Residents support lower speed limit on rural highway
Foothills: Majority of landowners along Secondary Highway 762 want limit dropped
By: Don Patterson
| Posted: Wednesday, Jan 22, 2014 06:00 am
A Foothills MD councillor is renewing her call for the provincial government to lower the speed limit on a rural highway in the municipality’s northwest corner after a survey shows a majority of residents along the road support the move.
Speed limits on Secondary Highway 762 were dropped to 80 km per hour in 2011 after sections of the road slumped as much as three or four inches, but the limit was raised back to 100 km per hour after the road was repaired last year.
Since then, there have been calls for the provincial government to reduce the speed limit again over concerns about safety and what some say are poor conditions along the road.
A recent survey conducted by MD Coun. Suzanne Oel shows support for the move, with two thirds in favour of a lower speed limit.
“The bottom line is they do have a concern with the 100 km (limit),” she said.
As a provincial highway, MD council doesn’t have the ability to change the speed limit on the highway, but it can ask the provincial government to review the limit.
Oel said council is supportive of lowering the speed limit, but it wanted to know where residents stood first.
“The purpose was to democratically find what the support was for the speed limit and then go to Alberta Transportation with that in mind,” she said.
As a result, Oel conducted the survey in November and December. The results show more than half, 51.3 per cent, said they supported lowering the limit to 80 km per hour and 13.3 per cent supported a 90 km per hour speed limit. One third, or 33.1 per cent, supported leaving the limit at 100 km per hour. As well, 2.3 per cent supported a mix of speed limits along the road. Oel sent out 311 copies of the survey to people who live along the road and received 263 responses.
Oel said the survey results will be presented to Alberta Transportation.
She said a compromise could be lowering the limit to 90 km per hour.
“I would say we definitely want to look at a lower speed limit, but we don’t know if it will be 80 km per hour or 90 km per hour,” said Oel.
An official with Alberta Transportation said the highway was built for a speed limit of 100 km per hour and there are no plans to change it.
“At this point in time we believe that the speed on the highway is correct,” said Nancy Beasley-Hosker, Alberta Transportation spokesperson.
She said Alberta Transportation would need to receive a formal request from MD council to conduct a review of the speed limit on the road.
Beasley-Hosker said the survey will be used as part of any potential review of the speed limit, but the review would also look at other factors such as the road’s design, traffic levels and its location.
She said the highway, like any other, has a variety of different users, from local residents, commercial vehicles and the regular travelling public. Beasley-Hosker said lowering the speed on highways designed for a higher speed can create new hazards.
“One of the things that we need to keep in mind is Alberta Transportation wants to ensure that all of our roads are as safe as we can make them for all travelers,” she said.
Some residents in the area who drive the road on a regular basis disagree, arguing a 100 km per hour limit is too fast for the road.
“With the general road design, most of the road only supports a maximum of 90 km per hour, there’s a few stretches that might support a little bit more,” said Bill Evans who lives on the northern stretch of the road.
Evans responded to the survey, saying he drives the full length of the road several times a week and a lower speed limit will make it safer and help to prevent collisions.
“I have witnessed, I’d say, carnage on that road and I’m not exaggerating,” he said. “I’ve witnessed two deaths of drivers and passengers… I’ve seen the remnants of at least five other accidents.”
Linda Torunski said it’s a safety issue and the limit needs to be dropped.
“The bottom line is the road itself is not in the best of shape,” she said. “There’s a lot of curves there’s very little shoulder on the road.”