By David Pan/Lynnwood Today editor
The final week of classes for Lynnwood University was an opportunity for students to reflect on the eight weeks spent learning the ins and outs of their city government.
But before the graduation ceremony student spent some time in the Lynnwood Traffic Management Center, located in City Hall.
The Traffic Management Center is where traffic engineers and technicians receive and send information from/to traffic signals throughout Lynnwood. Live video images are used to monitor congestion and to collect data. Most of the devices used to keep traffic flowing are able to relay information back to the center when there are problems. Therefore technicians do not have to wait for someone to call.
Of the 55 traffic signals Lynnwood owns, 53 of them are monitored by the center. Traffic signals change throughout the day and the year. As the holidays edge closer, the signals are going to be longer in order to help improve traffic flow.
The length of lights also changes depending on the time of the day, specifically rush hour. Yellow lights cannot be less than three seconds. The computer software doesn’t allow for anything less.
While it has the capability to record video from the various cameras, the traffic center doesn’t do that except for study/research purposes.
The videos in the Traffic Center are not related to the city’s Red Light cameras. The goal in the Traffic Center is to improve traffic flow.
“It was interesting because I saw my corner. I know exactly where that’s at,” said Lynnwood University student Cena Conteh.
Conteh initially though the Traffic Center might be related to the police, which it is not.
“It’s really a traffic flow thing,” she said.
Also present for the final day of class was Washington State Senator Maralyn Chase and Lynnwood Mayor Don Gough. The two engaged in a dialogue to help draw the contrast between city and state government.
Chase appreciated the number of students in the class.
“It is just impressive,” Chase said. “It’s amazing to see.”
Chase represents the 32nd District, which includes Lynnwood, Mountlake Terrace, Edmonds, Shoreline and Seattle. Washington has 49 Senators and 98 Representatives. Each district has one Senator and two Representatives.
Chase and Gough noted that most of the sales tax (9 cents) goes to the State General fund with Lynnwood receiving just 8/10 of cents. Chase noted that 45 percent of the state budget goes to schools with the rest allocated to social health services, state patrol, transportation and other state departments.
The State pays for school districts, while cities are responsible for police, fire and public works.
Lynnwood University was an eye-opening experience for Conteh, who plans to become more involved in city government.
“I’m really drawn to being a part of city government as far as getting people in here to these meetings,” Conteh said. “Just knowing what’s going on in our city is really important. I know that is something I’ll continue to do.”
When a fire truck or paramedic vehicle drives by, Conteh has a better understanding of what’s going on.
“I feel more connected with that,” she said.
Conteh encourages anyone with an interest in their city to consider the Lynnwood University program.
“Definitely take the time and do it because it will encourage you and motivate you and make you a part of the city,” Conteh said. “A lot of people who were here know more about the city and I think that makes you feel more connected.”