Northwest NEWS

February 1, 1999

Front Page

Interconnected signals may improve Woodinville traffic

by Andrew Walgamott, staff reporter

   WOODINVILLE--It won't solve all of Woodinville's traffic woes--the gridlock during the lunch hour and on Saturdays--but an unexpected opportunity to coordinate downtown signals a year ahead of schedule could reduce the amount of time mini-vans, Suburbans, and other vehicles spend idling in one place.

   The City Council is being asked tonight, Feb. 1, to give staff the go-ahead to work with King County to interconnect traffic signals on the city's three main thoroughfares. The council was briefed about the situation early last week.

   According to city documentation, "studies of signal systems have shown that the overall system-wide average delay per vehicle is reduced by interconnecting and coordinating traffic signals."

   Work could begin within weeks of City Council approval with King County upgrading two boxes that house the electronic controls for the signals, and installing necessary conduit. Traffic lights on NE 175th St., 140th Ave. NE, and 131st Ave. NE would be affected, and would be linked to existing interconnected lights in the TRF development.

   "When you interconnect signals, you improve the level of service," explained Deborah Knight, interim public works director. "Level of service" is government-speak for the amount of time one spends changing radio stations, eating a dripping burger or chatting on a cell phone while waiting at a signal. How long motorists wait to move through a light corresponds to a letter "level of service" grade that is assigned to the intersection. An "A" is good and an "F" is bad, and can affect whether development is approved.

   Originally, the city was going to finalize plans for this phase of the interconnect system this year, and put it on the capital improvement plan for the year 2000. But during a meeting with King County officials, the opportunity to do the work ahead of schedule was presented.

   City Manager Pete Rose says it's a chance to "stop planning and start doing." The project is estimated to cost $150,000, with all that being reimbursed by the state, Interim Public Works Director Deborah Knight.

   The next phase of interconnect would include lights on Woodinville-Snohomish Road from NE 195th St. to 140th Ave. NE.