The City of Wetaskiwin stated in a press release Aug. 21, changes to the intersection, including speed limit reductions, must be approved by the provincial government.
“Working with Alberta Transportation to accomplish the intersection improvements as soon as possible is paramount,” said Mayor Tyler Gandam. “I hope that we hear back from the Minister of Transportation quickly on this safety initiative.”
The total anticipated cost for the improvements is $427,000. The City of Wetaskiwin will proceed with tendering the intersection improvements and lowering the posted speed limit once approval to do so is received from Alberta Transportation and a subsequent motion for funding is approved by City Council.
City of Wetaskiwin council selected a model for changes to the infamous Hwy. #13 and #814 intersection that will cost at least $325,000 during their regular council meeting Aug. 19.
The agenda item of proposed changes to the intersection was presented by Director of Municipal Services Sue Howard and Senior Peace Officer Sgt. Eric Christiansen.
Local residents will likely be aware there was another fatal motor vehicle collision at that intersection earlier this summer. A car was allegedly making a left-hand turn northbound onto #814 and was struck broadside by an 18-wheeled truck that allegedly was using the right-hand turn lane as a through-lane. A passenger in the car was killed.
Howard stated a consultant examined the intersection and provided four options for council to consider with the ultimate goal of reducing or eliminating the chances of such a collision ever happening again.
Option 1 included a modified lane reassignment with a design speed of 90 kms and a estimated cost of $375,000, Option 2 included a modified lane reassignment with a design speed of 70 kms and an estimated cost of $275,000, Option 3 Existing Lane Configuration with a design speed of 70 kms and an estimated cost of $325,000 and Option 4 a single lane modern roundabout with an estimated cost of $1.8 million.
Howard stated the consultant felt Option 2 was best, but she said staff preferred to go with Option 3 even though it was more expensive. Howard stated staff felt Option 3 provides the best way to prevent motor vehicle collisions. Option 3 includes a concrete “pork chop” feature that, when asked how this will help, Howard noted, “They will wreck their car if they try going over it.”
The agenda item noted that the intersection is currently funded for capital by a 75 per cent City of Wetaskiwin share and 25 per cent Alberta government share, based on the jurisdiction in which the roads lie.
“Traditionally, municipalities manage capital and operating expenses of the road system within its boundaries,’ stated the memo, hence, city taxpayers would be responsible for 75 per cent of this intersection upgrade.
A request by the city to the County of Wetaskiwin for financial help with the project was turned down by county council Aug. 13. The county’s rationale was that the no part of the intersection in question is within their boundaries. The city council memo stated, “The lands in the NW corner of the intersection are within the County of Wetaskiwin.”
Councilor Wayne Nielsen stated that more people turn north onto #814, heading into the County of Wetaskiwin, than turn south into the city, “And then the county says they don’t have a role in this.”
Councilor Kevin Lonsdale noted the Town of Millet had a similar intersection problem on Hwy. #2A, and repainted lines to have dedicated left-hand turn lanes and through traffic in the right lanes.
Howard said the collision that occurred at #13 and #814 earlier this summer would not have been prevented by Millet-style lanes.
Councilor Alan Hilgartner asked what can be done for the intersection right now.
Howard answered enforcement has been stepped up in the area to prevent people using the turning lanes as through-lanes.
Christiansen noted people who are stopped for that infraction think driving through the intersection on the turning lane should be legal. “Most of them don’t think it’s a big deal,” said Christiansen.
Councilor Dean Billingsley asked how soon the speed reduction could be introduced, and Howard answered very soon.
Mayor Tyler Gandam said he was disappointed that the County of Wetaskiwin has been included in the discussions about this project and the majority of traffic turns north into the county, but they still declined to participate financially.
Councilors approved continuing negotiations with the provincial government and County of Wetaskiwin with Option #3 as the goal.