Chair and stuffed gorrilla removed from I-15 in Orem.

UDOT crews removed this chair and stuffed gorilla from I-15 in Orem.

Legislators passed this past March HB 328 S1. This bill increases the fines for littering on a highway and increases the fines for failing to secure a load while operating a vehicle on a highway.  Previously, a person could be fined no less than $100 for littering or not securing a load. This has been increased to no less than $200. The fine for a second or subsequent violation within three years of a previous violation also increased from $250 to $500.

The fine for violators operating a commercial vehicle also increased with this bill. Previously, a person could be fined no less than $250 for littering or not securing a load. This has been increased to no less than $500. A second or subsequent violation also increased from $500 to $1,000.

Under this bill a vehicle may not be operated or moved on any highway unless the vehicle is constructed or loaded to prevent its contents from dropping, sifting, leaking, or otherwise escaping. A vehicle carrying trash or garbage shall have a covering over the entire load. A vehicle carrying dirt, sand, gravel, rock fragments, pebbles, crushed base, aggregate, any other similar material, or scrap metal shall have a covering over the entire load unless:

  • the highest point of the load does not extend above the top of any exterior wall or sideboard of the cargo compartment of the vehicle; and
  • the outer edges of the load are at least six inches below the top inside edges of the exterior walls or sideboards of the cargo compartment of the vehicle.

Unsecured loads are dangerous, not just for drivers but for Utah Highway Patrol Officers who must remove items that have fallen off vehicles. Officers and drivers have been killed from debris on roads and freeways, left by negligent vehicle operators.

Currently, it costs Utah $1.8 million dollars to clear trash from state roadways, money that could spent on maintenance or construction projects. In the coming year signage displaying the new fines for litter will be placed along Utah roadways. Money from fines will be split between the Utah Highway Patrol for litter blitzes, and the Utah Department of Transportation for education and public awareness on the dangers of littering and not securing loads.

What makes a great leader? We’re lucky here at UDOT because we have many individuals to turn to for inspiration but today we honored one in particular. “A leader, a lot of the time, isn’t the person who thinks of them self as a leader, but they act that way and it is a natural attribute. A leader sets a vision, sets a goal and then they focus on the people to see how to make them successful,” Interim Director Carlos Braceras explained. One such leader is our 2012 Leader of the Year Tamy Scott.

Tamy Scott, her husband and UDOT leaders Ahmad Jaber, Chad Sheppick and Carlos Braceras

Tamy was joined by her husband and UDOT leaders to celebrate being named 2012 Leader of the Year.

Tamy has been with the Motor Carrier Division for 27 years and has been supervisor of the Investigator Unit for the last seven. Tamy supervises nine employees, in both Salt Lake City and St. George, who are responsible for ensuring motor carrier safety regulation compliance.

You might think that it is difficult to supervise employees in different parts of the state but Tamy has found ways to keep her team a cohesive group. This is demonstrated by their willingness to help one another out, “it is not uncommon to witness several individuals helping with a large carrier review or when someone has had personal challenges and has fallen behind,” Tamy’s nomination acknowledged.

Tamy is not just a supervisor with her team, she is also willing to do the jobs she asks her employees to do. Most of her time with the Department has been with the safety investigation area so she understands the important role this group has. “She is willing to do the work herself and allow [her employees] to watch and learn.” She also uses this one-on-one interaction to develop future training for the group.

Her selfless leadership style was exemplified in her remarks following the leader of the year announcement. “I’m humbled by this,” Tamy began. “The motor carrier team has made our division look so good and the investigators work so well together and I’ve had such good leaders in front of me.”

Congratulations Tamy from all of us throughout the Department!

April 2nd, 2013

2012 Leader of the Year Nominees

No Comments, Employee Focus, by Becky Parker.

UDOT Logo udot.utah.govA couple of weeks ago I posted a list of nominees for employee of the year and you know what helps employees succeed? Great leaders! Tomorrow we will honor the following individuals and announce the 2012 Leader of the Year. The nominees include:

  • Dan Betts — Region Two Maintenance
  • Jared Duke — Region Three Maintenance
  • Brent Laulusa — Administration Comptroller’s Office
  • AJ Rogers — Region Four Maintenance
  • Tamy Scott — Operations Motor Carrier Division
  • Rodney Terry — Region One Project Management
  • Katy Warren — Project Development Preconstruction

Congratulations to all of these nominees, we appreciate the example you set everyday.

Northbound I-15 near Paragonah 80 mph speet limit sign

Existing 80 mph zone on northbound I-15 near Paragonah. Photo taken by Ming Jiang of the Traffic and Safety Division.

A number of bills passed by the legislature this past session affect Utah roads and highways. One of these bills was HB 83: Speed Limit Amendments. This bill expands portions of I-15, I-80, and I-84 where the Utah Department of Transportation may establish a posted speed limit that exceeds 75 miles per hour. These sections of freeway include, portions of I-15 from Santaquin to St. George and from Brigham City to the Utah-Idaho border. Portions of I-80 potentially affected will be from Grantsville to the Utah-Nevada border and I-84 from Tremonton to the Utah-Idaho border.

If the Department of Transportation chooses to increase the speed limit in these sections the department will evaluate the results and impacts of increasing the speed limit and will report the findings of the evaluation to the Transportation Interim Committee no later than one year after the speed limit is posted.

This bill continues a process which began a number of years ago to evaluate some of Utah’s interstates to determine if there are areas that could appropriately accommodate speed limits above what is currently posted.

Opponents of this bill feared that with an 80 mile per hour speed limit there would be an increase in accidents and that drivers would increase their speed beyond 90 miles an hour. Through the studies conducted over the past few years the department has found that this is not the case.

Beginning in 2008, studies were conducted on portions of I-15, where the speed limit was increased from 75 to 80 mph. The studies concluded that most drivers preferred to drive between 82 and 83 mph regardless of the posted speed limit. Accident rates on these stretches of freeway were also studied and concluded that the increased speed did not affect the number of accidents or fatalities.

March 28th, 2013

Farewell to Director John Njord

No Comments, Employee Focus, by Becky Parker.

John Njord Farewell AddressEmployees gathered in the Calvin Rampton Atrium and via video conference at offices around the state to hear John’s final farewell. He began by mentioning the major accomplishments we’ve seen over the past 12 years during his time as director. These accomplishments include the 2002 Winter Olympics, new procurement methods such as design-build and CMGC, bridge moves and innovative interchanges and intersections. “We’re not just using best practices we’re establishing new best practices here at the Department of Transportation,” John explained.

John continued his farewell with a list of things he will miss, most of which included interactions with employees. “I will miss friendships that I’ve developed over 25 years with the Department … I’m going to miss that more than anything.” While leaving is difficult, John is looking forward to time with his family. His plans include motorcycle trips on the very roads he has spent so many years being responsible for.

Governor Herbert and John NjordIn closing John voiced his optimism for the Department’s future. He has no concerns that the work won’t progress in his absence instead his hope is that each employee will come to realize that the accomplishments over that last 12 years are their own. “In reality you really didn’t need me to be here at all, and when you discover that … it’s at that point in time I will know that I have been successful.”

Following John’s speech employees lined up for an opportunity to say goodbye and express their appreciation for his leadership. Governor Gary Herbert and Lieutenant Governor Greg Bell  joined the well-wishers and presented John with a declaration naming March 28, 2013 John R. Njord Day in Utah.

A video of John’s speech is available on UDOT’s YouTube channel.

This is a guest post written by the TravelWise team.

Utah’s air quality has been a topic of much conversation during this past winter inversion season. While the winter inversions are over, Utah continues to face air quality challenges. In an effort to meet those challenges, on Feb. 12, Governor Gary Herbert sent a memo to state agencies directing them to establish a “meaningful and measurable” Trip Reduction Implementation Plan (TRIP) through UDOT’s TravelWise program.

UDOT set the example by establishing its own TRIP, identifying ways its employees will reduce their weekly trips. UDOT set its trip reduction goal at 15 percent, which will be accomplished through a combination of telecommuting, teleworking, vanpooling/carpooling, taking public transit, using flexible work schedules and walking or bicycling to work. Each of the four Regions, as well as the Traffic Operations Center and the Complex has identified areas of improvement and has committed to helping UDOT meet the TravelWise TRIP goal.

UDOT’s TravelWise team is now working with other State agencies, using UDOT’s TRIP as a model. To learn more about UDOT’s TravelWise program or to view UDOT’s TRIP, visit travelwise.utah.gov.

UDOT Executive Director John Njord presented two Traffic Management Division employees with Silver Barrel Awards yesterday.

Matt Luker Silver Barrel Award

Rob Clayton, Matt Luker and John Njord

Matt Luker received his award for his efforts on the Flex Lanes project. This project had several difficult engineering aspects as well as some challenging software programs. The Flex Lanes project on 5400 South in the Salt Lake Valley allows for more dynamic use of the roadway depending on the conditions and heaviest direction of travel. The Flex Lanes project optimizes mobility on this busy corridor. Matt was involved on the design, testing and troubleshooting of this project for over 3 1/2 years. Matt is a signal engineer responsible for corridor-wide signal timing in UDOT’s Region 4 as well as for special projects. Prior to his current role, Matt was an Assistant Signal Engineer. Matt has worked for UDOT for 4 1/2 years.

Chuck Felice Silver Barrel Award

Rob Clayton, John Njord, and Chuck Felice

Chuck Felice received his award for managing the design and production of the UDOT Traffic smartphone app. The UDOT Traffic has been downloaded over 150,000 times since its launch in November 2011. More recently,Chuck managed the project to add additional alerts to the UDOT Traffic app and website. John Njord gave Chuck his Silver Barrel Award and mentioned that he is proud of the work that is done within the UDOT Traffic Management Division. Chuck delivers the projects that he manages effectively, however he always strives to deliver more than was asked of him. Chuck is the lead software developer for UDOT’s Traffic Management Division and is responsible for software design and integration. Chuck has worked for UDOT for 6 1/2 years.

2012 Employee of the Year Dave Kelley

Congratulations to Dave Kelley 2012 Employee of the Year!  Out of several great nominees senior leaders selected Dave for this honor and took time today to share their appreciation.

Dave works in Region Two as a Trans Tech III in the South Valley Maintenance Station. While in this position he has shared his background knowledge in rangeland science and trained fellow employees on new procedures. Besides utilizing his mentoring abilities Dave has embraced new skills himself; learning everything he can and then putting it into practice. Dave is also a pleasure to work with, as his nomination explains his “infectiously positive attitude keeps the crews’ spirits high and maintains motivation.”

Dave is an asset to the Department and we are lucky to have him among us.

March 15th, 2013

2012 Employee of the Year Nominees

No Comments, Employee Focus, by Becky Parker.

It is spring and here at UDOT that means we have an opportunity to honor a few of our great employees. These individuals have been nominated by their co-workers and selected by senior leaders to receive recognition for their truly fantastic efforts. One individual will be selected as our Employee of the Year which will be announced Tuesday, March 19. And, the nominees are:

  • Adam Anderson — Operations Motor Carrier Division
  • Kristi Barney — Administration Comptroller’s Office
  • Marci Brunson — Region Four Administrative Services
  • Jim Harris — Region One Roadway Maintenance
  • Dave Kelley — Region Two Maintenance
  • Mike Romero — Project Development Structures Division
  • Kristi Urry — Systems Planning and Programming Program Financing
  • Clayton Weaver — Region Three Construction

If you work with any of these folks, or just happen to run into them, be sure to pass along your congratulations. We are lucky to have them as part of our Department!

Note from administrator: Besides Lisa Miller this post also contains information written by Brad Lucas. Both Brad and Lisa work in the Traffic Management Division.

Preserving Utah’s road infrastructure is a critical component of UDOT’s Strategic Goals. The UDOT Traffic Management Division is creating an Asset Management Plan for devices within the Advanced Traffic Management (ATMS) System to help UDOT to continue its proactive maintenance of field devices. Devices the plan will take into account include traffic cameras, variable message signs (VMS), pavement detectors, road/weather stations, etc. An Asset Management Plan can also help to identify funding sources for new and replacement equipment.

Traffic Camera RepairWith over 1800 devices throughout the state and over 1800 miles of fiber optic cable to maintain, each of UDOT’s 16 technicians are responsible for over 100 devices. “Our staff is responsible for troubleshooting, corrective maintenance, ordering replacement parts and device installation. With a statewide system to maintain, some of these tasks can take up to a half day to complete per device,” said Brad Lucas, UDOT ITS Systems Engineer. Long term performance of the system relies on good maintenance now and allows for easier expansion and replacement in the future.

UDOT’s strategy must have a statewide approach and address long term system growth and health. “Some components of our infrastructure are aging, and good system maintenance helps to extend the life of the equipment,” said Lucas. UDOT’s Asset Management Plan will research the best and most meaningful use of public resources when budgets are tight and demand for data from field devices is high.

UDOT currently achieves between 85% and 90% of all system devices are fully operational. An Asset Management Plan will help to raise those percentages, identify life cycles for equipment replacement and strategically manage the equipment to ensure its long-term performance. Keeping the equipment operational helps to manage traffic more efficiently, and having reliable statistics on how the system is performing is an important metric for how public funds are spent.