INNISFAIL – After a year and a half of lobbying the province a safety assessment along Highway 54 will soon start to determine when improved intersection upgrades can be made.
But nothing is yet written in stone. There are no guarantees but the town is at least pleased there is a commitment to take action.
“It’s certainly a situation where there have been some pretty serious accidents on those intersections, so they have to come up with a solution somehow,” said Town of Innisfail Mayor Jim Romane of his past concerns of motor vehicle collisions at the highway’s Lakewood Drive intersection. “It’s just in the early stages right now.”
In a verbal report to council on Aug. 23, Todd Becker, the town’s chief administrative officer, said he had discussions with provincial officials at the Alberta Transportation regional office in Red Deer on Aug. 20 about the problematic issues facing Highway 54, particularly the 100 kilometre an hour stretch between the 42nd Street and Lakewood Drive intersections where the town has long eyed pedestrian crossings.
The issue has become especially important for the 42nd Street intersection where the new Bella Vista development on the west side on Highway 54 is showing early signs of exponential growth.
Becker said the meeting was “quite good, quite cooperative” in outlining council and community concerns with at least the 42nd Street crossing and its safety issues.
He said the meeting concluded with Alberta Transportation committed to a safety assessment that will be conducted on the greater Highway 54 corridor, specifically the Lakewood Drive intersection down to 42nd Street.
Becker said the town and Alberta Transportation will work cooperatively on a Highway Vicinity Management Plan, which he said was a new red tape reduction plan to work with communities and municipalities.
He said the work will include how Highway 54 evolved and identifying the triggers for when speed limit reductions and pedestrian crossings can be implemented.
Becker said a few triggers would be growth, specifically within the new Bella Vista subdivision, as well as demands at the industrial park on the east side of Highway 54, and traffic counts on Highway 54.
However, Becker conceded the scope of the province’s Highway Vicinity Management Plan has not been made fully clear.
“Really, there is more planning to do but at least things are in motion based on the understanding of Alberta Transportation,” said Becker, adding the management plan is designed to balance public safety with economic development, with the latter focusing on the growing public attraction to the Bella Vista subdivision.
He said there will be another meeting in mid-September between town and Alberta Transportation officials. Becker added the new assessment plan will take six to eight months to complete. Becker said a report is hoped to be ready by the start of the second quarter of 2022.
“We clearly don’t understand the scope, just that it does take the full corridor within those intersections, and the safety and economic development requirements or needs of within those areas,” said Becker.
“Some good news there,” he added. “Slow and sure but at least some good news there.”