Monthly Archives: July 2010

It’s all in the timing

UDOT and Bountiful City have worked together to improve signal timing at major intersections.

A young pedestrian crosses at Main Street and Fourth North. Wait times are shorter and east-west travel is more efficient now east of the freeway in Bountiful.

Drivers in Bountiful, Utah now have shorter wait times at UDOT and Bountiful City intersections. Mat Luker, Assistant Signal Systems Engineer with UDOT worked closely with Bountiful City Engineering to re-time signals to reduce delay and provide longer left turn cycles in intersections east of the freeway.

“UDOT is a great partner and we appreciate them very much,” says Assistant Bountiful City Engineer Lloyd Cheney. Drivers in Bountiful should be seeing less delay while driving to the freeway during peak travel times. “Those who go east and west should see improvement.”


UDOT and University of Utah researchers are collecting data to find out how a new material reacts under the stress of freeway traffic.

A truck crosses Beaver Creek Bridge. Some of the equipment that measures stress is visible in the lower right corner under the bridge.

Instead of the usual steel rebar, the concrete deck panels on the Beaver Creek Bridge on US-6 are internally supported with Fiber Reinforced Polymer. The bridge has sensors that measure strain and trigger a camera to snap a photo when the bridge is stressed to a predefined limit. The photos and data collected by the sensors are part of a study that is helping University of Utah researchers and UDOT accumulate information about FRP, a material that may make make bridge decks last much longer.

“The number one cause of degradation of bridges is rusting steel inside concrete,”  says Fred Doehring, Deputy Structural Engineer at UDOT. Bridges are designed to last 75 years or longer while decks only last 40 to 45 years.

The GFRP is formed into bars that look similar to rebar. FRP has a tensile strength greater than steel but weighs much less, steel which means the grid is easy to place. Deck panels are also easier to transport.

Beaver Creek Bridge was designed by UDOT’s Rebecca Nix, who says she has really enjoyed the project. Nix is helping to evaluate the new information along with researchers.  By using FRP data collected in a real-world setting, UDOT will know how to “design based on what’s really happening.”

Rebecca Nix, Structural Designer at UDOT, stands near Beaver Creek Bridge.


UDOT’s brand new rest stop echoes Tucker’s railroad past.

Dave Babcock, Fleet Manager in UDOT Region 4’s Price Office wrote this article about UDOT’s newest rest area.

A railroad servicing area in the town of Tucker, Utah. This photo shows a coal bunker and stored coal, left, and a water tank, right. Click on the photo to enlarge. (Used by permission, Utah State Historical Society, all rights reserved.)

The Utah Department of Transportation has constructed a new Safety Rest Area and Visitor Center on US-6 at Milepost 202, at a location known as Tie Fork.  The new facility was a concept and design to pay tribute to the town of Tucker and also to the history of the railroad heritage from the Soldier Summit and Helper areas.

The town of Tucker, Utah, which was 2 miles south of Tie Fork, existed from the early 1900’s to about 1915, and was in it’s prime in about 1910, when over 200 residents called Tucker home.  Tucker was built because of a railroad spur toPleasant Valley.  The narrow gauge rail went directly south from Tucker and served the coal mines in the Scofield and Pleasant Valley areas.

Tucker Rest area (Milepost 204) was built in 1969 and served travelers for 40 years.      In 2009, the Tucker Rest area was removed to allow a highway safety project to be constructed.  At that time, the Tie Fork site was selected for the new rest area.

The UDOT concept team felt it was important to build the restroom and visitor center to resemble a train depot of the early 1900’s.  They also felt that a locomotive roundhouse look would be appropriate for the information kiosks and picnic table area.  Once this design was accepted, the idea of placing a locomotive on site was suggested. After exploring different possibilities, Original Creations was hired to build a replica of a 1900’s steam locomotive, which is proudly displayed on site.

Tie Fork Rest Area under construction -- the design of the building resembles a a locomotive roundhouse

Tie Fork will serve the travelers of US-6 for many years to come.  It will give them an opportunity to safely rest for 10 or 15  minutes, making the US-6 highway corridor a safer place for all.


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


UDOT workers paint over graffiti in the Spaghetti Bowl where I-80 splits to go to southbound I-15. Workers from Station 2445 always "find a way to get it down," says Dave Kelley, who is holding the sprayer. Looking on is Mike Ellis, also in the bucket. On top feeding the paint line is Jeffery Stephenson. Behind is Riley O'Brien and driving is Greg Fatzinger. Thanks, guys!

Graffiti vandals are getting better at defacing structures along state routes but UDOT workers are right on their heels.

“Some people don’t even know we have a graffiti problem because we find it and get rid of it so quick,” says Dave Kelley who works at UDOT Station 2445. Workers use a bridge inspection truck (sometimes called a “snooper” because the arm of the truck reaches under bridges) to get the tough spots. Kelley and others at that station are are also responsible for removing over-grown weeds along state routes.


The Utah Department of Transportation uses a sophisticated asset management process to prioritize road preservation projects.

How does UDOT decide where, when and how to spend money on preservation projects?   Answer: UDOT uses a scientific management system to evaluate and plan how to preserve pavement.

“Every engineer has been weaned on the idea that ‘good roads cost less,’” says Stan Burns, UDOT Director of Asset Management.  If the appropriate road maintenance action is taken at the right time, less public money will be spent in the long run.

Know what you have

Once a year, UDOT takes inventory of the entire state highway system to measure road conditions and catalog that information.  “This includes measuring the surface roughness, wheel path rutting, surface cracking and other surface defects,” says Gary Kuhl, Pavement Management Engineer for UDOT.

Next, the condition data is loaded into a computer application called Deighton Total Management System (dTIMS), which forecasts the ultimate decline of the pavement condition if no action is taken, showing a downward trending “deterioration curve.” Information about preservation projects is added, and a new deterioration curve is produced.  The difference between the two curves shows the how a potential preservation project can extend the life of the road feature.

UDOT then determines a preservation strategy for every section of pavement based on the two curves and the available funding. For example, maintenance processes for roads include resurfacing projects like roto-mill and overlay for asphalt pavement or grinding and panel replacement for concrete pavement.



More precision means better decisions

Having the advantage of a scientifically-based process is important, especially during lean funding times. The asset management process shows that UDOT is accountable to the public and “not just winging it,” says Stan.

“Our system allows us to optimize when projects are constructed to maximize the pavement life,” says Gary.

In the future, UDOT plans to evaluate other assets, including bridges, culverts, retaining walls and other components of Utah’s transportation system, using a similar system.

I-15 travel options in a box

The Express Pass, a transponder that attaches to your windshield, will be available July 20.

Soon, a new pay-as-you-go system will allow drivers to use I-15 Express Lanes only as needed.

Traveling to an important event or getting to work on time is about to get easier.  UDOT is introducing an new electronic system that will allow drivers to pay for Express Lane Use on an as-needed basis.

Here’s how to participate:

Single drivers who wish to drive in the Express Lanes need to obtain a small transponder box called an Express Pass. Electronic equipment on I-15 will work with the Express Pass to charge drivers for Express Lane Use.

Early adapters of the new system will be rewarded; the first 2000 Express Passes are free!

Only single drivers need to pay for Express Lane use. “If you’re carpooling, you don’t need to buy a transponder,” says Catherine

The Express Lanes website has an instructive video shows how the new Express Pass works.

Cutler, UDOT Express Lanes Project Manager. “Carpoolers, buses, C plate vehicles and motorcycles will still be allowed free use of Express Lanes. ”

The Express Lanes website has more information about the new system.

Keep your options open

The Express Pass approach is “all about getting people where they need to go,” says Catherine.  Road users who choose to get an Express Pass will have more travel options, Catherine explains, because “you only pay for what you use.”

System wide benefits

“Better use of all lanes is the goal of the project,” says Catherine. When more people use the Express Lanes, travel delay is reduced in the other lanes, improving travel for everyone on I-15 along the Wasatch Front.

Low-carbon lifestyle

A Salt Lake City Bicycle Collective banner decorates bicycle parking at the Salt Lake Library during the annual 2010 Bicycle Summit held this spring

Travis Jensen, a Utah engineer who works in the transportation industry, is on a permanent carbon-reduced diet.

He lives near a Utah Transit Authority TRAX station, uses a car-share service, teleworks and walks, bikes or uses public transportation to get to meetings or run personal errands.

He’s quick to point out the advantages of his lifestyle choices. “People think it’s a sacrifice,” says Travis.  “For me, it’s really not.” He believes his choices make him freer. “I enjoy walking and riding a bike,” says Travis, and he lists other advantages like saving money and doing his part for the environment.

While Travis makes a big effort to save energy, he does not believe in an “all or nothing” approach. Making a few changes can help save energy.

For instance, using public transportation could mean a productive commute if you take along a laptop or book.  And, commuting on a bicycle is great for personal fitness and could replace a trip to the gym a few times a week.

Challenge yourself

The Clear the Air Challenge is an effort encourage Utahns to make energy saving TravelWise choices that help clear the air in Utah.  It’s easy and fun to participate.

The easy part is signing up online as part of a team or as an individual. The fun part is seeing the energy, dollars and emissions you save on the online tracking system.

There are so many TravelWise solutions (like teleworking or trip chaining) for reducing energy consumption – you may be surprised by the difference you can make. Seeing your daily progress on the tracker is a great motivator to keep up the good work and maybe find some other TravelWise options to boost your weekly goal.

Don’t miss your chance to participate!