Stip Sets Priorities Of UDOT Road Projects
|Nielson Construction crews work on a box culvert at Wilberg Wash.|
Myron Lee from the Utah Department of Transportation Region Four. He said, "There is a real need to educate the public in the process we go through to determine what priority projects are statewide. We have what is called the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program which we call STIP. Projects are prioritized and will move into this STIP process.
"Right now we have 30 different pockets of money from which a project could be funded. We have bridge replacement funds, passing lane funds, capacity money and many other avenues for funding. Capacity money is used when a road is being changed from two lanes to four. This is different than adding a passing lane. Passing lanes are used to add safety to a road. Capacity lanes are used to handle more traffic volume. There are also enhancement funds which were recently used to complete the Price Main Street project. The current project on SR-10 is using both bridge and passing lane funds.
"Some federal funds come with an 80-20 split. They would provide 80 percent of the funding and we would come up with the other 20 percent for a project. Currently at the Huntington Airport a project is underway which is being funded with the airport funding. There is also a fund for rest areas.
"In Region Four we have 14 counties which are divided into three districts. The counties are Emery, Carbon, Grand and San Juan which make up the Price District. Sanpete, Piute, Wayne, Garfield, Kane and Sevier make up the Richfield District. Millard, Beaver, Iron and Washington make up the Cedar District. These 14 counties have a combined needs list. This list is an unfunded needs list of projects they would like to see in their area.
"The process begins with local public meetings for local input. Meetings are held annually throughout the state with at least two meetings in each region. Topics discussed include the state highway system, bicycle and pedestrian paths, local road system, statewide long range transportation plan and review of the STIP.
"These public workshops give the people a chance to express what is important to them. We also have workshops with the forest service and Bureau of Land Management to discuss projects on their lands. We meet with local governments with mayors and county commissions to determine their priorities. We take input and come up with a list; we also have staff recommendations. There is also input from the transportation commission in the process.
"In San Juan County we had public meetings to discuss the Devil's Canyon road we wanted to fix it and had a few alternatives. At the open house we had some valuable input from someone in the audience. They suggested using fill and building up the road bed instead of one of the alternatives which suggested moving the road to the right or the left. This type of input from the public is invaluable. A project will then, with concept development move from the needs list into the STIP process. Through concept development a price tag is attached to the project. In the first two years of the project the dollar values are looked at a lot. A project can stay on the STIP list for two years to indefinitely until the project moves into a funded year. Currently we are working on the funded year 2005. Once it moves into a funded year then the designing of the project will start.
"Our fiscal year begins on July 1 each year and we are currently working on the projects that were funded for 2003. Projects must be designed and the bids advertised by June 30 of each year.
"The rehabilitation of the Green River bridge has been advertised and awarded. It will begin after the current tourist season winds down. One of the dilemmas we have is that people are always worried about what's happening now and we need to pull them into the process to think ahead down the road five to seven years.
"Currently the Huntington to Poison Springs Bench project is in the funded year for 2003. This does not mean the project will begin this year. The project is in the design phase. We are working on projects as fast as possible. It does mean that the money for that project has been obligated for that project and will not be used anywhere else. There is a bit of confusion about how the monies are divided. Someone always asks why money for a certain project can't be moved to a different project which they feel is of a higher priority. But, that's just not how things are set up. Bridge money has to stay for bridges, passing lane money must stay in the passing lane fund and so on. It's a difficult concept for people to understand.
"We have to figure out how every dollar for a project will be spent. The STIP plan is a five year plan. Our money is fairly stable from year to year and we can pretty well predict how much money we will have down the road five-six years. Most of the UDOT money comes from the gas tax which is a user tax. This is a fair tax which distributes the taxes among those who are actually using the roads and freeways.
"Some projects will move very quickly. One local project, the east Price to Wellington project is a Centennial Highway project funded with those funds. These Centennial funds are earmarked for a certain type of project. In the Price to Wellington Project if any money is left over it can be used farther down the road to Green River because the project was labeled a SR-6 project. But, the money must be used for that particular project and cannot be transferred elsewhere.
"It is very important to coordinate projects so that for instance bridge replacement and passing lanes or widening of a road happen all at the same The Utah Department of Transportation has appointed engineer Mike Miles as Project Manager over the U.S. Highway 6 corridor from Spanish Fork to Green River to better coordinate projects and aid communications on this important route.
He is now charged with keeping U.S. 6 road projects on schedule, under budget, and within a defined scope. His first priorities will be to assist UDOT in defining a vision for the future of U.S. 6 and to bring $73 million of "already-programmed" projects to fruition over the next five to seven years.
The new position spans two UDOT Regions and is designed to knit the previously segmented U.S. 6 corridor together under Miles' leadership.
"We are confident Mike can rise to meet the challenge of this new position and that his skills and experience are equal to the task," said Dal Hawks, director of UDOT Region Four.
Miles is a seven-year veteran of UDOT and has served as a project manager over UDOT's "Helper Interchange" and "Price to Wellington widening" projects. He came to UDOT with a degree in engineering geology from Brigham Young University and extensive experience as a private sector engineer.
Some of the current U.S. 6 projects include:
Ã¯Â¿Â½ Helper Interchange - $13 million
Ã¯Â¿Â½ Price to Wellington widening to five lanes - $3.2 million
Ã¯Â¿Â½ Passing lanes at Sunnyside Junction - $1.1 million.
Ã¯Â¿Â½ Icelander to Woodside lane leveling and overlay - $2 million
U.S. 6 projects on the 5-year Statewide Transportation Improvement Plan include:
Ã¯Â¿Â½ Bridge replacement at mile post 190 - $2.5 million
Ã¯Â¿Â½ Road safety improvements form Spanish Fork to Price - $4.6 million
Ã¯Â¿Â½ Asphalt Pavement Reconstruction at Red Narrows - $5 million
Ã¯Â¿Â½ Tucker Rest Area modifications - $1.5 million
Ã¯Â¿Â½ Add passing lanes at various locations between Soldier Summit to Helper - $12 million
Ã¯Â¿Â½ Widen to four lanes from Scofield Junction to Pine Tree Park - $13.1 million
Ã¯Â¿Â½ Bridge rehabilitation at Mile Post 288 (Green River) - $750,000
Ã¯Â¿Â½ Widen and add passing lanes at various locations from Soldier Summit to Helper - $13 million
Ã¯Â¿Â½ Widen and add passing lanes at various locations from Cat Canyon to Grassy Trail Creek - $2 million