Tag Archives: WASHTO

UDOT projects honored at WASHTO meeting

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.

The announcement today was made at the 2015 Western Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (WASHTO) annual meeting. UDOT projects were among eight that won in each of the competition’s three categories: Best Use of Innovation, Under Budget, and Quality of Life/Community Development.

UDOT’s Bluff Street at Southern Hills Parkway Interchange was 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

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 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 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 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

Preconstruction honored with regional quality award

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.

DesignCompareAppScreenShot

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.

GEO-referencing design files

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.

WASHTO Quality Award Winners

I am pleased to announce that the WASHTO Quality Award winners for 2013 are the Ogden Canyon Fiber Project and Traffic Signal Operations teams. It became evident as our selection committee reviewed the nominations that these two groups distinguished themselves as leaders who have made significant contributions to the Department while simultaneously improving the quality of life in our communities.

Photo of Carlos Braceras and the Ogden Canyon Fiber Project Team

UDOT Executive Director and the Ogden Canyon Fiber Project Team

The Ogden Canyon Fiber Project Team members were Jesse Glidden, Lynne Yocom, Blaine Leonard, Brent DeYoung, Rex Harris, Matthew Smith, and Dave Moss.

As many of you know, Ogden Canyon (S.R. 39) is a narrow, winding 5-mile canyon road connecting the Ogden Valley with the metropolitan area. It is a critical transportation link but a difficult location for constructing projects due to its mountainous terrain.

Our Region 1 folks initially had asked our Traffic Management Division to install a VMS sign in the canyon that would warn motorists of frequent winter canyon closures. Lynn, Blaine and Matt were more than happy to do that but while they were visiting the site they noticed construction already happening in the Canyon.

Ogden City had recently started the installation of a waterline. The team knew that underground construction of this magnitude in the canyon rarely occurred. They successfully seized upon this opportunity to partner with the city and get a fiber communications line installed along the entire canyon corridor.

This vital link to Ogden Valley now provides fiber optic communications for traffic monitoring and public communications. In addition, Ogden City enjoys a fiber connection to their water treatment plant and residents have improved cell and broadband service.

Because our team members took the time to think beyond the limited scope of their own individual duties, they were able to see the bigger picture. This synergistic approach to finding a solution will benefit thousands of people for decades to come.

I commend them for their great work.

Photo of Carlos Braceras and the Automatic Signal Performance Measures Team

UDOT Executive Director and the Automatic Signal Performance Measures Team

The first place winning team is our Traffic Signal Operations group, consisting of Mark Taylor, Jamie Mackey, Matt Luker, Shane Johnson, Derek Lowe, Peter Jager, Eric Rasband, Adam Lough and Carrie Jacobson.

Tasked with providing “World-Class” signals operations and maintenance, our folks have risen to the occasion. Adopting best practices from our partners at Indiana DOT, they have developed eight different performance measures currently available for 750 intersections. The measures provide both real-time and historical data, with all of the information housed on the UDOT Traffic website.

The program works via FTP connections located throughout the network that provide information to our traffic signal controllers. Every 15 minutes TOC servers retrieve and store “packets” of time-stamped data. This process is overseen by software engineers Shane Johnson and Derek Lowe. Anyone can access this data, which is an approach that fosters transparency and information sharing. Because of their efforts, UDOT is now the national leader in real-time traffic signal performance measures.

It’s not hard to see why in June of this year UDOT received the AASHTO Technology Implementation Group (TIG) award for their efforts in this area. But this team isn’t stopping there. By the end of the year they plan to have additional performance measures to track elements such as historical travel times for arterials and overall operations system improvements.

Both teams’ efforts have served to further our Department’s Strategic Direction.

Our Ogden Canyon Fiber Team has strengthened the economy by providing fiber optic service to Ogden City’s water treatment plant and improved cell and broadband service to residents. They have optimized mobility via a vital communications link that will facilitate traffic management and public information. They have improved safety with the capability to more effectively manage traffic, thus keeping drivers safer and getting us one step closer to our goal of Zero Fatalities.

Our Traffic Signal Operations team has strengthened the economy by improving the efficiency of the signal system. This has made a huge impact on alleviating traffic congestion and consequently the movement of goods and services throughout the state. In addition, they have implemented signal timing plans to accommodate large events such as college football games and community parades.

The signals team has optimized mobility by closely monitoring and adjusting red and green time to allow for better progression along corridors. They have improved safety by partnering with our radar vendor to track approaching vehicle speeds at intersections. To preserve our infrastructure, they have devised a way to quickly find and replace deficient vehicle detectors.

These efforts do not go unnoticed. Congratulations to both teams for their exemplary work and dedication. Please join me in thanking them for their great work as they are well-deserving of the 2013 WASHTO Quality Awards.

Information about all of the WASHTO Quality Awards nominees is available in a previous post.

WASHTO Award Nominees

Every year the Western Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (WASHTO) awards individuals or groups in their member states that have shown exemplary work in improving the quality of their respective organizations.

We received a record number of nominations from UDOT teams this year and the submittals were truly impressive. Their talents and ingenuity are a testament to the high caliber of employees we have here at UDOT. I wanted to take the time to highlight this year’s nominees and briefly outline their submissions.

Our maintenance folks do a remarkable job. For example, our maintenance team in Parley’s Canyon has worked to upgrade lights to LEDs and efficiently used the fill dirt from an area construction project in parts of the Canyon that need it most. When this summer’s flooding had the potential to cause road damage, our Huntington Canyon maintenance crews went above and beyond to create a rebar/riprap fix that prevented additional damage from occurring.

When a better data collection process was needed for the Maintenance Management Quality Assurance Program, our Region Two folks helped to support it. When we had to think creatively about how to best maintain our assets, Region Four’s asset management group adopted the motto, “Take Care of What we Have” and implemented a three year plan for Level II road maintenance that focuses on crack sealing and lane leveling.

I am constantly amazed at how dedicated our maintenance folks are at ensuring our transportation system investments are well cared for and our shop employees are no different.

The Region Three Mechanic shop employees collectively have over 200 years of experience between them. This has given them the skills and expertise needed to repair state-owned equipment using best practices and the latest technology. Their experience has helped the region to successfully meet the Department’s goals.

In Region One, the equipment shop team retrofitted five older snow plows with saddle tanks to give them the same pre-wetting capabilities that newer vehicles have. This ingenuity is essential to maintaining UDOT’s reputation as a national leader.

Our Signals Operations folks have made significant strides in innovation and national leadership. They have been tasked with creating a World-Class Signals system and are well on their way to making it happen. We now have over 750 intersections bringing real-time data to the Traffic Operations Center.

Managing data can be a significant undertaking- something our GIS group knows very well. Working closely with other divisions, they have helped to create an inventory system with real-time information regarding outdoor advertising along state routes. In addition, they have been an asset in producing interactive maps for Transportation Commission meetings, mapping bike routes, and creating a UPLAN Safety Index.

Another group that understands management is our Project Management team. Now with just a few clicks of the mouse a project can be set up, tracked, updated and the status communicated. ePM has been improved in the way it handles financial information for our project managers, and our Program Finance folks have developed a way to release excess funds earlier in the project process to allow for timely reprogramming on new projects.

Communicating information is key, not only in project management, but also when it impacts the public.

We now have a Little Cottonwood Canyon Communications Tool (LCCCT) for communicating information to the traveling public and our Travelwise program has improved our air quality messaging on overhead VMS boards to encourage motorists to drive less or carpool.

Our employees coordinated a partnership with Ogden City to install fiber in Ogden Canyon. They took the time to go beyond their normal responsibilities, finding a synergistic solution to an otherwise seemingly insurmountable task. They showed that proactive planning really makes a difference.

Our structures planning team has adopted “Plan for Every Structure” as their goal. The Treatment Matrix and overhaul of The Critical Bridge List are two examples of how they’ve done exactly that. Not only are we at the forefront of thoughtful structures planning but also of innovative bridge construction.

Representatives from around the country descended on Echo Junction this past summer as our project team pioneered the combination of Geosynthetic Reinforced Soil (GRS) and Accelerated Bridge Construction (ABC).

At UDOT, quality work happens not only on the roads but off them as well.

For example, the Seeley Burn Scar left quite a mark. Our folks worked collaboratively with the Utah Geological Survey to install a Road Weather Information System in the scar’s watershed that helped anticipate flooding before it happened.

Our avalanche team successfully installed a release system near avalanche slide paths. This system can be operated remotely to set off snow slides in a controlled environment that reduces the likelihood of larger, more destructive avalanches.

The central materials group proactively reached out to precast suppliers and revised the current specifications to allow limited amounts of specific items to be saved ahead of time. As a result, we now have high-demand items when an unexpected need arises.

Our research team initiated a new transportation innovation breakout group this year that generated new ideas about special types of concrete pavements for urban areas and laser striping for more accurate lane delineation.

UDOT University has made literally hundreds of courses available to UDOT employees, trained approximately 850 individual participants, and provided approximately 1500 hours of training to department personnel.

As you can see, the selection pool for this year’s WASHTO Quality Award was very competitive. All of these groups’ accomplishments are impressive in their own right and collectively represent the quality work we do here at the Department. I want to express my appreciation to all of the nominees for their hard work and dedication.

UDOT ENGINEER HONORED

A UDOT Region One engineer known for his efforts to mentor fellow employees has won a national award.

Brad Humphreys

Brad Humphreys, P.E., of Millville, Cache County, was announced as the co-recipient of the 2010 Dr. L. I. Hewes Award, July 12, at the annual conference of the Western Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (WASHTO) in Bismarck, North Dakota.  Named co-recipient with Humphreys was Jeani Borchert, Tribal Consultation Coordinator with the North Dakota Department of Transportation.

Humphreys was presented with a cash award and plaque in winning this award.  According to UDOT Region One Director Jason Davis, the award committee was impressed by many of Humphrey’s qualifications, but specifically found the mentoring of his employees, which has been evident in every aspect of his position, along with his own commitment to continuing education in his profession and personal life, as very noteworthy.  Humphreys was joined by his wife, Terry, in traveling to Bismarck to receive this award, Davis said.

The Dr. L. I. Hewes Award was created in 1951 by the Western Construction Magazine, a journal devoted to engineering and construction in the western states, and annually recognizes the recipient’s outstanding contribution to national highway development programs.  The award was initiated to honor Dr. Laurence Isley Hewes, former Deputy Commissioner of the Bureau of Public Roads, Western Region (predecessor of today’s Federal Highway Administration), who directed the Federal highway construction programs in the 11 western States and the Territories of Alaska and Hawaii, and became one of the principle founders of WASHTO.

Vic Saunders, Public Involvement Manager, UDOT Region One