Tag Archives: Express Lanes

2013 Strategic Direction — Part 2

This is the second part of a 4 part series about the 2013 Strategic Direction. Please also check out Part 1: Preserve Infrastructure, Part 3: Zero Fatalities and Part 4: Strengthen the Economy.

Optimize Mobility

The goal of optimizing mobility continues to include the need to build new highways, expand existing highways, build more bicycle and pedestrian paths and expand the transit network. UDOT accomplishes this by adding capacity, managing lanes, developing innovative cross roads, coordinating signals, and providing traffic information.

Since 2006, more than 575 lane miles have been added to the state system from various programs that fund more than 100 projects. Currently, capacity projects are primarily funded through the Transportation Investment Fund (TIF). Some of these projects include the I-15 CORE, Mountain View Corridor, US-40 passing lane improvements, SR-18 intersection upgrades at St. George Blvd. and US-6 passing lane improvements. These capacity projects dramatically improve delay on Utah roadways.

Wasatch_Front_Delay

Without capacity improvements, delay along the Wasatch Front would have experienced a three-to-five fold increase.

UDOT currently has 124 miles of Express Lanes (62 miles both northbound and southbound) with 54 continuous miles between Spanish Fork and North Salt Lake City making Utah’s Express Lanes the longest continuous Express Lanes in the country. More than 13,000 Express Pass transponders have been purchased, speeds average 9 mph faster than the general lanes and travelers experience a higher level of safety.

Developing and constructing innovative cross roads is a fundamental in optimizing mobility on Utah roadways. Flex Lanes, Commuter Lanes, ThrU-Turn Intersections (TTI), Diverging Diamond Interchanges (DDI) and Continuous Flow Intersections (CFIs) decrease delay at intersections, reduce travel time, improve safety, and reduce the length and cost of construction.

The Traffic Operations Center (TOC) continues to be the key to providing a cost-effective and and efficient solution to help relieve congestion on Utah’s roads and highways. Using advanced technologies such as cameras and traffic/weather sensors, operators in the TOC can monitor traffic, detect problems and take actions necessary to return traffic flow to normal.

UDOT uses a variety of methods to provide actual travel times and accurate traffic and weather information to help drivers make choices that reduce delay, prevent crashes and improve air quality. By implementing an extensive Intelligent Transportation System (ITS), UDOT is able to know what is happening on Utah roads, and provide travelers the information they need to plan their routes. UDOT communicates travel information online at udot.utah.gov and through variable messages signs (VMS), traffic cameras, twitter, facebook, and YouTube, and the UDOT Traffic App.

CROSSING LINES

UDOT’s system for helping to optimize travel on I-15 is working, but some bad driving behaviors really cross the double white lines.

 

Crossing the double white lines can also land you a hefty fine -- $82.

The good news about UDOT’s new Express Lane system is that it’s working.

Travel time on I-15 is improved when drivers use the Express Lanes. Vehicles with more than one passenger can use the Express Lanes for free. Solo drivers can purchase a pass and pay to use Express Lanes. UDOT manages travel time in the Express Lane by charging pass users a variable rate base on travel speed on I-15.

The smart new system allows vehicles to take up available space in the Express Lanes so travel time on I-15 is better for everyone.  But when drivers  cross the double white lines,  they risk causing a crash. Crossing the double white lines is un-safe practice and illegal for that reason.  Why?

Catherine Cutler is the engineer in charge of letting you know that crossing the double white lines is unsafe and illegal.

“There’s a speed differential between the Express Lanes and the general purpose lanes,” says Catherine Cutler, UDOT Express Lanes Project Manager. “My job is to make sure drivers are aware of how dangerous that practice is. Weaving in and out of the lanes by crossing the double white lines can cause drivers to break suddenly or swerve and cause a crash. ”

The Express Lanes on I-15 have been engineered to be as safe as possible. Double white lines provide a buffer to separate traffic traveling at different speeds from merging unexpectedly while dotted white lines provide an expected point for vehicles to move in and out of the Express Lanes.

Cutler hopes more drivers will be aware of Express Lane safety issues as they see some new billboards along I-15 at 1550 North and 12645 South. If everybody follows the law, drivers can enjoy Express Lane benefits without the risks caused by crossing the double white lines.

SOLID SUCCESS

UDOT project teams use innovative solutions to reduce the inconvenience and traffic delay caused by road construction.

Examples of innovation in construction methods, phasing or delivery can be seen in several UDOT projects that recently received awards from the Utah Chapter of the American Concrete Pavement Association. The annual event provides a forum for transportation professionals to keep up with news about the concrete pavement industry.

Projects were chosen based on innovation and how team members worked to minimize inconvenience to road users while maintaining schedule, scope and budget. The judging committee looks for “innovative, unique projects with challenges,” says Mitzi McIntyre, Executive Director of the Utah Chapter.

The team from the 3500 South widening and BRT addition project show off a national award.

The awards were presented at ACPA’s Concrete Workshop in Salt Lake City. Here’s a list of the winning projects along with a few of the innovative solutions that were employed:

3500 South, Bangerter Highway to 2700 West widening – This busy travel and business corridor was widened from two to three lanes in each direction with a dedicated center-running BRT lane for the Utah Transit Authority.  A moveable concrete barrier was used to maintain traffic flow through the construction zone – a first for a UDOT urban/non-freeway project. Work was completed 8 months ahead of schedule.

The 3500 South project won Gold in the National Excellence in Concrete Paving Awards.

I-15 EXPRESSLink – This Design-Build project added an Express Lane, rebuilt general purpose lanes, replaced bridges and added ramp improvements between Salt Lake and Davis Counties.

To limit travel delay, traffic was shifted to one side of the freeway

New concrete on the EXPRESSLink, better known at UDOT as the Beck Street project.

while the other side was constructed, and a movable barrier was used to keep three lanes of traffic moving in the peak direction. EXPRESSLink was completed three months ahead of schedule.

Riverdale Road widening – A five lane roadway was expanded into a seven lane arterial that connects four cities with I-15 and I-84. More than 47,000 vehicles travel this busy corridor daily to access freeways and a business district.

Project success hinged on keeping business owners informed and keeping the project on schedule. To accommodate busy winter road use, a construction hiatus took place between mid December and January 1. Even with the break, the project was completed 24 days ahead of schedule.

Bangerter Highway CFI at4700 South and 5400 South – Two  innovative intersections were added to help traffic flow more efficiently.

To minimize construction impacts, crews worked in confined areas and reconfigured traffic control several times a day to not impede peak traffic flow.  Precast concrete panels were used in some locations to avoid long lane closures.

CFI team members

I-80 Airport ramp Concrete pavement restoration – Most work was completed at night to limit inconvenience to road users. Access to the airport was maintained at all hours.  The project was completed in 32 days, eight days ahead of schedule.

Syracuse Road widening – The original project scope called for using asphalt pavement. Using CMGC, an innovative contracting and delivery approach, UDOT determined that using Portland cement concrete pavement would not only provide longer design life, but also save over $1 million.

ALL AWARDS: See this presentation for a description of all award winners, including non-UDOT projects and contractors for each project.

SINGLE DRIVER SEEKS FASTER COMMUTE

Signs show drivers who have an Express Pass the price to use the Express Lanes

UDOT’s new system of charging solo drivers for I-15 Express Lane use is live!

For motorists who travel alone and want to reach Wasatch Front destinations more quickly, using the Express Lanes may be a good solution. Express Lanes on I-15 are still free for carpools, motorcycles and C-plate vehicles.  Solo drivers can use the lanes with an Express Pass.

Over 6,000 drivers are benefitting by having an Express Pass. What about you? In case you’re trying to decide whether or not to commit, here are a few answers to the most common questions and some links to more information.

Q: How do Express Lanes work?

A: The Express Lanes are divided into four payment zones. Electronic overhead signs show the current price to use each zone. Readers along I-15 detect in-vehicle Express Passes, and a pre-paid account is debited.

UDOT will manage Express Lane use by adjusting the price according to traffic conditions — so when traffic is heavy drivers will pay little more. The new system will allow maximum use of all lanes with the Express Lanes maintaining a speed of 55 mph during peak travel times.

Q: What if I have a pass but decide to carpool now and then?

A: When car pooling, the Express Pass can be easily turned off to prevent a charge for Express Lane use.

Q: If I enter the Express Lanes at the last access point before the next zone begins, will I be charged for two zones?

A: No, drivers will only be charged for the next zone entered.

For more information or to enroll, visit the Express Lanes website.

See UDOT’s video about the Express Pass system:

For news about the new Express Lanes system, read UDOT’s press release about Express Lanes or watch a recent KSL story:

Video Courtesy of KSL.com