Donna K. Coatsworth

traffic engineer

City of Independence.

1 As traffic engineer for the city, what are some of your responsibilities? I work on city-wide traffic issues including signals, construction work zones and traffic studies for new development. I also work with Independence citizens for specific concerns such as stop signs or parking restrictions.
2 How long have you been in that position here in Independence?
I have worked for the city 10 years, starting with the Public Works Department in February 1999. My work prior to that had been in civil engineering for 14 years at the Lake City plant.

3 The city earlier this year rolled out the Operation Green Light initiative. Could you expound on what that is?
Independence is one of more than 20 local jurisdictions participating in OGL. The goal is to coordinate high traffic count corridors around the metro area to reduce congestion, reduce traffic stops, and improve traffic flow. Independence corridors include 39th St., Noland Road and parts of Lee’s Summit Road and Sterling.

4 How does the city coordinate traffic signals to ensure a smooth flow of traffic?
The basic method is to program signal timing plans based on traffic information gathered at the intersections. OGL updates timing plans and incorporates wireless communication equipment so signals on corridors like Noland Road and 39th Street can be in sync both up and downstream.
5 What are some of the problems that arise with traffic light coordination and how are those problems resolved to again, ensure a smooth, safe flow of traffic?
A balance is needed between maintaining traffic flow on the mainline corridor versus minimized delay on side streets. Traffic flows fluctuate so signal timing plans are varied by time of day and day of week to better serve the heaviest traffic flows.