On October 9th, the Whitney/Mayes family lost a very dear loved one at the intersection of Hwy 13 and Hwy 814 in Wetaskiwin. “We have discovered far too many lives have been lost at that intersection and are working on having the City of Wetaskiwin make any needed changes to make that a safer intersection, such as lights. There is nothing that can bring back those lost but we may be able to stop others from the devastation of losing family or friends in the future.”
On February 11, 2015, the City Manager’s Office received a petition signed by 65 people asking the City of Wetaskiwin to make any needed changes to the intersection of Highway 13 and Highway 814 to make that a safer intersection. The information was presented to City Council at the February 23rd, 2015 meeting.
The Municipal Government Act states that the CAO of the municipality is responsible for determining the sufficiency of the petition. In order to be a valid petition, the Municipal Government Act requires the following:
1. Only the electors of a municipality are eligible to be petitioners for most purposes.
2. Electors numbering at least 10% of the municipality’s population.
3. Petition must be in the proper format and each signature must be witnessed.
Based on the required criteria, the petition is not valid, yet the information provided can be accepted by Council as information and Council has the ability to act on it as they see fit.
Council and Administration advised they are very aware of the traffic concerns related to the 47 Street / Highway 13 East intersection. “Since the accidents of 2014, enforcement of speed, lane use, and stop signs has been stepped up by the RCMP and Sheriffs. Automated enforcement of speed and stop sign violations has also been increased.”
Because the intersection is partly within the City and partially within provincial jurisdiction, no changes can be made to the intersection without approval and cooperation from the province. Robin Benoit, our Director of Engineering and Development is in the process of arranging a meeting with Alberta Transportation to discuss if there are any opportunities to improve operation of the intersection through the use of improved signage or lane markings.
Installation of traffic signals are not recommended at this time based on a review of the following; nine years of traffic accidents showed that very few could be attributed to the absence of traffic signals, analysis of the two fatal accidents of 2014 revealed that it was unlikely that traffic signals would have prevented either accident, delays on 47 street are not excessive, traffic signals are not generally recommended on high speed roadways and the cost of installing signals at this location is estimated at more than $1,000,000.
A letter received on February 11th, 2015 addressed to Ted Gillespie, City Manager, read,
“These are the petitions collected after the accident on October 9, 2014. I know when we spoke you had said that yourself and the rest of the city counsellors were aware of the concerns with the intersection. I just wanted to urge you to make this a priority, as I fear more lives will be lost at this intersection. I am aware that both accidents were the result of driver error and it is said they were not the result of the roads/intersection, however, I disagree. The turning lanes are not used as they are intended. When diving East in the morning, the sun prevents you from being able to see the intersection clearly (I believe this may have been the case October 9th) and the speed is higher than you see in other communities.
This accident was a tragedy, I have been friends with Dawn Whitney for 30 years and to see her lose her husband at an intersection that had already been the site of two other fatalities that summer is devastating. I hope that some action in regards to this intersection are being made, I trust that yourself and city council will be looking into the best possible solution to ensure this becomes a safer intersection. “
Sincerely, Charity Huston.