Tag Archives: Region 4

Silver Barrel Awards for Quick Work on S.R. 95

Executive Director Carlos Braceras recently awarded Silver Barrels to several Region Four employees for their efforts in clearing S.R. 95.

Area Engineer

  • Jim Chandler

Blanding Maintenance Station

  • Vance Adams
  • Montana Carr
  • Forrest Crofts
  • Cletis Hatch
  • Paul Marian

Moab Maintenance Station

  • Justin Woodard

Monticello Maintenance Station

  • Ruel Todd Randall

Thompson Maintenance Station

  • Von Bowerman
  • Devan Meadows

Details of their efforts are included below and were taken directly from the nomination.

“This summer employees of the Region Four East District Blasting Crew and the Blanding Maintenance Station came together under the direction of Area Engineer Jim Chandler to clear a massive rock slide on S.R. 95 at Comb Ridge west of Blanding. The crews worked in concert to mobilize equipment, control traffic, purchase explosives and remove material in order to reopen the road in record time.”

“Crew members traveled from Thompson Springs, Moab and Monticello to join forces with the Blanding crew. Twenty-five bore holes were drilled and blasted to facilitate the safe and quick removal of the slide material with rubber tire loaders and backhoes. Thank you to all who took part to safely complete this emergency project, it was a job well done!”

Photos of crews removing rockslide from S.R. 95

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.

Innovative partnerships prove to be the perfect recipe for Patchwork Parkway

PANGUITCH — In a state where innovation is consistently used to Keep Utah Moving, sometimes innovation alone isn’t enough. Unique partnerships between state agencies can be the perfect additional ingredient to accomplish the improbable.

In rural southern Utah, where equipment and manpower are sometimes as few and far between as the towns in the region, innovation and partnering got a much-needed job done quickly and efficiently, while minimizing the use of taxpayer dollars.

Recently, UDOT’s shed 4469 in Panguitch teamed up with Bryce Canyon National Park to create a shoulder on a seven-mile stretch of Scenic Byway SR-143. This stretch of Utah’s “Patchwork Parkway” was in great need of a shoulder, because a simple task like plowing the road or pulling over created potential safety issues.

The project required tools neither the department nor the national park possessed alone. So to combat this issue, they came together to pool resources and manpower to finish the job in a few days, saving each agency valuable time and money.

“The stars just lined up,” said Panguitch Shed manager Robert Brown. “Down here, we’re all neighbors, and you have to get creative to help each other out and get things done.”

Normally, a similar project requires a team of at least six to eight workers, with three on a shouldering machine alone. But with only two full-time employees at the shed, Brown and his counterpart at Bryce Canyon had to think outside of the box. Here are some of the highlights:

• Bryce Canyon provided side delivery dump trucks that offered a more efficient use of asphalt. Standard machines provide four feet of material, even if only two feet are needed.
• UDOT’s grader was used to accomplish both the grading and compaction tasks, as the shoulder in the area is too steep to use conventional steel drum rollers.
• The asphalt used on the project was recycled and obtained from a pit in nearby Hatch, Utah at nearly one-third of the cost of new asphalt.
• The project was completed in two days, with two UDOT Panguitch Shed employees and two Bryce Canyon employees.
• A pull-behind broom hooked to a pickup truck cleaned the road with two passes.

For Brown, the lesson is simple: when government entities work and plan together, the result can be a win-win for both, as well as the surrounding communities.

“Without the shared resources, we wouldn’t have been able to do the job,” Brown said. “I think this shows that governments need to think outside of the box more to collaborate.”

UDOT leader named top young transportation innovator

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Utah Department of Transportation is known for exciting innovations such as accelerated bridge construction and advanced intersection designs. But innovation doesn’t have to be flashy to be valuable.

GIS Manager Becky Hjelm speaks after winning the 2014 Vanguard Award at the AASHTO Annual Conference in Charlotte.

GIS Manager Becky Hjelm speaks after winning the 2014 Vanguard Award at the AASHTO Annual Conference in Charlotte.

Becky Hjelm, GIS Manager at the Utah Department of Transportation, has been integral to some of UDOT’s recent innovations through data-driven projects aimed to Keep Utah Moving.

For her efforts, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) is honoring Hjelm as its 2014 Transportation Vanguard Award winner.

The national award is given by AASHTO to recognize an individual aged 40 or younger who is leading the way in doing extraordinary things in the field of transportation by “exemplifying a commitment to excellence and implementation of innovative technologies and processes.” It was created in honor of Jim McMinimee, a UDOT leader who passed away in 2012.

Hjelm, who has been at UDOT for just under three years, has proven herself to be a visionary, with the ability to build effective teams and work strategically to accomplish more than thought possible. She does it by using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) along with her attention to detail, outreach and collaboration talents.

“Through her leadership, UDOT has embraced GIS,” said Randy Park, UDOT’s Director of Development. “The way we do business is changing rapidly, and the increased reliance on data is making us more efficient.”

Hjelm has been part of a big culture change at UDOT, through her contagious excitement about the technology. During her short time at the department, she’s identified and implemented many projects and opportunities, including geo-referencing CAD files, creating an Outdoor Advertising Control Map, implementing ProjectWise layers statewide, and establishing a new Emergency Management Tool.

Becky Hjelm (center) poses with her UDOT GIS team.

Becky Hjelm (center, in vest) poses with her UDOT GIS team.

Some of her most valuable work has been her work on an asset management data project. UDOT had already asked Mandli Communications to perform LIDAR scanning, which allows engineers and scientists to examine natural and built environments across a wide range of scales with greater accuracy, precision and flexibility. The state has scans of every state route, which includes pavement and other asset data.  Using that large amount of data would prove to be difficult without using GIS. So Hjelm organized a cross-departmental team to accomplish the task of building the tool in a timely manner, saving countless hours and hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars.

Park said UDOT expects the culture change and innovation to continue to benefit the State of Utah for years to come.

“There isn’t just one innovative idea that Becky has implemented. She’s put in place an entire program that continues to grow,” he said.

 

Vision and Mission announced at UDOT Annual Conference

If all roads led to Rome at the height of the Roman Empire, all roads in Utah lead to elevated economic prosperity and a higher quality of life in our state today.

This theme was prevalent throughout the Utah Department of Transportation’s Annual Conference. UDOT announced a new vision, mission statement, logo, and changes to its strategic goals during the conference—all aimed at improving Utah and keeping people safe.

Carlos Braceras speaks during the 2014 UDOT Annual Conference

Carlos Braceras speaks during the 2014 UDOT Annual Conference

On Tuesday, Oct. 28, Executive Director Carlos Braceras announced UDOT’s vision is “Keeping Utah Moving.” This simple statement is a powerful reminder of the department’s purpose and the goal employees, consultants, and contractors should be working toward every day.

“With our growing population and changing demographics, we need to keep our state moving,” Braceras said. “Whether it’s building new roads, repairing old ones, taking phone calls or holding meetings, it’s all aimed at Keeping Utah Moving.”

Innovating transportation solutions to strengthen Utah’s economy and enhance quality of life. 

Braceras explained that the department has based its direction and performance for years on Strategic Goals (Preserve Infrastructure, Optimize Mobility, Zero Fatalities, Strengthen the Economy); however, until this year it hasn’t had a vision or a mission statement.

As Utah looks ahead to a rapidly growing population, expected to almost double in the next 35 years, the entire state must begin anticipating solutions for Utah’s infrastructure and economy. Change can either be a problem or an opportunity. Braceras argues that for Utah, it’s an opportunity to reinforce Utah’s position as one of the country’s best places to live.

“Quality of life is the essence of what makes living in Utah so attractive,” Braceras said. “I’ve made Utah home for 34 years because I can buy a house, get a job, and enjoy the outdoors I love. That, combined with the strong state economy, is what will keep me here the rest of my life.”

Braceras, who’s been a career-long champion of safety, also announced moving Zero Fatalities to the department’s top strategic goal, but with a twist.

“Nothing that we do is more important than safety. Zero is our number one goal. Zero fatalities. Zero crashes. Zero injuries,” Braceras said.

While UDOT will continue aggressively educating drivers on habits that will decrease the amount of fatalities on Utah’s roads, focus will also be on keeping everybody within UDOT safe as well. That goes for accountants as much as it does construction workers, he said.

Deputy Director Shane Marshall announced one final change to UDOT’s direction: the emphasis area of Operational Excellence has been eliminated, reducing the number of emphasis areas from six to five (Integrated Transportation, Collaboration, Education, Transparency, Quality).

UDOT logo

Marshall explained, “The motivating forces behind the emphasis areas of both Quality and Operational Excellence were very similar. Both areas focus on a value we all share very strongly: the desire to be good stewards of taxpayer money.

If you define part of our Quality emphasis area as “Continued Process Improvement,” then Operational Excellence can fit right into Quality.”

The updated vision, mission, emphasis areas, strategic goals and core values are available on UDOT’s new web app. This tool was unveiled at the UDOT Annual Conference, and Braceras explained there are plans to expand its functionality in the future.

For now, the web app is a helpful resource for reference as employees, consultants, contractors and partners work together in their efforts to Keep Utah Moving.

S.R. 28 Flood Clean-up Silver Barrels

Photo of mud and rock over the road and a coal hauling truck trapped in the debris.On July 29, 2014, a rainstorm hit S.R. 28 between Nephi and Gunnison. Several locations between milepost 16 and 29 were flooded, leaving up to six feet of debris on the road in places and trapping a coal hauling truck. This section of S.R. 28 is maintained by the Nephi shed in Region Three and they were dispatched to clear the road, but their available resources were limited.

The Gunnison and Salina sheds were called on to assist with the efforts. They supplied equipment and labor to assist in opening the road. These five individuals received a silver barrel for their efforts assisting Region Three.

Gunnison Station #4462

  • Kevin Conover
  • Marcus Lambert
  • Brian Sorensen
  • Zeb Wignal

Salina Station #4463

  • Brian Quarnberg

Photo of several loaders working to remove debris from S.R. 28This guest post was taken from the Silver Barrel Award nomination submitted by Daryl Friant, Region Four East District Engineer.

 

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

Charles Hall Wedge Silver Barrel Awards

Photo of two loaders and a barge moving the "wedge" to a new position. The "wedge" is the ramp vechicles use to load on the ferry.

Photo provided by Christopher Thompson with the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

On July 15, 2014 ARAMARK, UDOT, and National Park Service employees met to assemble the “wedge” for the Charles Hall Ferry on the Bullfrog side of state Route 276 which crosses Lake Powell.

After a safety briefing, clarification of the operational mission for the day, and finalizing all the last minute details, the group proceeded with their assigned tasks. The work was well coordinated and very efficient amongst all those involved.

Special thanks goes to the UDOT crew for showing up with all the proper tools, equipment and personnel, ready to get the job accomplished safely. Without their support, none of this could have been accomplished. They also utilized two loaders to relocate the necessary gravel and to groom the access road.

UDOT employees included:

Hanksville Station #4467

  • Stan Roberts
  • Fred Weihing
  • Brandon Whipple

Loa Station #4466

  • Wesley Erickson
  • Shawn Davis

ARAMARK employees did an excellent job manning the barge and positioning the “wedge” as the wind increased in strength. After the main construction of the road the NPS came in with a grader, and multiple loads of water to achieve a usable surface and compaction.

This guest post was taken from the Silver Barrel nomination written by Christopher Thompson, Maintenance Mechanic Supervisor for Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.

Incident Management Team celebrates 20 years of service

If you’ve ever had a flat tire, run out of gas, or driven by a crash on Utah’s roadways, chances are you’ve seen the white Incident Management trucks loaded with orange traffic cones, their electronic signs on the top with vital information. An integral part of how the state deals with time-sapping events on our roadways, UDOT’s Incident Management Team has 15 teams on call statewide for just about anything that can happen.

But it wasn’t always that way: After 20 years, it’s time to celebrate the service of the unsung heroes of the IMT team.

Incident Management Team

IMT members Billy Frashure, Nick Jarrett, Mark Whittaker, Jeff Reynolds and Alan Peterson are some of the professionals keeping Utah drivers safe. Photo by Adan Carrillo

In 1994, UDOT started a courtesy patrol — two trucks assigned to help drivers in the Salt Lake Area. But time and demand have increased the IMT’s role. No longer is the team looked at as a courtesy — but a necessity — in keeping Utah freeways safe and traffic moving from Logan to St. George and everywhere in between.

Consider this: since 2004, the IMT has helped more than 120,000 motorists in the Beehive State. With these professionals specifically trained in clearing crashes off the road quickly and then staying on the scene, emergency personnel and the Highway Patrol can focus on what they do best while knowing IMT is protecting them on the road.

Another important stat: with each minute saved by clearing a crash, five minutes of delays are prevented. Clearing crashes also helps prevent secondary crashes.

“Think of how many drivers have been helped since 1994, how many injuries have been prevented, or lives saved?” said UDOT Executive Director Carlos Braceras during a celebration on Monday. “IMT is a critical piece to help us reach our goal of Zero Fatalities.”

Braceras went on to give all of us safety tips to help IMT and UDOT out with the goal of Zero Fatalities on Utah roads:

  • Don’t stop on the freeway unless it’s an emergency
  • If you ARE involved in an incident, stay in your car with your seat belt on.
  • Slow down and move over to the next lane if you see a vehicle on the side of the road — it’s the law to do so for emergency vehicles.
  • Make sure you have enough fuel to make your trip safely
  • Check your spare tire to see if it’s in working condition
  • Prepare for the worst weather by keeping a blanket, food and water in the car.
  • Leave a lot of distance between you and the car in front of you.
Five Incident Management Team Vehicles offered the media ride-alongs to give them a better idea of what it’s like to be an IMT professional. Photo by Adan Carrillo.

Five Incident Management Team Vehicles offered the media ride-alongs to give them a better idea of what it’s like to be an IMT professional. Photo by Adan Carrillo.

UDOT and Partners Work Together to Protect Paunsaugunt Mule Deer Herd

Photo of mule deer at a crossingEach fall the Paunsaugunt mule deer herd migrates off the Paunsaugunt Plateau near Bryce Canyon, to the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument and across U.S. 89 to winter habitat in southern Utah and northern Arizona. In spring they return to the Paunsaugunt Plateau. During the migrations mule deer were killed on U.S. 89 in wildlife-vehicle collisions, which also posed a hazard for drivers. Historic data revealed that there was an average of 132 mule deer-vehicle collisions each year along U.S. 89 from Arizona to Kanab. As a result, UDOT and partner agencies came up with a strategy to add wildlife exclusion fencing to U.S. 89 east of Kanab in the migration area to funnel the mule deer and other wildlife to four existing structures, and to create three new constructed wildlife crossing culverts under the highway.

The creation of this wildlife mitigation marks a new era of inter-agency and non-profit partnerships to protect wildlife across roads. UDOT partnered with Utah Division of Wildlife (UDWR) to include multiple partners on this project, including Arizona Game and Fish (AZFGD), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), US Bureau of Land Management Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, Kane County, the Mule Deer Foundation (MDF), Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife (SFW) and others to come up with the funding and strategies to help mule deer migrate under U.S. 89.

The U.S. 89 Kanab Paunsaugunt Project partners brought together over 2.5 million dollars to install 12 miles of wildlife exclusion fencing and three wildlife culvert underpasses in the center of the stretch. Utah State University became a research partner, installing wildlife monitoring cameras at all structures and fence ends. In 2013 the mitigation was completed, research cameras were installed, and mule deer began moving under U.S. 89 in September.

As the mule deer migration began and camera data came in, it became apparent some mule deer were becoming restricted in their ability to use the structures because of cattle fences and people, and that the agency partnership needed to continue to work together to help make the mitigation most effective.

UDWR and BLM worked together to make small changes to fencing and gates to increases mule deer ability to use the structures, which were partially blocked by traditional cattle allotment boundary fences and gates under the road in the culverts and bridges.

In the fall during the peak of migration, mule deer may have become more skittish toward using the structures in part due to sports people scouting areas and individual animals for the hunt. Human presence combined with the restricted space of culverts and bridges that the mule deer were now expected to move through, the deer congregated near the fencing along the highway. People traveling on the freeway saw the deer and stopped to take a look. UDOT responded by placing variable message signs to discourage motorists from pulling over. UDWR contacted hunters who will be hunting in the area in 2014 with a message asking hunters to stay a distance away from crossing structures.

“We’re very interested to see how it works out this year,” says UDOT Project Manager Randall Taylor. “This project does not cover the whole migration area but it’s an important first step.”

The fall 2013 photographs documented over 3,000 times mule deer used the structures or went around fence ends to migrate south. The 2014 migration is expected to show as many or more passages through these increasingly effective wildlife crossing structures. Continued agency coordination and research will help this herd and other wildlife stay clear of the highway while still accessing critical habitat on both sides of U.S. 89.

Additional information about the project and partnerships can be found in the Western Governors’ Association April 2014 Case Study.

This guest post was written by Patricia Cramer, PhD USU Assistant Research Professor