Environment & Public Lands
12:13 pm
Mon January 21, 2013

UDOT Signs Silent on Air Quality

Two events that attract tens of thousands of visitors to Utah are taking place this week: The Sundance Film Festival and the winter Outdoor Retailers show. Some activist groups are wondering if there's an effort to avoid drawing attention to the state's lousy air quality while they're in town.

Cherise Udell with Utah Moms for Clean Air has been hearing from other activists about the variable message signs at freeway locations around the Wasatch Front. They'll often carry messages about avoiding unnecessary driving during inversion periods, but not over the past few weeks. She says bad air periods are the best time to reach people with that message.

"When the air is clean, we have blue skies, people are not as interested in the air quality message, obviously, because it's not as pertinent to them," Udell tells KUER.  "When we start having this shroud of misery over our city in the form of an inversion, then people are very interested  in hearing about air quality and what they can do."

John Gleason with the Utah Department of Transportation says they try to keep the message fresh even when the air is not.

"We'll roll out the air quality [message] in the initial stages of an inversion," Gleason says, "but we don't keep 'em up indefinitely because we don't want people to start tuning out the messages or ignoring them altogether."

Gleason says there's been no effort to change the freeway signs during Sundance or the Outdoor Retailers show.