This letter concerns the placement of cabled guardrails on Secondary Highway 549 west of Okotoks. During a howling blizzard with blowing snow, I witnessed a school bus eastbound on 549 waiting to turn left at 96th. A small car topped the hill, trying to avoid the bus. The steel guardrails prevented the car from entering the ditch, which is no more than a few feet deep. The car bounced off the guardrail and buried itself under the rear bumper of the bus. Another car could not stop and rear-ended a truck, driving both into the ditch on the north side where there is no guardrail.
1. Why are there guardrails only on one side of the road when both directions have the same slope?
2. Why are there guard cables on perfectly flat sections of highways?
3. Why are there guard cables on a section of 549 in a known elk crossing to many hundreds. God help the driver that tops the hill in winter and discovers the large herd with no place to go.
4. Why are there only tall posts with reflectors at corners that are known to be treacherous in winter? This is where they should have been installed.
5. Why are the cabled railings so close to the travel portion of the road? There is no way farm equipment can be safely moved in such a narrow area.
I observed an elk killed by a motorcycle inside the safety cables. They picked the motorcycle up in three pieces. Two weeks later a young couple in a truck and fifth wheel trailer hit a moose inside the safety cables. The moose died and the truck was destroyed. This highway is widely used for bicycle enthusiasts, but there are no shoulders for them to move over.
Last year a construction firm resloped all of 549 west from Okotoks to Highway 22. They did an exceptional job of the slopes on the road. There was no need for any of these guardrails. I have been fortunate to live here for 75 years and I have never seen an accident in any of the places where the cables have been placed.
The people who live in this area and use this highway should have been consulted, to help with the placement and problem areas. Tragic accidents will continue to happen because of these poorly placed and not thought out guardrails.
MD of Foothills