Preparing for the General Conference transportation rush

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An employee working in the traffic management office. From this office in Salt Lake City, they can monitor 80 percent of the lights in the state and view 900 cameras along UDOT owned roadways.
An employee working in the traffic management office. From this office in Salt Lake City, they can monitor 80 percent of the lights in the state and view 900 cameras along UDOT owned roadways. (Photo courtesy Lisa Miller)

The Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) works around the clock 365 days a year to manage traffic at the Traffic Management Office in Salt Lake City.

From the office, employees can view current traffic conditions from various cameras and change traffic light signals for various signals around the state.

Lisa Miller, traveler information manager at UDOT, said they can manually operate 80 percent of the lights in the state from their office in Salt Lake City.

“During big events, signals are timed appropriately to keep traffic moving, especially if people are going to the same location,” Miller said.

Miller said that for events like General Conference, the office receives information of the time and dates of the events and times of when traffic is expected to begin. Then the lights are scheduled appropriately for the expected traffic increase.

Miller said additional people are staffed during conference weekend in case a crisis happens.

Even though the Traffic Management Office is closely monitoring traffic, it will still take more time than normal to travel to Salt Lake City.

Rachel White, a 21-year-old psychology major from Waterloo, Iowa, said she plans on driving to conference this year. She said she plans on leaving Provo an hour and a half before conference starts to get there in time.

“It usually takes a lot longer to get there (during General Conference),” White said.”Usually it only takes me 50 minutes to get to Salt Lake.”

White said she uses some of the time to find a parking spot. She said that even if she has a parking pass, it is still hard to find one.

Miller said, the Traffic Control Office monitors the traffic carefully and tries to keep it moving as much as possible.

“We have over 900 traffic cameras that we can see in our office,” Miller said. “They cover I-15 and other UDOT owned roadways like 600 South.”

The signals are also modified on Friday for the people traveling to the Salt Lake area for recreation or missionary reunions, Miller said.

Miller said people driving that weekend can receive information about congestion, lane closures and emergency alerts using the UDOT app. Miller suggests that if there is any way people can take public transit, it will also improve traffic conditions.

Remi Barron, senior media relations specialist for Utah Transit Authority (UTA), said they have made plans for the influx of riders during conference weekend.

Trax will be open on Saturday and Sunday with two extra trains heading toward the Conference Center before each session and two extra trains heading south after each session according to a statement released by UTA.

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