Memorial Trail upgrades to deal with more traffic

Consultants have been hired and speed limits will drop on the road that will eventually become a major traffic artery for the Town of Sylvan Lake.

Consultants have been hired and speed limits will drop on the road that will eventually become a major traffic artery for the Town of Sylvan Lake.

In the wake of two fatal collisions and one near fatal last summer, Alberta Transportation closed two left-hand turns at the intersection of Hwy 11 and 50th Street, forcing a large number of motorists to shift their route north to Memorial Trail, a 1.6 kilometre gravel road running from 50th Street to Hwy 20.

Alberta Transportation has given the town $4.5 million to make necessary improvements to Memorial Trail, including completion of an unbuilt section connecting with 60th Street at the west side of town.

The town has been given until November of 2012 to finish the job, Sylvan Lake Mayor Susan Samson said following council’s regular meeting on Monday.

Council has awarded the Red Deer office of Associated Engineering Alta. Ltd. with the contract to design and oversee construction of a two-lane paved road that can later be upgraded to a four-km divided thoroughfare, said Samson.

Timing for adding the additional lanes will depend on growth, she said.

Once complete, Memorial Trail will resolve an issue Sylvan Lake motorists currently face with the lack of any major east-west route through the town, said Samson.

Effective Jan. 1, speed limits on the existing section of Memorial Trail will be dropped from 80 to 50 kilometres per hour on the recommendation of Sgt. Nick Rangen, manager of Protective Services for the town.

Rangen said he has heard the 1.6-km section described as a “goat trail,” not capable of safely handling the volume of eastbound traffic that has shifted from Hwy 11 since the left-hand turns were closed.

Memorial Drive right now is a light-base gravel road with deep ruts and narrow shoulders and especially difficult in winter conditions, Rangen told council.

Speed limits on the road will be raised to 60 km/h once construction is complete.

Council also agreed to lower the speed limit at the south end of 50th Street from 80 to 60 km/h because of additional hazards that have been created since eastbound access to Hwy 11 was closed, said Rangen.

Right now, there is a transition zone just south of the Memorial Trail and 50 Street intersection.

People are slowing down to make the left turn in the same section as other drivers are speeding up to continue south, he said.

Starting on Jan. 1, the speed limit will change to 60 kph on the entire south section of 50th Street, running from Hwy 11 to the Protective Services Building. The 40 kph limit will be maintained from the Protective Services Building north to Lakeshore Drive.