SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Department of Transportation crews canvassed the urban interstate across the Wasatch Front, replacing speed limit signs while officially changing the speed limit from 65 to 70 mph.

A new 70 mph speed limit sign waits to be installed.

A new 70 mph speed limit sign waits to be installed.

In an effort to optimize mobility and Keep Utah Moving, crews from UDOT Regions One, Two and Three spent all day on December 8th, changing out 99 signs from Spanish Fork to Ogden. In many instances, the crews simply placed a decal on the existing sign, but several of the older signs were replaced outright.

The speed limit increased on Interstates 15, 80 and 215. However, two sections of I-80 will remain at 65 mph, as engineering studies show the terrain doesn’t allow for a speed increase.

The choice to implement the new speed limits was based on several studies, and in response to last year’s legislation (H.B. 80).

Utah is not the first state to raise speed limits to 70 mph or faster. Nearly one-third of the United States has speed limits set at 70 mph or faster in urban areas, and more than two-thirds of states have increased them in rural areas.

UDOT workers change out speed limit signs on I-80 westbound

UDOT workers change out speed limit signs on I-80 westbound


Photo of Wasatch MountainsMountain Accord is a public process initiated to gather input from local residents and stakeholders and make long-term decisions regarding the future of the central Wasatch Mountains. By using public input and previous research as a framework, the project team and active participants are evaluating four major topic areas and how they relate to each other in the central Wasatch region: transportation, environment, recreation and economy.

Mountain Accord is made up of more than 20 diverse organizations including local, state and federal government entities, members of the local business community and several non-profit organizations. Region Two Director Nathan Lee is representing UDOT on the Mountain Accord Executive Board that was formed to provide consensus-based oversight, solicit funding, resolve disputes, approve recommendations, and set the overall program direction and policy.

The Mountain Accord process consists of two principle phases. Phase one began in January 2014. Since then, small stakeholder working groups have been studying current and projected future conditions within the study area in Salt Lake, Summit, and Wasatch counties. The process is drawing from continuous public input, existing plans and studies, and collaboration among Mountain Accord’s participating agencies and key stakeholders.

Several Region Two officials participate in these working groups and are using this information to develop potential future scenarios for the central Wasatch Mountains and canyons that address transportation, environment, recreation and economic goals. These alternatives are scheduled to be open for public review and input in December, with public open houses scheduled for early January. Phase one will culminate in the selection of a preferred scenario and specific actions for each of the four areas of interest.

During Phase Two, the Mountain Accord project team will work through appropriate agencies and entities to implement these proposed actions. For more information about Mountain Accord and how you can get involved in this important process to shape the future of the central Wasatch, visit

This guest post was originally published in the Region Two Fall 2014 Newsletter.

Executive Director Carlos Braceras recently awarded Silver Barrels to several Region Four employees for their efforts in clearing S.R. 95.

Area Engineer

  • Jim Chandler

Blanding Maintenance Station

  • Vance Adams
  • Montana Carr
  • Forrest Crofts
  • Cletis Hatch
  • Paul Marian

Moab Maintenance Station

  • Justin Woodard

Monticello Maintenance Station

  • Ruel Todd Randall

Thompson Maintenance Station

  • Von Bowerman
  • Devan Meadows

Details of their efforts are included below and were taken directly from the nomination.

“This summer employees of the Region Four East District Blasting Crew and the Blanding Maintenance Station came together under the direction of Area Engineer Jim Chandler to clear a massive rock slide on S.R. 95 at Comb Ridge west of Blanding. The crews worked in concert to mobilize equipment, control traffic, purchase explosives and remove material in order to reopen the road in record time.”

“Crew members traveled from Thompson Springs, Moab and Monticello to join forces with the Blanding crew. Twenty-five bore holes were drilled and blasted to facilitate the safe and quick removal of the slide material with rubber tire loaders and backhoes. Thank you to all who took part to safely complete this emergency project, it was a job well done!”

Photos of crews removing rockslide from S.R. 95

SALT LAKE CITY — The pioneering sprit has always been in Utah’s blood. From the Winchester rifle, Word Perfect and wider Pioneer Streets, to the Roadometer and Television, Utah has always tried to be at the forefront of technology.

In the digital age, the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) has continued as a technological pioneer, especially in the field of Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS). It was recently awarded a “Best of ITS” award by the ITS World Congress this fall for its Citizen Reporter app, which was piloted during the 2012-2013 winter season.

Citizen Report Screenshot

A screenshot of the Citizen Report app

The app, which is the first of its kind in the United States, is aimed at Keeping Utah Moving, specifically during winter months. It allows citizen volunteers to report on road weather conditions along specific roadways across the Beehive State, after a short training session. These reports give enhanced road weather information to travelers when the stakes are the highest — during inclement weather. 

In large, sparsely populated states like Utah, state DOTs have trouble providing up-to-the-minute accuracy on road conditions to travelers. It’s especially tough in Utah, where nearly 1,000 cameras statewide still can’t see every inch of roadway. But that’s where crowd sourcing from citizen reporters comes in, providing more accurate and timely information to the traveling public on conditions around the state.

Lisa Miller, UDOT’s Traveler Information Manager, said the program was extremely successful, with over 1100 reports last year from approximately 500 reporters. She predicts four times the usage of the app this coming year.

“Our early concern was that the data might not be reliable,” Miller said. “But what we’ve found is that the incoming data is 99% accurate.”

Other states, such as Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska and North Dakota have requested information from UDOT to create similar programs in those states. The success of the program has spurred the department to produce another app, called Click N Fix, which allows the public to report potholes, burnt out highway lights, and other safety issues. The app will be more widely available to the public in early 2015.

The 2014 ITS World Congress

UDOT was awarded a “Best of ITS” award for “Best New Innovative Practice” in September.

“Crowd-sourcing is emerging as an effective means to both engage and serve the public, Miller said. “The public can now make more informed travel decisions, which impacts everything: safety, mobility, and the economy.”

To become a Citizen Reporter:

In order to become a UDOT Citizen Reporter, you will need to complete a brief training (either online or in person), take a short quiz and complete a sign-up form. The training takes approximately 10 minutes to complete. Once a volunteer has completed these steps, they will be provided with a login and PIN, and can begin submitting reports. Reports are submitted through the UDOT Citizen Reporting app, downloadable for Android and Apple devices from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

If you would like to become a Citizen Reporter, please follow this link to take the online training: For more information or to schedule an in person training, email

You can download the Citizen Reports app for your iPhone or Android device.


PANGUITCH — In a state where innovation is consistently used to Keep Utah Moving, sometimes innovation alone isn’t enough. Unique partnerships between state agencies can be the perfect additional ingredient to accomplish the improbable.

In rural southern Utah, where equipment and manpower are sometimes as few and far between as the towns in the region, innovation and partnering got a much-needed job done quickly and efficiently, while minimizing the use of taxpayer dollars.

Recently, UDOT’s shed 4469 in Panguitch teamed up with Bryce Canyon National Park to create a shoulder on a seven-mile stretch of Scenic Byway SR-143. This stretch of Utah’s “Patchwork Parkway” was in great need of a shoulder, because a simple task like plowing the road or pulling over created potential safety issues.

The project required tools neither the department nor the national park possessed alone. So to combat this issue, they came together to pool resources and manpower to finish the job in a few days, saving each agency valuable time and money.

“The stars just lined up,” said Panguitch Shed manager Robert Brown. “Down here, we’re all neighbors, and you have to get creative to help each other out and get things done.”

Normally, a similar project requires a team of at least six to eight workers, with three on a shouldering machine alone. But with only two full-time employees at the shed, Brown and his counterpart at Bryce Canyon had to think outside of the box. Here are some of the highlights:

• Bryce Canyon provided side delivery dump trucks that offered a more efficient use of asphalt. Standard machines provide four feet of material, even if only two feet are needed.
• UDOT’s grader was used to accomplish both the grading and compaction tasks, as the shoulder in the area is too steep to use conventional steel drum rollers.
• The asphalt used on the project was recycled and obtained from a pit in nearby Hatch, Utah at nearly one-third of the cost of new asphalt.
• The project was completed in two days, with two UDOT Panguitch Shed employees and two Bryce Canyon employees.
• A pull-behind broom hooked to a pickup truck cleaned the road with two passes.

For Brown, the lesson is simple: when government entities work and plan together, the result can be a win-win for both, as well as the surrounding communities.

“Without the shared resources, we wouldn’t have been able to do the job,” Brown said. “I think this shows that governments need to think outside of the box more to collaborate.”

A new UPLAN gallery of web maps and apps, with information about upcoming projects, is now available through UPlan.

The gallery makes data on the UDOT Three Year Plan available to project managers, UDOT employees, policy makers and the general public. Projects are organized by program funding source, year and UDOT region. The gallery also has a web map of future planning through 2020.

The live data advantage

The online information can be referenced by employees across the department, or by UDOT and local governments to assure that all are viewing and using the correct information. The project data is updated nightly, so data is kept as current as possible.

Having dynamic, easily accessible information via the gallery enhances collaboration across UDOT divisions so projects can be synchronized to use resources effectively and reduce impact to the public. The gallery improves agency transparency since anyone with a web connection can use the gallery to view planned projects.

What is UDOT’s Three Year Plan?

Screen Shot of the Three Year Plan WebsiteThe projects in the Three Year Plan have been identified and prioritized by each of the four UDOT regions. The projects address UDOT’s three strategic goals, Zero Crashes, Injuries and Fatalities, Optimize Mobility, and Preserve Infrastructure.  Funding sources have also been identified for each project.

The main advantage for UDOT in having a three year program of road construction projects is coordination, says William Lawrence, Director of UDOT Program Finance. The plan lets the department evaluate the program as a whole and “helps maximize efficiency,” he says. For example, two projects in close proximity in American Fork, each planned for different years, were recently combined into one project that will take place in 2017. In this case, combining projects is a better use of financial resources, and “construction will only impact the public once,” says Lawrence.

To find the Three Year Plan gallery, access the UDOT Data Portal at, click the UPLAN thumbnail, then click the 3-Year Plan thumbnail in UPLAN. Instructions for searching for or sorting projects are included in the gallery.

UDOT has received or will be receiving implementation funding on five SHRP2 projects. They are:

SHRP2 Logo

We are undergoing operations assessment to improve travel-time reliability. The goal is to improve safety, increase efficiency, and reduce the cost of congestion to drivers, freight operators, and other users. The work is ongoing.

UDOT has been awarded $200K.
Rob Clayton is the UDOT contact for this project.

This is a web-based collection of information and guidance developed from over 40 technologies that are used for new roadways or widening embankments constructed over unstable soils.

Jon Bischoff is the UDOT contact for this project. Liz Cramer is the division FHWA contact.
UDOT has been awarded $30K.

This is a report and program to help design long-life pavements that are cost effective and that minimize the impact on roadway users. We were awarded the User Incentive Assistance which is approximately $20K. We look to begin Spring 2015.

Jason Richins is the contact with technical assistance provided by Steve Anderson, both from UDOT.

T-PICS is a web tool that planners can use to see the impacts that occur as a result of different types of projects in different settings.
This product was just launched.

Jeff Harris is the UDOT contact and Steve Call is the division contact for FHWA. UDOT anticipates up to $25K for this project.

New spreadsheets were developed that estimate the economic impact for a proposed highway project.
This product was just launched.

Jeff Harris is the UDOT contact and Steve Call is the division contact for FHWA. UDOT anticipates up to $125K for this project.

This is two petabytes of video and data from 3,150 drivers aged 16-80 with nearly 50 million miles under actual driving conditions. Dr. R.J. Porter and his team from the U of U will be studying driver behavior at entrances and exit ramps on interstates. This research will begin in January 2015.

Phase I has a budget of up to $100K and the option of a phase II and III. The combined value of phase II and III could be close to $1M.

Scott Jones is the UDOT contact for this project.

Five additional SHRP2 implementation products will be released in Round 5 which will begin January 16, 2015.

This guest post was written by Jason Richins, S.E., UDOT Research Project Manager and was originally published in the Research Newsletter.

Prepare to Stop VMSThis summer, Region Two began work on Redwood Road from I-80 to North Temple to rotomill and resurface the roadway with a thin bonded PCCP 6” overlay. One of the biggest challenges on the job was maintaining traffic through the work zone while also maintaining side-street and business access. This issue was complicated by the high number of large trucks in the area. These trucks not only utilize a significant amount of available queue space on the ramps, they also take more time to climb the incline at the interchange before clearing the signal. These factors required significant coordination to keep traffic moving.

Our contractor, Dry Creek Structures, and construction crew worked closely with the Traffic Signal Maintenance group to split phase signals and move detection zones to accommodate traffic through the work zone. We also worked closely with Grant Farnsworth at the TOC Traffic Signals Desk to adjust signal timing as the work zone configuration changed.

From a traffic safety perspective, our top priority was to minimize queuing on the
westbound I-80 ramp and prevent stopped traffic on mainline I-80. Despite the team’s best efforts, traffic was occasionally still backing onto mainline I-80 while waiting to exit at Redwood Road. To help address this queuing problem, working with Marge Rasmussen in Region Two Traffic and Safety, and Project Manager Peter
Tang, an Automated Queue Warning Detection System was change ordered into
the project and installed on the I-80 westbound off-ramp to Redwood Road.
With this system, the occupancy rate was monitored near the gore point of the off-ramp. When the system detected stopped cars at this location, a warning message was activated at a Variable Message Sign (VMS) upstream of the off-ramp alerting motorists of “STOPPED TRAFFIC AHEAD” and “PREPARE TO STOP.”

How it works: A sub-contracted vendor (Ver-Mac) installed a radar sensor, cellular
modem and solar panel on a highway lighting pole near the bottom of the off
ramp. They also placed a VMS equipped with a cellular modem upstream of the off
ramp. When the vendor’s software system (Jam-Logic) detected an occupancy rate greater than 10 percent at this location, a message was activated at the VMS alerting travelers to the stopped condition ahead. Once the queued traffic had dissipated, the VMS message was automatically turned off and remained off until ramp queuing was detected again.

In addition to the VMS message activating when a queue was detected, email messages were also sent to the TOC Operators, the Signal Timing Engineer and the Resident Engineer, alerting them to the situation. When possible, adjustments were made to the signal timing to help clear the ramp traffic.

Results: The project team is not aware of any accidents at this location after the automated queue warning system was installed. Typically, the system was activated 10 times each day throughout the week or an average of 13.4 times on weekdays. Even during low traffic volumes, just a few long trucks on the ramp can back up traffic and activate the system. While the system was live, the queue warning messages were displayed 256 times for a total of 2,327 minutes. The average display time was 9 minutes. The maximum display time was 56 minutes (on August 23 starting at 9:19 a.m.).

Logical Automation Rules Chart“Doing advanced queue warning is a great operational benefit, but what the TOC appreciated most was the communication between the project and the control room. When the control room knows what’s going on, we’ll help out in any way that we can. In this case, we monitored the queue system and helped ensure that it was functioning as advertised – which it was,” explained Glenn Blackwelder, Traffic Operations Engineer.

Future Applications: The automated queue warning detection system was a valuable addition to our “tool box” for managing traffic issues in the construction work zone on the Redwood Road project. In the future, perhaps other projects could benefit from this or other types of technology to help address traffic control issues within construction work zones.

This guest post was written by Bryan Chamberlain, Region Two Resident Engineer, and was originally published in the Region Two Fall 2014 Newsletter.

The Employee Advisory Council met November 3, 2014. Items that were included in the discussion included:

  • Overtime
  • Communicating Meeting Informaiton to Groups
  • Team Building and Morale Issues
  • Training and Conferences
  • Learning from Other States
  • Department Safety Initiative

Notes from the meeting are available below.

EAC November 2014 Summary

Information from previous meetings has also been posted on the blog.

Employee Advisory Council

MAG Transportation FairMountainland Association of Governments held its annual Transportation and Community Planning Fairs during October.

MAG invited member cities to provide information about community plans and utilized the fairs to invite public input on the Draft Regional Transportation Plan.

UDOT participated by providing information about upcoming construction on The Point project, seat belt safety highlighted by the Zero Fatalities team, and TravelWise information. Region Three displayed their Interactive Projects map and a looping video using photos from the 2014 photo contest. They also shared information about the region bike plan and invited response to a quick questionnaire to help prioritize potential bike projects.

MAG is launching an interactive website called Exchanging Ideas as part of the Regional Transportation Planning process. Kory Iman, GIS Analyst with Region Three and MAG, had an integral role in developing the site to facilitate public input. MAG staff demonstrated the site at the three fairs in October and will accept comment through April 2015.

This guest post was orginally published in the Region Three Fall 2014 Newsletter.