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Farmers concerned about planned Penhold roundabout

Roundabout would be too small for large farm equipment, farmers say

Red Deer County farmers fear a proposed roundabout at Penhold will hinder access to their farmland.

Alberta Transportation and Economic Corridors has proposed a roundabout at the intersection of Highways 42 and 2A at the north edge of Penhold. It would be similar to a roundabout previously installed at the Springbrook intersection several kilometres to the north.

Residents got a look at the design drawings for the roundabout at a public open house last week — and some were not pleased.

Red Deer County Coun. Dana Depalme said the roundabout as proposed would be too tight to move large farm equipment, such as combines, east and west.

“Quite a few of them have land on the east side of Penhold and also on the west side,” said Depalme, whose division includes the intersection.

“Since they put the Springbrook one in, if they do the same with this one, they’re going to have to drive all the way up to Innisfail and then take all these back, gravel roads to get to their farmland — which is not cool.

“There are probably about 15 to 20 farm families that use that intersection to get equipment across.”

Farmers shared their concerns with Alberta Transportation officials at the open house but not Depalme is not sure they fully understood how concerned farmers are.

“At the open house, they were just not understanding farm equipment,” she said.

It appeared transportation officials were looking at the roundabout through the lens of what would efficiently move traffic around the town.

“I said I realize that, but you’re still in rural Alberta here. I honestly just don’t think they thought about it.”

Depalme said she was also able to chat with Transportation and Economic Corridors Minister and Innisfail-Sylvan Lake MLA Devin Dreeshen at a recent UCP gathering recently to pass on what she was hearing from residents and what could be done about it.

An option might be to build a bigger roundabout, similar to the one at the south edge of Blackfalds. Before that one was built about a decade ago, concerns had been raised that it would not be able to handle the kinds of large trucks that regularly drive in and out of nearby industrial parks.

Before it was constructed, transportation officials laid out a mock roundabout using traffic cones to demonstrate that the design could accommodate large trucks with double trailers.

Rural residents are worried that the Penhold project is already well underway and a redesign may be difficult at this point.

Alberta Transportation was contacted but they were not able to provide a response on Friday.

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