July 9th, 2013

UDOT Traffic App Tutorial

No Comments, Optimize Mobility, by Sarah Stephenson.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have access to all of Utah’s weather, traffic information, major construction and road delays? Fortunately the Utah Department of Transportation has made this possible through a smart phone application called “UDOT Traffic”.

The traffic app has several different features which include a detailed map, alerts, road weather and mountain pass information. All of this data comes from the UDOT Traffic Operations Center (TOC) which provides 24/7 monitoring for roads around the state.

Here is a step by step tutorial of how to utilize the app’s features and information.

The map contains several different options that include: cameras, incidents/planned events, construction, overhead freeway signs otherwise know as Variable Message Signs (VMS) and traffic congestion. With your smart phone you can zoom to common locations, search a certain address or use your current location.

Areas of Utah can be selected based on common locations as well as being searched.

Areas of Utah can be selected based on common locations and searched as well.

Specific symbols can be selected or deselected to find a specific camera, construction zone, sign or alert.

Specific symbols can be selected or deselected to change what is visible on your map.

This map of Utah contains symbols representing cameras, construction sites, alerts, and VMS signs.

This map of Utah contains symbols representing cameras, construction sites, alerts, and VMS.

Map with just construction.

Here is a map with all the construction sites listed in Utah. By selecting a specific barrel, details can be found about the place, duration and lane closure information.

A camera view from US-6.

This is a camera view from U.S. 6 but other highways are available on the UDOT Traffic map. Camera images are updated regularly and include a time stamp so you know how recent the image is.

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VMS can also be viewed from the app. These show current travel times between the sign and certain locations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alerts are the second feature available from the main menu across the bottom and contain advice and warning information regarding emergencies, TravelWise, road conditions, incidents, special events, construction and seasonal roads.

An example of an alert with information on the locations and nature of the incident

Details on each alert can be accessed from a list or viewed on the map.

An example of an alert with information on the locations and nature of the incident

This is an example of an incident alert on the map. It contains information on the location, nature of the incident and impact.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The third main feature of the app is all about weather. This section contains travel advisories, available during the winter months, as well as road forecasts and reports directly from our weather stations. Road forecasts and weather station data are available all year.

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Travel advisories, weather stations and road forecasts are available in the Weather section of UDOT Traffic App.

This is an example of a Road Forecast that will update every 3 hours with current weather.

Road Forecasts are created by TOC meteorologists and have details broken down in 3 hours increments up to 24 hours in advance.

The Weather Stations display graphs and data for what to expect concerning temperature, wind, dew point etc.

The Weather Stations option displays graphs and data directly from RWIS around the state. This includes temperature, wind, dew point, etc.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The final portion of the app includes Mountain Passes. Mountain Passes are often impacted first by incoming weather. To help travelers understand what they will encounter in these areas we have consolidated them into one part of the app.

 A list of all the mountain passes in Utah are available in this section of the app.

A list of all the mountain passes in Utah are available in this section of the app.

Once a mountain pass is selected information with cameras and weather is available.

Once a mountain pass is selected information specific to that area, including cameras and weather forecasts, are available.

A camera view of Sardine Summit mountain pass.

A camera view of Sardine Summit mountain pass.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These are some tips and tricks to navigating UDOT ‘s Traffic App. The application is available for iPhone and Android devices and can be downloaded for free through your smart phone’s app store.  For more information on how UDOT receives data and traffic information check out this blog written about UDOT’s  Traffic Operations Center. http://blog.udot.utah.gov/2013/06/optimizing-mobility-udots-traffic-management-division/

TOC Control RoomThe UDOT Traffic Management Division (TMD) houses UDOT’s Traffic Operations Center (TOC), the traffic signal management division, traveler information program and deployment and maintenance for Utah’s robust Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) network. UDOT utilizes the resources from within the TMD to plan for and react to any type of event that reduces capacity on Utah interstate and highway routes.

The UDOT TOC is operated 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year! TOC operators actively monitor traffic, looking for road debris, crashes or lane closures due to construction. This sophisticated ITS network includes traffic cameras, overhead message signs, vehicle detectors and much more. The fiber optic network that connects the ITS devices to the TOC provides an excellent, fast connection that allows TOC operators to react at a moment’s notice. “Our TOC operators monitor traffic throughout the state from our facility in Salt Lake City. If a crash occurs in St. George, our operators are able to use traffic cameras to locate the incident and post a message warning motorists on an overhead message sign within a matter of seconds,” said Mike Evans, Control Room Manager.

In addition to day-to-day traffic problems, the UDOT TMD also provides traffic signal support for large-scale special events. A signal management operator can remotely control nearly 80% of UDOT’s traffic signals from the TOC.

UDOT’s Traffic Management Division is charged with operating a smart transportation network. Using technology to help manage traffic is an excellent way to optimize mobility, reduce delay and increase roadway capacity. To schedule a tour of the UDOT Traffic Operations Center, please call(801) 887-3710.

I-80 Drainage Pipepipes 1

UDOT is working with W.W. Clyde and Geneva Pipe to begin the replacement of an old drainage system in Parley’s Canyon. The construction, which started at the end of May, begins at the mouth of Parley’s Pipes 2Canyon on I-80 and will extend about 2.5 miles east into the canyon. The pipe will serve to drain Salt Lake City’s excess water as well as the canyon runoff.

The current 50-year-old pipe is buried, in some areas, more than 30-40 feet under the freeway. Crews will work to replace the deteriorating corrugated steel pipe with a new durable concrete pipe. The sections of pipe that are currently underground will be capped off and filled.

This blue metal casing is placed over the wired frame and then transported to the cement pouring deck.

This blue metal casing is placed over the wired frame and then transported to the cement pouring deck.

The new system will be built to the side of the road to make service and maintenance more manageable. This will also keep closures and impacts to a minimum during construction and future maintenance.

Each section of pipe weighs about 25,000 pounds and is 12 feet long. Geneva Pipe creates these massive cement structures at their site in Orem. The specific cement used is built to endure harsh conditions and erosion over time.

The cement is then poured and quickly mixed into the metal casing on the deck.

The cement is then poured and quickly mixed into the metal casing on the deck.

The pipes are made in the Geneva warehouse where the cement is poured into a metal casing that is tightly compacted to create large vertical cylinders that will dry overnight. The type of cement used dries fast because of the way that it is quickly sifted and tightly compacted under extreme amounts of pressure.

These are the wet concrete pipes that will dry overnight.

These are wet concrete pipes that will dry overnight.

Overnight blasting for the construction has already begun and drivers should expect up to 15 minute delays while blasting occurs.

Overnight lane restrictions will also be necessary but one lane in each direction will remain open. Motorists should expect delays, a reduced speed limit and lane closures throughout the project until November 2013. At least three lanes will remain open during high traffic times, including events and on weekends.

Here is a video of the blasting happening at I-80.

June 26th, 2013

Black Sand

No Comments, Optimize Mobility, by Sarah Stephenson.
What black sand looks like.

What black sand looks like.

UDOT recently tested an innovative product used to help enhance the snow melting process during the clearing of mountain passes in the spring. The material is called “black sand” and was tested near Monte Cristo summit in Weber County as an agent to save future time and money.

Special Crews Supervisor, Kelly Andrew, conducted the study and ran tests, to see how effective the black sand would actually be. The result was extremely positive and indicated this method could save UDOT a significant amount of time in the snow removal process as well as in equipment costs.

Black sand has been a tried and tested method farmers have used for years in order to clear snow from the ground to plant their crops faster, rather than letting it melt on its own. Andrew noticed how effective it had been for them and thought, “Why wouldn’t it work for us on roads?” This led to acquiring the material and testing certain sections of snow to see which areas melted faster, those with black sand or those without.

Loading the black sand

Special Crews Supervisor, Kelly Andrew looks on as workers load the black sand.

So how does it work? Black sand uses solar energy to create heat that in turn helps melt snow faster. Vic Saunders, Region One communications manager, used wearing a black shirt as an example of how the black sand works.

Black Sand 2

Spreading the black sand at Monte Cristo Summit.

“If you were to go outside wearing a dark shirt, you would get warmer than you would wearing a white shirt… the black enhances the melting process because it is absorbing the solar rays rather than reflecting them.” Saunders said.

According to Andrew, the black sand is a fine powder-like substance that was lightly spread with a large snow machine. Utah State University conducted a study testing the components of the sand, which consists of 95 percent pure sand and the rest inert elements that are not harmful to the environment.

After a four-week testing period, Andrew and his team found that areas where black sand had been distributed showed significant progress in the melting process over the parts of snow that had been left alone.

The advantage of this new black sand is not only that it makes the process of clearing the mountain passes easier but it also saves taxpayers money. Money is saved on time because the more snow that has melted means less to remove and less wear and tear on expensive equipment that is costly to operate.

The black sand method would not replace salt that is used on highways and freeways to help remove snow and ice; rather it’s an additional agent to be used on closed roads with heavily packed snow.

“We didn’t use the black sand to help us open the road earlier but we did it to make ourselves more efficient,” Saunders said.

The sand will continue to be tested as an additional tool in the snow removal process for mountain passes in the upcoming winter months.

Photos were provided by Kelly Andrew and Vic Saunders from Region One. 

Clint Tyler Materials Technician

Clint Tyler, a materials technician, looks on as an asphalt sample cools before conducting further tests. This machine runs a metal wheel over the sample 20,000 times to measure its durability.

Before UDOT employees reroute traffic, before they begin paving the road and even before they put out orange cones, they are hard at work. This work requires communication between traffic signal engineers, project managers and others – but none of it would happen without the approval from the materials engineers. The behind-the-scenes work done by engineers in the materials lab ensures the durability of the road before construction begins, making the lab testing a vital part of the preconstruction process.

Steve Park, Region Three Materials Engineer, explained that the purpose of the materials lab is to test road materials for strength and durability. “We get long-lasting roads by demanding high-quality materials, and it’s our job to test those materials before they’re in the road,” Park said. “We save taxpayer money that way, because we won’t have to tear it up later.”

Asphalt Sample

An asphalt sample cools following some tests. The asphalt tests conducted in the materials lab help materials technicians determine the mixture’s durability.

The materials lab has a few different functions. One function is to mix and test the materials that a contractor wants to use for a project. In this process, the materials engineers and technicians use the lab to mix the materials according to the contract specifications. After they have been mixed, the materials engineers analyze the results, and the mixtures are evaluated according to strict safety and durability standards.

After the materials engineers complete their analysis, UDOT materials technicians then test the mixes. One test assesses the durability of an asphalt mix by placing a sample in a machine that simulates a car driving on it. The machine runs a metal wheel over it 20,000 times, and it meets durability standards if the wheel creates a rut less than 10 mm deep. Another test cures concrete samples for 28 days in at least 95 percent humidity before crushing them to measure their durability.

Clint Tyler, a materials technician, said that the importance of these tests cannot be understated. “We do these tests because it’s easier to make changes now, before it’s in the road,” Tyler said. “Our roads last longer that way.”

Road Core Samples

A stack of road core samples waits to be examined. Every so often, materials technicians will take core samples of a road to determine whether or not it needs maintenance work.

A second function of the materials lab is to test the health of the roads. Every so often, materials technicians will take a core sample of a road to determine whether or not it needs maintenance work. These projects, such as resurfacing, minimize future construction by prolonging the life of the road.

“In the end, analyzing the materials and doing these tests is just as important as the construction itself,” Park said.

While materials technicians’ work will always be behind the scenes, the results they gather will continue to directly affect Utah drivers. Their hard work ensures that UDOT’s roads will provide safe and smooth travels for years to come.

In the last two decades, UDOT has emerged as a national leader in transportation innovation.  In the coming years, UDOT intends to carry on that legacy, while continuing to adapt, adjust and improve. UDOT will continue to strive toward its Final Four Strategic Goals while embracing four new Guiding Principles to ensure the right work is being done in the right way.

Final Four Strategic Goals
Where we are going

Over the years, UDOT has laid out and refined the Strategic Goals that will continue to drive every UDOT project and serve as a standard by which to measure success. They are:

Preserve Infrastructure
UDOT is preserving Utah’s existing transportation infrastructure. The state’s multibillion dollar investment in roads, bridges and other assets must be maintained for future generations.

Optimize Mobility
UDOT works to optimize traffic mobility through a number of measures, including adding capacity, innovative design, managed lanes, TravelWise and signal coordination.

Zero Fatalities
UDOT remains committed to safety, and the goal to consistently improve safety on Utah’s roads can be summed up in two words: zero fatalities.

Strengthen the Economy
This goal recognizes UDOT’s role in creating and managing a transportation system that enables economic growth and empowers prosperity.

Guiding Principles
How we will get there

Just as important as where we are going is how we get there. UDOT must do the right work in the right way, and we will reevaluate how projects and programs are managed to reflect the following principles:

Integrated Transportation
UDOT will actively consider how to best meet the needs of trucks, bikes, pedestrians and mass transit when studying transportation solutions and ensure those solutions are applied to the most appropriate facilities. We will strive to provide Utahns with balanced transportation options while planning for future travel demand.

Local Collaboration
UDOT will team with local and regional entities to create transportation solutions that help them achieve success and meet local needs.

Education
UDOT will support STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) courses in Utah colleges and high schools. We will promote the safety of Utah students through the Zero Fatalities and School Neighborhood Access Plans (SNAP) programs.

Transparency
UDOT will strive to be the most transparent DOT in the country. Utahns will be able to track where their tax dollars go, understand how they are used and see the outcomes.  We will be honest and forthcoming in how and why decisions are made.

Results
The final destination

As we accomplish our Strategic Goals supported by Guiding Principles, UDOT is helping to enhance communities, improve the environment and cultivate a stronger economy.

For example, optimizing mobility through increased transportation options, like bike lanes, improves air quality, supports commerce through reduced traffic congestion and results in improved quality of life. All of the Goals and Principles work hand-in-hand to continue to make Utah one of the best places to live and work.

Shane MarshallUDOT Executive Director Carlos Braceras has selected his number two. Region Three Director Shane Marshall has been named the Deputy Director for the Department. With nearly two decades of experience at UDOT in a wide variety of positions, Shane is well-qualified for the position.

During his tenure as Region Director, Shane oversaw an unprecedented construction program and managed the Department’s responsibilities in six counties. Prior to his time as Region Director, Shane served as the Region Three Program Manager and as the Department’s Director of Environmental Services. In these roles, he oversaw the project schedule, budget and administration of UDOT projects and worked to address the environmental needs associated with delivering the State’s high-quality transportation system.

Shane not only has the skills and the experience, he also understands people.

“Shane started his career with UDOT right out of college and has worked in a wide variety of positions that helped hone his leadership skills,” Carlos says. “More importantly he has always been one of our most innovative thinkers with a knack for solving Utah’s transportation problems.”

As Deputy Director, Shane will be responsible to help Carlos lead UDOT’s 1,800 employees, as well as the design, construction, and maintenance of Utah’s 6,000-mile system of roads and highways.

“When I started my career at UDOT as a rotational, never in a million years would I have ever thought about or sought out this opportunity,” says Shane. “I’m humbled and honored that Carlos would pick me for this position and look forward to working with him and all of our great employees.”

Shane holds a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Brigham Young University and an A.S. in Applied Science from Utah Valley University. He has served on a number of national committees, including the Transportation Research Board’s Performance Measurement Committee and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials’ (AASHTO) Standing Committee on the Environment.

IPI Award

I-15 CORE received the highest partnering award in its category (diamond level).

UDOT and its I-15 CORE partners, Provo River Constructors and partnering facilitator Tom Warne and Associates, were awarded the prestigious International Partnering Institute’s (IPI) John L. Martin Partnered Project of the Year – Diamond Level, at a ceremony in San Francisco, May 16.

“I-15 CORE demonstrated world-class partnering. The team focused on developing a collaborative project and program culture both within the project team and by integrating stakeholders throughout the entire process,” said Rob Reaugh, IPI Executive Director.

The ceremony was comprised of representatives from various state agencies and private companies from across the nation, and contractors, designers and architects and other firms associated with construction, partnering and facilitation.

“For UDOT, partnering is part of our culture and has been for years,” said Todd Jensen, I-15 CORE Project Director. “The partnering process enables decision makers from the Department and the contractor to come together to set common goals and expectations and to discuss openly any issues or challenges and how to overcome them.  It’s a collaborative process that can be difficult and time consuming.  Without a strong commitment to the partnering process, I believe UDOT would not be a national leader in the transportation industry that it is today.”

Springville Paving

Springville – To meet the aggressive construction schedule, crews paved during the summer and winter months. During the winter months, both I-15 CORE and PRC would meet daily to evaluate weather conditions and ensure each new pavement section would be properly protected, heated and monitored before paving could begin.

“In terms of project success, (I-15 CORE) was delivered $260 million under budget, 48 days early and processed more than 125 contract change orders without having a claim, and considering the number of man hours, was pretty successful from a safety standpoint,” Reaugh said.

According to Jensen, the project’s success was predicated on three keys: shared project goals, a commitment to continuous communication and a commitment to both following the formal partnering process and encouraging building relationships through informal partnering at all levels.

“With such a large project and PRC’s aggressive construction schedule, continuous communication was vital. We decided to co-locate the field offices as well as the main office to help foster face-to-face communications. Our priority was to encourage team members to talk with each other face-to-face first, followed by phone calls then email and finally letter,” Jensen said. “It was challenging and it placed people in uncomfortable situations at times, but the results of creating and encouraging a culture of communication speak for themselves.”

Provo RR Girder Placement

Provo – Crews set a steel bridge girder over the Union Pacific Railroad. Much of the construction was done at night to minimize travel delays.

During the initial partnering sessions, leadership from both teams established a shared set of goals of safety, quality, trust, truth and teamwork, budget and profitability, communication, upholding the public trust, schedule and enjoying the process. The leadership team then further defined what each goal meant. This helped keep members focused on what was most important. Like all projects, there were disagreements, differing interpretations of the contract documents, but these were overcome or managed by keeping the project goals at the forefront of employees minds and trying to address issues as quickly as possible.

“As part of our monthly partnering surveys, we required that names be attached to comments. Not to single anyone out but to know where challenges were, so that we could talk with our counterparts and work with that respective group to help get things resolved,” Jensen said.

American Fork 100 EAst

American Fork – Partnering was key in the decision to split the travel lanes on I-15 in Orem and American Fork. UDOT was able to keep lanes open and traffic moving while allowing PRC to finish building the middle sections of I-15.

Another key to success was the emphasis on informal partnering outside of the formal process.

“Relationships can make or break a project. We tried to foster a culture that it was okay to escalate items if the team couldn’t come to a resolution. We encouraged working groups to meet individually and get to know one another on a personal level. Challenges will happen but if you get to know the person across the table, it can help you get issues resolved quickly,” Jensen said.

According to Warne, accountability was the last key to building a successful project.  At each partnering meeting, the participants would discuss issues and develop action plans with responsible parties and timelines identified. In subsequent meetings, an accounting of progress for each action item had to be reported on.

“This team was particularly attentive to addressing the issues. Working together to solve problems and address issues strengthened the team and better prepared them for future challenges. Nothing short of an exceptional level of team work allowed them to deliver this project in record time,” Warne said.

Completed I-15

Pleasant Grove – Because both teams were committed to partnering and established shared project goals, I-15 CORE was completed ahead of schedule and under budget.

Because of the commitment to partnering, I-15 CORE never needed to use the assigned Dispute Resolution Board or the project sponsors to help resolve issues; all the project’s goals were met or exceeded; and a sense of achievement developed among project team members.

For more information about the International Partnering Institute visit: www.partneringinstitute.org.

This guest post was written by I-15 CORE team member Geoff Dupaix.

UPLANThe Utah Department of Transportation was recently recognized by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation (AASHTO) at a national conference held in Boise, Idaho May 6-8. UDOT has been acknowledged for the way we utilize Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in transportation.

UDOT stands out as a leader among the nation’s DOTs for our advancements with the highway mapping system known as UPlan. UDOT also received an honorable mention in the Transportation Publication division map competition for the Utah State Highway Map.

UDOT GIS Manager Frank Pisani attended the conference and said he was approached by nearly a dozen states who expressed interest in emulating UDOT’s implementation of UPlan.

So what exactly is UPlan and UGate?  “UPlan is an interactive mapping platform that supports UDOT by helping visualize our data, track our assets and strengthen our transportation planning with better analysis and collaborative information,” Pisani explained.

“UGate is the database and UPlan is the front end,” Pisani said. “UGate is behind the scenes as the engine that powers UPlan.”

The UPlan website is used as an information system where data can be tracked and recorded for both internal and public audiences. Due to it success, the federal government is also encouraging state to implement a similar system..

The Federal Highway Administration also highlighted UDOT as a model for other states for our Highway Performance Monitoring Systems and the approach we use with Linear Reference Systems.

Frank Pisani explains Linear Reference Systems:  “This is how UDOT coordinates with other state organizations like 911, highway patrols and local governments to collectively maintain 1 road network.”

Pisani said he was approached by a fellow conference attendee who claimed he had been coming to the conference for more than 20 years., “Three years ago UDOT wasn’t even here,” the man said. “And now you guys have taken over.”

UDOT has surpassed other state DOTs in the way we have been able to accomplish more with limited resources.

“UDOT has direction, support and good technology that is helping us capstone a lot of our efforts,” Pisani said. “We are trying to use technology to the best of our ability to inform the department and also the public that we are using this as an information tool and we are making the best out of the technology and data that is out there. UDOT is innovative in all aspects of the department and our technology focus is just one of them.”

May 23rd, 2013

Employee Educational Assistance

No Comments, Employee Focus, by Becky Parker.

A benefit that UDOT offers employees is educational assistance. Employees are such a valuable asset to the department that we’ve had a policy in place since 1968 to help individuals better themselves through education. This in turn benefits the department since we are improving our workforce.

Employees can get 100 percent reimbursement on courses that are directly related to their job and courses that aren’t directly related may be eligible for 75 percent if they’re a benefit to UDOT. Funding for these reimbursements comes from an grant through FHWA.

We do have a few requirements to make sure this assistance is used appropriately.

  • It is only available to permanent employees and some interns with benefits.
  • Courses must be taught at an accredited institution for college credit; certification only programs with no college credit are not eligible.
  • Employees must complete the course with at least a “C”.
  • The reimbursement is only for tuition and mandatory fees not parking, books, etc.
  • There’s some upfront paperwork that has to be completed which includes a contract and disclosure of any other funding assistance that is being received.
  • Once a course is finished employees need to submit their receipt and report card within 30 days.
  • Courses and homework have to be completed on an employee’s own time.
  • And, if the employee leaves UDOT within 12 months of receiving assistance they will have to pay us back.

Employees should also keep in mind that if they’re interested they need to work with their supervisor and the educational assistance administrator before starting any course or program.

UDOT Comptroller Becky Bradshaw used the assistance program and was able to advance to the position she holds today thanks to the education she received. She explained that employees often think of their salary as the only benefit of working but that UDOT also tries to provide other advantages to our employees and this is a perfect example.

This may seem like a strange time to be talking about school since fall is usually when we’re thinking about it. But, this is graduation season and for most of us there’s no greater motivation than the prize at the end. Recent graduate Donna McNew understands this and sent thanks along to her supervisors and senior leaders for the educational assistance program. In her thank you she said, “This is a wonderful benefit for UDOT employees, not many individuals can say they graduated with a master’s degree and no debt.”

How many employees do you think are like Becky and Donna and jump at the chance to use this benefit? Not very many. For our current fiscal year there are around 25 employees using the assistance and we have over 1,600 employees total. Going back to school is daunting and we hope that by spreading the word about this great opportunity we can lessen some of the burden for those that feel it is right for them.

If you’re not employed by UDOT does your employer offer any great benefits like this one? Do they offer any benefits that seem to good to be true? For UDOT employees, did you know about this benefit or know anyone who has taken advantage it? Let us know in the comments!