The Utah Department of Transportation opened bids this week for the installation of a sophisticated, computerized traffic signal system to interconnect traffic signals in Provo.

Of the two bids received, Hamilton Bros. Electric of Springville had the apparent low bid of $74,193.However, because their bid exceeded the official engineer's estimate by more than 10 percent, UDOT will review the bid to determine whether to accept the bid or advertise it again.

The project involves installing circuits, doing the trenching to install detection loops that sample traffic patterns and to string interconnect wires between the signals.

A separate contract was recently awarded to Transyt Corp. of Florida to furnish the equipment required for the job.

The system will coordinate all the signals along the major north-south arterials of University Avenue and Second West between Third South and 1230 North and will cross-coordinate with other signals to improve traffic flow.

Plans call for the equipment to be installed by Oct. 1, but it will take additional time to fine-tune the system.

The project results from an environmental requirement from the Environmental Protection Agency because of air pollution in Utah Valley. Unless steps are taken to reduce pollution and meet a specified air quality standard established by the EPA, the federal government has threatened to cut highway money.

Idling cars add to the pollution problem, but by moving traffic more efficiently and eliminating some of the idling time at intersections, pollution should decrease dramatically.

The new system will handle peak traffic situations better by allowing more time for that flow to happen. It can also be programmed to more efficiently handle heavy traffic loads created by special events, such as sporting contests and concerts.

The traffic signal system is just one of the measures that will be implemented to reduce pollution. Other measures include eliminating parking near intersections, modifying striping on the highways, installing right-turn lanes and faster speed limits.