Tag Archives: barrier

Rural Utah Guardrail Replacement Program Improves Roadside Safety

Photo of guardrail end section

This new Type G end treatment replaced an old Texas-turndown style end treatment on S.R. 87

Region Three’s Traffic and Safety staff focus on improved roadside safety by replacing guardrail and guardrail end treatments.

Griffin Harris, Region Three Traffic Engineer, led the effort to replace aging infrastructure with an eye toward safety. He managed the funding and installation of almost 3 miles of guardrail and the replacement of over 60 outdated Texas-turndown style guardrail end treatments with new Type G end treatments on six different state routes in Region Three.

For example, one project installed 2.25 miles of new guardrail in Indian Canyon on U.S. 191 between Helper and Duchesne. This area has steep drop-offs and the guardrail installation is a great safety improvement.

For more information about UDOT’s Barrier End Section (Crash Cushion) Program check out our website.

2013 Strategic Direction — Part 3

This is the third part of a 4 part series about the 2013 Strategic Direction. Please also check out Part 1: Preserve Infrastructure,  Part 2: Optimize Mobility and Part 4: Strengthen the Economy.

Zero Fatalities

UDOT remains committed to safety. This new goal replaces the previous goal of “Improving Safety” emphasizing UDOT’s commitment to reducing fatalities. Some may believe that zero is unattainable, however to those who’ve lost family members on Utah roads one fatality is one too many. Zero Fatalities is the only goal acceptable to Utahns and to UDOT.

In 2012, 218 lives were lost on Utah’s roads in car crashes–the lowest Utah traffic fatalities have been since 1959. We are making progress toward our goal of Zero Fatalities, but we still have a ways to go.

Every UDOT project incorporates safety improvements. In 2012, UDOT programmed $19.2 million for specific safety projects, including:

  • 42 miles of median cable barrier installed, for a total of 231 miles since 2003
  • Approximately $17 million of Safety Program funds were assigned to specific safety projects in 2012
  • 12 new traffic signals constructed
  • 24 traffic signal upgrades constructed
  • 11 pedestrian/school crossing improvements
  • Construction of 20 safe sidewalk projects
  • Installation of 540 sidewalk access ramps

In UDOT, the focus on safety within engineering begins with planning, designing and building safe roadways. Engineering for safety is UDOT’s commitment to a safe-system approach. The main principle of a safe-system approach is the roadway is designed and built to realistically prevent traffic related deaths even when driving behaviors create crashes.

Education is also important roadway safety. Utah demonstrates its commitment to safety through outreach efforts that help educate the public and make Utah a safe place for living, traveling and doing business. These education programs include:

Since 2009, UDOT safety programs have:

  • Totalled more than 135 presentations to elementary schools
  • Reached more than 100,000 students statewide

UDOT’s Incident Management Program began in 1994 as part of UDOT’s on-going commitment to safety on Utah’s roads. From the beginning, the program has provided significant benefit by increasing first responder safety, reducing congestion and delays and reducing secondary crashes.

Snow and ice removal is a major component to safe driving in Utah. To clear snow from approximately 6,000 centerline miles of Utah’s roads, UDOT employs the latest technologies and trains crews to ensure they are ready.

  • On average, Utah receives more than 25 winter storms each year and UDOT crews remove more than 65 million tons of snow and ice from Utah’s roads.
  • To help keep our roads clear around the clock, UDOT operates a fleet of approximately 500 snowplows.
  • UDOT’s winter operations budget for the 2012-2013 winter season is $23.3 million, including equipment, salaries, sand, salt, brine and avalanche control.


Using movable barrier in an urban construction zone helped UDOT improve safety and mobility while limiting the duration of construction.

UDOT’s pioneering use of movable barrier on an urban construction project will help UDOT and other departments of transportation employ the effective safety and mobility strategy on projects with similar characteristics.

UDOT recently used moveable concrete barrier – a system that varies directional lane use – during reconstruction of 3500 South between 2700 West and Bangerter Highway in West Valley City. The busy roadway serves a business district and is a key east-west arterial, and movable barrier was used to provide more lanes for commuters during peak travel times.

Having it all – improved safety, better traffic flow and faster construction

The project widened the thoroughfare from two to three lanes in each direction and added two center-dedicated lanes for the Utah Transit Authority’s first Bus Rapid Transit MAX route. While using moveable barrier is common on freeway construction projects – UDOT used a moveable barrier during reconstruction of I-80 through Salt Lake City – urban arterial use is less common.

During the 3500 South project, researcher Douglas Anderson, P.E. of T.Y. Lin International, documented barrier use, collected data and compiled the findings in a study for UDOT. Anderson formerly worked for UDOT as an Engineer for Research and Development and an Engineer for Planning. He has extensive experience evaluating and implementing new technology.

Anderson is pleased to report that using the barrier system improved safety, helped ease traffic flow and supported a faster construction schedule. The method Anderson used to collect and analyze data also provides a pattern for project managers to use when deciding if using moveable barrier is appropriate for other projects.

Project onset

Initially, the project maintenance of traffic plan called for two travel lanes in each direction. Work zone safety and work progression issues prompted UDOT Region Two Director Randy Park and the contractor, Granite Construction, to consider using moveable barrier. Adding the movable barrier meant the construction zone could be expanded by an entire lane width. Once the barrier system was put into operation, workers were provided additional separation from traffic and the construction schedule was accelerated.

Reducing crashes

Anderson used UDOT’s Traffic and Safety database to find crash information specific to the corridor. Prior to reconstruction, between 250 to 260 crashes occurred per year. Forty to 50 of these crashes resulted in an injury to the driver or a passenger. About 80 to 90 left-turn crashes were reported in the corridor per year. Left-turn crashes are more likely to result in injuries than side-swipe or rear-end crashes, which generally lead to property damage only.

The barrier improved safety by eliminating left turns, except at major intersections, resulting in fewer crashes.  Data shows that about 20 to 25 left-turn crashes were eliminated during the time the moveable barrier was in operation. A conservative estimate shows that using the moveable barrier saved road users between $1.7 to 2.4 million by reducing crashes during construction.

Improving traffic flow

The "zipper" provided two lanes in the peak direction during the morning and eventing commute.

The barrier system was used to separate east-bound and west-bound travel lanes, and was moved daily to allow two lanes in the peak direction and one lane in the non-peak direction to safely accommodate the morning and evening commute. While traffic congestion was not improved during construction, using the moveable barrier allowed the traffic to be managed more effectively, explains Anderson. 

Speeding up construction

Reducing the duration of projects is one of the most important ways UDOT limits the inconvenience of construction on road users. Without the use of movable barrier the contractor would have needed to maintain two lanes to two in each direction. Using the moveable barrier provided a larger construction zone which was safer for workers. The enlarged space meant construction could progress more efficiently.

Construction was started in November of 2008 and was scheduled for completion during summer of 2010. Partly as a result of the barrier, the project was completed 7 months ahead of schedule, leaving road users and businesses with a wider, high functioning roadway free of excessive delay.

Award-winning results

The Federal Highway Administration and the Roadway Safety Foundation has recognized UDOT as a winner of the 2011 National Roadway Safety Award for using moveable barrier on the 3500 South reconstruction project. The annual award program honors “high achievers in the field of roadway safety” for using and documenting safety best-practices.

“The movable barrier allowed the contractor to strike a balance between traffic and construction needs,” reads Anderson’s final report. UDOT.  Moveable barrier can be “very effective when used on a surface street,” explains Anderson, when high traffic volume, many turning movements and a directional traffic split are characteristics of the roadway. UDOT’s pioneering use of the innovative technology on an urban travel corridor will help UDOT and other departments of transportation employ the effective safety and construction mobility strategy on projects with similar characteristics.


Owner: UDOT

Location: 3500 South (State Route 171) from Mile point 5.8 to 7.4.

Report Authors: Doug Anderson, P.E., T.Y. Lin, David Eixenberger, P.E., T.Y. Lin, Ken Berg, P.E. UDOT

Prime Contractor: Granite Construction, Salt Lake City, Utah

Barrier Vendor: Barrier Systems of Vacaville, California

Read the report

Read an article: Seamless Traffic Diversion