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News Release


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, May 28, 2009

Council Roundup: Carbon emissions targets within reach

Also, traffic signals get 'intelligent'

Upgrades to traffic signals can help traffic flow. Photo by David Johanson Vasquez/Big PictureBellevue residents can cut their carbon emissions by 33 percent over the next three years without drastic life-style changes, a team of University of Washington graduate students told the City Council Tuesday.

After the presentation from graduate students and a professor in the UW's Program on the Environment, the council voiced support for exploring options to help the community reduce its carbon footprint.

The work done by the UW team is part of the city's broader Environmental Stewardship Initiative, which the council launched in 2007. Besides the carbon emissions study, the initiative includes analysis of the city's tree canopy, the expansion of recycling efforts at parks and ball fields, natural drainage practices and "green" buildings.

Carbon dioxide is a leading pollutant blamed for global warming, and the council has endorsed reducing carbon emissions in Bellevue to 7 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. The students reported that to meet this goal, the community needs to reduce carbon emissions by 33 percent, or 11 percent per year.

Residents and businesses in Bellevue have already taken action to reduce emissions by using less energy and reducing employee travel, noted the UW team.

According to the team, people could cut carbon emissions further here by: maintaining their cars in a more fuel-efficient way, carpooling more, buying hybrid vehicles and conserving energy at home more. Commercial incentive programs could help.

The UW team, which will provide a more detailed report to the council soon, recommended that the city pursue policies that encourage the development of electric car infrastructure, set up an electronic tracking program to monitor community greenhouse gas emissions and offer education, outreach and assistance to residents and businesses.
 
Feedback: Sheida Sahandy, Assistant to the City Manager, 425-452-6168 or ssahandy@bellevuewa.gov.

Planned signal system will be 'intelligent' 
Will Bellevue's traffic lights soon get smarter? Transportation planners told the council Tuesday that information and communications technology called "intelligent transportation systems" (ITS) will make the city's network of traffic signals work better for drivers, walkers, bus riders and others.

The city's nearly 200 traffic lights are already engineered to maximize traffic flow, but a new fiber-optic communication system, more traffic cameras, an upgrade to Bellevue’s online traffic map and new computer equipment will make the signals even more responsive.

For motorists: ITS will help drivers by providing improved signal timing that's more responsive to traffic conditions, more efficient left-turn arrows to reduce delays and variable message signs on city streets.

For transit riders: The new system will include "transit signal priority," allowing for faster service on a new Bellevue-Redmond bus rapid transit line called RapidRide, and real-time arrival and departure signs at bus stops along the RapidRide route.

For pedestrians: Signal improvements will mean less waiting for walk signals at crosswalks and additional safety features.
 
For everyone: Future plans call for an increase in the number of traffic cameras, currently 43, that can be monitored online. Innovative uses could include snow cams on Cougar Mountain to help motorists assess winter driving conditions, park-and-ride cams to check for available parking spaces, ramp meter cams to monitor lines at freeway onramps and flood cams to view conditions at frequently flooded locations.

Some of the ITS work is already under way, while other pieces will be implemented over time. The total budget for the seven-year (2008 to 2015) ITS program of improvements is $5.4 million.

For more information, see the Council Agenda memorandum. Traffic Signals offers additional information on traffic signals and management.

Feedback: Mark Poch, Traffic Engineering Manager, 425-452-6137 or mpoch@bellevuewa.gov

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