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Published: Monday, February 18, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

New way to check Lynnwood traffic flow

If you're checking traffic cameras on the city of Lynnwood's website, there's an easy way to get even more information about congested spots.

The city has more than 40 cameras posted at major intersections and arterials that provide the public with views of these spots on the Web. The state Department of Transportation has its own network of cameras on I-5 and other freeways and highways.

The revamped city of Lynnwood website now has an easy link to Google traffic information, which combines information from the two systems onto a map. Viewers may find the map by clicking on the Google icon in the lower left corner of the Lynnwood traffic map at http://tinyurl.com/bttp9kw, and then clicking on "traffic" on the Google map.

The Google map shows traffic flow on Lynnwood streets, I-5 and other major arterials.

For those who want to see the actual view, Lynnwood's cameras provide around-the-clock views of the streets, updated every 30 seconds. The cameras are operated separately from the city's traffic-enforcement cameras, better known as "red light" cameras, posted around the Lynnwood, public works director Bill Franz said.

The city and the state Department of Transportation, which has its own network of cameras on I-5 and other freeways and highways, are able to share information with each other to coordinate detours, ramp metering and road closures during snow and rainstorms.

Lynnwood's website also provides links for viewers to the state's Web cameras, as well as those near the ferry docks, in the cities of Seattle and Bellevue and other on-line traffic information.

Terri Snider of Stanwood writes: I often travel on 172nd on both sides of I-5, and I enter the northbound onramp from both directions to go home in the evenings. The two lanes that enter the northbound onramp seem to conflict with the signs posted for the westbound traffic turning right.

The signs say it is a yield, yet the lane markings give each set of traffic (eastbound and westbound) their own lanes on the onramp. With this extended lane separation, shouldn't this be a merge instead? If it is supposed to be a yield, how is the westbound traffic turning right supposed to act if there is eastbound traffic turning left onto the onramp? When I head west on 172nd from Smokey Point then turn right to northbound I-5, I go around the corner, signal and look for a spot to merge into, and merge at the end of my lane. Yet this is not a yield. If I treated it as a yield, then I would stop at the top of the onramp and wait until the left turning traffic was clear, then move onto the onramp. Yet I have my own lane on the onramp, which does not promote a yield scenario.

Can you please explain why the signs still show this as a yield when the new lane markings encourage a merge? What is the proper action for the westbound traffic turning onto the northbound onramp?

Dave Chesson, a spokesman for the state Department of Transportation, responds: In 2010, we finished a remodel of the I-5-172nd Street NE (Highway 531) interchange. Construction included addition of a loop ramp to southbound I-5, widening the I-5 northbound off-ramp, additional lanes on 172nd, sidewalks, guardrail, and lighting. The northbound I-5 on-ramp was also revised with the addition of side-by-side lanes allowing traffic from both directions of 172nd to turn onto the ramp. The extra lane for right turning traffic, however, is relatively short, ending approximately 120 feet down the ramp.

Eastbound vehicles making the left turn onto the ramp do so when they have a green left-turn arrow. The green arrow assigns them the right-of-way. This allows left-turning drivers to complete their turns and proceed down the ramp without having to yield to or merge with other traffic further down the ramp. Because of the relatively short length available for acceleration and merging in the right lane, the yield sign is used to prevent confusion and convey to drivers turning right from westbound 172nd that left turning drivers have the right-of-way.

E-mail us at stsmarts@heraldnet.com. Please include your city of residence.

Look for updates on our Street Smarts blog at www.heraldnet.com/streetsmarts.
Story tags » ArlingtonI-5Highway 531CommutingTraffic

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