It may not be spring, but it's spring cleaning time at the Utah Department of Transportation, at least when in comes to traffic signals.
"It's time to bring our intersections up to snuff," said Fred Lewis, safety operations engineer for UDOT.Bringing the intersection "up to snuff" includes replacing outdated signal lights at some 100 intersections around the state, painting poles, putting in bigger signal heads, replacing pedestrian lights, improving visibility and "just cleaning up the intersections."
Each intersection will cost about $3,000 to $3,500 to fix up. Most of the existing mechanical lights are 25 to 30 years old and are very unreliable.
UDOT is also coordinating with the cities of Price, Moab, Logan and Brigham City to replace signal lights at busy intersections there. UDOT is offering to do the installation work if the cities will pick up the bill for the new equipment.
Lewis said the big advantage is the new signals are solid-state electronics and are much easier and cheaper to repair. And they are more reliable during Utah's cold winters "when they get a bit sluggish."
"The old mechanical controllers have been in use for many years, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep them operating and to obtain repair parts when they are needed," said UDOT spokesperson Shirley Iverson. "They are costing the department a lot of time in maintenance trouble calls and could create a safety problem if a signal is not functioning properly and parts cannot be obtained."
The new lights, operated by a highly accurate clock system, will be much easier to coordinate for fluctuating traffic flows and will not have to be wired to signals in other intersections.
Crews have completed installation of new signals at five Price intersections and are waiting on new equipment to arrive to complete work on two others.
Work on intersections in Salt Lake City, Ogden, Logan and Brigham City is continuing. Work under a contract for Cedar City signals should begin soon, as should work on Moab signal lights.
"This is a high priority from a safety standpoint," Lewis said. "We're not modernizing. We're just cleaning up the intersections."
The entire cost, about $300,000 to $350,000, is being paid with revenue generated by the state gasoline tax. There is no matching federal money.