Tag Archives: Region 1

Urban speed limits raised to Keep Utah Moving

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Department of Transportation crews canvassed the urban interstate across the Wasatch Front, replacing speed limit signs while officially changing the speed limit from 65 to 70 mph.

A new 70 mph speed limit sign waits to be installed.

A new 70 mph speed limit sign waits to be installed.

In an effort to optimize mobility and Keep Utah Moving, crews from UDOT Regions One, Two and Three spent all day on December 8th, changing out 99 signs from Spanish Fork to Ogden. In many instances, the crews simply placed a decal on the existing sign, but several of the older signs were replaced outright.

The speed limit increased on Interstates 15, 80 and 215. However, two sections of I-80 will remain at 65 mph, as engineering studies show the terrain doesn’t allow for a speed increase.

The choice to implement the new speed limits was based on several studies, and in response to last year’s legislation (H.B. 80).

Utah is not the first state to raise speed limits to 70 mph or faster. Nearly one-third of the United States has speed limits set at 70 mph or faster in urban areas, and more than two-thirds of states have increased them in rural areas.

UDOT workers change out speed limit signs on I-80 westbound

UDOT workers change out speed limit signs on I-80 westbound

 

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.

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.

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.

Mike Bair and Kelly Andrew Silver Barrel Awards

Photo of Carlos presenting silver barrel awardsMike Bair and Kelly Andrew received a Silver Barrel Award at a Region One retirement party last month. They were able to save UDOT a significant amount of time and money by installing thirteen new heating units in the Region One Equipment Shop.

Following a recent installation in the Region One Paint Shop, Mike determined that by buying the units and installing them with Kelly’s help it would be cheaper and take less time. In the end they saved the Department over $50,000 and 2 weeks of install time. That’s some pretty great savings and well deserving of a Silver Barrel Award!

This post was taken from the Silver Barrel Nomination submitted by Kelly Barrett.

Access Management Rule Revision Committee Silver Barrel Award

Photo of award recipients standing as a group with Executive Director Carlos BracerasThe 2013 Access Management Rule Revision Steering Committee recently received a Silver Barrel Award. The committee assembled on short notice to completely revise and overhaul the Department’s aging Access Management Rule (Utah Administrative Code R930-6), the first comprehensive rewrite of this rule since the program’s inception in 2003.

Some of the major achievement highlights from this project include:

  • Reducing document size by 50% (from 100 to 50 pages)
  • Significantly reducing redundancies and conflicts
  • Clarifying procedures and requirements
  • Updating statutory references
  • Revising document organization
  • Converting to rule format
  • Creating a presentation version of rule

Members of the committee included:

  • Rhett Arnell – Region 4
  • Doug Basset – Region 3
  • Cali Bastow – Project Development
  • David Benard – Office of the Attorney General
  • Tim Boschert – Systems Planning and Programming
  • Mark Burns – Office of the Attorney General
  • Diego Carroll – Parsons Brinckerhoff
  • Paul Egbert – Region 1
  • Todd Finlinson – Region 1
  • Hugh Hadsock – FHWA
  • Griffin Harris – Region 3
  • Jason Henley – Project Development
  • Gaye Hettrick – Project Development
  • Amanda Kirkendall – Parsons Brinckerhoff
  • Tony Lau – Region 2
  • Richard Manser – Project Development
  • Rod McDaniels – Project Development
  • Lyle McMillian – Project Development
  • Teri Newell – Region 3
  • Randy Park – Project Development
  • Renee Spooner – Office of the Attorney General
  • Mark Velasquez – Region 2
  • Lisa Wilson – Project Development

 

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.

Silver Barrel Award Recipients September 2012 – December 2013

UDOT

For just over a year UDOT leadership has been recognizing our great employees by presenting them with a Silver Barrel Award. The following employees have been the recipients up until now and deserve our appreciation.

Operations – Motor Carrier

  • Carrie Baker
  • Tamy Scott

Operations – Traffic Management

Project Development

  • Fred Doehring

Region 1

  • Zack Andrus
  • Scott Baker
  • Dan Chappell
  • Jed Christensen
  • Audrey Drawn
  • J. Tucker Doak
  • Reggie Estes
  • Jesse Glidden
  • Gary Grant
  • Jared Jensen
  • Chris Lizotte
  • Tammy Misrasi
  • Jordan Nielsen
  • John (Peaches) Norwood
  • John Pace
  • Joseph Phillips
  • Alfred Puntasecca
  • Dirk Richards
  • Neil Sarle
  • Christopher Scribner
  • Richard Sorenson
  • Derek Smith
  • Jason Stimpson
  • Tyler Wagstaff

Region 2

Region 3

  • David L. Jean

Region 4

  • Todd Abbott
  • Ronnie Albrecht
  • Branden Anderson
  • Lisa Anderson
  • Dave Babcock
  • Dave Baird
  • Ken Ballantyne
  • Ray Bentley
  • Eric Betts (received 2 Silver Barrel Awards)
  • Mike Blotter
  • Bryan Brinkerhoff
  • Joshua Brooks
  • Robert Brown
  • Marci Brunson
  • David Bybee
  • Daryl Christensen
  • Max Conder
  • Erick Cox
  • Gaylen Dalton
  • Gale Davis
  • Shawn Davis
  • Tab Davis
  • Wesley Erickson
  • Clyde Fish
  • John Fullmer (received 2 Silver Barrel Awards)
  • Cameron Gay
  • Robert Gilson
  • Joshua Green
  • Sam Grimshaw (received 2 Silver Barrel Awards)
  • Ron Grundy
  • Eric Hansen
  • Leonard Heaps
  • Pam Higgins
  • Jacob Ibanez
  • David Johnson (received 2 Silver Barrel Awards)
  • Kerry Johnson
  • Lyle Judd
  • Karen Julander
  • Ben Kelly
  • Ronnie Krause
  • Steve Kunzler
  • Kevin Lambeth
  • Mark Laws
  • Devan Meadows
  • Josh Miller
  • Faron Mitchell
  • Lance Mooney
  • Sue Moorehead
  • Darren Mortensen
  • Kike Murdoch
  • Kade Murdock
  • Jim McConnell
  • Duwayne McCormick
  • Brian Nielson
  • Anne Ogden
  • Gary Orton
  • Kenny Orton
  • Mike Randall (received 2 Silver Barrel Awards)
  • Dave Roberts
  • Stan Roberts
  • AJ Rogers
  • Morgan Shaw
  • Layne Slack
  • Brian Sorenson
  • Jason Standage
  • Dale Stapley
  • Tim Turner
  • Marc Wood
  • Justin Woodard (received 2 Silver Barrel Awards)
  • Cindy Wright

Giving Props to a Public Employee

“You can sleep when you die.”Valentino "Bobo" Martinez

That’s the motto Valentino Martinez lives by… but most of us know him as “Bobo.” He’s the shed supervisor at maintenance station 1427 in Centerville. This week, Bobo was notified that he was chosen to receive the Utah Public Employee Salute. The honor is reserved for any city, county, or state government employee who goes above and beyond to help the public.

What’s really impressive is that this is the second time Bobo has received this award. As you can see from his picture, he’s kind of a big deal.

“He is really motivated to go and make sure things are done and things are done well,” says Vic Saunders, Region 1 Communications Manager. “He’s willing to be of service in a time when so many people are concerned about themselves. To see someone who is really service oriented is such a great thing.”

Bobo and his crew have a tremendous amount of responsibility to keep I-15 in Davis County and Legacy Parkway in good condition. When we’re all home in our beds asleep, Bobo and his crew are out there working. Bobo says they do 90% of their work (which includes sweeping, plowing, and road repairs) at night so they don’t impact drivers.

So when do they sleep? That’s where his motto comes in.

When I asked Bobo how he felt about being chosen for the award, he said simply “I feel good. I feel the job I’m doing is making everybody in the public happy.”

Bobo admits he couldn’t be the supervisor he is without his fantastic crew. Whether it’s clearing the roads after a major snow storm, or jumping right in to clean up after a major wind storm, his crew is always up for the challenge. In fact, he says any one of them could have been chosen for the award.

“He knows the area like the back of his hand and he takes care of it like it’s his own,” said Region 1 Director Kris Peterson. “He’s got a large, diverse crew and they work hard together towards reaching the department’s goals.”

As part of his winnings, Bobo will become famous. On Wednesday, August 14, KSL’s Doug Wright will announce him as this week’s honoree. Here’s how it will go:

Now it’s time for the Public Employee Salute sponsored by Mountain America Credit Union and the Utah Public Employee’s Association. This week’s honoree is Valentino “Bobo” Martinez.

Bobo is a supervisor for the Utah Department of Transportation Region 1. Bobo and his crew are responsible for keeping I-15 and Legacy Parkway open for commuters to and from Salt Lake City in all kinds of traffic and weather conditions. This means Bobo and his crew conduct projects in the middle of the night so not to interfere with the 170,000 vehicles a day that travel those stretches of road. Bobo is called out at all hours of the night to assist the Utah Highway Patrol in traffic incident management and clean-up.

Thank you, Bobo, for your service to the citizens of Utah. Bobo will receive two Hale Centre Theatre tickets and will be honored at the semi-annual Public Employee Salute Luncheon.

Bobo says he hopes he can take his wife to a show at the Hale Centre Theatre to celebrate…but he’ll likely be out hunting.

Next time you see Bobo, tell him congratulations on his big award (and give him a hard time about his picture).

If you would like to nominate a public employee who has gone above and beyond, you can nominate them for the Public Employee Salute by going to upea.net.