Parking problems left in wake of erratic closure
By: Tammy Rollie
| Posted: Wednesday, Feb 06, 2013 11:33 am
Motorists parking on the shoulder of Highway 7 to access a popular historic site west of Okotoks could be putting themselves in danger.
Since a yellow metal gate with a “closed” sign blocked entry to the parking lot and washrooms at Okotoks’ Big Rock last fall, some visitors have been parking along the highway to get to the site, violating the Traffic Safety Act.
“According to the Traffic Safety Act, the only time you’re allowed to park on the shoulder of a highway is if your vehicle is incapable of moving, you are broken down, have a flat tire or if there is an emergency of some kind,” said Alberta Transportation spokesperson Trent Bancarz. “The obvious reason is safety concerns.”
Alberta Culture made the decision to close the parking lot and washrooms near the site from mid-October to mid-May in 2010 following complaints about motorists getting stuck in the snow-packed or icy parking lot and the washrooms being messy.
Alberta Culture communications director John Tuckwell said the parking lot and washrooms were never maintained and Alberta Culture decided to close the parking lot rather than pay those costs as they didn’t expect the site to have much use during the colder months of the year.
There is room for four vehicles to park in front of the gate and the department has not received any calls over concerns about parking in the area, Tuckwell said.
“There may be days when there is a number of groups visiting, specifically during the holidays, but does that warrant opening the lot?” he said. “At this point we don’t think so. If we hear of a safety concern we will look into it.”
Bancarz said the shoulders of highways were designed to give motorists a place to go if they have a breakdown or mishap, they aren’t parking lanes.
“That certainly is concerning,” he said of people parking on the shoulder to access the site. “If you get a string of vehicles there is does pose a safety concern.”
Bancarz said parking in front of the gate is not illegal, as long as the vehicle is not on the roadway.
Okotoks RCMP Const. Shane Martens said he is not aware of the detachment receiving complaints or calls regarding people parking on the shoulder to access the erratic, but those caught doing so could face a fine.
“I would suggest anybody that sees this and sees it as a potential traffic hazard call the RCMP,” he said.
Crazy Creek Timber Frame Homes administrator Marla Brown, who lives east of the erratic, often notices motorists parking along the highway to access the site.
“We noticed right before Christmas there was a whole bunch of traffic congregated beside the highway,” she said. “Then we started to realize it’s because people can’t get in so they are parking (along the highway), which is a very dangerous situation.”