Tag Archives: TravelWise

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.

 

Ride Public Transportation to Work Week

Next week (March 17th-21st) state employees are encouraged to use public transportation to travel to and from work. This ‘Ride Public Transportation to Work Week’ represents a concerted effort by the state to increase transit ridership as a means of improving air quality and reducing congestion.

Photo of two representative of ride public transportation to work week at a Trax StationBy participating in this effort, employees have an opportunity to lead by example in using our innovative, accessible and efficient public transportation system to make Utah an even better place to live and work.

Representatives from UDOT’s TravelWise program and the Utah Transit Authority will be available at the North Temple and Salt Lake Central TRAX Stations on Monday, March 17th and Wednesday, March 19th from 7:00-9:00am to answer questions and distribute materials for participating employees.

In addition to public transportation, employees have been asked to use a combination of proven strategies that promote alternatives to driving alone. The UDOT TravelWise program strategies are aimed at optimizing mobility, reducing energy consumption and improving air quality. They include:

  • Carpooling and vanpooling
  • Taking public transit
  • Active transportation (walking or biking)
  • Teleworking (conference calling, video conferencing or working from an off-site location)
  • Trip chaining
  • Skip the trip (planning ahead to bring a lunch or grocery shop once each week rather than a few times for a few items)
  • Alternative and flexible work schedules

Many Utahn’s are already using TravelWise strategies such as trip chaining, they just don’t realize it. Research has shown that 87 percent of Utahns support a program that promotes these kinds of strategies. State employees can be part of the solution by incorporating these strategies into our daily lives.

For more information about TravelWise, visit travelwise.utah.gov and for more information about the Utah Transit Authority’s services, visit rideuta.com.

UDOT Traffic App Tutorial

Wouldn’t it be nice to have access to all of Utah’s weather, traffic information, major construction and road delays? Fortunately the Utah Department of Transportation has made this possible through a smart phone application called “UDOT Traffic”.

The traffic app has several different features which include a detailed map, alerts, road weather and mountain pass information. All of this data comes from the UDOT Traffic Operations Center (TOC) which provides 24/7 monitoring for roads around the state.

Here is a step by step tutorial of how to utilize the app’s features and information.

The map contains several different options that include: cameras, incidents/planned events, construction, overhead freeway signs otherwise know as Variable Message Signs (VMS) and traffic congestion. With your smart phone you can zoom to common locations, search a certain address or use your current location.

Areas of Utah can be selected based on common locations as well as being searched.

Areas of Utah can be selected based on common locations and searched as well.

Specific symbols can be selected or deselected to find a specific camera, construction zone, sign or alert.

Specific symbols can be selected or deselected to change what is visible on your map.

This map of Utah contains symbols representing cameras, construction sites, alerts, and VMS signs.

This map of Utah contains symbols representing cameras, construction sites, alerts, and VMS.

Map with just construction.

Here is a map with all the construction sites listed in Utah. By selecting a specific barrel, details can be found about the place, duration and lane closure information.

A camera view from US-6.

This is a camera view from U.S. 6 but other highways are available on the UDOT Traffic map. Camera images are updated regularly and include a time stamp so you know how recent the image is.

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VMS can also be viewed from the app. These show current travel times between the sign and certain locations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alerts are the second feature available from the main menu across the bottom and contain advice and warning information regarding emergencies, TravelWise, road conditions, incidents, special events, construction and seasonal roads.

An example of an alert with information on the locations and nature of the incident

Details on each alert can be accessed from a list or viewed on the map.

An example of an alert with information on the locations and nature of the incident

This is an example of an incident alert on the map. It contains information on the location, nature of the incident and impact.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The third main feature of the app is all about weather. This section contains travel advisories, available during the winter months, as well as road forecasts and reports directly from our weather stations. Road forecasts and weather station data are available all year.

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Travel advisories, weather stations and road forecasts are available in the Weather section of UDOT Traffic App.

This is an example of a Road Forecast that will update every 3 hours with current weather.

Road Forecasts are created by TOC meteorologists and have details broken down in 3 hours increments up to 24 hours in advance.

The Weather Stations display graphs and data for what to expect concerning temperature, wind, dew point etc.

The Weather Stations option displays graphs and data directly from RWIS around the state. This includes temperature, wind, dew point, etc.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The final portion of the app includes Mountain Passes. Mountain Passes are often impacted first by incoming weather. To help travelers understand what they will encounter in these areas we have consolidated them into one part of the app.

 A list of all the mountain passes in Utah are available in this section of the app.

A list of all the mountain passes in Utah are available in this section of the app.

Once a mountain pass is selected information with cameras and weather is available.

Once a mountain pass is selected information specific to that area, including cameras and weather forecasts, are available.

A camera view of Sardine Summit mountain pass.

A camera view of Sardine Summit mountain pass.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These are some tips and tricks to navigating UDOT ‘s Traffic App. The application is available for iPhone and Android devices and can be downloaded for free through your smart phone’s app store.  For more information on how UDOT receives data and traffic information check out this blog written about UDOT’s  Traffic Operations Center. https://blog.udot.utah.gov/2013/06/optimizing-mobility-udots-traffic-management-division/

UDOT Unveils Emergency Alert System In Advance of Salt Lake Marathon

Starting today a new emergency alert system is in place to notify drivers of major traffic delays and road closures.

UDOT will issue the first TravelWise alert this morning in advance of the Salt Lake City Marathon. TravelWise alerts push critical traffic information directly to the public via the UDOT Traffic app, freeway message boards and social media.

With these new alerts, UDOT can directly communicate with drivers at critical times, including major traffic incidents, event traffic warnings, weather-related road conditions, construction and air quality information. Now drivers will be better able to plan ahead, reduce delays and arrive safely at their destinations.

Generated by the UDOT Traffic Operations Center, TravelWise alerts will only be issued for incidents deemed “critical,” such as crashes causing multiple lane closures, severe delays due to heavy event traffic or construction, low air quality days and significant storms.

The alerts will give drivers information to avoid delays, such as alternate routes in the event of a traffic incident or suggested times to leave home or work to avoid a major storm in the middle of the commute.

“UDOT is committed to continually using innovative ways to keep traffic moving,” Acting UDOT Executive Director Carlos Braceras said. “This new tool will help the department quickly provide critical traffic information directly to drivers and will help UDOT work in providing information as effectively as possible.”

For Saturday’s marathon, UDOT is warning drivers to plan for delays from local road closures and heavy congestion from 5 a.m. to 1 p.m. Areas to avoid include 500 East, Van Winkle Expressway, Holladay Boulevard and Sugar House Park. For complete information, including road closure times and to review the route map, visit http://bit.ly/13l3Unw.

The best way to receive these new alerts is by downloading or updating the UDOT Traffic app for your smartphone or tablet. Alerts will also be distributed on freeway message boards, Twitter (@UtahDOT), and the UDOT Traffic website, udottraffic.utah.gov.

UDOT’s Trip Reduction Implementation Plan (TRIP)

This is a guest post written by the TravelWise team.

Utah’s air quality has been a topic of much conversation during this past winter inversion season. While the winter inversions are over, Utah continues to face air quality challenges. In an effort to meet those challenges, on Feb. 12, Governor Gary Herbert sent a memo to state agencies directing them to establish a “meaningful and measurable” Trip Reduction Implementation Plan (TRIP) through UDOT’s TravelWise program.

UDOT set the example by establishing its own TRIP, identifying ways its employees will reduce their weekly trips. UDOT set its trip reduction goal at 15 percent, which will be accomplished through a combination of telecommuting, teleworking, vanpooling/carpooling, taking public transit, using flexible work schedules and walking or bicycling to work. Each of the four Regions, as well as the Traffic Operations Center and the Complex has identified areas of improvement and has committed to helping UDOT meet the TravelWise TRIP goal.

UDOT’s TravelWise team is now working with other State agencies, using UDOT’s TRIP as a model. To learn more about UDOT’s TravelWise program or to view UDOT’s TRIP, visit travelwise.utah.gov.

CHANGE CAN BE GOOD

TravelWise during freeway re-construction in Utah County

While workers busily reconstruct I-15 in Utah County, commuters can choose TravelWise strategies to make travel more convenient. These workers are installing concrete. See another post about 40-year pavement in an earlier post: https://blog.udot.utah.gov/2011/01/first-design-to-last/

Choices can make all the difference — leaving for work earlier, car pooling or tele-working can help commuters avoid traffic delay and get around more efficiently during road construction. UDOT has promoted TravelWise strategies to individuals and businesses for years. Now messages about those helpful strategies are being integrated into the biggest construction project in the state- the I- 15 CORE project in Utah County.

Traffic on I-15 in Utah County--taking public transportation can be a cost-saving and convenient travel option.

I-15 CORE Project Team members have emphasized these TravelWise strategies since the beginning of construction of the project by posting information on construction website and presenting information to employers close to the construction corridor.

“TravelWise strategies have been a key component of our communication plans for the I-15 CORE project from the very beginning, says Scott Thompson, Public Involvement Manager in UDOT Region Three. “We understand that strategies such as carpooling, tele-commuting, trip chaining and flexible work schedules are vital in helping us reduce traffic during this construction project.”

Here are some great strategies for businesses that be used to implement a TravelWise construction plan to help employees:

  • Identify a TravelWise coordinator or implementation task force to oversee the program.
  • Conduct a participant survey (provided by the TravelWise team) to determine interest.
  • Design your program to fit best with participant interests. To get started, visit www.travelwise.utah.gov.
  • Promote your TravelWise program through newsletters, emails, on a website, etc.
  • Track participation and effectiveness of the program and make any necessary adjustments.

Road users who adopt TravelWise strategies can see many benefits including enjoying a less stress-free commute or a more economical use of time when running errands. UDOT encourages all drivers to take a lot a look at the TravelWise website and incorporate helpful strategies into travel plans.

When more people use TravelWise strategies, cumulative benefits can help everyone, since travel delay can be reduced. “We continue to promote TravelWise messages in everything we do and believe they have been beneficial in helping us reduce congestion in Utah County,” says Thompson.

Contact the I5-CORE team with any questions or concerns along the way.

DELAY DEFEATED

Data from Wasatch Front Regional Council shows that traffic delay is being held at bay by UDOT capacity projects.

 

This aerial photo shows new concrete on I-15 between Davis and Salt Lake County.

 

Travel delay diminishes the quality of life for all who live and drive in Utah:

  • Travel delay has an intrinsic, measurable cost to commerce. Businesses that move products or deliver services transfer increased costs to consumers.
  • Commuters are inconvenienced when travel time is slow or unreliable. Long commutes cut into the work day.

UDOT is working to reduce delay on state routes, and data from Wasatch Front Regional Council shows that increased travel delay is being avoided by adding capacity projects.

The chart below shows current and projected delay with and without capacity improvements starting in 1995.

Actual and projected delay, with and without capacity projects, is shown on this graph.

Between 1995 and 2010, delay is shown to be static even with a 50 percent increase in population and Vehicle Miles Traveled. VMT is a measure of the total number of vehicle miles traveled within a specific road segment over a given period of time.

With planned capacity projects, travel delay will increase after 2010. However, the increase in delay without capacity projects would have been 3 times greater by 2015, according to WFRC’s projections.

Cost savings for the public on nearby secondary roads can also be significant. Building Pioneer Crossing is saving 95,000 hours of travel time per year on nearby  S.R. 73 from Eagle Mountain to I-15.

Take charge of your travel

While judiciously increasing lane miles is one solution to travel delay, UDOT also encourages motorists to make personal choices that help reduce the number of vehicles on the roads. TravelWise is a UDOT sponsored effort to that encourages use of a variety of options to avoid delay, such as taking public transportation or working from home if possible.

DREAM BIG

A chalk drawing at Pioneer Park

Car pooling is the clear strategy for the winning UDOT team

Region of Dreams, UDOT’s best Clear the Air Challenge team, relied heavily on car pooling to win big at UDOT. Car pooling to work is a convenient and effective way to save money and fuel — but car pool on vacation? Region of Dreams team members car pooled on a rafting trip to Wyoming!

Other strategies played a part

Paul Egbert

Paul Egbert, who saved 2,640 miles during the challenge, car pools every day and even walks to catch the car pool. Brett Slater who organized the Dream effort saved a total of 1907 miles. Brett says the challenge motivated him to trip-chain by clumping errands together on the same day. David Alger saved the most miles — an impressive 2968. He and his wife take public transportation in his home town of Logan and they are looking forward to a bus trip to the state fair.

Just rewards

Saving money on gas is a big reward for car pooling. Region of Dreams team members will also get another gas-related reward: Director Jason Davis is cooking his famous elk chili for the winners on August 25!

Keep the challenge alive!

Brett Slater

There are lots of strategies that save money, fuel and keep the air cleaner. Don’t wait for next years challenge; visit the TravelWise website to find options that fit your life today.

Total saved by the Region of Dreams

There are other team members who contributed. Total savings included the following impressive sums.

Miles: 16,478
Emissions: 27,667
Energy: 749
Money: 9,261

David Alger