Highway 7 needs to be fixed
Wednesday, Sep 06, 2017 10:28 am
I would like to offer some thoughts regarding the front page article written by Krista Conrad. Firstly, kudo to Ms. Conrad! This report was a timely and important piece.
I do take exception however with Jerry Lau’s comments (Mr. Lau is manager of Alberta Transportation infrastructure). He stated that ‘there is no plan at this time to upgrade the intersection at Highway 7 and 16 Street because there isn’t sufficient traffic’. And, because it has been deemed that the incidents at the intersection are considered to be due to ‘human error’ it appears that the Province sees no reason to fix the road.
I would argue that the accidents (several being fatal) are much more a result of the poorly designed intersection itself.
There are many other intersections in the Foothills that are also very hazardous, crossing Highway 2 on 338 Avenue is an obvious example. But, the intersection at Highway 7 and 16 Street is especially hazardous because it, by its very design, has a built in blind spot. Specifically, when you are attempting to turn south onto 16 Street while facing west on Highway 7 you cannot see oncoming traffic if — in the turning lane opposite you — is a commercial truck or larger. In this scenario you cannot see anyone approaching the intersection who, by the way — if travelling the speed limit — is travelling at 80km/h. My suspicion is that it is this very scenario that has been the template for most, if not all, of the accidents in this intersection over the past few years.
I am not an engineer, but being someone who traverses this intersection several times a day, I would like to ask Jerry Lau why the government would not be at all interested in making the intersection infinitely safer by simply having dedicated turning lanes on both sides of Highway 7. Currently, only the east facing lane has a dedicated turning lane and thus they can see oncoming traffic. By have a dedicated turning lane on facing west, those drivers would have a clear view of oncoming traffic as well. And, there is plenty of room in this intersection to make this second dedicated turning lane possible.
I am not sure how many accidents are necessary to motivate the provincial government to act in this matter. But it is frustrating to know that ‘the problem’ is the design of the intersection itself. Why would it not be a provincial norm that all intersections are designed smartly and safely?
Finally, thank you to MD councilor Delilah Miller for taking up this very important cause and I would encourage her to continue her work in this vein as we all strive for safer and smarter intersections in our province.