No rush to install cable barriers on Hwy 2 north of Red Deer

The provincial government has no immediate plans to install cable barriers along Hwy 2 between Red Deer and Edmonton — a measure that has saved lives between Red Deer and Airdrie.

The provincial government has no immediate plans to install cable barriers along Hwy 2 between Red Deer and Edmonton — a measure that has saved lives between Red Deer and Airdrie.

Cable barriers were first installed along medians of a 10-km stretch of Calgary’s Deerfoot Trail in 2007 and since then, there hasn’t been a single fatality in that area.

Barriers were then installed on Hwy 2 between Red Deer and Airdrie in August 2010 as a way to stop vehicles from crossing the ditch and into oncoming traffic.

But they have yet to be installed north of Red Deer — the area where a man lost his life on Oct. 28.

Longtime Ponoka County employee Jerry Gartner, 59, died after his northbound van was struck by a southbound SUV that had crossed the median near Lacombe.

Alberta Transportation spokesman Martin Dupuis called the collision a “sad tragedy.”

“As far as we’re concerned, one collision on our roads is one too many,” Dupuis said.

“So we always look at ways to making our roads safer.”

The cable barriers have proven to be successful.

Dupuis said that the Red Deer-Airdrie barriers have been struck 500 times over a 10-month period and during that time, there was only one fatality. He said the person who died had been wearing a seatbelt.

And only four people have actually driven through the barriers and crossed into oncoming lanes.

But several factors are stalling any further installations.

“We focus on narrow medians because people would have less time for recovery,” said Dupuis.

“When the median is quite wide, there is this recovery time if they run off the highway.”

Dupuis said they are monitoring barriers that were recently installed in wider areas just outside of Calgary. Wider medians are located north of Red Deer.

The plan is to keep track of these barriers over a one-year period.

“We also have to look at budget and look at priorities — because it’s not just one aspect when it comes to traffic safety,” Dupuis said. “It’s a series of things.”

ltester@bprda.wpengine.com