February 8th, 2011


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


UDOT is improving pavement marking visibility at night during storms.

Glass beads and grooving: This image from a UDOT report on improving pavement marking retroreflectivity shows glass beads and reflective beads added to paint. Grooving pavement before applying markings is a way to avoid plow blade wear and tear.

Road users are sometime frustrated when pavement markings are less visible at night during storms — and for good reason. “We realize this issue is a safety concern,” says Ken Berg, UDOT Maintenance Planning Engineer. “Pavement marking visibility is our number one safety priority here in Maintenance all the time, but especially in wet weather and at night.”

Pavement marking visibility can be reduced because of water on the road and wear caused by snow plow blades.

Water interferes with the reflectivity of pavement markings. “Light is refracted in all directions through the water, rather than retro reflected back to the driver,” according to Berg. One way to combat this reflectivity issue is to add profile, or thickness, so markings are visible above the water.

Adding profile can be accomplished by using thicker products or adding glass beads to the paint. However, high profile markings can get scraped off by snow plows. ”Thicker markings won’t usually last through the winter,” says Berg. “So, the increased cost of thicker markings isn’t usually justified.”

UDOT is studying ways to counter water and plow blades.

Dan Betts, Region 2 Pavement Marking Coordinator and Berg are developing application methods that can be used by state forces without expensive materials or special equipment. Betts has developed and refined the process of cutting a groove in the pavement so paint is recessed below the surface. Recessed markings are less likely to be worn down by snow plow blades.

In addition to grooving, adding retroreflective glass and ceramic beads to paint improves visibility during wet and dry conditions and at night. Tests done at night confirm the effectiveness of the beads.

For more information, see a report on the process conducted on I-84 in Weber Canyon.

January 19th, 2011


22 Comments, Uncategorized, by Catherine Higgins.

Utah law requires motorists to slow down and move over one lane if possible when state troopers or other emergency workers are stopped by the side of the  road.

Troopers often work in dangerous conditions like fog or heavy snow

Unfortunately, many motorists don’t observe this law.  Four troopers have been hit in 2011.

“Utah’s move over law is intended to keep law enforcement, EMS, and the motoring public safe on our roadways,” says Trooper Cameron Roden, Law Enforcement Liaison with the Utah Department of Public Safety, Highway Safety Office.
“ It requires drivers that are approaching a stationary emergency or service vehicle to slow down and provide as much space as safely possible.  When able, vehicles should change lanes to allow more space for these potentially dangerous situations.”

The KSL story below explains how careless motorists put other motorists, troopers and other emergency professionals at risk.

Video Courtesy of KSL.com

January 18th, 2011


No Comments, Optimize Mobility, by Catherine Higgins.

Data from Wasatch Front Regional Council shows that traffic delay is being held at bay by UDOT capacity projects.


This aerial photo shows new concrete on I-15 between Davis and Salt Lake County.


Travel delay diminishes the quality of life for all who live and drive in Utah:

  • Travel delay has an intrinsic, measurable cost to commerce. Businesses that move products or deliver services transfer increased costs to consumers.
  • Commuters are inconvenienced when travel time is slow or unreliable. Long commutes cut into the work day.

UDOT is working to reduce delay on state routes, and data from Wasatch Front Regional Council shows that increased travel delay is being avoided by adding capacity projects.

The chart below shows current and projected delay with and without capacity improvements starting in 1995.

Actual and projected delay, with and without capacity projects, is shown on this graph.

Between 1995 and 2010, delay is shown to be static even with a 50 percent increase in population and Vehicle Miles Traveled. VMT is a measure of the total number of vehicle miles traveled within a specific road segment over a given period of time.

With planned capacity projects, travel delay will increase after 2010. However, the increase in delay without capacity projects would have been 3 times greater by 2015, according to WFRC’s projections.

Cost savings for the public on nearby secondary roads can also be significant. Building Pioneer Crossing is saving 95,000 hours of travel time per year on nearby  S.R. 73 from Eagle Mountain to I-15.

Take charge of your travel

While judiciously increasing lane miles is one solution to travel delay, UDOT also encourages motorists to make personal choices that help reduce the number of vehicles on the roads. TravelWise is a UDOT sponsored effort to that encourages use of a variety of options to avoid delay, such as taking public transportation or working from home if possible.