The following is guest post written by John Njord, Executive Director of the Utah Department of Transportation.

As many of you are aware, an audit of the I-15 CORE procurement process was released last week. I believe the auditors did an admirable job of analyzing a very complex process and identifying potential improvements.  The difficulty of their job is compounded by their limited expertise in the area of innovative contracting practice.  They admitted to me that the audit was very difficult and challenging.

Auditors are prone to use the terms “might have” “could have” “should have” and “may be.” This was certainly the case in many of their findings in this audit.  Unfortunately, some interpret these terms not as they were intended.  The auditors were quick to point out to me that just because they said something “might have” happened does not mean they think it actually happened.  In their findings, they attempted to merely point out what they considered potential weaknesses.

Before I discuss the actual findings, I want to step back for a moment and recall when we first launched the effort to procure a contractor for the I-15 CORE project. We launched in a direction of innovation and created new processes that extended our ability to stretch precious and limited tax dollars for the benefit of our customers and to deliver as much project as we possibly could. We essentially adopted a new, unique solution to a complex and difficult problem, answering the question of: How do we put a $1.7 billion patch on a $5 billion hole and make it last for 40 plus years?

The approach we used is called Fixed-Price, Best-Design; a process that takes traditional Design-Build to the next level. This approach, and our overall philosophy to quickly adapt and be an innovative agency, exposes our flank to unwarranted criticism and second guessing by those who desire us to be more “traditional.”

Each of you knows how much we push ourselves as an agency to be innovative at every level of a project.  When we decided to be innovative with the I-15 CORE project, we decided to subject ourselves to criticism.  We could have been “traditional” in our approach, but, I am thoroughly convinced the project would not look anything like what we obtained without using innovative techniques.  Lest anyone has forgotten, when we launched this project, we hoped for 14 to 15 miles of new freeway within the budget we had available. Today, 24 miles are being constructed in just 35 months with minimal impact to ongoing traffic.

This mantra of innovation has enabled us to do many incredible things, like moving bridges overnight, or delivering projects in half the time they take in other states.

I doubt the eventual users of this facility will remember or care about the interpretations of the auditors or the subsequent misinterpretations of the audit in the media. I believe this will be a mere footnote in history as our children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren enjoy the benefits of this project for the next 40 years.  The bridges will be designed to last nearly into the next century.  Nobody will remember the discomfort we as an agency have endured to deliver this critically important project; they will however enjoy the economic opportunities and improved quality of life as a result of our work.  In my mind, that makes it all worth it.

Now let us discuss the actual audit. Looking back to last fall, it was during a particularly contentious political campaign that charges of undue influence and score tampering occurred. In response to this, the Governor called for an independent audit of our processes in procuring the I-15 CORE project. The resulting audit documented no evidence of either allegation, a fact that seems conveniently overlooked by many and one that affirms our position from the onset. I can tell you that is because (as we have said for months) neither of those accusations occurred.

What the audit did find was 13 technical areas of suggested improvements. These included ideas like blinding more procurement processes, improving the security of some of the software used as part of the contract procurement, having more rigorous conflict of interest documentation and using manuals that more clearly defined the roles of the people involved in selection. We are in the process of implementing these suggestions.

Another area it pointed to was that we did not have full documentation in hand justifying the settlement amount that was paid to the FSZ team. What we had was their certification, which is the standard practice in the industry. They provided certification that their costs were in excess of the amount paid. Subsequent documentation proves that they actually expended $14.5 million, $1.5 million more than settlement amount.

Going through a months-long audit is never an easy thing for those being audited. We did take from this process some valuable lessons-learned and appreciate the work our team did in providing open access to the auditors. In every project and process we do, we strive to learn as much as we can so that we can do it better next time.

In this situation, while we can make tweaks to our processes that can improve them, I don’t believe the end result to taxpayers would have been better: a 24-mile, 35-month reconstruction project with minimal impacts to the public and delivering 40-year pavement and 75-year bridges.

The project itself stands as a testament to the quality and integrity of our people and our process.

April 19th, 2011


3 Comments, Optimize Mobility, Preserve Infrastructure, by Catherine Higgins.

UDOT is monitoring roads and bridges and taking preventative measures as accumulated mountain snow melts and more spring storms hit Utah.

Traffic control devices warn motorists and sand bags keep water off roads.

UDOT roads and bridges are designed and built to accommodate most heavy spring run-off. This year, with higher than usual snow accumulation and more storms coming, Transportation Technicians and engineers are doing as much as possible to prevent flooding on state roads. For the last six to eight weeks, crews have been busily taking the following precautions:

Checking bridges and drainage systems daily. Crews watch for debris that could cause water to spill over bridges or drainage systems and onto roads.

Cleaning out drainage ditches, inlets, pipes and culverts. Keeping drainage systems clear of  debris can help keep water off of the road. “Debris can severely limit the amount of flow that can pass through and cause flooding to occur,” says Jeff Erdman, Region One Hydraulogic Roadway Design Engineer.

“Taking a proactive approach at inspecting pipes helps mitigate any potential of flooding.  By the time a flood stage level occurs it is too late to prevent flooding but only to react to the problem to minimize it. ”

UDOT Region One has a remote controlled inspection device that can spot blockages in pipes and culverts. The camera-on-wheels has been put to good use this spring, says Erdman, to identify debris that can prevent proper drainage and cause flooding.

Filling sandbags. Over four-hundred thousand sand bags have been purchased and deployed statewide.

Getting heavy equipment ready. Back-hoes and front-loaders, used to clear away debris from the road, have been filled with fuel and “placed in strategic locations so they’re ready to go,” says Rich Clarke, UDOT’s Director of Maintenance.

Preparing traffic control devices. Orange barrels and other safety devices are used to warn motorists to steer clear of water on state roads.

Readying trucks for carrying riprap. Very large rocks and riprap can be used to re-direct water off roads. Truck bed liners are installed to prevent damage while hauling rocks.

Weather or not

Monitoring forecasts plays a very important role in almost everything UDOT does, from maintenance to construction.

Scot Chipman (background) and Jeff Williams, both Meteorologists, watch weather and make forecasts for UDOT.

Weather forecasters are playing a part in predicting where and when run-off may threaten a state road. Data collected from Road Weather Information Stations placed throughout the state, snow measurement sites and stream flow sites is  monitored and analyzed to predict run-off levels. When streams near state roads run high, UDOT maintenance crews get a warning call or email.

“There’s really no way to predict exactly what’s going to happen with flooding on the roads” says Leigh Jones, UDOT Road Information Systems Manager. “But we can give a general sense of what to expect so crews can prepare for what might come their way.”

Leigh Jones

A sudden rise in temperature may cause snow in the mountains to melt quickly, while slow warming may cause a more gradual run-off to occur. “A lot of it will have to do with how the spring weather pans out,” says Jones.

Motorists, be advised: Please use caution, avoid flooded areas and obey all warning and closure signs.

For weather information related to UDOT roads, see the CommuterLink Website and click “Road Weather” (in the green bar at the top) to get current road conditions, forecasts and emergency alerts.

The CommuterLink site has current weather and forecasts — very helpful information for motorists, especially those who travel through a flood-prone area.

April 14th, 2011


4 Comments, Uncategorized, by Catherine Higgins.

UDOT bridges on U.S. 191 over the Colorado River in Utah have received an award for excellence.

Graceful arches span the Colorado River near Moab.


When it came to replacing an old bridge with two new bridges across the Colorado River, the beautiful landscape near Moab called for a environmentally sensitive approach to design and construction. And, great team work also helped move the project forward to completion.

“The arched design was intended to blend in with the surrounding scenery and enhance rather than intrude upon the Red Rock Canyon Country experience of visitors” says says Jim Chandler, UDOT Region Four Resident Engineer for the project.

And, the construction method was unique. “These bridges are the first to be built in Utah using balanced cantilever construction which required a smaller less, intrusive footprint on the environment,”  says Chandler. While the old bridge required seven piers, the new bridges only needed two piers on each bridge. The smaller footprint reduced the impact on the river flood plain and on Threatened and Endangered Species in the area.

The bridges took nearly two years to complete. Because the construction method was new to Utah, “the schedule from day one was a challenge,” says UDOT Project Manager Rustin Anderson. Early on, issues with the drilled shafts used in the construction of the massive piers required special equipment to be brought in, putting the team behind schedule.

Some UDOT team members, left to right: Fran Randolph, Trans-Tech 4; Inspector Kevin Marshall, Trans-Tech 4; Russ Pogue, Trans-Tech 4 and Jim Chandler, Project Manager.

Project team members worked together and “found ways and innovations to get back on track,” says Anderson. Eventually the bridges were built on time.

Project Manager Rustin Anderson holds the award.

The American Concrete Institute has presented an Excellence in Concrete Construction Award to the team for the “innovative and excellent use of concrete.”

The design and construction team:

UDOT is the project owner. Figg Engineering of Denver Colorado provided design and construction management and inspection services. Wadsworth Brothers Construction was the prime contractor.

Bridge facts: The center span of the bridges arch 438 feet between the piers, and the end spans are 292 feet from the piers to the river banks. Over 14,000 cubic yards of concrete and over 3,000,000 pounds of steel was used.

See construction images: An on-site camera provided a view of the construction progress. Still images and a time-lapse are still available online.

About cantilever construction: In this video, UDOT Public Involvement Manager Kevin Kitchen explains the construction method.

April 12th, 2011


9 Comments, Preserve Infrastructure, by Catherine Higgins.

A two-week training teaches newly-hired Transportation Technicians the basics of materials inspection and equipment operation.


New Trans-Tech Preston Pritchard says hello before being tested on driving a UDOT truck.

Trans-Techs are the Jack and Jills of all transportation trades at UDOT — they operate front loaders and road sweepers, repair safety features like guardrail and road delineation markers and gather and test construction materials just to name a few important jobs they perform. Many Trans-Techs move back and forth between maintenance and construction duties by operating a snow plow in the winter and working in a construction team spring through fall. The Trans-Tech program allows UDOT to use man-power effectively and efficiently throughout the year.

Skill building is critical

Curtis Sanchez is the Equipment Safety Trainer at UDOT.

UDOT holds a twice-yearly academy to give new Trans-Techs an overview of the skills they need to work in a demanding environment. But, “it’s not a pass-fail kind of thing “says Ira Bickford, Operations Manager at UDOT. The academy is a way to make sure new workers are capable to perform the core duties needed to take care of the transportation system — one of UDOT’s Final Four Strategic Goals.

Bickford helps organized the academy along with Curtis Sanchez, Equipment Safety Trainer at UDOT. Bickford and Sanchez are supported by maintenance workers who are also trainers at the academy. All have a wealth of experience in a wide range of UDOT functions. Some trainers have up to 25 years of experience — they are “very dedicated and very good at what they do,” says Bickford.

Trainer Dwayne Schoenfelder tests Troy Brunker. A pre-ride check ensures that vehicles are ready for a safe, efficient ride.

Trans-techs spend 65 hours a week doing classroom and field study on all topics so they can learn skills and  “start speaking the UDOT language,” says Mike Adams, a Construction Trainer from UDOT Region Two. New workers need to know about road way features, surveying, plan sets or specifications, roadway signs, names for all parts of roads and associated structures like bridges or culverts — “a Trans-tech really has to know a lot,” says Bickford.

The hands on work comes in the second week when Trans-Techs have two days of practice operating heavy equipment and learning how to sample construction materials. Students move through a series of learning modules manned by experienced trainers who test their skills. Each student has a check-off sheet that will go with them to the job site. If more training or experience is needed, a supervisor or trainer will follow up with that new employee to develop skills and knowledge.

A Trans-Tech backs front-loader onto a trailer.

The 2011 Trans-Tech Academy was the “biggest group ever with 44 students participating,” says Ira. That number is nearly twice the typical number of 25 to 30.  Many have construction and maintenance experience already or have worked in a related industry. Bickford says they are a “great crew. We feel pretty lucky to to be bringing these new employees on board.”

Trainer Mike Adams shows how to sample soil and rocks used as fill in embankments or retaining walls. Trans-Techs take samples of all materials used in construction. Samples are tested in a UDOT lab to ensure the right materials are used on UDOT projects. Fill that is too acidic or alkaline can cause steel reenforcement to corrode more quickly and reduce the useful life of a structure.

Station Supervisor and trainer Jake Brown, left, tests Lucas Rivera on front-loader components.

Related posts:

BURIED SECRETS — Fill used in MSE walls needs to be tested.

UDOT LEADER — An Area Supervisor supports the Trans-Tech program.

PATRIOT SUPERVISOR — a Station Supervisor gets an award.

April 6th, 2011


No Comments, Preserve Infrastructure, by Catherine Higgins.

Added fiber may help make asphalt pavement more durable.


UDOT hopes a new product will extend the life of asphalt pavement. This photo shows an area where flexible and conventional microsurfacing is being tested side by side.


UDOT roads are built to last. “UDOT typically designs our asphalt pavements for a 20 year design life, meaning they have the structural thickness to support 20 years worth of traffic,” says Gary Kuhl, UDOT’s Statewide Pavement Management Engineer.  Once built, preservation keeps the road surface in good shape so pavement can reach or extend beyond that 20 year life.

UDOT is testing a new preservation treatment called flexible microsurfacing. Conventional microsurfacing is a thin asphalt “wearing course” that contains aggregate, emulsion and binder (usually cement) that is mixed on-site and applied to the road.

The new product has an additional ingredient – a strong, flexible type of fiber – that is intended to help the asphalt reduce cracking and resist damage from traffic and snow plows. Flexible microsurfacing uses a regular microsurfacing machine and a blower to add fibers to the conventional mix.

Fiber adds durability to conventional microsurfacing.

The two products were placed side by side on a busy arterial road in Davis County. After a two year evaluation, the flexible microsurfacing “shows little to no damage from snowplow activities and no raveling,” states a report on the test. Raveling happens when binder fails and rocks and asphalt chunks break loose. The conventional microsurfacing side shows reflective cracking (cracks from the bottom up) that stops where the flexible microsurfacing starts.

Scott Nussbaum, Materials Engineer for UDOT Region One, thinks “the initial performance is positive.” But its use is “still experimental” continues Nussbaum. UDOT will need to continue to study this product and develop specifications for its use.

UDOT engineers believe that the additive increases the toughness and durability over conventional microsurfacing to help reduce or delay cracking and resist raveling and snowplow damage. Kuhl is optimistic about the new product. “For a small extra cost we expect to get a stronger surface that will have less cracking.  UDOT continues to test new ideas and will be monitoring how this one performs.”

For more information:

  • Read a report on the test
  • Read about how good roads cost less in UDOT’s Strategic Direction Performance Review and Measures
  • More from Gary Kuhl: “UDOT found out a long time ago that ‘Good Roads Cost Less,’ so our approach has been to try and keep our pavements in good condition by strategically utilizing lower cost preservation treatments on a regular basis.  Combined with a mix of rehabilitative overlays this has had the effect of extending the pavement life indefinitely. For the most part our reconstruction work is primarily due for widening and capacity needs, and rarely due to pavement failure needs.”

Visiweb is a new, easy to use web-based photo log that merges images and data to provide a better view of UDOT’s roads.

As seen from Visiweb, a cyclist enjoys a ride on SR 167 in Weber County.

Visiweb provides high resolution pictures of the road along with data such as  IRI,  GPS with elevation and cross-slope. The new view of state roads will help UDOT maintenance workers and engineers identify problem spots and plan for  future improvements, all from the comfort of an office PC. A link to Visiweb, which replaces Road View Explorer, can be found on the UDOT website.

While it has taken some time to develop, the new tool was worth the wait, says Russ Scovil, UDOT Pavement Condition Engineer. ” It enhances what we had before,” says Scovil. The application allows users to configure the operation to meet their needs when it comes to accessing information about the road.

A two-screen view shows close and far views of the Shepard Lane Bridge over I-15 in Davis County. Data at that location is listed under the image.

The data was gathered in a new way that is more reliable. “It’s repeatable and less subjective,” says Scovil. The new information will improve the decision making processes that takes place at UDOT from planning through construction and maintenance.

The data and images — 250 images per mile — were collected by a specially built Fugro truck during the annual pavement condition survey. The user can use the application to zoom in to see signage or other features.  The viewer can also customize the data, for pavement condition, or elevation, etc. that are shown integrated with the images. Still shots can also be captured easily.

People at UDOT are putting the tool to good use. “I use road view a lot, says Wes Starkenberg, UDOT Operations Design Engineer. “The new version is better in that it loads much faster and the clarity of the photos is much better. It appears it will be easier to navigate as well.”

Herscher and Starkenberg like the new tool

UDOT’s Statewide Pavement Engineer Gary Kuhl uses Visweb “to check if the pavement images to match what the reported condition data says, or to find examples of different levels of distress for presentations,” says Kuhl. ” I also check to see where the number of lanes change, or what the shoulders look like.” The road characteristics that can be viewed from Visiweb effect the scope and cost of maintenance projects that Kuhl plans.

Crash Studies Engineer Danielle Herscher likes “how it lists the County and Region for each route selected.” Users can narrow a search very quickly and “high resolution images allow users to see more details of the roadway. Also, I like how fast the program is.”

To get started, here are some helpful tips:

  • Follow this link to the find Visiweb.
  • The online application works with Firefox, Netscape Navigator and the two most recent versions of Internet Explorer.
  • Use the “configure” button to select the data you need. First, choose the data from the drop-down menu, then click the “add” button to populate your customized list.
  • Use the “help” button if you have questions.

The new Visiweb tool is an easy to use and very helpful tool for anyone at UDOT, from traffic engineers to Public Involvement Managers, and will improve the way UDOT manages the state transportation system.

March 31st, 2011


5 Comments, Preserve Infrastructure, by Catherine Higgins.

A UDOT Research Division study team recently unearthed some galvanized steel from retaining walls to see how the important reinforcement material is holding up over time.

Motorists drive along a ramp past a mechanically stableized earth wall or MSE wall faced with concrete blocks.

Dr. Travis Gerber uses a wood frame and a hydraulic jack to remove steel from an MSE wall.

Mechanically stabilized earth walls or MSE walls are commonly built around bridges or used as retaining walls along freeways. UDOT has a database of over 700 walls in use across the state-owned transportation system. MSE walls are expected to have a useful life of 75 to 100 years — a long time to be in place as a critically important roadway feature.

MSE walls are built in “lifts” or layers of fill with steel or geosynthetic reinforcement installed between layers — so it’s not often that engineers can actually see how the reinforcement holds up over time.

The walls are “a valuable asset,” says Chief Geotechnical Engineer Keith Brown. “We need to maintain walls the best way we can.”

I-15 was reconstructed in Salt Lake County prior to the 2002 Olympics, and UDOT used that reconstruction as an opportunity; construction contractors were required to insert steel wire “coupons” that could eventually be removed and examined. All coupons were made of galvanized steel – the same material used to fabricate the wire mesh reinforcement used in MSE walls.

Galvanization, which applies zinc to steel, does not improve steel strength. Zinc corrodes more slowly than steel and therefore delays the eventual corrosion of steel. The byproduct of zinc corrosion also slows the corrosion of steel.

Engineers require steel of a large enough diameter to assure that proper reinforcement is in-tact at the end of MSE wall life, after some expected corrosion takes place.

Field observations and lab tests

Extractable steel wire coupons provided a hands-on view of the condition of MSE reinforcement materials. “This is an actual physical inspection,” says BYU Assistant Professor Travis Gerber, who led the study. Other methods use equipment that measures the condition of coupons in place. “It’s more accurate to actually see and measure” the removable coupons.

A just-removed galvanized steel "coupon" is examined

Field observations showed the galvanization on coupons to be intact with a variable amount of white oxidation visible on the surface. Laboratory measurements showed that the average thickness of galvanization on all coupons presently exceeds standards required at the time of installation.

Gerber’s team, with UDOT oversight, was successful at establishing a critical baseline index of the condition of steel reinforcements used in MSE walls along I-15 through Salt Lake County. Because the study involved actual physical inspection, data from the study is accurate and reliable.

In addition, Gerber believes that study conclusions can apply to other nearby locations. “We think you can extrapolate the results,” as long as soils, backfill specifications and environmental area are similar, “the performance should be similar.”

The conclusions from this study will eventually contribute to better design choices, appropriate material use, and effective long term maintenance standards and practices.

March 28th, 2011


14 Comments, Optimize Mobility, by Catherine Higgins.

TravelWise during freeway re-construction in Utah County

While workers busily reconstruct I-15 in Utah County, commuters can choose TravelWise strategies to make travel more convenient. These workers are installing concrete. See another post about 40-year pavement in an earlier post:

Choices can make all the difference — leaving for work earlier, car pooling or tele-working can help commuters avoid traffic delay and get around more efficiently during road construction. UDOT has promoted TravelWise strategies to individuals and businesses for years. Now messages about those helpful strategies are being integrated into the biggest construction project in the state- the I- 15 CORE project in Utah County.

Traffic on I-15 in Utah County--taking public transportation can be a cost-saving and convenient travel option.

I-15 CORE Project Team members have emphasized these TravelWise strategies since the beginning of construction of the project by posting information on construction website and presenting information to employers close to the construction corridor.

“TravelWise strategies have been a key component of our communication plans for the I-15 CORE project from the very beginning, says Scott Thompson, Public Involvement Manager in UDOT Region Three. “We understand that strategies such as carpooling, tele-commuting, trip chaining and flexible work schedules are vital in helping us reduce traffic during this construction project.”

Here are some great strategies for businesses that be used to implement a TravelWise construction plan to help employees:

  • Identify a TravelWise coordinator or implementation task force to oversee the program.
  • Conduct a participant survey (provided by the TravelWise team) to determine interest.
  • Design your program to fit best with participant interests. To get started, visit
  • Promote your TravelWise program through newsletters, emails, on a website, etc.
  • Track participation and effectiveness of the program and make any necessary adjustments.

Road users who adopt TravelWise strategies can see many benefits including enjoying a less stress-free commute or a more economical use of time when running errands. UDOT encourages all drivers to take a lot a look at the TravelWise website and incorporate helpful strategies into travel plans.

When more people use TravelWise strategies, cumulative benefits can help everyone, since travel delay can be reduced. “We continue to promote TravelWise messages in everything we do and believe they have been beneficial in helping us reduce congestion in Utah County,” says Thompson.

Contact the I5-CORE team with any questions or concerns along the way.

March 25th, 2011


2 Comments, Uncategorized, by Catherine Higgins.

It’s a big deal –UDOT is carrying out a Western Hemisphere first on Saturday by moving the new 354 foot Sam White Bridge into place.

A view from the top -- the concrete deck serves as a viewing area for media and the project team

Workers are preparing to move the Sam White Bridge using SPMT's

How big is big? The bridge is “6 feet short of a football field,”  said Governor Gary Herbert at a media preview of the upcoming Sam White Bridge move  – the longest two-span bridge that has ever been moved using Self Propelled Modular Transporters (SPMT) in the Western Hemisphere. The bridge, which was built on the east of the freeway in a “bridge farm,” will roll into place on March 26.

SPMTs are remote controlled, computerized, multi-wheeled vehicles with hydraulic lifts. According to the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials, SPMT use “provides agencies and contractors with the ultimate flexibility and speed in removing and installing bridges.”  Six additional full nighttime freeway closures would have been necessary to rebuild the bridge using traditional methods.

UDOT has used various methods to move 23 bridges  – more than double the number of bridges moved by all other states combined.

Sam White Bridge facts:

  • While in transition, the bridge will be hoisted 21 feet in the air  then set into place
  • Length: 354 feet long – the longest two-span bridge ever moved in the Western Hemisphere
  • Each span is 177 feet and will be moved simultaneously with two sets of SPMTs
  • Superstructure Weight: 3.82 million pounds
  • Width: 80 feet
  • Bridge Area: 27,500 square feet1,134 cubic yards, or 2.27 million pounds of concrete
  • 970 yards, or 940,000 pounds, of concrete on the deck
  • 300,000 pounds concrete parapets (safety barriers)
  • 1.53 million pounds concrete slabs
  • 1.47 million pounds steel
  • 275,350 pounds rebar
  • 12,700 hours to construct and move the bridge
  • The former Sam White bridge had a 14 feet 7 inch height clearance; the new bridge will have the national design standard height of 17 feet 3 inches
  • Sam White was a homesteader of 160 acres at the end of Sam White Lane

Workers prepare a hydraulic lift on a SPMT

For more information, including directions to a public viewing area during the move, visit the I – 15 CORE website.

See an animation of the move on UDOT’s YouTube Channel.

March 22nd, 2011


No Comments, Optimize Mobility, by Catherine Higgins.

Robert Pelly, STIP Coordinator, is the UDOT employee of the year. He was nominated by Bill Lawrence:

Robert Pelly accepts the employee of the year award

Among many capable and dedicated employees in UDOT Program Financing, Robert Pelly rises to the top by providing expert data management and superb customer support while being a congenial and trusted colleague. It is a privilege to recommend Bob Pelly as UDOT Employee of the Year.

Bob has worked at UDOT for 14 years. During the past 7 years as a Research Consultant, he has coordinated a mammoth change that has vastly improved the way UDOT does business. Working closely with programmers, Bob guided the transformation of UDOT’s project tracking method from static to live and developed a first-rate electronic data storage and tracking tool — UDOT’s Electronic Program Management system, fondly known as ePM.

ePM is a complex data base that interrelates with all agency programs. Thousands of projects and programs populate ePM at one time, with the number of active projects ranging from 1,400 to 3,000.  Bob is the central figure when it comes to entering project data into ePM, and UDOT projects can’t get off the ground without him.

Because projects are data driven, the quality and completeness of ePM must be maintained at all times. Bob is responsible for initial input and also ongoing daily maintenance, including modifications, amendments to funding or additional finance charges, all essential pieces of information required to move projects to completion. So, next time you see a new lane on your commute, think of Bob who started the project rolling.

Region Program Managers rely on Bob’s proactive work style, project coordination ability and skill with ePM when setting up and maintaining project data. His knowledge and expertise ensures that all financial regulations and programming rules are followed so UDOT won’t miss out on funds for needed improvements.

Bob is not satisfied with just developing and maintaining ePM; he has made a habit of solving system problems and improving efficiency of system operation. He works closely with programmers to ensure that good ideas are turned into real improvements.  His persistence and determination has improved the efficiency of data entry and accuracy of information so projects can be tracked more easily and quickly, saving funding and time for all who access ePM data.

Bob also maintains the Statewide Transportation Improvement Plan or STIP – a four-year work plan that lists all funded projects. The STIP is a transparent and real time database within ePM that is critical to UDOT’s interface with Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) officials.

When it comes to completing deadline-driven complex tasks, Bob rules. He programs STIP funds and makes frequent daily adjustments to achieve balance. In a typical year, he makes over 4,000 changes to the STIP alone. His work to keep data current moves transportation projects forward with the right monies applied to the right project at the right time. His diligent work maintains transparency and ensures that transportation funds are used carefully and efficiently.

Bob is also a key player in UDOT’s STIP funding cycle. The deadline driven STIP development process is a massive effort that requires him to interact and coordinate with transportation agency and local government officials to identify projects and funding – and he does so with a high degree of professionalism and skill.

The STIP cycle involves workshops, public comment and approval from UDOT Regions, the Utah Transportation Commission, FHWA, and the Federal Transit Administration. Bob also collaborates with the Regions in collecting and producing Commission Meeting Fact Sheets which contain critical information required for major funding and scope changes to projects. Coordination and completion of the funding cycle must be completed by October 1 each year.

Even though his responsibilities are weighty, Bob always remains calm, kind and uber-efficient, which makes working with him a pleasure. He stays cool and clear headed as deadlines loom near.  A true Southern gentleman, his gracious and affable demeanor has fostered a cooperative environment and strengthened relationships between funding partners and UDOT leaders. Whatever the task, Bob is proactive and often finishes work ahead of schedule — “I’ve already completed it” is a common reply to inquiries about the status of tasks.

With relentless dedication to excellence, unwavering professionalism and real strength of character, Bob serves UDOT and Utah citizens well. He truly deserves to be UDOT Employee of the Year.