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Sylvan plans to make railway crossing safer

The Town of Sylvan Lake is on track to make a local railway crossing safer.

An application has been made to Transport Canada to approve the transfer of authority over 50th Street from the province to the town.

“That was just a small technical piece that was never done,” said Mayor Susan Samson.

Alan Gassor, the town’s director of operations, said the province briefly took responsibility for that stretch of road around a decade ago before returning control back to the town a few years ago.

However, when it came back to the town, the Transport Canada approval was overlooked.

The approval is necessary before the town can go ahead with negotiations with Canadian National Railway Co. and federal transport officials to design a safer crossing with additional signals or barriers.

The crossing has signals and bells but no barriers.

Gassor said that approval is likely to come by the end of March.

The town will then get to work on a plan to improve the crossing, which has CN Rail support.

“The onus would be on the town to come up with a design proposal. Then we submit it to CN Rail for approval,” he said.

Vehicle and pedestrian counts will be done this spring as part of the process.

Also planned is a pedestrian sidewalk crossing on the east side of 50th Street.

There is a sidewalk on the west side, but many of those who leave their cars in a parking lot south of the tracks head to the beach along the east side of the road.

The area has been identified as a high-risk crossing because of the number of accidents there.

There have been six collisions, some fatal, in Sylvan Lake at the crossing since 1993.

Samson said CN Rail, Transport Canada and the town will all put money into improving the crossing next year.

The cost has not been determined.

A fence has already been erected to stop people crossing the tracks further along the rail line.



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