Heavy traffic, construction projects expected this weekend on I-15 and I-84
SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) advises travelers driving to the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl or the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl this weekend to allow extra time due to heavy traffic and road construction in Arizona, Nevada and Idaho.
Las Vegas Bowl
Drivers traveling south on I-15 to Las Vegas should be aware of expected delays from 30 minutes to an hour on Friday evening, Dec. 18, and Saturday morning, Dec. 19, in the Virgin River Gorge between St. George and Mesquite, Nev. Drivers returning from the bowl game should plan for similar delays on Saturday night, and up to two-hour delays on Sunday morning, as I-15 is reduced to one lane in each direction for bridge construction in the Virgin River Gorge.
In addition, construction delays are expected along a 30-mile stretch of northbound I-15 between Las Vegas and Mesquite. The freeway is reduced to one northbound lane in various locations throughout this construction zone.
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl Fans planning travel on I-15 and I-84 to Boise should also plan ahead for construction in southern Idaho. I-84 is reduced to one lane in each direction for approximately 11 miles between the I-86 junction and Burley. Crews are replacing two bridges over the Snake River.
More information about these projects is available online at the following websites:
For information on UDOT projects, visit udottraffic.utah.gov or download the UDOT Traffic app, available for iOS or Android devices. For real-time traffic and road information outside of the state, there are several smart phone applications available for download, including the Waze navigation app.
Brandi is a member of UDOT’s risk management team. Part of her assignment is to respond to requests for information, documents and materials made through Utah’s Government Records Access and Management Act – otherwise known as GRAMA requests. And those requests come in at a rate of about two requests per working day – even during the holidays.
“The law is designed to give everyone – from the media to business and political interests to everyday citizens – access to public records,” Brandi said. “We do the public’s work with public money, and it’s the public’s right to know how and why we spend it.”
As a state agency, Brandi said, responding to these requests is not just a matter of law. “UDOT has identified transparency as one of our primary emphasis areas,” she said. “We really believe in that. So responding to these requests is important to us as a matter of principle, not just because we are required to do it.”
Grama Coordinator Brandi Trujillo
Because UDOT intends to respond appropriately to GRAMA requests, UDOT’s attorneys feel it is important that employees understand what kinds of records are subject to GRAMA scrutiny. Renee Spooner, who is an assistant Attorney General for the state of Utah and is assigned specifically to work with UDOT, said those records include:
Work product created in the course of employment
Email correspondence and written communication
“Generally,” Spooner said, “the only protected documents are attorney work product and attorney/client communication. Everything else is fair game, regardless of its physical form or characteristics. So it is probably a good idea to remind employees to be sure that the language they use in all of these public records is appropriate, accurate and professional. You never know when a document, map or email you create may become part of a GRAMA request, legal case or news story.”
And nobody wants to get run over by a GRAMA.
All UDOT GRAMA requests are handled at Brandi’s office
Projects planned over next 25 years will enhance Utah’s economy, quality of life
RICHFIELD — The Utah Department of Transportation today released its long-range plan forecasting transportation needs in rural Utah over the next 25 years.
The department updates its long-range transportation plan every four years with an eye toward keeping traffic moving now and into the future. The plan focuses primarily on rural areas of the state and identifies a list of projects that will strengthen Utah’s economy and enhance the state’s quality of life.
Transportation needs for Utah’s urban areas are developed in cooperation with metropolitan planning organizations like the Wasatch Front Regional Council and the Mountainland Association of Governments. These long-range plans, along with UDOT’s Long-Range Plan, are combined to create Utah’s Unified Transportation Plan, which will be published this fall.
“UDOT follows a fiscally responsible approach to maximize the value of Utah’s infrastructure investment,” said Jeff Harris, UDOT planning director. “The department leverages limited resources in a way that will provide the greatest benefit.”
Harris said the Long-Range Plan considers the unique needs and strengths of rural Utah, including tourism, the energy sector, interstate freight movement, access to recreation opportunities, and the need for enhanced connections between communities. It employs sophisticated travel demand modeling software to anticipate future transportation needs, taking into account projected population growth as well as employment data forecasts.
The plan also reflects the predicted quantity and timing of future funding, as well as public input accumulated during a series of public meetings focused on the draft project list last spring.
Projects listed in this plan include projects to widen roads, add new passing or climbing lanes, modify interchanges and make other needed improvements throughout the state. You can view the Long-Range Plan here http://www.udot.utah.gov/go/lrp.
Editors Note: #messageMonday is part of a relatively new, ongoing Zero Fatalities campaign aimed at improving safety behaviors on Utah roads. It is a partnership between UDOT and the Utah Department of Public Safety. More information about the campaign can be found here.
According to The National Safety Council, it’s estimated that 1.4 million crashes each year involve drivers using phones (e.g. making calls, choosing music, reading e-mails and texting), and a minimum of 200,000 additional crashes each year involve drivers who are texting. Distracted driving involving some form of phone use accounted for almost 100 fatalities on Utah roads in 2014 ALONE. Whether you’re making a call, looking at a text, or even having Siri send the message for you, there’s too much multitasking for your brain to focus on driving safely, and all too often, it leads to a car crash.
And no matter what caused the crash, your chances of survival increase significantly if you’re wearing a seat belt. Since 2005, unrestrained or improperly restrained victims account for just about half of all car-related deaths on Utah roads. Wearing your seat belt isn’t just a personal choice: it affects everyone around you. In fact, statistics show that unbuckled passengers can increase probability of death for other people in the car by 40 percent. Of course, since May 2015, it’s also the law for everyone to buckle up any time you’re on the road.
So there are the facts.
At UDOT and Zero Fatalities, we’re not trying to scare you into practicing safe driving techniques; it’s about more than that. It’s about each and every life that could have been saved had a different choice been made. It’s about that brother, sister, mother, father, friend, or other loved one who isn’t here, but should be. Car crashes may be inevitable, even with safely designed roads and careful drivers. But each time we get into a vehicle, we can control the choices we make to help keep our roads safer — for our families, our neighbors, and ourselves.
So please wear your seat belt. Wait until your trip is done to make that call or send that text. Your family and friends will be grateful for that choice when you make it to them safely.
State projects win in “Quality of Life”, “Under Budget” categories
BOISE, Idaho — Dedication and understanding of the impact state-controlled roads have on motorists in Utah was recognized today, as UDOT projects in Southern Utah and Northern Utah garnered two regional awards in the 2015 America’s Transportation Awards competition.
UDOT’s Bluff Street at Southern Hills Parkway Interchangewas recognized in the Quality of Life/Community Development category, which recognizes “a transportation project that has contributed to the general quality of life and economic development of local communities. These innovative projects better connect people to businesses, jobs, health care facilities, and recreational activities while encouraging a mix of transportation modes. ” With comfortable weather and access to many outdoor activities and destinations, the largest city in Region Four provides so much of what St. George and Washington County residents who value quality of life are looking for.
So many new residents have come to the area seeking this quality of life that existing transportation infrastructure has been over-taxed. Nearly 43,000 cars travel along Bluff Street (SR-18) each day, and another 13,700 go through Red Hills Parkway. The clash of rural vs. urban can best be seen here, where a state highway suddenly becomes a city road where many cyclists and runners converge to get to and around the natural preserve. It’s the meeting point four multi-use trail systems, and is included in the course of many major sporting events in the area. All of this activity in a traditionally constructed intersection places residents and visitors at risk.
This was how the intersection looked before the project
In order to accommodate the current population as well as the expected growth through 2030, UDOT, the City of St. George and the Southern Utah Bike Alliance (SUBA) collaborated to reconfigure the intersection by creating a center exit interchange.
The center exit interchange creates a safer section of road, while also maintaining a steady flow of traffic. Highway travelers can continue on their way on the outside lanes, while those needing local access take the inside lanes to an intersection that allows east-west travel.
The construction team saved $4 million in construction costs by utilizing the natural topography of the area and building the project within natural grades.
The project after it was finished. Note the center offramp and bike trails
The project also integrated bike/pedestrian paths into the design, with box culverts under SR-18 allowing for safer multimodal transportation under busy roadways, thus connecting the community in a safe, efficient and positive way.
“UDOT should be commended for their positive design process that encourages outside voices and ideas,” said Craig Shanklin, SUBA President. “This was a great example of how the community can be involved in the design process and lead to a better outcome for all users.”
The Diverging Diamond Interchange at Brigham City’s US-91/1100 South location was honored in the “Under Budget” category. That category honors “a project demonstrating transportation efficiency while promoting economic and fiscal responsibility. The award recognizes a successful project brought in under budget that provided the greatest cost savings to the state(s) while offering maximum performance.”
How do you move a steadily increasing traffic flow through an aging, small interchange at the connection of US-91 and Interstate 15, near the northern Utah city of Brigham City? With more than 20,000 vehicles a day — many of them trucks — originating throughout the region, this old, inefficient interchange was reducing the economic lifeblood of local communities to a trickle.
The new DDI at Brigham City on the day it opened.
The 40-year-old interchange would frequently clog when vehicles at its ramps tried to enter the traffic flow. The predominant west to south-bound traffic on US-91 was so steady during the day that it was nearly hopeless for other movements to occur. This prompted risk-taking by trapped motorists at the ramps – and frequent crashes when they did. Regional special events, like local university football games, would bring traffic to a complete halt.
UDOT traffic planners needed a solution, but the answer was elusive. Soils adjacent to the Great Salt Lake were saturated by surface groundwater, making the interchange increasingly unstable. Engineers wondered how to upgrade it without a massive redesign to accommodate the increasing pounding from trucks. Similar rebuilds had cost upwards of $100 million – prohibitive under state budgets at the time.
The answer: innovate. Engineers used an innovation to solve the water issue — geofoam — which allowed the new interchange to “float” on soggy soils. Another innovation — advanced bridge construction — replaced the interchange’s old bridge over I-15 while adding a completely new span in a little more than 10 months. Finally, the innovative diverging diamond traffic pattern was added to the design to solve the problem of congestion and safety.
The white blocks are geofoam, which was used to construct the DDI in a environmentally- and structurally- sound way
The result? An efficient interchange that allows all traffic movements to occur safely and congestion-free, and all for less than $14 million.
“What UDOT and the project team eventually chose to do was not only innovative, but a brilliant solution to an extremely difficult situation with many built-in constrictions,” said Bradley Humpherys, a Senior Transportation Project Manager for Stanley Consultants.
Utah’s two projects — along with projects in California, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, and Texas — will compete against projects from other regions in the U.S. for a National Grand Prize, the People’s Choice Award and $10,000 prizes to be given by the winners to a transportation-related charity or scholarship program.
The top two national winners will be announced in September at the AASHTO Annual Meeting in Chicago.
“These projects are a small sampling of the many ways in which state DOTs are improving peoples’ quality of life and providing for a vibrant economy,” said John Cox, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials President and Director of the Wyoming Department of Transportation.
The America’s Transportation Awards – co-sponsored by AASHTO, AAA and the US Chamber of Commerce – annually recognizes the best of America’s transportation projects in four regional competitions. Learn more about the projects and the competition at: AmericasTransportationAwards.org
We’re interested in hearing from you on UDOT Click ‘n Fix — but not just about potholes and traffic signals. We also want your help stopping water pollution. That’s right, water pollution. I was surprised when I first heard about this too! Besides having miles and miles of highways to monitor, we also have acres and acres of right-of-way, and we want to make sure any bodies of water downstream, or near these areas, remain clean and pollutant-free.
Here’s where you come in: If you see any spills or illicit discharges on a UDOT maintained route, open the Click ‘n Fix app, answer a few questions and we’ll have our risk management division investigate.
Big Cottonwood Creek flows right next to S.R. 190 and the UDOT right-of-way. Please let us know if you see any spills or pollutants making their way into our waterways by using UDOT Click ‘n Fix. Not only in obvious places like Big Cottonwood Canyon, but also in populated areas where storm drains eventually empty into water.
So, what are spills and illicit discharges?
Spills are when something other than storm water unintentionally “spills” on the highway or right-of-way. For example, after a car crash, a vehicle may leak oil or antifreeze onto the highway. It needs to be properly cleaned up and disposed of to keep the pollutants out of the storm drain or an adjacent stream, river, lake or wetland.
Illicit discharges may also be unintentional or they may be illegal dumping activities. Some examples of illicit discharges are sprinkler runoff that contains pesticides, fertilizers or weed killers; detergents, oil and grease from washing a car; or someone dumping waste into a storm drain. We also want to know if someone is connecting a pipe or ditch to UDOT’s property or drainage system.
The UDOT Click ‘n Fix app is available on Google Play or iTunes and on our website. Please keep in mind that if you witness something that is endangering public safety, please call 911. This not only applies to spills and pollutant discharges, but also our other Click ‘n Fix issues like road debris.
With your help, we hope to keep pollutants from entering storm drains and making it into Utah’s streams, rivers, lakes and wetlands. Utah is such a beautiful state, and water is so precious that you can count us in for doing everything we can to keep it pristine.
BRIGHAM CITY — The Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) informed the Utah Transportation Commission of its decision to raise the speed limits on certain areas of rural Utah interstates today during the monthly Utah Transportation Commission Meeting, held in Brigham City Council chambers.
Traffic and Safety Director Robert Miles told the commission that the division has completed an analysis on speed, crash and fatal crash data. The studies were conducted this spring, and determined that raising the speed limits in these areas would be safe and appropriate.
UDOT will increase the speed limit on stretches of Interstate 80 from 75 miles per hour to 80 mph from the I-84 Junction to the Wyoming border (MP 167.45 to 196.68).
A map of proposed changes for Interstate 80 speed limits
Interstate 70 also has four sections of highway that will increase from 75 mph to 80 mph:
The I-15/I-70 Junction to just past Cove Fort (MP 5),
Just west of the US-89 Junction to Exit 63- Gooseberry Rd. (MP 21-63)
Exit 73 – Ranch Exit to Exit 138 – Brake Test Area (MP 73.9-138.7)
Exit 146 – Reef View Area to the Colorado border (MP 146-231).
A map of proposed speed limit changes for Interstate 70.
On Interstate 84, three stretches of road will increase from 65-70 mph to 70 or 75 MPH:
I-15 to the mouth of the Canyon (MP 81-88) 70 mph
Between Ogden and Morgan (MP 92-106) 75 mph
Near Henifer to the I-80/84 Junction 75 mph
A map of proposed speed limit changes on Interstate 84.
Washington was ranked first for the eighth year in a row, followed by Minnesota, Delaware, Massachusetts, Utah, Oregon, Colorado, California, Wisconsin and Maryland in the top 10.
“We are very proud of the high quality of life enjoyed by Utahns,” said Utah Gov. Gary R. Herbert. “We have worked to support and provide world-class bicycling opportunities across our state, both for commuting to work and enjoying the natural beauty around us. As we meet the evolving demands of our state and plan for the future, amenities like this will help Utah continue to be one of the greatest places to live, work and play.”
Bikers ride along a trail in a past Road Respect tour.
At UDOT, Integrated Transportation is our top emphasis area. In all phases of a project, we consider the needs of bicyclists, pedestrians and other Active Transportation users.
Utah’s Collaborative Active Transportation Policy is a partnership between UDOT, Utah Transit Authority, Wasatch Front Regional Council, Mountainland Association of Governments and Salt Lake County to identify 25 focus areas statewide to connect bicycle networks together to increase non-vehicle mobility.
Some projects we’re particularly proud of include:
St. George’s Bluff Street at Red Hills Parkway interchange: In an area that is historically significant for cycling events, recreational riding & training, and marathons is an intersection where a state highway through a natural preserve meets a city street. In this high-growth section of Utah’s Dixie, the city and state met together with the Southern Utah Bike Alliance to make center exit interchange. The interchange maintains a steady flow of traffic for motorists, safely connects runners and bikers to the trails in the region, and saved taxpayers $4 million by utilizing the natural topography of the area.
An aerial view of the new Bluff St/Red Hills Parkway Intersection.
On SR-12, a Bike Path Extension is in its final phase of construction. The project will provide a safe alternative for bicyclist and pedestrian travel by distancing them from traffic. It will also provide a key link in the connectivity of this path from Red canyon to Bryce Canyon National Park. The project, which is a partnership with Garfield County using Transportation Alternatives Program funding, should be finished near the end of the 2015 construction season.
Salt Lake City’s Green Bike Program: This silver-level bicycle community has a Green Bike sharing program that gives a custom approach and bike lane design to fit existing streets. This includes shared lanes.
Jordan River Parkway is 40 miles of urban park that runs along the Jordan River. It stretches from the south end of Salt Lake Valley and connects north into the Legacy Parkway Trail in Davis County, giving tens of thousands of residents access to non-vehicular transportation and recreation.
The entire I-15 South Davis project improves active transportation in the area, especially at 500 South, 400 North, and Parrish Lane.
In Utah County, the Murdock Canal Trail is a multi-use trail that extends 16 miles through seven cities, from Lehi to Orem. It connects with numerous regional and city trails and will have future connections to seven additional trails. The plan for the area is to build a safer, more connected regional bicycle network. Future plans for this system, in conjunction with the Jordan River Parkway and Legacy Parkway Trails, will allow riders to travel from Ogden to Provo using only paved trails. You can view Region 3’s bike plan here.
We’re excited that the League of American Bicyclists has honored Utah with a top-5 bicycle-friendly distinction. While there’s still much work to be done to keep up with the state’s amazing rate of growth, we’re committed to exploring every avenue of possibility for active transportation. The creativity, enthusiasm and desire to collaborate with our partners is what drives innovation on Utah roads, and going forward, we’ll continue to strive to improve the quality of life for all Utahns.
Region Four’s Monte Aldridge received the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the category of leadership on Tuesday, May 5, 2015. The following nomination was submitted by Rick Torgerson, Region Four Director.
Monte Aldridge is leading a cultural shift with long-term business implications by developing relationships of trust and influencing his peers and other stakeholders in the implementation of several key UDOT initiatives. He continually aligns people and processes in the use of Geographic Information System (GIS) tools, implementation of 3D design and advancement of wildlife connectivity/vehicle collision reduction.
The use of GIS tools has been a remarkable breakthrough for UDOT and allows for making better decisions while improving efficiency in delivering projects that address each of UDOT’s Strategic Goals and the governors SUCCESS Framework initiative. While GIS has a sophisticated infrastructure, under Monte’s leadership his team has embraced the new technology to understand and develop its capabilities.
Monte has helped keep UDOT moving into the future with 3D design, which is a national effort within Departments of Transportation and the Federal Highways Administration. This quickly developing technology is revolutionizing the design, construction and communication of roadway projects. Monte’s continuous incorporation of 3D Design into team processes, problem-solving scenarios and public settings has seeded a synergy that is moving his peers to forge ahead developing higher quality products while also achieving significant taxpayer savings.
Region 4’s Monte Aldridge stands with Executive Director Carlos Braceras (left) and Governor Herbert with his award.
Monte’s leadership in connecting state and federal agencies, counties, landowners and sportsmen’s groups to a clear vision and fostering collaborative solutions has led to innovative products, financial partnerships, new agreements and most importantly, trusting relationships resulting in a reduction of nearly 1,050 yearly vehicle/wildlife collisions in Southern Utah.
Congratulations Monte! Thank you for your excellent example and leadership.
UDOT Region Four’s Preconstruction Team has developed GIS tools that support and enable communication and better decisions, and charts a path for other work groups at UDOT to exploit GIS capabilities more fully.
The team won a WASHTO award recently for developing and employing GIS tools. Here’s an overview of some of the team’s efforts. Click here to read the full WASHTO award nomination.
This screen shot shows an image of an app that compares the phases of design for the Bluff and Sunset project located in St. George.
A Design-to-UPlan app displays the design files on a UPLAN map. Multiple design options can be displayed to facilitate discussion among UDOT and stakeholder groups. All three phases of a project, concept, plan-in-hand and PS and E, can be viewed simultaneously on one screen with multiple windows.
Mapping right-of-way survey files
The team has also built tools to convert Right-of-Way (ROW) survey data from CAD to GIS, and graphically display the UDOT ROW lines on a UPLAN map. Certified section corners, complete with tie sheets, are also linked to the map and accessible to the public. A ROW Type Map app displays property in one of three categories, ROW, Limited Access or No Access.
A pilot project, when fully implemented, will pull information from ePM each evening, and display individual parcels within a project area on a UPLAN map. The parcels will be color-coded to show the acquisition status of each parcel. Hosting the maps on UPLAN allows public access with security controls to insure the integrity of the data and to regulate sensitive information.
Mapping utility conflicts
By displaying utility data and infrastructure via UPLAN, project teams can work to quickly resolve potential conflicts with utility companies. Ultimately, Region Four’s vision is to create a database of all utilities within the region and statewide.
Mapping sensitive environmental areas
Region Four Preconstruction has been working with the State Historic Preservation Office to develop protocol to ensure the secure use of sensitive environmental data. The team also standardized a GPS data dictionary for use in managing mitigation for Utah Prairie Dog surveys.
GIS tool benefits
GIS tools provide value to project teams and stakeholders. Maps help solve communication gaps among disparate groups, including the general public, commercial land surveyors, land owners, policy makers, and contractors. For example, UDOT Project Managers can help local leaders and the general public visualize project options and outcomes, and help facilitate a better decision-making process. And sharing an online map can allow productive work sessions with participants in various remote locations.
GIS maps and apps can support complex environmental processes. Region Four is home to most of Utah’s cultural sites and threatened and endangered species, and GIS tools help UDOT staff reduce or mitigate protected areas and avoid animal habitats.
While GIS has a sophisticated infrastructure, Region Four’s Preconstruction department has embraced the new technology to understand and develop its capabilities and has pioneered GIS tools for the benefit of all of UDOT.
Congratulations to Region 4 Preconstruction!
Team Members: Wendy Nez, Jared Beard, Ted Madden, Riley Lindsay, Bill Mecham, Don Johnson, Kelly Hall, Gernice White, Eric Hansen, Pam Higgins, Jared Barton, Randall Taylor, Cameron Gay, Silvia Barbre, Devin Monroe, Sam Grimshaw, Josh Peterson, Brandon Weight, Jeff Bunker, John Fraidenburg, Paul Damron, Monte Aldridge.