encourages kids to buckle-up correctly every time they’re in the car. Putting seat belts on correctly helps the important safety feature to protect occupants in the event of a crash. Kids who pledge to buckle up get a back pack with a bold printed reminder. Bleak says giving kids a token of their pledge “helps the mom or dad say ‘hey, you signed saying you’ll wear your seat belt.’”

The Zero booth gives kids some leverage with parents too. Bleak hopes kids who make the seat belt pledge will encourage dads and grandpas to follow their good example. Men between the ages of 25 and 69 are the group that’s least likely to use seat belts.  Losing a dad, or any family member, is a huge loss to a family, explains Hudson.

Mom Shandy Burgon, who stopped by the Zero Fatalities booth, is teaching her young son how to make seat belt use a habit. “We just tell him that when we’re in the car, we always have the seat belt on until we come to a complete stop and turn the car off… if you start them young, you don’t have issues when they get older.”

UDOT booths for the Zero Fatalities programs will be at many events throughout the state this summer.

NEW CRASH DUMMY

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has adopted a 10-year old.

Sitting 28 inches high, the new crash test dummy is designed to be the best size to test restraint and other systems that protect older children in a crash.

In order to “keep pace with the latest scientific research and child restraint system technologies” the NHTSA has adopted a rule requiring manufacturers of car seats to use a child-sized crash test dummy. The NHTSA announced the new addition in an article on its website. The new dummy will allow researchers to test the effectiveness of new restraint systems that protect children weighing more than 65 pounds.

Children who exceed the size and weight limits of a car seat should be placed in a booster or other restraint device until the size and weight limits of that device are exceeded — usually sometime between age eight to 12. During a crash test, the dummy approximates the size and movement of a 77 pound human body, representing a child midway between ages eight to 12 years old.

Sitting 28 inches high, the dummy is designed to be the best size to test restraint and other systems that protect older children in a crash. Seat and belt fit of the dummy is very similar to a child. Children sit lower than adult, and therefore are not adequately protected by the cross-chest safety belt used by adults.

Manufacturers of child restraint devices were consulted and provided feedback during the development of the new dummy. According to the NHTSA, “Commenters were very supportive of the idea of incorporating an ATD representing children in the 8- to 12-year-old age range.”

Legislation to require children to be placed in booster seats was first passed in 2001 in Washington State. “Anton’s Law” is named after a four year old child who died in a crash. Anton had outgrown his car seat and was belted in without a booster in the front passenger seat of the car. He was thrown from the car and killed when the vehicle rolled over him. His mother, journalist Autumn Alexander Skeen, is credited with raising awareness of the need to investigate the effectiveness of adult seat belts used on children. Skeen also worked to promote laws to require booster seats for older children.

For more, read a post on Ray LaHood’s blog Fast Lane.

For information about Utah Law, contact the Utah Department of Public Safety, Highway Safety Office at 801-957-8570, or visit the Highway Safety Website.

RESEARCH BASED SOLUTIONS

Research helps UDOT improve safety and reduce travel delay for road users.

Click to enlarge this graphic: Through research, cable barrier has been shown to improve safety and save lives.

Transportation research is the basis for good decision making, and helps make departments of transportation across the nation good stewards of the transportation system. According to an article in the AASHTO Leading in Lean Times Newsletter, research helps DOTs solve problems and make good decisions. UDOT Executive Director John Njord explains: “Most DOTs today are facing significant funding constraints. We have to focus on making the most of what we have, and research plays an important role in finding effective and efficient solutions.”

Some research-based solutions UDOT has implemented have resulted in a safer, more efficient transportation system.

Safety: Through research, cable barrier has been shown to improve safety and save lives.  Since 2003, UDOT has installed 189 miles of median cable barrier constructed out of steel strong enough to prevent even large trucks from crossing the median.

Reduced construction related delay: UDOT leads the nation in developing Accelerated Bridge Construction techniques that reduce the duration of construction on the road and limit the amount of construction related inconvenience.  By building off-site, then moving those structures into place, bridges can be replaced in hours as opposed to months.

As part of the I-15 CORE project, UDOT built and moved the Sam White Lane Bridge into place. “At 354 feet the Sam White Lane Bridge was the largest ever moved in the western hemisphere using accelerated bridge construction techniques,” said Njord. “We have now moved almost 40 bridges into place using ABC. Why? Because research showed us that the technique was feasible and would result in much shorter delays for the travelling public. We value people’s time and our goal is to minimize the impacts on the public.”

Thousands of Utahns are saving travel time by using the Express Lanes. During peak traffic, users travel about 14 miles per hour faster than the general lanes.

Improved efficiency: Express Lanes on I-15 in Utah average 10-15 percent faster than regular lanes and help UDOT predict travel times. Thousands of Utahns are saving travel time by using the Express Lanes. During peak traffic, users travel about 14 miles per hour faster than the general lanes. 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. UDOT manages Express Lane use by adjusting the price according to traffic conditions — so when traffic is heavy drivers will pay little more. The system allows maximum use of all lanes with the Express Lanes maintaining a speed of 55 mph during peak travel times.

Improved, state-of-the-art traffic signal timing, developed through research, has reduced travel delay on high-volume roadways.  In 2011, 10 detailed signal coordination projects took place involving 164 signals on 22 corridors, including the busy Salt Lake City business district.  Overall, the improved timing resulted in a 5.5 reduction in travel time, an 11.4 percent reduction in stops, a 14. 7 percent reduction in intersection delay and an estimated $6.2 million in savings to the public in reduced delay.

Utah is growing at an unprecedented rate. By 2015, travel will increase by 85 to 90 percent, population by 70 to 80 percent and new capacity by only seven percent. Facing increased demand on Utah’s transportation system will take careful, strategic planning. Transportation research provides a solid foundation for making informed, intelligent transportation improvements.

LISTEN

Audio files for Utah Transportation Commission meetings are now available online.

Many people  need to be informed about commission decisions, including UDOT employees, elected officials and representatives from the Utah Transit Authority. Audio files of transportation meetings, which are held monthly, are now posted on UDOT’s website. Posting audio files is new addition to the website meant to help keep the transportation community and general public informed. Posted audio files are a great time saver for people who have busy schedules and can’t attend or travel to the meeting locations.

As defined by Utah Code 72-1-303, the seven members of the Utah Transportation Commission:

  • Determine priorities and funding levels of projects in the state transportation system considering a prioritization of needs provided by the Department
  • Determine additions and deletions to the state highway system
  • Take public comment about transportation matters at scheduled Commission meetings
  • Make policies and rules under the Rulemaking Act, §63-46a, necessary to perform the Commission’s duties
  • Approve establishment of tollways for new state highways or new capacity lanes under §72-6-118
  • Advise the Department on state transportation systems policy
  • Review administrative rules made, amended or repealed by the Department
  • Annually review public transit plans. In addition, one commissioner serves s as a non-voting member of the Board of Trustees for the Utah Transit Authority

Many people need to be informed about commission decisions, including UDOT employees, elected officials and representatives from the Utah Transit Authority.

UTAH TRAVEL STUDY

The Utah Travel study will collect information that will aid in planning highway and transit projects.

The Utah Travel Study is an effort to collect information about regional travel patterns. 

Planning appropriate highway improvements and public transportation programs that meet community needs starts with an accurate and current knowledge of travel patterns. This spring, transportation planners at the Wasatch Front Regional Council will survey area residents in Salt Lake, Weber and Davis Counties about how, when and where family members travel.

The information collected by the survey will help UDOT and other agencies plan and prioritize highway and transit projects.

The survey will collect basic demographic and vehicle information, including the number and characteristics of adults and children and number and type of vehicles available in the household. Participants will also be invited to report information about trips made in one 24-hour period. Survey respondents will also be asked about long distance travel and bicycle use.

Once gathered, the information will be put to good use. An understanding of daily travel patterns in the region “is vital to the officials responsible for planning future transportation projects. These plans set the priority for the 30-year long range transportation plan for the spending of billions of dollars on various highway and transit projects,” according to a press release sent by WFRC.

According to Andrew Jackson, Executive Director MAG, the survey will help make sure public monies are spent wisely and support economic development. “The Utah Household Travel Survey will allow our city planners, engineers and elected officials to make better decisions on multi-million dollar transportation projects.  It will provide insight on the transportation facilities needed in Utah Valley and when they will need to be constructed.  This will allow our economy to expand and continue to attract world class jobs from companies like Micron, Adobe, Intel, and the National Security Agency.”

To find out more:

Visit the website

Email: Utah@rsgsurvey.com

Phone number: 1-888-202-8995