Sundre Mayor Terry Leslie does not know if roundabouts are the answer to his community’s road problems.
But he does know that the status quo is not an option.
“Something has to be done to address pedestrian safety and address the issues brought forward by the business community,” said Leslie in a recent interview.
It is hoped that a triple-roundabout configuration being tried as a one-year pilot project will prove the answer.
Ever since the province took away on-street parking and turned the main drag through town — which also serves as busy provincial Hwy 27 — into a four-lane road more than 10 years ago there have been issues with pedestrian safety.
“When a semi trailer truck is going past the sidewalk at the speed limit or less it’s really kind of scary,” he said. “Residents were really quite concerned.
“There were rocks that were being thrown. Even a window or two was broken by passing vehicles on some of the local businesses.”
As well, the lane closest to the curb is not holding up well under the truck traffic. “That inside lane has seen significant wear. In front of the post office in town, it’s awful.”
Besides the safety problems, businesses found themselves facing mounds of snow when the highway is plowed by the province.
Leslie credits Alberta Transportation for recognizing there were problems and offering options. Those were presented in public open houses that began last year.
Roundabouts were chosen as the best way to go. The low-profile roundabout will have flexible bollards in case trucks or RVs take turns a little too tight.
The road scheme will be tried out for a year to see if it works or needs to be modified. If the roundabouts prove successful and are adopted, the town intends to look at improving parking.
“It’s really a welcome decision to address those safety issues and a chance for us to study it through four seasons,” said the mayor.
The town does not know if there will be snow removal issues or that the roundabouts will prove unpopular with truckers until they do a trial run, he said.
“I really like the approach of doing a pilot project first before you throw this thing together and say it’s a done deal,” he said.