Growing tension in Penhold over highway safety

A meeting is sought with Alberta Transportation minister to discuss the problem

Between greater pedestrian safety or uninterrupted highway traffic flow, Penhold Mayor Dennis Cooper is firmly on the side of people.

The Town of Penhold is asking for a meeting with Alberta Transportation Minister Brian Mason to discuss a growing tension in the community between vehicular highway traffic and pedestrians needing to get to the other side of town.

Hwy 2A and Hwy 42 dissect Penhold and need to be crossed by people wanting to use the multiplex, students needing to get to school, and residents walking to various businesses, said Cooper.

Ministry staff previously stated they don’t want to further interrupt highway traffic, he added, but residents of Penhold should be able to cross highways without risking their lives.

“Highways cut our towns in half, but they (the provincial government) control the highways,” said Cooper. For this reason, the Town of Penhold is asking the province to approve a new crosswalk across Hwy 42 at Waskasoo Drive for people living northwest of the multiplex and Penhold Crossing School.

Cooper said the Town can pay $9,000 to $12,000 for the crosswalk lights and their installation.

He would like the province to spring for more highway lighting poles along this section of Hwy 42, however, to make pedestrians easier to see at night. But “I was told they have a moratorium on highway lights.”

The town had previously installed its own pedestrian crosswalk across Hwy 2A at Penhold Elementary School, but it was removed by the Alberta government about four years ago because it hadn’t been registered with the province, said Cooper.

Government officials suggested a high fence be built around the school instead — and one was. But Cooper said it isn’t preventing students from crossing at various spots because they don’t want to walk three blocks to a marked intersection.

“Alberta Transportation says it doesn’t want to slow highway traffic flow, but we have residents and children that have to cross the highway every day. They have to have safe passage across. It’s very important.”

Since a few injury accidents have already occurred, he wants to find a solution before somebody dies trying to cross the road.

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