UVU Civil Engineering Capstone Project

US-191 Vernal Project (2019-2020)

Project Sponsor: UDOT, Region 3
Team Members: Jacob Holmes, Chito Capunay, Mike Strong

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Thomas Hales

  • Proposed New Lane Plan
  • Plan Schematics with road signs
  • Proposed Profile Map
  • US-191 Road
  • US-191 Road over Canyon
  • US-191 Road sign
  • US-191 project layout

The purpose of this project was to evaluate an alternative route around the Simplot mine, which is about 17 miles north of Vernal, UT. Currently there are switchbacks that pass over areas that Simplot mining company would like to mine. The current switchbacks are also hazardous and has led to excessive crashes. It is assumed that there will be an understanding between Simplot and UDOT that there will be a direct transfer of the new road area for the old road area as it will potentially provide benefit to both stakeholders. The area where the new highway will be constructed is mountainous, rough terrain that will require large cuts and fills. Careful consideration needed to be taken with widening the road, especially where fills occur on steep hills. Also, of special consideration was the grade of the roadway so that it wouldn’t exceed 6% but also include a couple of flatter areas to provide relief to vehicles as they ascend or descend the approximate 2-mile segment of roadway. Some areas along the fill areas may need retaining walls pending a geotechnical study. The current road has one lane in each direction. It is being proposed to add climbing/passing lanes, shoulders, and 2 new runaway truck ramps to meet current UDOT standards.

A traffic analysis was conducted on the existing conditions of the roadway. Some of the factors that were evaluated included the historical crash data, average and peak hour daily traffic volumes, sight and stopping distance, grades and topography, roadway profile and horizontal alignment. Existing conditions were compared to current UDOT standards for safe roadway design and recommendations for improvement were made that would maximize the benefit-to-cost ratio. Recommended improvements included realignment of the current roadway alignment, widening of the current roadway cross section, and re-grading of adjacent roadway cuts and fills to maximize the safety benefits with respect to construction costs. This would also allow the roadway posted speeds to be closer in line with those expected with this classification of highway providing increased mobility in addition to increased safety. Drawings and a cost estimate were prepared showing the proposed new upgrades with the associated construction costs. The estimated cost for the proposed upgrades is $25 million. 

Students' Presentation