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Signal project to improve traffic on Highway 20

By JESSIE STENSLAND
Whidbey News-Times Co-editor
August 30, 2014 · Updated 4:48 PM
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The busy intersection of State Highway 20 and Barriangton Drive is one of those that the state plans to integrate as part of a traffic project in Oak Harbor. / Photo by Michelle Beahm / Whidbey News-Times

A state Department of Transportation project should improve traffic flow on State Highway 20 in Oak Harbor.

Harmony Weinberg, a spokesperson for DOT, said contractor crews will be working in the city over the next couple of months to integrate signal lights at 11 intersections “to better respond to real-time traffic conditions.”

In addition, the crews will install cameras at several locations to allow both the public and DOT staff to see current traffic conditions.

She explained that engineers at the traffic management center will be able to see if there are any traffic problems on the highway in Oak Harbor.

They can then make adjustments to traffic lights remotely to help alleviate the problems.

In addition, drivers can look ahead of time at real-time traffic in Oak Harbor on the department’s website. DOT can also warn drivers about traffic snarls on reader boards.

“The cameras are a pretty great tool,” she said.

Weinberg said drivers will not be impacted by the intersection work, which begins Sept. 9, but people might notice the trucks around town. The crews will be parking work trucks in the parking lots of neighboring businesses.

The project is scheduled to be completed by the end of October.

While traffic isn’t normally a big problem in Oak Harbor or Whidbey Island in general, things can be slow on summer weekends.

This holiday weekend, the Department of Transportation is urging people who are traveling to plan ahead.

One way to beat the crowds is to check DOT’s predicted travel volumes on the state’s major travel routes.

To help drivers navigate holiday traffic, they gather data to provide the best times to travel on Interstate 90 over Snoqualmie Pass, US 2 over Stevens Pass, Interstate 5 through Thurston and Pierce counties and Interstate 5 between Bellingham and the U.S. and Canada border, the DOT reported.

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