Tag Archives: TOC

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.

Nevada I-15 flooding required a multi-state response

A two-mile stretch of I-15 near milepost 91 in Nevada was washed away due to heavy rainfall that started on Monday, September 8th. In an unprecedented storm around 4 inches of rain fell in the space of 2 hours, flooding the road and washing away ground and asphalt leaving the interstate impassable. Record breaking numbers of rainfall were reported along streams in the area.

The Nevada DOT declared a state of emergency on Tuesday, September 9 due to the importance of passenger vehicle and commercial trucking flow on I-15. According to Arizona Department of Transportation, approximately 23,000 vehicles use I-15 each day between St. George, Utah and Las Vegas, Nevada.

Warnings on Utah’s freeway message boards were posted up and down I-15 letting drivers know that the freeway would be closed down and provided details for  alternate routes. These signs went as far east as Nebraska to provide enough time for travelers to change their routes.

Screen shot of tweet that says 'From nevadadot semi restriction lifted (except oversie w/o permit) on NV I-15Information was also available to drivers via the 511 phone line, the Utah Trucking Association, news outlets, Arizona and Nevada DOT’s, the UDOT Traffic website, the UDOT Traffic Twitter account and the UDOT Traffic app. UDOT’s social media channels proved very valuable during this event.

Travelers were directed to take S.R. 56 out of Cedar City to Nevada S.R. 319 and then to the U.S. 93 back to the freeway. UDOT and NDOT worked very hard to provide accurate and timely information to motorists traveling on this alternative.

State DOT’s had to work together. Although the closure was not in Utah UDOT was heavily involved in sending support to the affected areas. Due to increased traffic on S.R. 56 a UDOT Incident Management Team (IMT) was dispatched to assist. The IMT crews directed traffic, filled potholes and moved disabled semis out of traffic.

They also deployed a portable traffic camera trailer to the S.R. 18/S.R. 56 junction to monitor any potential problems and back-ups. UDOT’s Region 4 shared access to this camera with Nevada DOT. Region 4 was also able to respond quickly to a rockslide on the Arizona section of I-15 and sent snow plows to clear rock debris in the Virgin River Gorge area.

Southbound I-15 reopened to traffic on Friday, September 12th to one lane in each direction for passenger vehicles. Northbound lanes reopened on September 18.

Glenn Blackwelder a Traffic Operations Engineer at UDOT said “We could not have done it on our own. It took the communication and resources of the Traffic Operations Center, Region 4 and NDOT working together. We were pleased with how all agencies and divisions were able to work together to get I-15 back open as quickly as possible.”Screen shot of tweet and attached map showing detour route. The tweet reads "Reminder: Nevada I-15 closed due to flooding. So Cal and Vegas detour map:"

This guest post was written by Adam McMillan, Traffic Operations Center Intern.

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 Citizen Reporter Program gathers volunteer data

Citizen Reporting LogoThe UDOT Citizen Reporting Program enlists volunteers to report on current road conditions along specific roadway segments across Utah. Since the program’s launch in November 2013, UDOT has received over 1,800 road condition reports on critical routes throughout the state. The accuracy rate of the reports continues to be very high, with only 0.03% of incoming reports determined to be inaccurate.

The long term goal of adding Citizen Reporters to UDOT’s weather operations road reporting is to supplement current condition reporting on segments where drivers are already traveling. The Citizen Reporter Program provides the traveling public with a conduit to report their observations directly to UDOT, saving time and money. UDOT employees also use the Citizen Reporting app to submit their reports.

Since the UDOT Citizen Reporter Program was launched volunteer reporters have submitted reports on 119 of the 145 road segments, helping to fill in gaps in locations where UDOT does not have traffic cameras or Road Weather Information System (RWIS) units.

Graph showing citizen reports by day. The most were received in Decemenger 2013.The volunteer reports are especially valuable during winter storms when conditions change rapidly. During a large winter storm that occurred in the beginning of December 2013, UDOT Citizen Reporters submitted over 130 reports, helping the traveling public as well as National Weather Service meteorologists and UDOT staff.

How do you become a UDOT 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.

UDOT Traffic Alerts

Screen shot of the My Alerts webpageThe Utah Department of Transportation Traffic Management Division has enhanced the UDOT Traffic Alerts program. Now, motorists can receive customized email, text or push notifications to help them stay informed regarding lane closures due to construction, crashes and weather.

The new UDOT Traffic Alerts program allows motorists to customize their profile and receive alerts for specific routes and times of day. In addition to lane closure information, a profile can be customized to receive seasonal road closure information, Amber Alert notifications, TravelWise Alerts for major impacts and Emergency Alerts for critical closure information.

To customize your profile and start receiving alerts, visit www.udottraffic.utah.gov and click on the “MY  UDOT Traffic Alerts” tab in the upper right corner. Then, register your device and begin selecting your notifications. If you have questions, please contact askudottraffic@utah.gov.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Why must I register?

  • Registration gives you the ability to fully customize your experience within our website. As a registered user, you may choose the maps you wish to display, along with a host of other options to give you the information you need, right now. Note: both your username and email address must be unique.

How does the system work?

  • Once you have specified your My UDOT Traffic settings, you have the option to view your custom page rather than the default view. Users may change their options at any time.

Will my email address be given to any third parties?

  • No! Your email address is gathered for the sole purpose of uniquely identifying your account, and will not be disseminated to any third parties under any circumstances.

Additional Information:

  • Cell phone numbers and cell phone service providers are needed for sending UDOT Traffic Alert text messages to My UDOT Traffic users. Signing up for UDOT Traffic Alert text messages is optional.
  • UDOT does not provide personal information about our website visitors to any third parties for any purpose.

Silver Barrel for Life Saving Efforts

Photo of Executive Director with Thomas and LorenAt 2:30 p.m, Friday April 25, 2014, two UDOT Advanced Traffic Management System (ATMS) maintenance crew members were pulling communications cable at 2600 South and 700 East in Salt Lake City. This project is being coordinated with Salt Lake City in an effort to establish radio communications with some of Salt Lake City’s traffic signals.

While performing this routine duty, Thomas Hammon and Loren Jackson noticed an eldery man in distress. Thomas and Loren were not the first good Samaritans on the scene, however when they arrived, they were able to take charge of the situation and assist the man. Thomas spoke with the 911 dispatch operator while Loren attended to the elderly man who was now laying on the ground. Loren was able to give vital signs to Thomas who relayed the information to the 911 operator. Shortly after arriving at the scene, the elderly man did not have a pulse, so Loren checked the airway for obstructions and began CPR. Loren and Thomas tag-teamed the CPR for 7 to 10 minutes before United Fire Station #101 and Gold Cross Ambulance arrived on the scene. After being relieved from CPR, Thomas and Loren gave statements of the incident to Salt Lake Police and resumed their job duties.

Loren and Thomas have both taken advantage of the free CPR training offered through UDOT and put it to good use. Loren and Thomas acted quickly and took control of this situation. JT Dziatlik supervises Loren and Thomas and said, “Loren and Tom went above and beyond their job descriptions trying to save a life. They are an excellent example of UDOT employees who make a difference in everyday life.”

Optimizing Mobility

As we continually look for ways to improve our processes with the ultimate goal of keeping drivers moving on Utah’s roads, UDOT has deployed a number of technological tools that align with our strategic direction to preserve infrastructure, optimize mobility, reach our goal of zero fatalities, and strengthen the economy. I wanted to particularly emphasize what we are currently doing as a department in regards to our goal of optimizing mobility, which, in our day and age, no longer only applies to people’s ability to keep moving but also to their ability to do things as they are moving (but not driving), via phone apps.

These UDOT phone apps are allowing citizens to perform a variety of tasks, like reporting road conditions directly to operators at the Traffic Operations Center (TOC), or finding out what kind of delays to expect due to construction projects, and receiving severe weather event warnings. In addition to this ever evolving field of mobile technology, we continue to rely on innovative projects based on traffic models and engineering to not only improve mobility, but also safety, which in turn helps us achieve our goal of Zero Fatalities. Last year, Region Two completed several projects that illustrate exactly how we continue to optimize mobility through road and signal technologies.

MOBILE TECHNOLOGY

UDOT Traffic

Screen shot of UDOT Traffic app
UDOT Traffic is the department’s portal for statewide traffic information and can be accessed through the UDOT Traffic website or via mobile application for iOS or Android devices. Citizens can use the site to view real-time traffic conditions, construction and emergency alerts, road weather forecasts, and current lane and ramp closures. New to the UDOT Traffic app is a map layer that displays designated bike routes across the state, and state roads with shoulders wider than four feet. The map also displays routes that are restricted to bicycles such as I-15 in the Salt Lake Valley.

UDOT continually upgrades the UDOT Traffic portal to make it even more useful for drivers and the public. This year, the Lane Closure tool will be used for all projects on interstates as well as major highways including Bangerter Highway, Legacy Parkway, S.R. 201, and U.S. 40.

Future updates will improve integration between construction projects and the Lane Closure tool, and will allow contractors and department employees to make changes to UDOT Traffic information using mobile devices.

Citizen Reporter

Screen shots of the citizen reporting app
UDOT Citizen Reporter is a mobile application that enlists volunteers to report on current weather conditions for specific roads across Utah. This app is designed to provide both TOC operators and travelers with more accurate and timely road, weather and travel impact information and forecasts.

To participate as citizen reporters, members of the public are required to take a short course (either online or in person), complete a quiz, and then submit a sign-up form. Once those steps are completed, the volunteer receives a login and password, and can then download the app and begin submitting reports.

Citizen reporters are able to confirm weather data received through other sources (Road Weather Information Systems, meteorological forecasts, etc.) and can provide data for roadways where RWIS systems or other information sources may not be available.

ROAD & SIGNAL TECHNOLOGY

Variable Speed Limit

Photo of Variable Speed Limit sign with a semi passing by on I-80 in Parley's Canyon

Variable Speed Limit sign on I-80 in Parley’s Canyon

In January 2014, 15 new variable speed limit (VSL) signs were activated along I-80 in Parleys Canyon. The new signs are controlled by the TOC to help maintain consistent traffic flows and assist drivers in adjusting speeds when necessary due to weather conditions.

The TOC monitors speed limits in the canyon. In the event of poor weather or low visibility, a traffic engineer reviews information, such as current road conditions, weather forecasts, snowfall rates, observed speeds, and reports from maintenance personnel. Based on this information, the engineer can make the decision to reduce the speed limit as needed. Speed limits typically range from 35 to 65 miles per hour depending on conditions.

The new VSL signs are the first of their kind in Utah. UDOT is also considering installing variable speed limit signs in other locations around the state, such as Provo Canyon and Sardine Canyon, based on the results of this project.

Bike Detection

Photo of open signal cabinet
Last year, Region Two and the TOC worked together to develop and install reliable bicycle detection at nine signalized intersections in Salt Lake City, along with new pavement markings to show bicyclists where to stop. Often, bicyclists stop at red lights, look to see if they feel it is safe to cross, and then proceed through the intersection without waiting for a green signal; these upgraded intersections help encourage cyclists to obey traffic signals.

Additionally, upgrading bicycle detection systems encourages cycling as a viable means of transportation. This helps improve air quality by reducing automobile emissions, and is an asset for local economic development since many companies have reported that Utah’s alternative transportation options (such as bicycling and mass transit) were a significant factor in their decision to come to the state.

Moving forward, the department is working with the bicycling community to identify additional high-priority intersections where this detection technology can be installed.

HAWK Crossings

Photo of HAWK signal with traffic flowing underneath

HAWK

HAWK (High Intensity Activated CrosswalK) crossings have been installed in a number of locations in Region Two where arterial streets intersect with minor streets. These crossings include pavement markings, signs, and red and yellow lights on an arm over the roadway.

When a pedestrian pushes the button to activate the signal, the lights over the roadway begin flashing yellow, alerting drivers to slow down. A solid red light then activates, along with a “walk” sign for the pedestrian. Once the “walk” phase is complete, the light flashes red, indicating to drivers to treat the intersection as a stop sign – they may proceed if the crosswalk is clear. When the lights are off, drivers are not required to stop at the crosswalk.

These signals are in use at several locations throughout the Region where large numbers of pedestrians cross major roadways. UDOT continues to evaluate other locations for these signals and will install them as needed.

Little Cottonwood Communcation Tool Silver Barrel Awards

Recently Alta Mayor Tom Pollard reached out to Executive Director Carlos Braceras to express his appreciation for the Little Cottonwood Communication Tool. This tool was developed by the Traffic Operations Center and allows the Alta Marshal and other designated individuals to deliver impact and closure details regarding the road through Little Cottonwood Canyon.

“Our Marshal’s department has initiated over 160 alerts using this technology and has experienced a marked and meaningful improvement in the delivery of information related to the safety and efficient traffic flow for motorists using S.R. 210,” Mayor Pollard explained in a letter to Carlos.

UDOT leadership expressed their gratitude by presenting silver barrel awards to those involved with the project. Award recipients included:

Rob Clayton
Chuck Felice
Liam Fitzgerald
Paul Jencks
Robert Miles
Lisa Miller
Lee Nitchman
Brady Roberts

IMT Receives Silver Barrels

Group photo of IMT with CarlosIf you’re a long time reader of our blog you already know about our Incident Management Team (IMT) and how valuable they are. You especially understand this if you’ve ever been stranded on the side of the road and they came to your rescue. Yesterday Executive Director Carlos Braceras presented IMT with silver barrel awards. Award recipients included:

Todd Abbot
Brent Beach
Bill Frashure
Nick Jarrett
David Jean
Steve Johnson
Alan Peterson
Jeff Reynolds
Curtis Sanchez
Dave Stallworth (recently retired)
Dave Tuttle
Travis White
Mark Whittaker
Ron Williams
Robert Woolsey
Matt Zwemke

Thank you to these very deserving individuals and be sure to check out the reasons why we appreciate them so much:

Job Well Done
Managing Nicely
Incident Management Teams: UDOT’s angels in white trucks provide assistance to stranded motorists

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.