When tragedy strikes as it did this past week near Balzac, when an Airdrie man riding a motorcycle collided with a pick-up truck and was killed last Wednesday, it is important to come together as a community to not only express our sympathies to the family, but also to think of ways we could do better to prevent similar tragedies from occurring in the future.
One thing we could all do better is take this incident to heart and make a promise to ourselves to drive more carefully and responsibly. How can we do this? The answer is one we all already know: by being more attentive, slowing down, and by putting those cell phones away.
But there is also a larger picture which goes beyond personal responsibility. It is well recognized that some arterial highways branching off of Highway 2, or Highway 1A, or the TransCanada were originally designed to carry a much lighter load capacity. As communities and subdivisions in the region have grown, the volume of traffic on those local roadways has increased markedly. On Highway 566 in Balzac near where this most recent tragedy occurred, traffic during rush hour times is extremely bad– with dozens of cars backed up at the Highway 2 off-ramp traffic lights on a good day, hundreds on a bad one.
It is also one of only two arterial roads leading out of the busy CrossIron Mills mall and the East Balzac Industrial Park which connect with Highway 2.
It’s a traffic nightmare to say the least. And once you get past that frustrating intersection heading westward you come to a traffic circle and then beyond that into a narrow two-lane roadway without shoulders and steep ditches on either side. It was in this narrow path, a path which is not forgiving to too much speed or a moment of carelessness, that this 50-year-old Airdrie man lost his life.
While we give kudos to the County and the Province for stepping up to twin the other side of Highway 566 running eastward from the QEII into Balzac, that busy westward way desperately needs some attention to help all its users get home safe.