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UDOT Celebrates 100th Anniversary of Traffic Signal by Opening Display at Traffic Operations Center

SALT LAKE CITY, Oct. 4, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) today celebrated the 100th anniversary of a Utah invention that has changed the world — the traffic signal.

To commemorate this anniversary, UDOT celebrated 100 years of innovation by opening a signal history display at the Traffic Operations Center. The display features a replica of the nation's first traffic signal — original located in the heart of Salt Lake City — and invented by Utahn Lester F. Wire in 1912.

Wire's traffic signal was hand-made, using a yellow wooden box resembling a bird house. The signal was installed at the intersection of Main Street and 200 South in Salt Lake City. Inspired by naval and railroad signals, Wire installed lights dipped in red and green paint inside two six-inch circular openings on each side to control traffic. The signal, mounted on a 10-foot pole, was manually operated by a policeman using a two-way throw switch below.

"From a converted bird house on Main Street in Salt Lake City, the traffic signal can now be found throughout the world — even in the most remote locations," UDOT Executive Director John Njord said. "Lester Wire was the first of many Utahns inventing innovative traffic solutions."

Utah has a rich history of innovative traffic solutions from the first traffic signal to today. In 1917, the first interconnected traffic signal system in the world was installed in Salt Lake City with six connected intersections controlled simultaneously from a manual switch. In 2007, UDOT installed one of the nation's first continuous flow interchanges (CFIs) at Bangerter Highway and 3500 South. Today, 10 CFIs are in use in the state.

UDOT is respected throughout the country for innovative bridge construction. Using Accelerated Bridge Construction, a process that reduces delays from months to days, UDOT has moved more bridges than the rest of the United States combined.

Utahns benefit from UDOT's leadership and pioneering innovations every day. These benefits include improved safety and increased traffic efficiency, particularly for special events like the University of Utah football game on Oct. 4.

Utah fans traveling to the stadium will experience how far Lester Wire's invention has come, as the Traffic Operations Center (TOC) uses the latest technology to keep traffic moving as efficiently and as quickly as possible. This technology includes cameras and sensors to monitor traffic conditions. UDOT employees will also be on hand in the TOC adjusting signal timing to ensure drivers see more green lights on the way to and from the game.

"UDOT is committed to fostering an environment of innovation that will ensure it remains a worldwide leader in innovative road construction," Njord said.

SOURCE Utah Department of Transportation