Members of two area committees, the Commercial Transport District Advisory Committee and the MD of Bonnyville Oil Producers Traffic Safety Committee, have identified two priorities to improve safety on MD of Bonnyville area highways.
One priority for members is the eight-mile stretch on Highway 55 between La Corey and Iron River, which they would like to see widened. The province would need to purchase land to widen the highway, then find the cash for the work.
“It's the only section that doesn't have shoulders and it's dangerous,” MLA Genia Leskiw said at the roadside barbecue at the Hoselaw weigh station for commercial vehicle safety month on Friday.
The widening would also need to make its way onto the provincial priority list, as currently it is not part of the province's three-year plan. It is, however, the main highway priority of the MD of Bonnyville.
A second priority of committee members is the intersection at highways 892 and 55 north of Ardmore. It's controlled by stop signs for north and southbound traffic on 892.
Highway 55 handles about 2,910 vehicles per day east of the intersection, while Highway 892 handles 2,260 vehicles per day north of the intersection, according to provincial traffic counts on the province's website.
“Anything we can do in that intersection to control the traffic and make it a safer or more user friendly situation is good,” said Jim Millington, corporate safety manager for Tri-City Contracting.
He said the peak times between 5 and 7 a.m. and between 4 and 7 p.m. are “insane to watch the traffic go through there.”
“It's grand central station,” he said.
The province conducted engineering plans for a roundabout at the busy intersection, which would slow down traffic while not stopping it. However, several committee members would like to see it controlled with a four-way stop.
Leskiw said truckers she's heard from would like the intersection to have a four-way stop, but that the transportation department isn't typically keen about putting a four-way stop on the highway. A four-way stop is in place at the intersection of highways 41 and 55 at La Corey.
A roundabout would cost around $4.7 million to build. The province proposed to the MD of Bonnyville and members of industry to each contribute $1 million to fast track the traffic circle.
The province constructed a roundabout a few years ago at the intersection of primary highways 8 and 22 west of Calgary to reduce the number of serious collisions at that intersection.
Bob Tomm, from B & R Eckels, said he favours the four-way stop at the intersection, as it wouldn't require the large investment that a roundabout would.
The intersection garnered attention at Deputy Premier Doug Horner's appearance at the LICA AGM last month, where a showing of hands of those in attendance expressed overwhelming support for a four-way stop.
The decision of a four-way stop versus a roundabout has not yet been made.
Leskiw said that she's keen to receive letters about the intersection (she's received over 200 regarding it), as well as other transportation issues she can take to the minister of transportation.