By Stu Salkeld The Pipestone Flyer
Millet town council will see changes made to an important intersection in town after meeting with an Alberta Transportation official May 23.
Russ Watts, representing Alberta Transportation, appeared at council’s regular meeting to discuss Hwy #2A, which also acts as Millet’s “main street.”
Councilor Robin Brooks opened the questioning by simply asking if there was budget money available to make changes to one of the busiest intersections in town, Hwy#2A and Sec. Hwy. #616. “That intersection is a concern,” said Brooks, noting the through lanes north and south also double as left-hand turn lanes. The right-hand turn lanes are being used by some motorists as a way to pass traffic that’s stopped to make a left-hand turn.
Watts said Alberta Transportation is reviewing the top 20 problematic intersections in Alberta, including those that have a history of problems. He said the government is looking at markings on the road and traffic patterns and have been thinking about adding lanes specifically for turning left. Watts noted traffic counts show much of the traffic is turning west onto #616.
Millet CAO Teri Pelletier stated that intersection also has a train crossing on the east side, which complicates the intersection even more.
Watts said suggestions to widen and add lanes to the intersection are complicated, because those additions require planning and funding. However, he noted a re-paint of the lanes in the intersection, allowing for dedicated left-hand turn lanes, can be done relatively quickly.
Brooks said he wasn’t sure that would help. He noted complaints he’d also heard from motorists about how long it takes to get through Millet on #2A.
Councilor Vicki Pyle said she’d also heard complaints that big trucks, when coming from the east side of the intersection, sometimes don’t stop and drive out onto #2A apparently to avoid stopping on the train tracks.
Watts said any problems with the train tracks have to go to the owner, which is CP Rail. Watts did ask, however, how frequently trains come along.
Pelletier, councilor Carol Sadoroszney and mayor Tony Wadsworth all answered “very frequently,” noting they felt it could be as often as every 20 minutes.
Councilor Doug Peel noted that traffic on Hwy #2A is a problem all the way to Edmonton International Airport.
Wadsworth noted the highway sometimes seems inconsistently marked, as some intersections have left or right dedicated turn lanes, while other intersections don’t.
Watts said markings are based on traffic counts. “It’s very difficult to correct…we’re talking about a behavioral issue, not design.”
But Wadsworth pointed out some motorists don’t keep that in mind, and while driving they assume all intersections are identical.
Pelletier noted that there are already traffic issue talks underway between all communities along Hwy #2A.
Watts clarified that Alberta Transportation will re-paint the northbound lanes at the intersection in question so a non-turning through-lane exists along with a dedicated turn lane; he said he will ask his superiors about the same treatment southbound.
Mayor Wadsworth said those changes are at least a start and will help.