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Morinville debates traffic troubles

Signals and roundabouts could be answers
TRAFFIC TALK — Dale Metcalfe, in mask, discusses traffic safety upgrades with Town of Morinville infrastructure manager Jordan Betteridge during an Oct. 26, 2022, open house at the Morinville Community Cultural Centre. About 60 people came out to the open house to debate potential upgrades to two intersections in Morinville. KEVIN MA/St. Albert Gazette

Morinville residents weighed in on Wednesday on what traffic controls the town should build to bring peace to two troubled intersections.

About 60 people came to the Morinville Community Cultural Centre Oct. 26 for an open house on intersection planning. Guests were asked to weigh in on the use of traffic signals and roundabouts to address safety issues at 100 Ave./Hwy. 642 and Grandin Drive as well as Cardiff Road and 100 St.

Signals vs. roundabouts

Grandin Dr. and 100 Ave. was a four-way stop equipped with flashing beacons. Morinville residents have reported many near-hits between cars and students there and called for safety improvements.

“The worst time is after school,” said Morinville resident Dale Metcalfe, who lived near the intersection, as you had students from three area schools converging here.

“Students for the most part just walk right out into this crosswalk without any regard to how much traffic is backing up.”

Many drivers don’t stop at or wait for pedestrians at this intersection, and some can’t see past the big trucks stopped at it, said Andrea Martiniuk of Cardiff.

“It’s a safety hazard for the kids,” she said of the intersection, and it created long lines of traffic.

While a 2013 functional planning study recommended the construction of a roundabout here at some point, many residents have called for traffic signals instead, said town infrastructure manager Jordan Betteridge.

Betteridge said signals were cheaper up front but cost more to operate than a roundabout. If the town put signals at this intersection, it would have to create no-parking zones to the north and south on Grandin to make room for left-turn lanes.

A roundabout here would cost more up front and affect nearby driveways, Betteridge said. It would likely be safer than signals, though, as roundabouts reduced speeds and prevented right-angle collisions.

Martiniuk expressed doubts about a roundabout at this spot. Children don’t understand how roundabouts work, and could force cars to stop in the intersection if they cross at the wrong time.

“A roundabout is just asking for an accident,” she said.

Metcalfe said he favored signals with “walk/don’t walk” lights at this intersection, as they would protect students and give motorists a chance to turn safely.

Cardiff and 100 St. was a three-way stop where cars turning off Hwy. 2 met traffic from Cardiff and vehicles leaving Morinville. Congestion was common here, guests at the open house said, with cars sometimes backing up onto Hwy. 2

Betteridge said adding a roundabout here would involve realigning a ditch. Signals would require road-widening to add a turning lane.

Laura Lundgren of Cardiff said she wanted a roundabout here to improve traffic flow, noting that there were no pedestrians to worry about at this spot.

Metcalfe said he also favoured a roundabout here. Ideally, it would be paired with a very long off-ramp from Hwy. 2 similar to the one proposed in 2011, back when the provincial government planned to build an overpass at Cardiff and Hwy. 2. (The province dropped the overpass in favour of lights in 2013.)

Next steps

Betteridge said he didn’t have a precise price tag or timeline for any of these options yet, as those would depend on budgets, land acquisition, and provincial approvals. The draft 2023 budget allocated $690,000 in 2024 to design these intersection improvements and $2.85 million in 2026 to build them, but those numbers were just placeholders.

“We see the need for this now,” Betteridge said, so administration planned to have these improvements built within five years.

Betteridge said administration would take comments from the open house and a related online survey and present options to council this January. The survey closes Nov. 9.

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Kevin Ma

About the Author: Kevin Ma

Kevin Ma joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2006. He writes about Sturgeon County, education, the environment, agriculture, science and aboriginal affairs. He also contributes features, photographs and video.
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