Tag Archives: Traffic Management Division

Plan ahead for delays on the July 4 weekend

UDOT engineers advise avoiding travel during heavy traffic times; construction to be suspended on most highway projects

 SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) advises drivers to plan ahead for travel delays this July 4 weekend by avoiding heavy traffic times if possible. Although work will be suspended and lanes will be open on most Utah highways, existing restrictions will remain in place to protect the work zone and ensure safety on several major projects in Salt Lake, Davis, Utah, and Summit counties.

UDOT traffic engineers anticipate heaviest traffic this weekend on Thursday, July 2, between noon and 7 p.m., with highest overall traffic volumes expected around 3 p.m. A second period of high traffic is also expected from Saturday, July 4, at 10:30 p.m. to Sunday, July 5, at 12:30 a.m.

To help accommodate high traffic levels, UDOT will be adjusting the timing of traffic signals and ramp meters. UDOT is also partnering with Orem and Provo, as well as Brigham Young University, to help manage traffic to and from the Stadium of Fire event. Motorists attending the Stadium of Fire are encouraged to avoid construction on Orem Center Street, and use 800 North or University Parkway as an alternate.

Road construction projects that drivers should be aware of when planning their trips this weekend include:

I-15 at the Point of the Mountain
All four lanes are open in both directions on I-15. However, the northbound lanes have been split into two sections between S.R. 92 and 14600 South. Drivers wanting to exit at 14600 South need to stay to the right through the lane split. Due to narrowed and shifting lanes throughout the construction zone, the speed limit has been reduced to 55 miles per hour.

I-80 in Summit County
I-80 is reduced to one lane in each direction from the U.S. 40 interchange to Wanship in Summit County. All traffic has been shifted to the eastbound lanes, and the speed limit is reduced to 45 miles per hour. In addition, the westbound on- and off-ramps at Exit 150 (Tollgate/Promontory) are closed. To reduce delays, drivers should consider using I-84 through Ogden as an alternate route. These restrictions are scheduled to remain in place through fall 2015 while crews reconstruct the freeway with concrete pavement.

Drivers should remember to stay alert, use caution, and obey posted speed limits when traveling through construction zones in order to ensure safety.

Construction schedules are weather dependent and subject to change. For more information about these and other UDOT projects, visit udottraffic.utah.gov or download the UDOT Traffic app, available for iOS or Android devices.

Silver Barrel Awards: Scott Fugate, Tyler Rasband and Joseph Burns

The following Silver Barrel nomination was written by Corey Coulam, UDOT Traffic Operations Center Control Room Manager.

On the night of March 22 around 8:30, the control room received a message from Salt Lake County dispatch describing a report from a Utah Highway Patrol Trooper of a loud popping noise at 2100 South and 900 West. Operators, Scott Fugate, Tyler Rasband and Joseph Burns, took action to use a traffic camera to try to locate what the trooper had reported. They quickly identified the flames of a fire started by transients that threatened a structure.

Photo of the live camera feed of the fireThe operators provided the live stream video feed to Salt Lake County UHP dispatch and gave them a detailed description of the incident and location. Dispatch then contacted the Fire Department with precise information and visual confirmation readily available. Because of these quick reactions, the Fire Department was able to respond quickly to this incident. The Fire Department is noted in a news article saying that these quick reactions and the availability of a camera feed prevented this from becoming a larger fire with the potential for serious infrastructure damage.

This was reported without exact confirmation and, at the time of the incident, there were no traffic impacts whatsoever however these operators relied on their experience and skills to help emergency responders. Scott Fugate, the shift supervisor and his familiarity (from almost 8 years of working in the control room) with UHP, dispatch, and situational awareness provided him the ability to realize that this had the potential to become a large scale incident. In addition, operator skills with control room software and camera use played a large role in helping them to locate this incident on a surface street location where camera coverage is poor. What makes this more impressive is the fact that the call came at night, when the difficulty of locating incidents by camera is significantly increased.


Members of the Traffic Operations Center receive their Silver Barrel award from Executive Director Carlos Braceras

Members of the Traffic Operations Center receive their Silver Barrel award from Executive Director Carlos Braceras

Traveler Information Manager Lisa Miller receives a Silver Barrel award.

Traveler Information Manager Lisa Miller receives a Silver Barrel award.

UDOT Signal Engineering Team receives Governor’s Award for Excellence

Photo of team members standing with Governor Herbert.

Team members with Governor Herbert. From left to right: Shane Marshall, Mark Taylor, Carrie Jacobson, Shane Johnson, Governor Herbert, Rob Clayton, Derek Lowe, Jamie Mackey, Peter Jager and Matt Luker.

For the last three years UDOT’s traffic signal management team has been focused on bringing innovative solutions to Utahns. The team was recently recognized by receiving the Governor’s Award for Excellence from Governor Gary Herbert.

The signal management team has been working on in-house solutions to better track and time traffic signals across the state. UDOT worked with the Indiana Department of Transportation and Purdue University to create software that provides real time traffic information to UDOT. The program was then developed by UDOT and the Department of Technology Services (DTS) and is a web based Automated Traffic Signal Performance Measurement System (SPMs).

SPMs are a series of visual aids that display high-resolution traffic data from vehicle sensors and traffic signal controllers (intersection computers changing the traffic signals) that help agencies effectively manage traffic signals in ways that improve mobility, increase safety, reduce vehicle emissions, preserve pavement infrastructure and use resources more effectively. In most cases on UDOT state roadways, SPMs are accomplished utilizing the same vehicle sensors already deployed at signalized intersections for normal day-to-day operations without the necessity of having to install expensive new equipment or sensors.

The sensors allow analysis of data collected 24-hours a day, 7-days a week (not just during business hours), and provide a clear framework for performance analysis and decision-making. The transportation community uses SPMs to directly measure what they previously could only estimate and model.

The use of the real time and accurate information helps traffic signal engineers make better decisions on signal timing and traffic patterns. Bangerter Highway is a good example of how accurate information helps move traffic. The SPMs were able to increase the amount of cars that reached the intersections at a green light by 19%. The information has also helped with moving large amounts of traffic during one time or recurring special events.

All of this information helps commuters stay on the move, saving them time and money. The cost for this program and the cost of a traffic signal change is very low compared to the amount of travel savings day by day.

In an effort to help traffic around the state UDOT has shared this technology with counties and cities so that they can better understand and monitor their traffic signals. UDOT hopes that the SPM’s will help them to get a more comprehensive idea of their traffic patterns and signal accordingly.

Mark Taylor a Traffic Signal Operations Engineer said “Innovations, creativity, risk and increased transparency are necessary to meet UDOT’s needs.  Automated performance traffic measures allows us to optimize mobility, increase safety and use resources more efficiently.”

UDOT’s goal is to continually refine the use of technology in traffic signals and timing in the future. They are always looking for ways to improve their efficiency and their ultimate goal of keeping Utah moving.

This guest post was written by Adam McMillan, Traffic Operations Center Intern.

UDOT app wins award for digital pioneering

SALT LAKE CITY — The pioneering sprit has always been in Utah’s blood. From the Winchester rifle, Word Perfect and wider Pioneer Streets, to the Roadometer and Television, Utah has always tried to be at the forefront of technology.

In the digital age, the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) has continued as a technological pioneer, especially in the field of Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS). It was recently awarded a “Best of ITS” award by the ITS World Congress this fall for its Citizen Reporter app, which was piloted during the 2012-2013 winter season.

Citizen Report Screenshot

A screenshot of the Citizen Report app

The app, which is the first of its kind in the United States, is aimed at Keeping Utah Moving, specifically during winter months. It allows citizen volunteers to report on road weather conditions along specific roadways across the Beehive State, after a short training session. These reports give enhanced road weather information to travelers when the stakes are the highest — during inclement weather. 

In large, sparsely populated states like Utah, state DOTs have trouble providing up-to-the-minute accuracy on road conditions to travelers. It’s especially tough in Utah, where nearly 1,000 cameras statewide still can’t see every inch of roadway. But that’s where crowd sourcing from citizen reporters comes in, providing more accurate and timely information to the traveling public on conditions around the state.

Lisa Miller, UDOT’s Traveler Information Manager, said the program was extremely successful, with over 1100 reports last year from approximately 500 reporters. She predicts four times the usage of the app this coming year.

“Our early concern was that the data might not be reliable,” Miller said. “But what we’ve found is that the incoming data is 99% accurate.”

Other states, such as Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska and North Dakota have requested information from UDOT to create similar programs in those states. The success of the program has spurred the department to produce another app, called Click N Fix, which allows the public to report potholes, burnt out highway lights, and other safety issues. The app will be more widely available to the public in early 2015.

The 2014 ITS World Congress

UDOT was awarded a “Best of ITS” award for “Best New Innovative Practice” in September.

“Crowd-sourcing is emerging as an effective means to both engage and serve the public, Miller said. “The public can now make more informed travel decisions, which impacts everything: safety, mobility, and the economy.”

To become a Citizen Reporter:

In order to become a UDOT Citizen Reporter, you will need to complete a brief training (either online or in person), take a short quiz and complete a sign-up form. The training takes approximately 10 minutes to complete. Once a volunteer has completed these steps, they will be provided with a login and PIN, and can begin submitting reports. Reports are submitted through the UDOT Citizen Reporting app, downloadable for Android and Apple devices from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

If you would like to become a Citizen Reporter, please follow this link to take the online training: www.udottraffic.utah.gov/training/citizenreporter. For more information or to schedule an in person training, email UDOTCitizenReporter@utah.gov.

You can download the Citizen Reports app for your iPhone or Android device.


A Typical Day – Ridealong with UDOT’s Incident Management Team (IMT)

For the last 20 years, UDOT’s Incident Management Team (IMT) has been assisting Utah motorists. UDOT held a 20-year celebration on September 22 to commemorate their service. As part of the ceremony the, IMT offered ride-alongs to media outlets to help them understand what goes on behind the scenes.

I had the chance to ride along for afternoon with Ben to see how he helps Utah drivers on a day to day basis.

After Ben explained the safety features on the truck and how he is dispatched, we headed west on S.R. 201 to patrol his territory. During the off peak hours, the IMT trucks have a roving patrol, looking for people to assist, pick up debris and mark abandoned cars.

“We are always busy, looking for people that need help, a big part is removing debris that could damage cars or cause accidents,” Ben said.

No more than 5 minutes into to our patrol, we spot a large piece of tire retread in the road. Ben stops off the side of the road, turns on his lights and runs out to get the tire. Then, a call comes in on his radio asking for assistance in helping divert traffic due to a tractor trailer crash on the 3300 S off-ramp from I-15. When we arrived on the scene, another IMT vehicle was already helping to route traffic, so we set up the message board on the top of the IMT vehicle to inform drivers.

Photo of IMT Truck with message board displayed "Left Lane Closed"

“We are just lucky no one got injured or killed by this, it could have been a lot worse,” Ben said.

Photo of grader and dump trailer blocking traffic

After about 15 minutes on the scene, the crash is cleared… but there is a new problem to handle. The truck carrying the trailer had broken the hydraulic brake lines and was leaking fluid into traffic. “Hydraulic fluid is very slick for tires. This could cause a rear end collision or a motorcycle crash in a heartbeat,” said Ben. For clean-up, the IMT drivers use a compound that absorbs the fluid and can be swept up. Overall approximately 20 gallons of hydraulic fluid was spilled. Therefore, the Salt Lake Valley Environmental Health Department was called to the scene to ensure that it was properly cleaned up. The owners of the truck and trailer help in the clean-up and after about an hour and a half the road is ready to be opened again.

“There are things to do no matter where we go, this is good example of how things can go wrong pretty quick on the road,” Ben said.

Photo of crews spreading absorbing compount on hydraulic oil

As soon as we are available again, the Utah Highway Patrol asks for an assist on I-15 to help with a traffic stop. A woman who is pulled over is threatening to harm herself. We drive to scene and set up the cones and use the IMT message board to inform motorists that the HOV lane is closed ahead.

Photo of IMT truck and UHP car using closed HOV lane to assist a motorists

“Our main job is to keep people safe, and that includes making sure that highway patrol can do their job effectively,” said Ben.

After the scene was cleared we headed up I-80 towards Parley’s Canyon. Ben tells me that there is usually an overheated car or semi that they can push out of traffic or make sure they are okay. We don’t even make it past the first exit before we spot a driver on the shoulder. We turn around to find a woman attempting to change her tire but without success. Her tire won’t come off the car. After a few quick hits with with Ben’s rubber mallet, the tire comes off and the spare is installed.

“Sometimes it can take us five minutes to do what it could take people over thirty, we have the right tools to get people back on the road,” said Ben.

Photo of IMT Professional changing a tire

As the afternoon commute gets closer, the IMT vehicles stage themselves closer to major freeways to be in better position to help. Once again after only three miles there is a truck and camper on the side of the road. The CV joint has broken and they have been working on pulling it off for the last hour. They don’t have a big enough wrench to get the bolt off. Ben pulls out the impact drill and they are able to get the needed piece off in a matter of minutes.

Melinda from Magna was grateful for the help. “We would have had to go buy another wrench come back and then it would be rush hour,” she says. Melinda, like a lot of Utah drivers wasn’t aware that there was a team dedicated to help those stuck on the side of the road. “I had no idea, but I am sure glad that you guys came to help us, just having those flashing lights makes me feel safer,” she said.

Photo of IMT Professional assisting with roadside repairs

After the repair was made, we lead them back onto the freeway and sent them on their way.

My time with Ben had come to an end. The IMT was bracing for the afternoon commute where they would help with crashes and more stranded motorists. As we drove back to the UDOT building, Ben pointed out three abandoned cars that he would go back to check out.

“We can’t help everyone all the time because we get called to accidents, but as you can see there is a lot of help needed on the roads,” Ben says as we finish our time together.

After just a few short hours I saw that the Incident Management Team has a huge impact on traffic and keeping people safe. There is a lot of thought, time and effort to ensure that Utah roads are safe as they can be. So if you see an IMT truck on the side of the road, be sure to slow down and give them as much space as possible.

This guest post was written by Adam McMillan, Traffic Operations Center Intern.

Nevada I-15 flooding required a multi-state response

A two-mile stretch of I-15 near milepost 91 in Nevada was washed away due to heavy rainfall that started on Monday, September 8th. In an unprecedented storm around 4 inches of rain fell in the space of 2 hours, flooding the road and washing away ground and asphalt leaving the interstate impassable. Record breaking numbers of rainfall were reported along streams in the area.

The Nevada DOT declared a state of emergency on Tuesday, September 9 due to the importance of passenger vehicle and commercial trucking flow on I-15. According to Arizona Department of Transportation, approximately 23,000 vehicles use I-15 each day between St. George, Utah and Las Vegas, Nevada.

Warnings on Utah’s freeway message boards were posted up and down I-15 letting drivers know that the freeway would be closed down and provided details for  alternate routes. These signs went as far east as Nebraska to provide enough time for travelers to change their routes.

Screen shot of tweet that says 'From nevadadot semi restriction lifted (except oversie w/o permit) on NV I-15Information was also available to drivers via the 511 phone line, the Utah Trucking Association, news outlets, Arizona and Nevada DOT’s, the UDOT Traffic website, the UDOT Traffic Twitter account and the UDOT Traffic app. UDOT’s social media channels proved very valuable during this event.

Travelers were directed to take S.R. 56 out of Cedar City to Nevada S.R. 319 and then to the U.S. 93 back to the freeway. UDOT and NDOT worked very hard to provide accurate and timely information to motorists traveling on this alternative.

State DOT’s had to work together. Although the closure was not in Utah UDOT was heavily involved in sending support to the affected areas. Due to increased traffic on S.R. 56 a UDOT Incident Management Team (IMT) was dispatched to assist. The IMT crews directed traffic, filled potholes and moved disabled semis out of traffic.

They also deployed a portable traffic camera trailer to the S.R. 18/S.R. 56 junction to monitor any potential problems and back-ups. UDOT’s Region 4 shared access to this camera with Nevada DOT. Region 4 was also able to respond quickly to a rockslide on the Arizona section of I-15 and sent snow plows to clear rock debris in the Virgin River Gorge area.

Southbound I-15 reopened to traffic on Friday, September 12th to one lane in each direction for passenger vehicles. Northbound lanes reopened on September 18.

Glenn Blackwelder a Traffic Operations Engineer at UDOT said “We could not have done it on our own. It took the communication and resources of the Traffic Operations Center, Region 4 and NDOT working together. We were pleased with how all agencies and divisions were able to work together to get I-15 back open as quickly as possible.”Screen shot of tweet and attached map showing detour route. The tweet reads "Reminder: Nevada I-15 closed due to flooding. So Cal and Vegas detour map:"

This guest post was written by Adam McMillan, Traffic Operations Center Intern.

UDOT Citizen Reporter Program gathers volunteer data

Citizen Reporting LogoThe UDOT Citizen Reporting Program enlists volunteers to report on current road conditions along specific roadway segments across Utah. Since the program’s launch in November 2013, UDOT has received over 1,800 road condition reports on critical routes throughout the state. The accuracy rate of the reports continues to be very high, with only 0.03% of incoming reports determined to be inaccurate.

The long term goal of adding Citizen Reporters to UDOT’s weather operations road reporting is to supplement current condition reporting on segments where drivers are already traveling. The Citizen Reporter Program provides the traveling public with a conduit to report their observations directly to UDOT, saving time and money. UDOT employees also use the Citizen Reporting app to submit their reports.

Since the UDOT Citizen Reporter Program was launched volunteer reporters have submitted reports on 119 of the 145 road segments, helping to fill in gaps in locations where UDOT does not have traffic cameras or Road Weather Information System (RWIS) units.

Graph showing citizen reports by day. The most were received in Decemenger 2013.The volunteer reports are especially valuable during winter storms when conditions change rapidly. During a large winter storm that occurred in the beginning of December 2013, UDOT Citizen Reporters submitted over 130 reports, helping the traveling public as well as National Weather Service meteorologists and UDOT staff.

How do you become a UDOT Citizen Reporter?

In order to become a UDOT Citizen Reporter, you will need to complete a brief training (either online or in person), take a short quiz and complete a sign-up form. The training takes approximately 10 minutes to complete. Once a volunteer has completed these steps, they will be provided with a login and PIN, and can begin submitting reports. Reports are submitted through the UDOT Citizen Reporting app, downloadable for Android and Apple devices from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

If you would like to become a Citizen Reporter, please follow this link to take the online training: www.udottraffic.utah.gov/training/citizenreporter. For more information or to schedule an in person training, email UDOTCitizenReporter@utah.gov.

UDOT’s Incident Management Team participates in Emergency Vehicle Training

Photo of all of the IMT trucks lined upUDOT’s Incident Management Team (IMT) vehicles exist to help motorists when they have car trouble and to support the Utah Highway Patrol (UHP) during any roadway incident. UDOT is focused on quick clearance of traffic incidents to minimize the risk to the first responders and to have travel lanes reopened as soon as possible.

UDOT’s IMT program has 14 trucks operating in all four of UDOT’s regions. The trucks carry a variety of equipment, including jacks, gasoline, air compressors, battery packs, oil dry, first aid kits and various tools for minor roadside repairs. UDOT chose to operate larger vehicles than some other states for the IMT program. The benefits are better visibility to passing motorists and the ability to carry more equipment.

Image of Twitter comment thanking an IMT driver for help chaning a tire.

A thank you received by UDOT Traffic on Twitter

IMT drivers are required to attend several trainings per year including training on hazardous material spills, emergency traffic control, medical and FEMA classes. Recently, the IMT drivers completed their certifications in emergency vehicle operations at the UHP training track near Camp Williams. The drivers learned about proper backing techniques, defensive driving, their vehicle dynamics and proper emergency traffic scene safety.

Image of a tweet sent thanking IMT for they help while stranded on I-80 near the airport.

Thank you recived by UDOT Traffic on Twitter.

The IMT program has helped hundreds of motorists over the last several years. Some people refer to the IMT drivers as “professional good samaritans.” Disabled vehicles on a freeway create a safety hazard, especially when the disabled vehicle is blocking a travel lane. The likelihood of a secondary crash resulting from congestion increases by almost 3% for every minute that the lane is blocked. Approximately 20% of all crashes are called secondary crashes, or a crash that can be traced to an original incident.

This guest post was written by Jeff Reynolds, Roadway Safety Manager.

Region Three Traffic Signal Update nearly Complete

Photo of the State Street and 1320 South intersection in Provo

New signals at Provo State Street and 1320 South.

Existing traffic signals have been updated to newer equipment that includes controllers that send real-time data about the signal operations to the Traffic Operations Center.

With the upgraded controllers, UDOT can troubleshoot issues remotely such as noticing a stuck pedestrian button or verifying signal timing.

Traffic engineers can track data that used to require manual labor such as traffic speeds, traffic volumes and percent arrival on green.

Photo of the inside of a signal cabinet

A signal cabinet at State Street and 1320 South. The cabinet contains a controller that gathers and transmits real-time traffic data for remote analysis and optimization of the system.

Out of 249 signals operated by UDOT in Region Three, 211 have been upgraded to gather this real-time traffic data for analysis and optimization of the system. “Small adjustments can sometimes make a big difference for our traffic operations,” said
Adam Lough, Region Three Engineering Manager.

“The upgraded signal controllers allow us to make these adjustments and monitor how the intersection is operating without being on-site.”

Traffic Management Division Celebrates Employee of the Year, Leader of the Year and Career Achievement

The opportunity to recognize excellent, dedicated and forward-thinking UDOT employees officially comes once a year, and the UDOT Traffic Management Division (TMD) was happy to identify several deserving staff through this process. It is important to pause and recognize outstanding employee achievement and celebrate the employees who continually go above and beyond to ensure great customer service to the public.

Headshot of Kelly Burns

Kelly Burns

This year, Kelly Burns was selected as the TMD Employee of the Year. Kelly is currently managing a project to develop freeway performance measures for congestion monitoring. She also supports UDOT’s four Regions for traffic modeling. Because of Kelly’s hard work and dedication, the new Speed Profile report for I-15, which identifies bottlenecks, was completed. The Speed Profile report will also be an excellent resource for effective future planning efforts. Kelly demonstrates a commitment to her job, co-workers and the traveling public every day. Congratulations, Kelly!

Headshot of Jeff Williams

Jeff Williams

Jeff Williams was selected as the TMD Leader of the Year. Jeff manages an exceptional team of meteorologists. His group is responsible for several innovations that contribute to safer roads, less materials costs and better service to the public. The new winter road weather index uses data from UDOT’s Road Weather Information System (RWIS) network to determine the intensity of a storm and the effectiveness of UDOT’s snow removal efforts. The efforts of Jeff and his team keep UDOT in the national spotlight for traveler information weather operations. Congratulations, Jeff!

Headshot of Keith Wilde

Keith Wilde

The TMD Career Achievement Award goes to an employee who has a longstanding history of excellency. This year, Keith Wilde was the award recipient. Keith has over thirty years of experience and leads the traffic signal field technicians. Keith has been instrumental in ensuring UDOT’s traffic signals are truly “world-class”. Keith is the resident expert on electronics for traffic signals. Utah residents may see Keith at a signalized intersection nearby a large special event helping with traffic flow. The UDOT TMD is very fortunate to have Keith and appreciates all of his hard work. Congratulations, Keith!