By Trevor Busch
With an anticipation of even heavier traffic in 2017 at the intersection of Highway 3 and Highway 864, town council is reviewing options to press Alberta Transportation to improve its traffic control measures at the site.
“It’s been discussed before, about the intersection of Highway 864 and Highway 3, the traffic there,” said Coun. Jack Brewin, who brought forward the issue during the council requests portion of the Dec. 19 regular meeting. “I’ve had fears — and heard fears myself — that the traffic is going to increase so much there now with the M.D. shop being moved out of town, with more employees going through that intersection, and the equipment, if we could re-address the situation there with a set of new lights or something, for instance the light between Lethbridge and Coaldale where it’s flashing yellow-red right now. At least it would bring attention to this.”
With the M.D. of Taber finalizing plans to re-locate its maintenance shop from its current location inside the town’s municipal boundary to a site in the M.D. off Highway 3 (located roughly equidistant between Taber and Barnwell) Brewin is anticipating increased traffic at the highway intersection in future.
“It’s a busy intersection, and I would support lights there, red and green,” continued Brewin. “We have discussed this, and I believe Mr. Birch (former CAO Greg Birch) was looking into it as a transportation issue, but I think the town has got to really consider re-addressing this, and bringing that concern forward again.”
While the town does have options available to level pressure for action on the issue with Alberta Transportation, finance director and acting CAO Devon Wannop pointed out municipalities cannot dictate that traffic measures be implemented on provincial highways.
“That’s some communication that we can help with Alberta Transportation if they’re looking — obviously because it’s a highway, we don’t have control over where lights go or whatever, but we could definitely look into that recommendation if that’s what you guys want. But again, that would be a motion that would need the full support of council.”
Public works director and acting CAO Gary Scherer indicated the municipality is aware of the issues with the intersection, and will be discussing the matter further at the town’s next traffic committee meeting.
“We plan on bringing that forward to the next traffic committee, and informing Alberta Transportation of the problems in the area,” said Scherer.
“One fix we did look at is the same as Coalhurst, where they have ‘stay right’, where all highway traffic must use the right lane.So we’re going to make a couple of suggestions to Alberta Transportation and send them a letter, basically stating our concerns.”
Brewin reiterated his concerns about the intersection, suggesting increased M.D. of Taber traffic in future could enhance already existing safety problems at the location.
“It is a concern. Traffic is getting worse there, and with big implement dealers out there crossing with big equipment, and large parts to the north, with air seeders and big combines going through there — I’ve sat there and watched about five swathers try to go through there at once, and it took them at least half and hour to get across that intersection. So it is a problem that I think we’re going to face with equipment even more now with the M.D. out there.”
Coun. Joe Strojwas, who did not attend the meeting but participated via teleconference call, agreed with Brewin’s assessment.
“I would concur. That corner is a problem, and has been a problem for some time, and is only going to get worse.”