Monthly Archives: August 2012


The “Walk More in Four” challenge offers the chance for schools to win $500,
and for students to win bikes and scooters.

The UDOT Student Neighborhood Access Program (SNAP)™ is a fun and comprehensive program for walking and biking safely to school

Any parent who has a school aged child has probably observed traffic congestion around a school drop-off point.  Too many cars can increase the risk of fender-benders and make watching out for pedestrians and cyclists more difficult.

UDOT’s Student Neighborhood Access Program (SNAP)™ “Walk More in Four” challenge is an annual month-long event designed to encourage more Utah K-8 students to walk or bike safely to school at least three days each week during the month of September. This is the fourth Walk More in Four event, and the messages of the campaign seem to be reaching Utah students according to Cherissa Wood, UDOT SNAP Coordinator.

A voluntary survey of participants indicates that most students rarely walked or biked to school during the previous year. “By encouraging students to walk or bike to school at least three times each week during September, SNAP positively changed the travel behaviors of Utah students and provided the means for develop a lasting, safe and healthy habit,” says Wood.

And, student participation in Walk More in Four is increasing. About 1000 participated statewide during the first two years. Last year, that number shot up to 4000. Wood expects that more students will chose to take part in the 2012 Walk More in Four promotion.

To participate, students should track their trips to school by using the Walk More in Four progress chart. Each student who turns in a completed chart by Wednesday, October 3 will be eligible for a chance to win prizes including helmets, bikes and scooters.

The school with the highest percentage of participating students will win $5oo for its safety committee, along with The Golden Tennis Shoe traveling trophy. To participate, schools must register by September 7 by visiting the  SNAP website.

SNAP is a fun and comprehensive program engages and educates students, parents, school administrators, crossing guards and communities. As part of the federal Safe Routes to School program administered by UDOT, SNAP focuses on student safety as its first priority.

More tips and resources are available to parents and school administrators on the SNAP website.

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.


A four-year project to collect data on all UDOT-owned culverts shows that most are being well cared for by maintenance workers.

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

Since 2009, Jessica Andrews has been involved in the process of collecting baseline data on over 25 thousand cross-cut culverts that direct water under roadways. Andrews’ involvement started when she joined the project as college engineering summer intern. After one year, she led the program under direction of Lynn Bernhard, UDOT Maintenance Methods Engineer. The project is nearing completion.

The goal of the project is to view and record data on all culverts, then to develop a central database that can be used by anyone at UDOT. Culverts are critical to roadway health. “The water has to go somewhere,” explains Andrews. If a culvert fails, water can excavate soil from under the roadway, leaving the pavement with no support.

Collection process

The program deployed summer interns all over the state to collect data. Interns visited each culvert location and recorded details including the GPS location, route, nearest milepost, condition, estimated amount of sediment in the culvert, fill above and sometimes pavement condition in the case of a damaged culvert. Interns took about five photos of each culvert showing the inlet, outlet, barrel and pavement above.

Each culvert was given a rating between 0 and 9, with 0 through 2 representing poor culverts.  Only ten to 15 percent of culverts state-wide were rated poor and in need of attention soon. The overall good condition of culverts shows that maintenance workers are doing a  great job of maintaining culverts in their areas.

During the four year effort, many improvements were made to the collection process. Better GPS equipment helped pinpoint exact locations. The interns recorded all information by hand the first year. Later, a handheld data recorder with an app tailored to UDOT’s needs made data collection more accurate. Finding the location of culverts was made easier when the project truck was equipped with a Distance Measuring Instrument.

Expect the unexpected

Interns encountered some surprises along the way. “We saw a lot of animals, both dead and alive,” says Andrews. Snakes, badgers and the glowing eyes of unidentified animals show up in project photos. Some culverts were very interesting to view, such as giant culverts blasted out of red rock in southern Utah and wood culverts under I-80 in the desert west of Salt Lake City.


With only one-hundred miles of roadway to go, Andrews says the collection effort will be complete by the time the summer interns go back to school. The database is already serving as an important big picture view of culvert health and a decision making tool at UDOT.

Region Four Area Supervisor Patrick McGann has used the database to prioritize culvert rehabilitation. “The culvert database project that Jessica is working on is very helpful because it gives an estimated height of fill over culverts,” says McGann.  “This is good to know because rusted, deteriorating culverts that are deeply buried move to the top of the priority list because if a deep pipe fails, it is more expensive to excavate and replace than a failed culvert that does not have as much cover over it.”

Andrews shares credit for the projects with others. ” The success of this project can be largely attributed to our hardworking summer interns and the help and cooperation of our maintenance station personnel.”

The data can be viewed by logging in to ARC-GIS. Andrews is working with UDOT GIS Manager Frank Pisani to integrate the database into UPlan.


UDOT is implementing a Quality Management Plan to prevent stripping and improve the durability of asphalt pavement.

In hot mix asphalt pavement, stripping occurs when the asphalt does not adhere well to the aggregate. The result of stripping is pavement that crumbles under the wear and tear of traffic and weather.

Howard Anderson, left, and Clark Allen, manager of UDOT's central lab stand near Hamburg Wheel Tracking equipment

UDOT requires hot mix plants to add lime to the asphalt mix. Lime works as a bonding agent so the asphalt sticks to the aggregate. In the mixing process, the lime is combined with a precise amount of water to make slurry, blended with the aggregate, and then heat-dried before the treated aggregate is mixed hot with the asphalt binder.

Lime added correctly prevents stripping and makes the pavement more durable, especially during the winter and early spring when the freeze-thaw cycle takes its toll, according to Howard Anderson, UDOT Quality Assurance and Aggregate Engineer. Added incorrectly, the pavement is at risk for stripping.

Anderson has been working with Kevin VanFrank, UDOT Engineer for Asphalt Materials, Kleinfelder and Tim Biel of CME to develop a comprehensive plan to ensure that the correct lime-water slurry is used in the mix design.


When the QMP is fully implemented, UDOT will only accept HMA from certified plants that keep records documenting their processes.  UDOT has also recently required the contractor to use their own Hamburg Wheel Tracking equipment to check their HMA mix designs.  This change allows the region Hamburg Wheel Tracking equipment to be used on field produced material to insure a quality material is delivered to the pavement.

The ultimate goal of the QMP is to extend the life of HMA pavement which is one important way UDOT uses funding efficiently to provide good value to the public.


The Utah Seismic Safety Commission brings a diverse group of experts together to reduce earthquake risk.

Joshua Sletten

The fifteen member board was created to assess Utah’s earthquake risks, to promote awareness and to support state and local government efforts to protect public safety during and after a quake.

“The commission provides an integrated picture of seismic concerns for the whole community,” says Josh Sletten, UDOT Structures Design Manager and USSC Commissioner. Sletten represents the transportation point of view as the commission plans and implements ways to improve earthquake readiness in Utah. While the commissions efforts are not transportation centered, Utah’s transportation system is an important part of the overall picture since the transportation system is a vital part of response and recovery after a quake.

Keeping roads open

Two of UDOT’s key roles are to have an emergency response plan in place and to identify key routes that will remain operational after a major earth quake. The emergency response plan uses workers that are nearest the scene of the emergency to quickly inspect and identify the risk to the traveling public on structures and roadways. Next, engineers will strategically visit locations, starting with the most vulnerable areas first, to properly address affected structures.

Identifying key routes that provide access to hospitals, shelters and emergency services is an ongoing process as the community changes. Once key routes are identified, UDOT engineers take all aspects of the roadway into account. Structures especially are of great concern and UDOT builds structures like bridges and overpasses to withstand major quakes.

UDOT bridges are designed and constructed to AASHTO design standards which account for hazard events such as earthquakes.  Many of the bridges on I-15 through the Wasatch Front have been rebuilt in the last 15 years. While UDOT does not anticipate extensive damage to the transportation system, some damage will occur. And, uncertainty exists when it comes to events, such as power outages and how those events will affect the transportation system.

Risk ID

The USSC works closely with the United States Geological Survey on ways to identify potential risk during a quake. The USGS has developed a software program called ShakeCast to generate estimated damage data for structures like buildings and bridges. In an actual seismic event, ShakeCast can also be used to send notification to infrastructure owners indicating the level of shaking and estimated damage from the quake. For UDOT, using ShakeCast means that we know the level of damage that is likely to occur, according to Sletten.

When it comes to seismic safety, planning is critical. The USSC issued a strategic plan in 1995. Since that time, 27 of the 35 critical objectives have been met. By participating in the USSC, UDOT and other critical infrastructure owners and emergency service providers can work together to ensure that Utah citizens are as safe as possible during and after a major earthquake.


The UDOT Blog is intended to inform a transportation audience.

The UDOT Blog debut was April 21, 2010, and since then, 371 articles have been posted. The topics range from safety to geo-tech, and the intended audience is UDOT employees, private sector partners and members of the general public.

The blog is designed to allow readers to share ideas and find out about programs, projects and practices at UDOT. The format is based in part on an initial survey of UDOT employees. A total of 803 employees answered the survey, and provided feedback that became guidance for the blog.

The UDOT Communications Office invites you to take another survey so the blog can be improved.


UDOT is just one of the agencies working to repair erosion that occurred during a flash flood in Huntington Canyon in the Manti-La Sal National Forest.

UDOT is also in the process of rebuilding the road in two areas where water flow washed out embankment and shoulder.

A rain storm that occurred on August 1 caused a flash flood that washed trees, soil and rocks from the canyon walls into cut-ditches and culverts and onto SR-31. The flooding event was made worse by the Seeley Fire that occurred in the area before the flood. Because much of the vegetation was burned away, the runoff washed debris down the canyon. “It was an incredible flood,” says Jim Chandler, UDOT Region Four Area Engineer.

UDOT crews made a herculean effort to clear and open the road during the week after the flood, according to Chandler. But without the natural vegetation on the slopes, rain or snow melt in the spring could cause more erosion in Huntington Canyon. “It damaged more than just a highway,” says Chandler.

The flood also took its toll on the natural environment explains Darren Olsen, U.S. Forest Service District Ranger. The flash flood “scoured out the natural drainage areas” including seasonal stream beds that carry spring runoff or flooding to Huntington Creek and out of the canyon. Ash from the fire washed into the streams and killed fish and downstream agricultural users are dealing with sediment that clogs irrigation systems.

The most significant fire damage and erosion occurred on north-facing slopes where conifers typically grow. Many of those trees had been killed by beetles, and that dry wood provided fuel for the fire.

Olsen is helping to plan some mitigation in targeted areas to prevent similar flash floods in the future. “Already Mother Nature is doing a good job at re-vegetating the south facing slopes” where new growth is coming in. The USFS is planning to place wood mulch on 540 acres of area on steep slopes. The mulch will slow down runoff until vegetation can be reestablished. Reseeding areas of the Seeley Fire will be flown in to help get plants established.  This reseeding effort aims at encouraging “quick plant growth that will capture the rain.”

Olsen says that between Mother Nature and the USFS efforts, two to five years is the expected time for vegetation to fill in the burned areas. He says one concern is spring weather; a cold spell followed by warm weather could cause heavy runoff from snow melt.


Better longitudinal joints in asphalt pavement mean longer pavement life.

When not compacted adequately, longitudinal joints can be destined for failure and can threaten the whole pavement system.

A longitudinal joint in Hot Mix Asphalt pavement is formed when a new batch of asphalt is placed adjacent to existing pavement. Because of temperature and plasticity differences, sometimes the newer and older pavements fail to bond, and the joint has significantly less density than the rest of the pavement.

A long  joint that is not compacted adequately can be “the weak link in the pavement,” explains Kevin VanFrank, UDOT Engineer for Asphalt Materials. “What you have is a seam in the mat that’s difficult to keep water out of.” Because the joint is permeable, water seeps in, the pavement ravels and loses material. Soon that damage “starts to migrate into the balance of the system…you can lose the entire pavement system.”

Under the best of circumstances, joint is typically less compacted than the mat. Van Frank says that a small difference of two to three percent can be acceptable.

HMA mix designs also play a role in the compaction at the joint. “As we attack rutting, we end up with mats that are more difficult to compact and lose the compaction in the joints without making special effort.”

The best solution to achieving good compaction at the long joint is to use echelon pavement placement and install two widths of pavement at the same time. UDOT’s specification states that echelon paving is preferred; however, the method is not always practical because lane closures are required. When echelon paving is not practical, other techniques should be employed.

A survey of each of the fifty states conducted by the Federal Highway Association shows that long joint health is a big concern among departments of transportation. Half of the states were found to be not satisfied with the overall performance of long joints, however, not all states have specifications in place that seek to achieve good compaction.

Some states had density specifications in place and others defined accepted construction techniques. But, even though the survey found an array of best practices being employed, a definitive solution was not identified.

In an effort to find the best solution to achieve good joint compaction, UDOT will select projects and look to the paving industry to identify good construction techniques. “Our intention is to implement the compaction of the long joint to a standard value.”

“We’re going to define an outcome and let industry meet the outcome,” says VanFrank. “We have seen techniques used this year that make joint density approach mat density.” Van Frank believes that by using UDOT will select appropriate projects to be built next year and allow contractors to lead the way UDOT will be able to identify the best solutions to ensuring better joints.


To all those who sent in photos for the Faces in Transportation – Thanks!

Faces in Transportation is an annual competition that solicits photos that show the people who build, maintain and use our nation’s transportation system. UDOT employees sent in many great photos and two were selected by Director John Njord and Deputy Director Carlos Braceras.

Prizes of the contest include awards that go to the entering agency: first Prize, $500; People’s Choice Prize, $500; Three Prizes in each of three categories, $125 each.

Voting for the People’s Choice award is open. Follow this link to see UDOT’s photos and vote!

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.


AggieAir is a Utah State University service that uses small, unmanned aircraft to provide aerial images to a variety of customers, including UDOT.

Located at the Utah Water Research Laboratory,  the AggieAir  photo collection method was first developed in response to agricultural needs, specifically to evaluate the effectiveness of irrigation practices.

Aerial images for agricultural needs can also be met by using satellites or manned aircraft; both methods have limitations, however. Satellite images often have course resolution, cloud cover can obscure the view of the area being photographed and a delay of up to one month in acquiring images can make the information outdated. Manned aircraft services are expensive.

Small plane services, like AggieAir offer a flexible platform that can provide high quality images for a variety of needs quickly and easily. According to AggieAir Research Engineer Austin Johnson, “UAVs are popping up everywhere” for that reason. He visited UDOT recently and and gave an overview of AggieAir, including some UDOT projects that have use the service to acquire images.

AggieAir collects common RGB photos Near Infered as well as thermal imagery and uses software similar to GIS applications to process the image data. While in flight, the planes take photos about every four seconds. The images are then combined to make a Geo-rectified mosaic image of the ground surface and features. The cameras can also be mounted on a vehicle for gathering ground level images.

The planes are small, lightweight and launched into flight using a staked bungee cord. There is no landing gear, so touchdown can be bumpy. The planes are made of durable Styrofoam that can be taped up after a rough landing.

UDOT  has used the service to get aerial images of the Southern Parkway project and the wetland area near Utah Lake. Other possible applications for the platform include taking an inventory of freeway structures and signs, before and after construction images, cataloging historic occurrences of flood or wetland areas, tracking erosion on embankment slopes, identifying invasive plant species and evaluating treatment plans for eliminating those species.

2013 MAP

UDOT is collecting information for the 2013 Official Utah State Highway Map.

Lisa Holgreen, UDOT Communications Assistant sends out maps almost daily.

UDOT and the Utah Office of Tourism partner to produces the state’s Official State Highway Map, and the process to re-do the new map is underway. Updating the map takes into account input from UDOT employees, county road supervisors and state and federal agency representatives. Effort is underway now to contact people who may have suggestions for improving the new map.

While UDOT cartographers make the map’s features accurate, the Utah Office of Tourism makes it beautiful. Clarkson Creative, a local graphic arts company will design a layout for the new map that emphasizes Utah’s scenic attractions.

The map is used by citizens, visitors to the state and school children from across the nation who need information for school projects. Lisa Holgreen, UDOT Communications Assistant sends out maps almost daily. Every year, UDOT sends around six hundred maps to individuals and more to visitor centers across the state. If Holgreen gets a request from a visitor center, she can often send more than one thousand maps in a day. The Utah Office of Tourism also mails maps on request and distributes maps through visitor centers.

A digital version of the map is available online on UDOT’s website. To make suggestions for changes on the new map, email your comments to