By Trevor Busch
The Town of Taber is in support of recommended changes to highway speed limits inside municipal boundaries which would see current maximums increase in three locations, but would drop on a stretch of Highway 864.
Town council received a letter from Alberta Transportation on Feb. 3, 2020 which detailed the department’s recommendations, and the matter was discussed in closed session on March 9 before a resolution was passed.
“That was brought forward for all four directions in town here — entries and exits to the community,” said Mayor Andrew Prokop in an interview with the Times following the decision. “So basically east, west, north, south, including Highway 36, Highway 864 and Highway 3. On Highway 36, there’s a short 50 kph stretch there now, that would move to 60 kph in both those locations, north and south. And then east-west, Highway 3, from a 50 kph zone, would move to 60 kph.”
Long the bane of southern Alberta drivers, Highway 3’s proliferation of 50 kph speed zones in communities like Coaldale, Taber, Grassy Lake, and Bow Island have never been popular among travelers looking for a speedy arrival at their destinations. In Taber, however, those drivers may soon be able to take advantage of enhanced speeds.
“Currently it’s 50 kph, it slows you down from 80 kph to 50 kph,” said Prokop. “So their recommendation is to change that to 60 kph on the highway through town.”
With the planned construction of a new intersection at 56th Avenue and Highway 864 in 2020, this included the installation of a pedestrian crossing, so Alberta Transportation recommended a speed limit reduction in the area.
“Highway 864 which is currently 80 kph — that 80 kph stretch right until you get to 50th Avenue, then it goes to 60 kph — they’re suggesting that one be dropped to 70 kph,” said Prokop. “And that one’s in anticipation of the 56th Avenue – Highway 864 intersection addition that’s going to take place this year, and the walking trail going through there, pedestrians would be crossing at that location also with a set of pedestrian lights and crosswalk. No other traffic lights there, but definitely pedestrian lights at the walking trail. So they’re recommending they go down to 70 kph at that location.”
Following closed session discussion on March 9, council passed a resolution directing administration to send a letter to Alberta Transportation supporting their recommended changes.
According to the minutes of the meeting, council’s vote was not unanimous.
“So those have all passed through council with the transportation recommendations at all four locations,” said Prokop. “I’m not sure when that’s actually going to occur exactly — I don’t think they gave us an actual date when that was expected — but it should be this spring sometime.”
According to Prokop, Alberta Transportation is examining harmonization of many speed limits on highways throughout Alberta.
“They’re basically going around the province and checking these speed zones and re-evaluating. It’s not just Taber, but elsewhere in the province as well, just to try to be a little more consistent. We’re just kind of following suit with what their recommendations are.”