Tuesday, July 20, 2010  
   Volume 80 - Issue 29 Website:www.passherald.ca   email: passherald@shaw.ca   $1.00   
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Quote of the Week
“Unless you’ve got something against mountains, this is one of the most scenic trails you can be on.”
- Joe Larsback  
- on the Sinister 7   
   
Intersections and traffic lights on horizon;
 
Alberta Transportation is making plans for certain upgrades to Highway 3 through the Crowsnest Pass, and while the highway will not see its long-desired four lanes anytime soon, there are still some interesting projects on the horizon.
Darrell Camplin, Regional Director of Alberta Transportation, along with engineer Phil Luchka, attended the July 13 Governance and Priorities Committee meeting to speak with council about the plans and seek the municipality's input. Camplin said that his department is looking at ways to improve traffic flow on the highway, which in recent years has been backing up on long weekends.
Luchka told council that Alberta Transportation has worked with AMEC, an engineering company, to review intersections along Highway 3 in the Pass, and to look at the possibility of creating four lanes between the golf course in Blairmore and the Highway 40 turn-off in Coleman.
He said that the four lane idea, which had previously been suggested to council, turned out to be financially infeasible at this time. A four-metre painted median would need to be installed in the middle, he said, since a raised median would be troublesome during snowfalls, creating drifts on the highway. This widened the design and brought the total estimated project cost to $11 million for three kilometres of highway.
"It was a bit of a harder pill for us to swallow, as far as budget," said Luchka. "When we saw the price tag on that, we started to rethink where we should go."
"Eleven million dollars for a three kilometre section is very, very expensive," added Camplin. He said that it would be difficult to secure the funding for such a project.
Instead of creating four lanes, said Camplin, they are considering the possibility of installing traffic lights on the highway at two heavily used intersections, to alleviate some of the stress on the highway during high traffic periods.
The two intersections they are considering are the west Blairmore access near Tim Hortons, and the access to Highway 40 –– otherwise known as 86th Street –– in Coleman.
Camplin said that putting lights at these intersections would provide gaps for people to get onto and off of the highway more easily during high traffic periods. Both of the intersections would also be improved to have through lanes, right-hand turn lanes, and left-hand turn lanes. The lights would be connected to motion sensing cameras that would adjust the timing based on the traffic flow –– in other words, the light would stay green longer if there is a lot of traffic on the highway, and would only stop highway traffic when people needed to get on or pedestrians needed to cross.
 
In addition, he said, they would be agreeable to moving the high school access to 86th Street, in order to remove the access on Highway 3. He noted that this would still be a significant upgrade for the highway, without costing as much as the four lane idea. He said that they would include this in their design plans if council wished.
In Line
“Eleven million dollars for a three kilometre section is very, very expensive."
- Darrell Camplin  
- Regional Director,   
Alberta Transportation   
In Line
"Our goal is to make Highway 3 last as long as it can in its current condition," said Camplin.
Mayor John Irwin said that he is not a fan of traffic lights on a highway, but that he feels it might be needed in the Pass, as there are times when a person can't cross the highway because of all the traffic on it. Camplin agreed, and said, "It's an acceptable alternative in my opinion."
Councillor David Cole said that it was just as well that the four lane project was off the table, because he doesn't feel it would make any difference to congestion on the highway. He said that traffic would be bottlenecked down again in Coleman anyway, backing traffic up just as badly as it was before. He said that it would be better to put the money toward intersections and crosswalks.
While the traffic light idea does not yet have a date attached to it, Luchka outlined two different intersection projects that would likely take place in 2011.
In their consultations with AMEC, he said, they identified two intersections in need of improvement –– the 61st Street intersection in Coleman, where the McGillivray Road and Volker Stevin yards are, and the access to the Frank Industrial Park.
Luchka said that they hope to upgrade both intersections in the coming year. As part of the project in Frank, they would shift the Industrial Park access one block west, to align it with the 150th Street access instead of staggering the intersections as in the current design.
"These intersection improvements were supported by our department," he said, "and by the local MLA."
Councillor Cole also expressed concerns about the traffic turning left off the highway into Fas Gas in Frank, which can cause a hazard when transport trucks are parked alongside the highway.
Before the meeting ended, Camplin added that Alberta Transportation is also doing a study on potential passing lanes on Highway 22, a well-used highway that turns north off Highway 3 just east of the Pass.
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   Volume 80 - Issue 29 Website:www.passherald.ca   email: passherald@shaw.ca   $1.00   
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