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When electronic signs at TRAX stations were new, they displayed when the next trains would arrive. But they quit working, and have been little more than digital clocks amid such problems as not being able to obtain replacement parts.

So the Utah Transit Authority is in the process of replacing those signs throughout its TRAX system as it prepares to open some new TRAX routes. The cost for the signs is estimated at $3.5 million.

"The old signs had reached the end of their life cycle. We couldn't get replacement parts. Support was not available. Some of the [companies] that built the original system had gone out of business," said UTA spokesman Gerry Carpenter.

He said UTA found that because of such problems, the old signs would not be compatible with new signs it is installing on the new Mid-Jordan and West Valley City lines (scheduled to open on Aug. 7) and other extensions that are under construction to Draper and Salt Lake City International Airport.

So UTA decided to install a new sign system. It has removed the old signs on the existing Sandy and University of Utah lines.

Carpenter said new signs will be installed at the older stations over the next several months. Transfer and high-traffic stations will receive them first, and they will be added at other stations as crews and resources are available, he said.

The old signs were installed on the Sandy line in 1999, and on the university line in 2001. Carpenter estimates the original signs cost between $1.5 million and $2 million.

"If you compare the type of hardware and software technology that they were using 10 or 11 years ago, what we have today is much better. It works better in cold weather. It is easier to update and maintain. ... We're going to have better signs that are more accurate, that are easier for us to use," he said.

Carpenter said part of the cost is covered by a Department of Homeland Security grant to install security cameras.