Author: Catherine Higgins

THREE YEARS OF PLANNED PROJECTS

A new UPLAN gallery of web maps and apps, with information about upcoming projects, is now available through UPlan.

The gallery makes data on the UDOT Three Year Plan available to project managers, UDOT employees, policy makers and the general public. Projects are organized by program funding source, year and UDOT region. The gallery also has a web map of future planning through 2020.

The live data advantage

The online information can be referenced by employees across the department, or by UDOT and local governments to assure that all are viewing and using the correct information. The project data is updated nightly, so data is kept as current as possible.

Having dynamic, easily accessible information via the gallery enhances collaboration across UDOT divisions so projects can be synchronized to use resources effectively and reduce impact to the public. The gallery improves agency transparency since anyone with a web connection can use the gallery to view planned projects.

What is UDOT’s Three Year Plan?

Screen Shot of the Three Year Plan WebsiteThe projects in the Three Year Plan have been identified and prioritized by each of the four UDOT regions. The projects address UDOT’s three strategic goals, Zero Crashes, Injuries and Fatalities, Optimize Mobility, and Preserve Infrastructure.  Funding sources have also been identified for each project.

The main advantage for UDOT in having a three year program of road construction projects is coordination, says William Lawrence, Director of UDOT Program Finance. The plan lets the department evaluate the program as a whole and “helps maximize efficiency,” he says. For example, two projects in close proximity in American Fork, each planned for different years, were recently combined into one project that will take place in 2017. In this case, combining projects is a better use of financial resources, and “construction will only impact the public once,” says Lawrence.

To find the Three Year Plan gallery, access the UDOT Data Portal at data.utah.gov, click the UPLAN thumbnail, then click the 3-Year Plan thumbnail in UPLAN. Instructions for searching for or sorting projects are included in the gallery.

DEER NEAR KANAB NEED TO MIGRATE

UDOT is working to improve deer use of the crossings and prevent motorist-wildlife crashes.

Photo of deer using the crossingThe fall migration of the Paunsaugunt mule deer herd reaches its height between October and November as deer move south, and eventually end up east of Kanab or in Arizona near the Kiabab Plateau. This is the second year that migrating deer will encounter new fencing and wildlife crossings on U.S. 89 east of Kanab. Since Utah’s deer hunt coincides with the migration, it’s more likely that people and deer will come into close proximity near a wildlife crossing or along U.S. 89. And when people are near, deer appear to be less likely to learn to use wildlife crossings.

The new fencing is designed to direct deer to the under-highway crossings, but it can take three years or more before most of the animals in the herd learn the crossing options. UDOT is identifying and implementing measures to improve crossings by working with Patricia Cramer, PhD, Utah State University Research Assistant Professor, Arizona Game and Fish, the BLM and the Grand Staircase agencies and employees from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.

“We’re very interested to see how it works out this year,” says Randall Taylor from the UDOT Region Four Richfield office. He has been part of an effort to install fencing and three crossings along a 12.5 mile area with the highest wildlife-automobile crash history. “This project does not cover the whole area but it’s an important first step at the core of the accidents.”

Photo of deer using the crossingSoon after project completion in September 2013, Cramer placed motion-activated cameras at each crossing. The photos provide information about how many deer are using the crossings, and identify reasons deer may be deterred.

Photos from last year show more people near the crossings during the deer hunt, and fewer deer making the trek across. Probably because the crossings were new, deer congregated near the fencing along the highway. Road users saw the deer and stopped to take a look. UDOT responded by placing variable message signs to discourage motorists from pulling over.

Other circumstances served to deter deer from following the fencing and using the crossings. Gaps under the fencing encouraged deer to push through on to the pavement. “Flooding was to blame for some of those gaps, and coyotes were the cause of others,” says Taylor. UDOT and UDWR are monitoring the fencing and filling gaps as soon as possible.

Besides doing work on the project corridor, UDWR is communicating directly with hunters; a message about staying away from crossings will go out with each license holder.

The crossings are important to highway safety in the area. Pre-project crash data indicates that building the crossings prevents an estimated 132 crashes per year. “Hopefully, more deer will get across this year. The research Patti Cramer is doing is helping.”

For more:

Read a post about how UDOT collaborates to improve crossings written by Patricia Cramer, PhD, Utah State University

See UDOT in 3D

UDOT is moving to an all-3D environment which includes greater use of available design capabilities and an eventual move to a full 3D project workflow.

photo of the Virgin River Arch Bridge.

A photo-realistic image: UDOT built a new bridge over the Virgin River on S.R. 9 near Hurricane to accommodate increased traffic volume. This rendered image shows the new bridge superimposed over the existing bridge, which remains in use.

Embracing a 3D workflow environment will produce some important advantages, including the use of models that can be viewed from all angles in order to assess constructability, utility clash detection models that show a full representation of underground utilities, and animations that can show the built project along with expected traffic flow.

3D models, animations and illustrations can help bridge the communication gaps that sometimes occur among specialties at UDOT, or between the agency and stakeholder groups, since complex engineering data is more easily understood when presented in 3D.

For UDOT designers, the move to 3D represents “a fine tuning of the way we design,” says Bob Peterson, UDOT Methods Engineer. “We’ll be taking our 3D design to a full completion instead of just doing a paper copy as the final output.”

A full 3D workflow

Moving to a full 3D workflow means that projects will be modeled and provided to contractors as a 3D engineered model at advertising, and contractors will return an as-built 3D model that accurately represents project outcome.

Designers at UDOT have been working in 3D for about 20 years. Currently, when projects are advertised, 2D plan sets are made available to all bidding contractors. During the advertising time frame, contractors take those 2D sets and may create their own 3D model. Once the project is awarded, the winning contractor will typically finish a 3D model or hand-enter information for Automated Machine Guidance.

Getting as-built 3D models will represent a big efficiency boost to UDOT. “Once we get to the point where we know exactly what the existing condition is, then the designers don’t have to start from scratch anymore,” explains George Lukes, Standards Design Engineer.

Challenges and strengths

Lukes is overseeing the effort to move to a full 3D workflow. He sees challenges ahead, but recognizes that UDOT has some advantages as an agency, including working with a willing and capable consulting and contracting community.

“The big deal is advertising the project with the model as the legal document,” says Lukes. “Right now the legal documents are our plan sheets, the paper copies – legally that’s what the contractor has to follow. It’s a huge challenge to give the model to the contractor and say ‘this now is the legal document,’ but I think our contractors and consultants are very willing to sit down and figure a way to make that work.”

UDOT Region Four will take on the initial challenge of delivering a 3D model as an advertising package for three projects. All three projects will use CMGC, an innovative contracting method that allows close collaboration between UDOT and a contractor in the preconstruction phase.

Collaboration with the contractor during design will help UDOT minimize risks encountered when building the project “because they know the construction risks better than we do,” says Lukes. “It’s going to give us information that we need, the contractor will be on board with us while we do it, and hopefully we’ll get a lot of good lessons learned from that too.”

Fully embracing 3D capabilities will produce comprehensive planning, construction and design solutions that will benefit UDOT and all contract partners and road users. UDOT will learn how to better minimize risk. Bidding contractors will realize a big efficiency by not having to create baseline models from scratch. The winning contractor will also have UDOT’s model to modify for construction and 3D as-builts will make subsequent design processes more efficient. The outcome will be better roads and a more efficient use of transportation funding.

For more:

See FAQs with a timeline for implementing 3D, presentations, and more at udot.utah.gov/go/3-d

Bentley software training for UDOT employees is offered regularly. For more information, contact Bob Peterson at 801-965-4041 or bobpeterson@utah.gov

Also check out this flyer.

GIS at work: GETTING IT RIGHT

A new GIS tool for retrieving right-of-way information is saving time and funding for UDOT.

Photo of GIS street view with colored line showing right of way data.Some of the UDOT Right of Way Division’s responsibilities include acquiring property for the expansion of the transportation system and regulating access to roadways by issuing permits. These important functions involve interaction with property owners and developers who need to know the location of a property line or the type of access granted on a roadway. Sometimes UDOT employees need answers about UDOT-owned property as well.

UDOT ROW employees respond to hundreds of complex inquiries each year. Getting answers used to be very time consuming, according to Randy Smith, UDOT Region Two Right of Way Manager. “It took about twelve hours per each request and up to 3 days to answer each question,” says Smith, because several data bases needed to be thoroughly searched.

Smith worked with UDOT Central Right of Way, UDOT Central GIS, and a team to develop a GIS tool as part of his course work for the Utah Certified Public Manager program offered to state employees.

Searching more easily

Much of the ROW data UDOT maintains is in ProjectWise, an online document storage system. Smith’s team built links that connects the map to ProjectWise documents. “The Arc Map has hyperlinks to ProjectWise and the original source data,” says Smith. Now finding answers takes minutes as opposed to hours or even days.

Called the Right of Way GIS Tool, the new process offers many advantages. It’s a “once-and-done” solution explains Smith, since inquiries are kept in the system to eliminate duplication of effort.

Smith’s team performed a cost-benefit on the system that’s quite impressive. Paying an employee to respond to an inquiry was determined to be $550 per request. UDOT Region Right of Way Two alone gets an average of 350 requests a year. The savings offered by the tool is a whopping $160,000 each year. “It’s an opportunity cost savings,” explains Smith, since employees are now freed up to work, to problem solve or improve processes.

Table showing annual savings of $161,358.75

Future benefits

The tool is only available to UDOT right now, but a tool for the public will be released in the near future. Smith suspects that the volume of questions may go down once people can find information on their own.

Other groups with information stored in ProjectWise may benefit as well. “While we developed this tool specific to right-of-way, we found that the environment is applicable to other disciplines,” Smith says.

For more stories about GIS Tools, see:

UDOT Receives National Award

Consider a Map

Pavement Marking Check-Up

Visit the UDOT Data Portal, a one stop shop for maps, apps and data.

UDOT RECEIVES NATIONAL AWARD FOR ITS OUTDOOR ADVERTISING CONTROL MAP

Photo of the Award of ExcellenceA multidisciplinary team at UDOT recently received national recognition for developing the Outdoor Advertising Control Map.

The Highway Beautification Act of 1965 gave state departments of transportation the responsibility of enforcing rules governing outdoor advertising, aka billboards. UDOT has developed an online mapping system that helps the general public and UDOT staff to efficiently identify the location of all highways where outdoor advertising is controlled, and where all permitted billboards are located along these controlled highways.

In April, UDOT became one of only three states to receive a national award from the National Alliance of Highway Beautification Agencies for developing this innovative mapping system.

The following statewide team collaborated to bring this award winning map to life:

DTS

  • Monty King

Central ETS/GIS

  • Becky Hjelm
  • Frank Pisani

Central Right-of-Way

  • Lyle McMillian
  • Krissy Plett
  • Rod McDaniels

Project Development Administration

  • Randy Park
  • Lisa Wilson

Region Permitting Operations

  • Tommy Vigil
  • Nacey Wilson
  • Nazee Treweek
  • Mark Velasquez
  • Tony Lau
  • Rux Rowland
  • Rhett Arnell
  • Dale Stapley
  • Steve Kunzler
  • Scott Snow

Central Attorney General’s Office

  • Renee Spooner

Central Asset Management

  • Stan Burns
  • Kelli Bacon
  • Abdul Wakil
  • Peter Bigelow

Risk Management

  • Brandi Trujillo

For more information about the the map check out Show Me a Sign.

Thank you to Rod McDaniels for his help writing this post.

Auto-generated summary sheets

Photo of John Guymon

John Guymon, UDOT Rotational Engineer

For each roadway preservation or rehabilitation project, UDOT designers fill out a summary sheet that provides a tally of measurements and material quantities needed for the project. Collecting data on-site, compiling data and figuring quantities can take a week or more. “You go out into the field with a wheel and tape, and you measure everything,” says UDOT rotational engineer John Guymon. His work to integrate online data with a spreadsheet is helping UDOT designers work more efficiently.

Guymon used coding and Microsoft Excel to create a form that uses asset management data and standard formulas for figuring material quantities to populate the summary sheet. The data sets are housed in the UDOT Data Portal, UDOT’s online data repository.

The Auto Report Generator is simple to use, and works along with the Linear Bench tool, both accessible on the UDOT Data Portal. Step-by-step instructions are available with the form. Once produced, the summary sheet shows:

  • Pavement type, surface area and material amounts for granular borrow and base course. The pavement type generated in the report is specific to the region, since climate differences around the state call for different pavement types.
  • Barrier in the project area, including location, total feet, and post type, all sorted into standard and non-standard types to show any areas in need of full replacement.
  • Signs, including location, sign type, size and any damage present during data collection.
  • Pavement marking type, paint amounts, messages, and rumble strips or grooved-in paint.

Once the summary sheet has been populated, the sheet can be used to verify measurements, barrier type, roadway geometry, pavement messages, etc.

So far, the new form has been downloaded over 600 times since it became available, about two months ago, and users have become instant fans. Kendall Draney says that one advantage is that using the form keeps employees out of harm’s way. Draney used the form as a design rotational engineer in Region Three. Sometimes getting measurements necessitates a dash across a busy roadway. “It’s really nice to have something that you’re using to verify,” says Draney. “It’s much safer to be on the shoulder.”

Engineering Tech IV Lynda Seckletstewa likes the consistency of the quantity amounts generated by the reports and “quantities for the existing features pulled by the report generator are within 2% of field quantities.”

The reports also provide “an instant checklist for field reviews,” says Seckletstewa. “Generated notes for various features point out deficiencies that we may have otherwise overlooked.”

The new summary form is an example of how UDOT is making good use of data collected on everything on a state roadway that can be viewed through a car window. “I didn’t realize how useful the Mandli data would be,” says Guymon. He views the tool as a first effort that can be improved over time.

Find out about other ways to view data, including the Linear Bench and Highway Reference Online, on the UDOT Data Portal.

Read about the Mandli data-gathering effort here.

Pavement Marking Check-up

Photo of right side white lineRetroreflectivity, which makes pavement markings visible at night, happens when the light from vehicle headlights bounces back toward the driver’s eyes. Visible markings help prevent lane departure crashes. But markings degrade over time due to weather and wear from traffic, so departments of transportation need to keep on top of pavement marking maintenance through regular inspections and replacement of sub-par markings.

Until recently, markings were measured subjectively by just taking a look and rating the condition of the marking. For the past year, however, retroreflectivity has been measured objectively, and data from those measurements is available on UDOT’s Data Portal.

Each spring and fall, employees from UDOT’s Maintenance Planning Division measure the retroreflectivity of markings on a randomly chosen selection of roadway segments, including dashed lane markings and solid lines that mark the edge of the road.

Photo of the van that is used to measure pavement markingMeasurements are taken using a mobile retroreflectometer mounted in a van. The retroreflectometer, shoots a high intensity Laser in a sweeping motion over marked pavement and measures the light that reflects back in milli-candelas per lux per meter squared – a measure of light per unit area.

The data gathered by the measuring effort is compiled and graded from A+ to F – this spring, UDOT got a B. This year’s fall data is in the process of being compiled. The data on UDOT’s Data Portal can be viewed on a map alone or along with other data sets.

Over time, having an objective measurements of pavement retroreflectivity will help support safety by helping to direct funding where improvement is needed.

Consider a Map

Online maps are serving as great communication tools for UDOT Planning’s efforts to develop and improve facilities for pedestrians and cyclists.

A coordinated active transportation network for pedestrians and cyclists is an essential part of an integrated transportation system that considers the needs of all users. Recently, UDOT Director Carlos Braceras listed five areas of focus for the agency, and he included integrated transportation:

Photo of Road Respect bicyclists riding in traffic“UDOT will actively consider how to best meet the needs of trucks, bikes, pedestrians and mass transit when studying transportation solutions and ensure those solutions are applied to the most appropriate facilities. We will strive to provide Utahns with balanced transportation options while planning for future travel demand.”

How can UDOT employees meet the challenge of communicating and coordinating with the diverse transportation user groups? One way is by using online maps as communication tools.

“When you have a precise illustration, which a map provides, it gets everyone on the same page by relaying a lot of information in a concise, coordinated way,” says Evelyn Tuddenham, UDOT’s Walking and Biking Coordinator in the planning division. “Maps contain so much information – it allows viewers to see the ebb and flow in ways that you can’t accomplish just by looking at numbers.”

Maps as communication tools can enhance collaboration and help convey a distinct message. Here are some examples of how maps are being used to help plan a coordinated active transportation network:

The Utah Collaborative Active Transportation Study (UCATS) used online maps on an interactive website to show pedestrians and bicyclists existing facilities and then get feedback about where improvements are needed. Study participants used that information to identify a proposed regional bicycle network that will improve and extend the state’s active transportation system by making facilities safer and improving connectivity to transit.

The outcome of the UCATS study will have a huge impact on the active transportation in Utah by identifying needed improvements and systematically planning ways to coordinated and implement active transportation infrastructure.

screenshot of Utah Bike Maps websiteThe UDOT Walking and biking program is using a series of maps to show cyclists existing routes. The map series idea was proposed by Nick Kenczka, Research Consultant in UDOT Systems Planning and programming. Tuddenham resisted the idea at first, thinking that one map would be simpler.

“It turned out to be a great way to talk to cyclists,” Tuddenham says of the series. “Having a set of maps breaks information down and allows us to present the information in a more coherent way.”

Each map has a separate focus and a separate message. Altogether, the series is an effective tool for cyclists with different needs. Recreational cyclists can check out shoulder widths and other infrastructure elements, the difficulty of the terrain and the screen shot of popular rides online maplength of the route to plan trips. Bike commuters can use the maps to see traffic volume information and to check route. Cyclists can even zoom into specific areas on the maps and take a virtual ride down the road to see what they could encounter on a particular route. The maps are useful tools that can help cyclists make informed travel decisions.

Give it a try

Using maps to communicate is easier than you think. The UPlan Map Center, available on the UDOT Data Portal, allows users to build a custom map, or several maps, quickly and easily. Pre-built maps can also be used and changed to suite communication needs.

Combining a series of maps, like the ones used to communicate with cyclists, takes the help of a UDOT eGIS expert. Contact information for the eGIS team is available on the UDOT Data Portal.

More about maps:

Show Me a Sign

The new Outdoor Advertising Control Map is improving government transparency and boosting efficiency at UDOT.

Photo of a billboard on I-15 in Weber CountyThe outdoor advertising industry, UDOT Project Managers and UDOT Permit Officers represent three of the groups that are benefitting from a new online map that shows geospatial locations of billboards along interstate routes.

State governments enforce federal rules regulating billboards on some routes. Back in the 1960s, Ladybird Johnson took an interest in highway beatification and worked with congress to pass laws limiting the proliferation of billboards on freeways.

UDOT has a codified agreement with the federal government that determines how billboards are treated on federally-funded primary routes, the National Highway System and Scenic Byways. The agreement, passed in 1968, established the UDOT Outdoor Advertising Control System.

Not controlling billboards would mean UDOT’s share of federal money for roads would be reduced by tens of millions of dollars each year.

From days to minutes

Until recently, finding out when the exact location of a billboard could take a day or longer. Depending on the information needed, state employees would sometimes have to check up to three separate documents or drive to a billboard location, which could be hundreds of miles away.

Now, new GIS tools mean it’s possible to put information about billboards in the hands of anyone with online access. See the map by visiting the UDOT’s Outdoor Advertising Control Program web page or UPlan, UDOT’s Map Center.

By using the map, a few mouse clicks can produce an image of the billboard and get information about federal rules that apply – like proximity to the closest billboard. “It’s the first time we’ve been able to see billboards online in real-time and connected to our inventory control system,” says Rod McDaniels, Outdoor Advertising Control Program Manager, who worked with a multi-disciplinary team of experts to re-design the way UDOT regulates outdoor advertising signs.

Getting it together

Gathering and organizing the information involved identifying known sign locations and filling in information gaps where needed, conceptualizing and building an efficient system to regulate billboards, and building a user-friendly online, interactive map. During the process, over 5 hundred geospatial points referencing signs were updated.

Saving time and funding dollars

Putting the map online has reduced the workload for UDOT employees, which conserves funding. Formal requests for information from the public have been reduced since people in the sign industry can easily find the needed information.

Feedback from the outdoor sign industry has been positive. “It brings us into the twenty-first century,” says Krissy Plett, Statewide Permits Officer for UDOT. “Now they don’t have to send someone out to view a sign” since users can take a virtual trip to a billboard using the map.

The map helps expedite project delivery too. UDOT project managers and maintenance workers can now easily see the exact location of signs that may be impacted by road work.

Links:

See the map, a PDF tutorial, and find information about state and federal laws and rules here.

See more maps or make your own map by visiting UPlan.

Interested in government transparency? See the UDOT Projects website to get information about past, current and future UDOT projects.

Whatever the Weather

During storms, driving conditions can cause travel delay, especially during the morning and evening commute.

When a storm hits the Wasatch Front, a twenty-minute commute can turn into an hour due to slick roads, start-and-stop traffic and low visibility. What if traffic could be managed more effectively to minimize the sluggish traffic speeds drivers experience during storms?

Recent technological advances in assessing weather and controlling signals have given traffic engineers better tools to keep traffic moving in stormy weather. On some corridors along the Wasatch Front, UDOT is taking a Weather Responsive Traffic Management approach that puts the tools to use.

WRTM uses sensors, traffic signal plans designed for storm conditions, and sophisticated traffic monitoring systems already in place to move traffic more efficiently during winter weather.

Traffic on Riverdale Road PhotoDuring winter months in 2013, an urban arterial in northern Utah served as testing area for WRTM. Riverdale Road intersects a busy shopping district and connects four Utah cities with Interstates 15 and 84. Over 47 thousand vehicles travel the corridor each day.

UDOT’s results in managing Riverdale Road traffic during winter storms were very good – for motorists, that is. Drivers experienced less stopped time at intersections compared to other storm days, and overall, traffic speeds were not significantly impacted by weather.

Here’s how the WRTM system worked on Riverdale Road:

  • Traffic engineers created signal timing plans for implementation before or during a storm. The plans accommodate travel speeds that are likely during storms so that signalized intersections along the corridor work together to make traffic flow more efficient.
  • A Road Weather Information System unit was installed in the corridor. The RWIS helped meteorologists and engineers anticipate upcoming storm severity to decide which signal timing plan to employ.

    RWIS on Riverdale Road Photo

    RWIS on Riverdale Road

  • Detection units were installed overhead along the roadway. The new equipment is better at detecting traffic movement during storms, and the equipment gave UDOT traffic speeds.
  • To monitor traffic during storms, UDOT used a Signal Performance Metrics System that lets signal operators assess and adjust traffic in real-time. After a storm, the system can be used to evaluate how the signal plans worked.

Winter 2013 ended up being a challenging year to test the WRTM system. During testing, the Salt Lake City and Ogden area experienced one of the worst winter storms in the past decade. Nevertheless, post-storm review showed an average or above average improvement in performance in traffic operations in over half of the weather events, including during the major storm.

Post-storm analysis also shows that cars maintained a high level of progression from intersection to intersection with platoons of cars arriving on green lights. When platoons of cars arrive at intersections on green lights, traffic flow throughout the corridor is more efficient.

Based on the success of the Riverdale Road WRTM performance, UDOT plans to expand the system to other corridors.