Alberta Transportation is exploring installing concrete barriers as one option for stopping drivers from doing illegal U-turns at the reconfigured intersection of Hwys 781 and 11 near Sylvan Lake.
Department spokesman Trent Bancarz said on Thursday that drivers are engaged in dangerous behaviour when they do the U-turns at the new right-in, right-out intersection.
The barriers are definitely not a done deal, he said.
“I don’t know exactly what we’re going to do yet,” said Bancarz. “We’re still looking into it, but we’re certainly looking at things that will discourage that U-turn. The whole purpose of converting the intersection the way we did was to try and eliminate the left turn that was a factor in fatal collisions. The moves were made for safety concerns.”
Jennifer Fraser, a Sylvan Lake resident who has been fighting to get traffic lights at the intersection, said she believes the concrete barriers won’t work.
This option only shows that safety remains a problem at the intersection, she said.
After the construction was finished in late 2011, eastbound traffic on Hwy 11 was no longer able to turn left at the Hwy 781 intersection so they can head north onto 50th Street into town. As well, drivers south on 50th Street are not supposed to turn left onto Hwy 11 anymore at the intersection.
Bancarz said some southbound drivers take the right part of the island that’s located there now and then they end up westbound.
“Technically, they are not allowed to turn eastbound onto Hwy 11 from the intersection,” he said. “They are going westbound first, then making the U-turn to go eastbound.”
The right-in, right-out island is configured so people can’t make that turn, Bancarz said.
“It’s a highly illegal move — and it’s dangerous, you are putting yourself and others in danger,” he said.
Provincially hired consultants held invitation-only focus group sessions on Wednesday and Thursday so they could get input on the controversial changes to Hwy 11 and the long-term road plans for the area. Fraser attended one of the sessions.
“I think it was a meeting that reinforced the fact that we’re not getting lights, no matter how many people want them,” said Fraser.
She said more than 4,000 signatures have been signed on a petition as well as on letters. But the provincial government isn’t budging.
Fraser also attended a forum hosted by the Wildrose Party on Tuesday. She figures about 140 people attended to share their concerns on the intersection.
People are unhappy that they were not able to give any input into Alberta Transportation’s plans to make the intersection right-in, right-out, she said.