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June 15, 2024

UDOT to Implement Digital Construction Technology : CEG

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The funds will help UDOT improve design, construction and asset maintenance databases to interact more efficiently with private sector partners.

The Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) has been awarded nearly $5 million in federal grant funding to advance the implementation of digital construction technology. The funds will help UDOT improve design, construction and asset maintenance databases to interact more efficiently with private sector partners.

The grant funds come from the “Advanced Digital Construction Management Systems” (ADCMS) grant program, a part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) that was passed by Congress in 2021, with $85 million designated nationwide for improving digital construction technologies that save time and money. UDOT will receive $6.25 million in funds, which includes $5 million from the BIL and $1.25 million in matching state funds. Of the 10 state transportation departments that were awarded from the initial round of ADCMS grant funding, UDOT was awarded the largest amount.

The grant and matching state funds will help secure consultant support for UDOT and procure the necessary hardware and software for UDOT’s digital-first infrastructure that will allow the department to become more efficient — especially where it interfaces with contractors and outside parties. In particular, the new systems and tools will allow digital files to be utilized throughout all phases of construction and maintenance once construction ends. Funding also will be used for training with new systems and tools. The funds will not increase UDOT’s employee headcount.

George Lukes, design and standards engineer of UDOT, said one of the benefits of using digital tools is that the department can continue to learn about projects long after they are completed since data from roads and surrounding areas are continuously being gathered, stored, and analyzed.

“We have much better design and construction data than 10 years ago,” Lukes said. “We will use the grant money to continue work to get that data into a database that can be used DOT-wide and for other stakeholders. By establishing data governance and data architecture, we save money and get crews on projects faster.”

UDOT has been piloting and implementing digital construction tools since 2014. In 2021, UDOT phased out the production of paper plan sets for some construction projects and started only providing digital design files to contractors. Doing so has allowed UDOT to begin creating a database that holds all of the digital design data. This data will be easily accessible for contractors and UDOT.

“In the past, projects were created in 3D and rendered down to 2D so the project could be physically printed for contractors,” Lukes said. “The contractor would then build their own 3D model to construct the project. It was incredibly time consuming and inefficient for all parties, but that’s how it had been done for decades. We aim to change that.”

Two previous federal grants laid the groundwork for getting the initial databases up and running, allowing UDOT to achieve many of its goals for going paperless with engineering plans and piloting new tools and processes. This has already led to both cost savings on various projects and a higher attention to detail in digital plans that couldn’t be achieved with paper.

These efforts support UDOT’s “Digital Twin Strategic Plan,” which was formalized in 2021 as an overarching vision for the future of data related to Utah’s transportation assets.

For more information, visit digitaldelivery.udot.utah.gov/.

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