By Nikki Jamieson
Sunny South News
Picture Butte council is hoping for the province’s support on slowing motorists down on Highway Avenue.
During their regular Aug. 27 meeting, Picture Butte Council received an email from Alberta Transportation, asking if the town would like to set up a meeting with Darren Davidson, Regional Director for Alberta Transportation, and Jerry Lau, Infrastructure Manager for Alberta Transportation, at an upcoming Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) meeting.
Town CAO Keith Davis noted that he was already in contact with both in regard to the Rogers Ave. Engineering study and what the plans are for that area, and although not much process has been made on Rogers Ave, Davis asked if council had another topic they would like to discuss with Alberta Transportation.
Coun. Joe Watson asked if they had “any type of appetite” to try to slow the speed down on Highway Avenue from the Community Center to UFA.
Mayor Cathy Moore asked if they had already done a steady on the area when they had a RCMP speed sign set up that showed they weren’t speeding over 50 km/hour.
Coun. Henry de Kok said that they wanted to slow it down to 30 km/hour, but Alberta Transportation wouldn’t do it unless there were enough people.
Coun. Teresa Feist noted that a previous study said there weren’t enough people going through the area to justify the speed change.
Watson acknowledged that, but asked if they wanted to try to pursue it again. When asked how long ago the study was done, administration confirmed it was three years ago.
Highway Avenue is the part of Highway 25 that runs through Picture Butte. It is one of two highways that run through town, with the other being Rogers Avenue, or Highway 519. The town needs to work with Alberta Transportation on any potential changes to the highways, as they are the ones who manage the highways.
“The whole reason we had the traffic count, was because the Beehive Child Care Centre was pushing to have an overhead pedestrian light crossing, and so we contacted Alberta Transportation, because they knew a traffic count does to justify that Alberta Transportation pays for a that infrastructure to be installed,” said Davis.
“I actually did the traffic count for Alberta Transportation — I sat on a chair with the deputy mayor and counted the people that crossed the road. The result was that the number of pedestrians did not justify Alberta Transportation putting in the overhead pedestrian flashing light crosswalk.”
Around the same time, the RCMP put up the speed time to track speeds on that stretch of road, and Alberta Transportation has been officially requested to do a study of speeds in the area.
Coun. Cynthia Papworth pointed out that it is hard to see around the parked cars, and asked about the possibility of a four-way stop at the intersection of 4 Street and Highway Avenue.
“You go through some towns now that have all the traffic circles, we don’t have room for that. But a four-way stop certainly has worked in a lot of other places,” said Papworth.
“It would slow traffic down.”
Watson said they wouldn’t have “any luck” with it as the town has tried to get a stoplight there but they didn’t have enough traffic to justify the expense.
De Kok voiced his support for slowing down traffic, pointing out that all the study said was that Alberta Transportation didn’t want to help pay for it.
“I think the town, if we wanted to, put up a sign ourselves. They just don’t want to help pay for it,” said de Kok.
Watson noted that another issue was jaywalking, with pedestrian crossing the road where motorists least expect it instead at the designated crosswalk, and although he hasn’t heard of a pedestrian-vehicle collision during all the years he’s been in town, he feared that at the speeds the cars were going, there will be an accident one day.
De Kok added that his wife hears semitrucks’ brakes locking up on that street all the time, meaning there’s been some “close calls”.
Council passed a unanimous motion to direct administration to set up a Meeting between council and Alberta Transportation to discuss option for reducing the speed on Highway Avenue at a later date.