|Coalhurst still awaiting safer traffic flows|
|Local Content - Local News|
|Written by Katie May|
|Thursday, 15 March 2012 21:09|
Plans for a safer access road to Coalhurst are moving slowly as officials try to curb a steady number of car crashes at the dangerous intersection into town.
For more than two years now, Coalhurst Mayor Dennis Cassie has been trying to build an access road leading east out of Coalhurst via Highway 25 to give residents a safer alternative to having to turn left across four-lane Highway 3 to head east out of Coalhurst toward Lethbridge. The intersection has claimed the lives of two Coalhurst residents in the past four years. In 2011 alone, there were four serious collisions there, one of them fatal.
Cassie met with County of Lethbridge officials recently to further a proposed agreement that would give the town access to Highway 25 and Rural Route 223, necessary to build the new access road. There’s still much to be done before the plans make it to the construction stage, and even though the provincial government has been fairly adamant that it will not give the town any extra money to pay for the new road, Cassie said he believes it will be built soon.
“I am extremely optimistic,” he said. “Traditionally, these things take very long. There is a process that you've got to go through and the process is generally long.”
Existing back roads out of town are not as direct as the five-kilometre new access to Highway 25 would be, Cassie said, adding that such a route could improve business development in the town of about 1,900.
Other ideas for how to make getting in and out of Coalhurst safer, including lowering the speed limit near town and installing traffic lights at the intersection, have been rejected by the provincial government, Cassie said.
“We have presented the government, in the past, with a number of options, including a lowered speed (limit), traffic lights, different merge lanes and those kinds of things. We have presented to the government a whole lot over the years, but those options were not accepted by the government,” he said.
“The last option we have is to find a new access and that’s what we are doing.”
Retiring Little Bow MLA Barry McFarland has previously said a new road would be the town's responsibility and that funding for it should come out of Coalhurst’s existing budget for road maintenance.
The riding’s Conservative candidate, John Kolk, said while current government officials still “carry water” on the issue, he would support the town's efforts for a new access road.
“In terms of public safety, it’s pretty much a no-brainer that we have to be doing something there,” said Kolk, also a former Lethbridge County Councillor.
“I would be supportive of what council is trying to move forward on, but until I'm elected of course I'm another public citizen.”
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