MAKING A LIST

An approved products list will save time and costs for UDOT construction teams.

Crews build retaining walls and bridge supports on the I-15 CORE project. A new Approved Products database should help save time for inspectors, expedite the project close-out process, and allow construction teams to work more efficiently.

UDOT construction teams, made up of Resident Engineers and the engineers and technicians they manage are some of the busiest people at UDOT. “We really stretch them,” says UDOT Engineer for Materials Scott Andrus. REs often manage several projects that can range from pavement preservation to constructing a bridge.  “They’ve got a lot of work to do.” Some of that work includes gathering the “fist full of paperwork” it takes to document the use of products used in the construction process.

UDOT identifies products that are approved for use in construction. It’s up to the construction team inspectors on the job to obtain all the documentation necessary to show that contractors are using approved products. All materials need a certification letter and testing documentation.

Materials Technician Barry Sharp is compiling an Approved Product List that includes many of the products that are used repeatedly. The database is available online now, and will soon be available in Project Wise, UDOT’s online project management system.

The Project Wise database will have PDF versions of paperwork for inspectors to see. A few projects will be chosen to test the Project Wise database this summer “to make sure it will function as expected before implementing it fully,” according to Andrus.

Both the online and Project Wise versions will contain the same products divided into about 25 categories. Approximately 300 products are listed. Contractors can still use products not on the list – suppliers will just have to submit the right paperwork.

The Approved Products database should help save time for inspectors, expedite the project close-out process, and allow construction teams to work more efficiently.

MANAGING NICELY

UDOT’s Incident Management Teams help keep traffic flowing along the Wasatch Front.

The IMT program is a key element in the TOC’s ability to maintain safety and movement on urban freeways. UDOT engineers estimate that for every one minute saved by clearing an incident quickly, five minutes of traffic delay can be prevented.

Stalled cars, crashes or other incidents on the freeways can cause minor slowing to severe delay for motorists. Traffic delay is not just inconvenient; the risk of secondary crashes is increased when motorists slow or switch lanes suddenly. Emergency responders at the scene of a crash are also at risk. The IMT program was started in 1994 to improve safety and assist disabled motorists.

UDOT IMTs provide a critical safety function in clearing crashes quickly, helping to manage the scene and providing a highly visible presence to warn motorists to drive carefully.

IMT vehicles are easy to spot. The high-profile one-ton trucks are white with reflective markings. Vehicles have sirens, overhead lights, flashing headlights and large yellow lights in the rear. The lights and sirens are only used as necessary to help trucks gain access to a crash scene.

All IMT Technicians need the know-how to get a stranded motorist back on the road.

IMT Technicians need a variety of skills and special training to be qualified for the job. All technicians need the know-how to get a stranded motorist back on the road. Formal training includes medical first responder, emergency traffic control set-up and driving with lights and sirens. All IMT technicians need to know the law enforcement 10-code, possess a Commercial Driver License and have good computer and radio skills.

Good feedback

IMTs patrol assigned areas and are also dispatched to a crash or stranded motorist. The teams work closely with the UDOT Traffic Operations Center and the Utah Highway Patrol. “We help [troopers] out quite a bit – they seem to like us,” says David Stallworth, IMT Supervisor in the Salt Lake County area. With a highly visible IMT truck on scene, UHP Troopers have “extra protection so they can go about the investigation of the accident,” or provide assistance to motorists.

Trooper Mike Freeman says he always appreciates the improved safety of a “Tango Unit” on the scene of a stop or crash. “People just don’t see these red and blues,” referring to the official UHP car.

Although the goal of the IMT program is to provide assistance as quickly as possible, technicians stay on scene as long as troopers, motorists, emergency responders and tow truck operators need protection. “We don’t leave them” until safe conditions are restored, says Stallworth. Motorists who are helped by the IMT Technicians are often “surprised and grateful” for the assistance, says Stallworth.

The IMT program is a key element in the TOC’s ability to maintain safety and movement on urban freeways. UDOT engineers estimate that for every one minute saved by clearing an incident quickly, five minutes of traffic delay can be prevented. Those few minutes saved means that fewer secondary crashes occur and normal traffic flow is quickly restored.

PEER TO PEER

A yearly video contest invites teens to tell their peers why smart driving is important.

Don’t Drive Stupid is a Zero Fatalities  communication effort that tells teens to take driving seriously. Unfortunately, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens across the nation. A combination of factors may contribute to the sad statistic. Teens tend to drive with multiple passengers which puts young drivers at risk for being distracted. And, teens lack experience in high risk driving situations. The Don’t Drive Stupid video contest lets teens create a message that resonates with other young drivers.

Kasper Kubica is the winner of the 2012 contest:

 

CORE OPTIMIZED

The I-15 Corridor Expansion Project is keeping traffic moving during construction.

I-15 CORE crews place concrete pavement near the University Parkway interchange.

As the project owner and the contractor for the I-15 CORE project, UDOT and Provo River Constructors have teamed up to make sure road users are not unnecessarily delayed by construction.

While some delay is inevitable, excessively slow travel is inconvenient for everyone and often expensive for workers and businesses that deliver goods and services. Keeping traffic moving involves a comprehensive planning and coordination effort. Here are some ways the project team reduces construction related delay:

  • Advanced Transportation Management Systems, including ramp meters, traffic cameras, automated signals and traffic monitoring stations, are in place along the construction corridor and on parallel routes. A Traffic Operations Center at the I-15 CORE office allows traffic engineers to observe traffic. When capacity is reduced on I-15, engineers can make adjustments that increase the capacity of key parallel routes.
  • The I-15 CORE project team takes a regional approach use major arterial and state roads as needed to relieve traffic demand on the freeway. Signal timing plans have been created for detours, crashes, and commuter travel. Plans can be adjusted as needed to provide enough green light time for traffic.
  • The UDOT, Orem, and Provo signal systems have been unified to allow coordination across municipal boundaries.
  • Construction has been phased to minimize ramp and lane closures. While lane closures are always necessary during reconstruction projects, minimizing lane closures maintains optimal capacity.
  • Public Involvement Coordinators encourage road users to adopt TravelWise strategies, including alternate work schedules, trip-chaining and use of public transportation, to reduce demand for the freeway. Facebook and Twitter are used to communicate information regarding planned closures as well as traffic incidents so drivers can plan extra travel time or use alternate routes as needed.

Increasing capacity in and around the I-15 CORE project allows UDOT to optimize the level of service available for road users. Minimizing congestion on I-15 and on the parallel streets also reduces the likelihood of crashes.

FIELD TESTING

UDOT field tests products to find effective and efficient solutions to construction and maintenance needs.

Central Maintenance Methods Engineers, Central Materials and the New Products Evaluation Panel, Traffic and Safety Division, Structures Division, Region Maintenance Engineers, Maintenance Area Supervisors, Station Supervisors, Resident Engineers, vendors, contractors, all conduct field testing and evaluation of products. Some evaluations are conducted according to FHWA’s Experimental Features Program.

UDOT Research Division provides support when needed. “Speaking for the Research Division, we’re here to help as we can,” says engineer David Stevens, Research Project Manager.  The lessons learned are generally very much worth sharing, no matter which unit in UDOT performs the evaluation.”

Testing and sharing information about field tested products is always a team effort.  The Research Division performs field evaluations by request as time and resources allow. Suppliers often participate by donating product and giving guidance on how to use new products. Maintenance and construction personnel often attend test demonstrations to find out about products.

Here are two examples of some recently field tested products:

When mixed, PolyQuick has a similar structural value to concrete pavement.

PolyQuick polyurethane concrete pavement patch.  A “catalyzed product,” PolyQuick heats as two primary ingredients are combined and a chemical reaction occurs, explains Dennis Reeves with Alta Paint and Coatings.

Reeves recently demonstrated a new application method on I-15. The old method of application used a bucket to combine the ingredients. However, since the product cures quickly, any unused product can become a “boat anchor.” A new applicator mixes product right at the tip and reduces waste.

PolyQuick has a similar structural value to concrete pavement. The differential movement that can occur under traffic when concrete pavement and patch materials have disparate structural values can cause the patch to pop out.  And once applied, the product cures quickly so expensive and inconvenient lane closures can be minimized.

DuroMaxx steel reinforced polyethylene pipe. Using strong and durable pipes maintenance workers won’t have to excavate and repair drainage systems as often. DuroMaxx pipe, manufactured by Contech, is being tested on Manhead Road in Rich County. The pipe has been in place for a year and UDOT testers have observed about half the amount of deflection as compared to ADS pipe

UDOT relies on field tests to find the best products for the job.

SEEING IS BELIEVING

A new training video for maintenance technicians takes learning styles into account.

Research found that many workers are hands-on visual learners who like fast-paced instruction. The new video moves quickly from topic to topic and shows images of testing procedures.

Clear Roads, a research organization that focuses on winter transportation maintenance issues, has produced a new video about how to test de-icing chemicals. While it looks like a typical of training video, the specific communication approach is tailored to “hands on, visual learners,” says UDOT Maintenance Methods Engineer Lynn Bernhard.

Clear Roads has produced written manuals in the past, but “people weren’t using the manuals,” says Bernhard. “Why?  We were not getting information to them in the right way.” Before making the video, Clear Roads contracted with University of Wisconsin at Madison to do some research on how best to communicate with maintenance workers. “You have to assess your audience,” says Lynn.

Research found that many workers are hands-on visual learners who like fast-paced instruction. The new video moves quickly from topic to topic and shows images of testing procedures.

Clear Roads is taking advantage of social media like Twitter and Facebook to let people know about the new video. Youtube makes accessing the video easy as well.

GET THE MESSAGE?

New air quality messages on overhead freeway signs will prompt road users to make smart travel choices.

The UDOT Traffic Operations Center uses variable message signs on freeways to provide helpful information for road users. Messages about travel times, crashes or other unexpected events and air quality all take turns on the limited but highly visible real estate above the freeway. Limited space means TOC Operators, who have primary control of the signs, need to provide messages that have good utility to road users.

New signs will prompt action on the part of motorists. When DAQ makes the call to notify the public about an upcoming red alert day, UDOT will post messages that are designed to give motorists the chance to adjust travel plans the following day.

 

UDOT has used the VMS to alert the public to air quality conditions since Salt Lake City hosted the Winter Olympics. The alerts are based on data posted on the website Department of Environmental Quality, Division of Air Quality. Utah’s air is monitored by the DAQ – air monitoring stations around the state measure pollutants and that data is compiled to rate the quality of air as yellow or red.

When DAQ makes the call to notify the public about an upcoming red alert day, UDOT will post messages that are designed to give motorists the chance to adjust travel plans the following day. UDOT has evaluated the phrases used on freeway VMS with an eye to providing a useful message that targets commuters and encourages road users to make a decision about how they travel.  The new messages will read in part “For Better Air” followed by an action phrase such as “Avoid Rush Hour Tomorrow.”

Drivers have an array of choices when it comes to travel. UDOT’s TravelWise website is a good source of information for people who want to select appropriate alternatives. TravelWise strategies such as carpooling, tele-commuting, taking public transportation or flexible work schedules can help reduce traffic volume on red air days, as well as help motorists avoid traffic delay and get around more efficiently.

MORE HUMAN

The nation’s only human Traveler Information Meteorologist keeps his eyes on the roads.

Traveler Information Meteorologist Justin Connolly uses sophisticated weather tools and knowledge of location specific weather patterns to forecast weather for road users.

Meteorologists that forecast weather for maintenance or construction activities have been helping UDOT work more efficiently since the mid 1990s. The department has recently added a Traveler Information Meteorologist to focus on weather that affects road users. “UDOT is likely the only state in the U.S. that employs a human traveler information meteorologist, and we are far more successful as a result.” says Weather Information and RWIS Manager Leigh Sturges.

Having a Traveler Information Meteorologist “has greatly improved the quality and quantity of road weather information we provide to motorists,” says Sturges. “The traveler information meteorologist is not only more cost-effective than other strategies, such as automated forecasting systems, but it is also more accurate, because you have a human interpreting and relating weather impacts to motorists, rather than a computer,” says Sturges.  Accurate weather forecasts are most useful during incoming storms, for road users in rural areas and for road users traveling on mountain summits or in rural areas.

UDOT’s Traveler Information Meteorologist Justin Connolly uses sophisticated tools and knowledge specific to the region to forecast weather. Roadway Weather Information System stations spread around the state collect information about air temperature, road temperature, humidity and solar radiation. Some RWIS stations have remote controlled cameras. Mobile stations can be strategically placed where needed. Connolly also uses computer generated probability models that use current weather data to show how weather conditions are trending.

Connolly’s also uses his knowledge of location specific weather patterns to forecast weather all over Utah but especially in high traffic volume areas, canyons and mountain summits. For example, the Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons get the most snow when northwest winds cause storm air to “ride up over the mountain.”

Connolly concentrates on pinpointing the time and duration of “road snow with storms, high winds and cross winds” which are the conditions that affect travelers the most. Road weather forecasts are available for the public on UDOT’s CommuterLink website, the UDOT Traffic app for smart phones, and are sent by tweets. The forecasts provide plenty of reliable information so road users can make good travel decisions.

BUCKLE UP FOR THE ONES YOU LOVE

UDOT, the Utah Highway Patrol, and Zero Fatalities are encouraging people to buckle up not just for themselves but also for their loved ones.

The Zero Fatalities team kicked off the year at its annual press conference by announcing that Utah’s traffic fatalities are at the lowest point they have been since 1974 with 233 fatalities. While the numbers have gone down, the stats are still no where near reaching its goal. This past year, Utah had an 89.2 percent seat belt usage rate—yet the 11 percent who did not buckle up accounted for more than 30 percent of the traffic fatalities alone, and more than one in three traffic fatalities over the last five years.

The conference also highlighted a young girl Ashli Hendricks who was devastated when a tragic car crash took her father’s life in 2001. A video of Ashli’s story was shown which spoke to parents who don’t wear seat belts and are putting their families’ futures at risk.

Based on a focus group conducted by UDOT, drivers say that their motivation for buckling up is if their family members tell them to. Speakers emphasized to drivers the importance of thinking about others, especially their loved ones, when driving on the road and not wearing a seat belt.

“It may not be the most important thing to you,” said Ashli. “But it is the most important thing to [your family].”

This guest post was written by Monica Hasebi. Monica is an information specialist in the UDOT Communications Office.

KEEPING UTAH AWESOME

Governor Gary Herbert’s vision for achieving long term, sustained economic growth includes transportation.

Governor Gary Herbert spoke to transportation professionals this week. “There is correlation to what you do and successful economic outcomes,” he said.

Thursday January 12, Herbert spoke to members of the Institute of Transportation Engineers, a professional organization that focuses on ways to optimize transportation mobility and safety. To grow the economy and expand the state’s tax base, the state’s chief executive advocates a broad approach that includes job creation, a better educated work force and a well maintained transportation system that can support mobility.

Herbert explained that choosing between education and transportation is a false dichotomy. “You can have both and you need both” in order to sustain economic growth.

Herbert opened his remarks by reading a letter written by a grade school student. “I think people need jobs,” wrote the would-be staffer, who also congratulated Governor Herbert for helping to keep Utah awesome. Transportation projects support job creation and sustain the economy beyond construction, explained Herbert, who sited some examples of how improvements have benefitted the local and regional economy beyond the orange barrel stage.

An uphill passing lane was added to U.S. 89 in Severe and Sanpete counties recently, and the project reduced delay for road users. The new lane is not just a “quality of life” improvement, Herbert explained. Better mobility on U.S. 89 now supports better movement of vital goods through the area.

Business owners from the area have told the governor how the improvement has “helped their businesses be more successful.” A better transportation system allows businesses to expand to more customers and “enjoy a better bottom line.”

Herbert related the experience of a business owner near the newly constructed South Layton Interchange. The florist, who is located in the area locals call Old Town, is “doing quite well” after experiencing a lull in business before construction. “People had a hard time gaining access to that part of town,” said Herbert. The local area which seemed to be “dying before” is now being considered as a location for a new shopping center because of the interchange that “opened up that sector of town.”

In addition to supporting local businesses, transportation mobility also attracts companies that seek to put down roots in the state. In Utah “we can still get around town,” as opposed to other metropolitan areas that have slow commuter traffic.

Herbert shared the credit for keeping Utah awesome with the transportation professionals to whom he addressed his comments. “There is correlation to what you do and successful economic outcomes,” he said.