County of Wetaskiwin balks at speed limit changes

Debate hears that Hwy. #13 and #814 changes too hasty

The County of Wetaskiwin voted by a 4-3 margin Sept. 17 to support speed limit changes on Hwy. #13 around an intersection some people feel is dangerous and should be changed.

At their Planning and Development council meeting Sept. 17, councilors discussed a proposal from Alberta Transportation that included requests from the City of Wetaskiwin for lowering the speed limit on Hwy. #13 which runs north of the hospital.

This intersection, with Sec. Hwy. #814, has been the subject of scrutiny after a fatal collision there earlier this summer.

County council previously discussed a request from the City of Wetaskiwin to lower speed limits related to this issue on roads within the County of Wetaskiwin. A Sept.13 letter was sent to Alberta Transportation, noting that County of Wetaskiwin council had turned down that specific request and noted one reason was that lowering the speed limit isn’t going to stop drivers from breaking laws, including illegal passing.

In his memo to council County CAO Rod Hawken summarized, “At the meeting of September 10, 2019, Council discussed the proposed speed zone amendment for Highway 2A and 13 as received from Yeayneabeba Hailu, Operations Engineer, Alberta Transportation.

“Ms. Hailu advised that the City of Wetaskiwin had requested Alberta Transportation to review the current posted speed limit of Highway 2A and Highway 13 entering and exiting the City of Wetaskiwin.

“Due to the changes made by the City, transitional speed zones when exiting/approaching the city on Highway 13 is also required; and Ms. Hailu proposed the following changes to the existing speed zones as described below:

“If approaching the City of Wetaskiwin from the north on Highway 2A, a driver would encounter a reduction to 60km/h speed zone from the intersection of Highway 13 until the city corporate limits. This speed limit change was requested by the City of Wetaskiwin.

“If approaching the City of Wetaskiwin from the west on Highway 13, a driver would encounter a speed zone of 60km/h until the city corporate limit (47 street).

“If approaching the City of Wetaskiwin from the east on Highway 13, a driver would encounter a transition speed reduction from 100km/h to 80km/h for 400m prior to entering city corporate limit.

“At that time Council directed administration to send a letter of non-support for the proposed changes.

“Upon receiving the County’s non-support, Alberta Transportation reviewed the posted speed limits and propose the following changes to the existing speed zones as described below:

“If approaching the City of Wetaskiwin from the west on Highway 13, a driver would encounter a speed zone of 60km/h for 400 meters prior to 47 Street.

“If approaching the City of Wetaskiwin from the east on Highway 13, a driver would encounter a transition speed reduction from 100km/h to 80km/h for 400m prior to 36 Street.”

During debate, councilors mentioned the city apparently requested speed limits be dropped on roads within the County of Wetaskiwin.

Councilor Josh Bishop noted he wasn’t supporting lowering speed limits and felt speed limit drops outside, and perhaps even inside, city boundaries are pointless. “I don’t support the speed change,” said Bishop, who noted barricades included in proposed intersection changes will have the most effect at increasing safety.

Councilor Kathy Rooyakkers stated that if the city and county have a partnership, the speed limit issue should have been discussed between the two before a request was sent to the provincial government. “That’s what should have happened,” said Rooyakkers.

Reeve Terry Van de Kraats said this issue has placed a certain amount of public pressure on the City of Wetaskiwin to do something quickly about that intersection.

Rooyakkers agreed. “They’re trying to do everything at once and we never got a say,” she said, who also added that motorists’ driving habits should also be taken into consideration.

Councilor Ken Adair said he could support a speed limit drop on the west side of the intersection, while the east side, which heads out into the county, should be left as-is.

Councilors voted by a 4-3 margin to support the following speed limit changes: If approaching the City of Wetaskiwin from the west on Highway 13, a driver would encounter a speed zone of 60km/h for 400m prior to 47 street and not give support if approaching the City of Wetaskiwin from the east on Highway 13 of the reduction.

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