Cable barrier may have prevented fatal crash: Alberta transportation

A Hwy 2 crash with fatal consequences near Blackfalds on Monday may have been averted had a cable barrier been installed in the median, says an Alberta Transportation spokesman.

A Hwy 2 crash with fatal consequences near Blackfalds on Monday may have been averted had a cable barrier been installed in the median, says an Alberta Transportation spokesman.

Trent Bancarz said the cable barriers in place along Hwy 2 south of Red Deer have worked very well at preventing serious collisions.

“You can’t say 100 per cent with certainty (regarding Monday’s crash),” said Bancarz. “But certainly the barrier likely would have prevented the car from going into oncoming traffic.”

On Monday at around 4 p.m., emergency personnel responded to a collision on Hwy 2, just south of Hwy 597 near Blackfalds.

The driver of a car was pronounced dead at the scene.

RCMP Ponoka Integrated Traffic Unit reported that the driver of a southbound car was trying to pass a cement truck from the merging lane. It crossed through the southbound lanes and through the median, ending up in the northbound lanes, where it was struck by a compact car.

STARS air ambulance airlifted one person from the scene to an Edmonton hospital, and then one to Calgary from Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre. The driver of the southbound vehicle is dead. Two other people are injured.

No additional information as of Wednesday has been released by Ponoka RCMP.

The provincial government installed cable barriers between Red Deer and Airdrie in 2010 and since then, they have been struck 1,100 to 1,200 times, said Bancarz. During construction of these barriers, they were hit about 30 times.

A fatal collision happened earlier this year just north of Airdrie that involved high speed and alcohol, he said.

“We’ve had extreme circumstances where drivers are travelling 150 to 160 km/h and they’ve gone through the barriers and into oncoming traffic,” said Bancarz. “There’s been collisions but no fatals, except for the one.”

The 124-km stretch of Hwy 2 to Airdrie was chosen partly because the median is quite narrow.

Another 3.5-km section near Leduc has the safety device.

Alberta Transportation is looking at installing the barrier along other divided highways in the province, based on a priority ranking.

Bancarz said there are no plans to install any more in the 2012-2014 road capital program, but that is reviewed annually. “It’s simply a matter of available funding and overall priorities,” said Bancarz.

Median width as well as terrain are factors, he added.

The barrier was first introduced on a 10-km stretch on the north end of Deerfoot Trail in Calgary in 2007. No vehicles have broke through that barrier.

ltester@bprda.wpengine.com