Parkland County residents discuss solutions for ‘intersection problem’ at Highway 16A with province
While Parkland County residents have yet to reach a consensus on what to do about the Highway 16A-Range Road 20 intersection, they seem to agree that something should be done sooner rather than later.
That was the most voiced opinion at a town hall hosted by Alberta Transportation Tuesday night at Carvel Hall, just minutes from the intersection being discussed.
“Why not just put a traffic light at the existing intersection?” asked one participant. “As someone who lives there, especially someone who has had to haul equipment through that intersection, having a traffic light there would relieve a lot of stress.”
“If we wait another week and don’t at least slow down the speed limit, if we don’t take something with us and proactively anticipate this meeting, then why are we even here?” asked another.
The Department of Transportation and Economic Corridors has said it is “actively evaluating options” for long-term changes at the west of Edmonton junction. City Hall was convened to gather public feedback.
Local residents say that the frequency of serious and fatal accidents at the intersection has increased in recent decades along with the population and traffic volume.
Bryan Kwasnycia, whose 22-year-old daughter died in an accident at the intersection last year and has lived in the area for more than 40 years, told CTV News Edmonton: “In all these years, we’ve basically seen everyone month a serious accident. And usually a death or two a year.”
He says he taught his daughter Jade and his other children the importance of crossing intersections carefully. Motorists have poor visibility due to rolling hills and road curves, and those in the area report highway commuters regularly speeding 10 to 20 kilometers over the limit.
He believes that straightening the intersection and reducing the speed limit would make it safer, but also acknowledges that none of these changes would alert commuters unfamiliar with the area of their danger.
“You can teach anyone in the county and in Stony Plain and Spruce Grove, but it won’t solve the crossing problem,” he commented during City Hall, to a round of applause in response.
A retired paramedic and resident of 20 Range Road, who has lived for 20 years, also stood up and suggested building a roundabout.
“When I hear traffic lights, I think of all the different things I’ve seen as a result of traffic lights. That’s not a solution for me at the moment,” he said. “I would present a solution that keeps traffic flowing.”
The Government’s guiding idea – which has not yet been fully explored – is to move the junction to a ‘safer’ spot between Range Roads 20 and 15 so that it meets the motorway perpendicularly. But the government is also weighing the pros and cons of installing traffic lights, speed reductions and other measures, a spokesman told the town hall audience on Tuesday.
Lac Ste. Anne-Parkland MLA’s Shane Getson called the relocation option the “most elegant” in the long term.
“There may be short-term measures to try and mitigate some of the issues we’re seeing right now, but there’s also a long-term solution,” he told the crowd.
“So these guys have to do the calculations, they have to look at the numbers, they have to look at the line of sight and then come up with something. But we’ll take that as a souvenir… for a possible interim solution.”
Between questions, Getson reassured community safety is the government’s top priority: “It’s not a question of cost. We are simply talking about technical solutions for the result.
At one point, he and the other Transportation Department officers were booed by the crowd, but it wasn’t anything they didn’t expect to go inside.
“Let’s not sugarcoat this: there are incidents there and we’re also losing parishioners and general passers-by on the freeway. So we take this very seriously. We need to make sure everyone has an opportunity to talk about what their concerns are,” he told CTV News Edmonton.
“At the end of the day,” Kwasnycia commented, “I guess everyone agrees that no matter what they’re doing, it just needs to be made safer.”
The government has not given a timeline for its public consultation work. However, it has confirmed it will not close the junction until a decision is made.
With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Galen McDougall, Adam Lachacz and Jessica Robb