By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – Facebook is well known as a place for friends to gather on the Internet to learn what everyone is having for lunch or to share their most intimate thoughts and observations. But one area resident is using the popular social networking site to raise awareness of the situation at Cardiff Corner.
Paul Pelletier, who spent most of his life in Morinville before moving to St. Albert last year, thinks the intersection of Highway 2 and Cardiff Road, located just outside Morinville, is an unnecessarily dangerous intersection. Dangerous enough that he named his facebook group Cardiff Corner is a death trap!
But Pelletier’s name choice is not merely words intended to fuel the fires of righteous indignation felt by many Morinville residents that something has not been done about the corner before now. For Pelletier, the opinion is one born of personal experience. The St. Albert resident said that in late January of this year, relatives Alex and Maxine Montpellier were involved in an accident at the troubled intersection. Nine months later and Mr. Montpellier is still in hospital.
“It’s the senseless pain people like Alex have to go through that makes it a very important issue to me and I believe most everybody else,” Pelletier said, noting it was his relatives accident that initially prompted him to start the facebook page. “I just threw it up there to see what would happen. There was a pretty big response, and I think if there’s another accident at that corner you’ll probably see that thing jump again just as much.
Since starting the facebook group nine months ago the page has attracted 459 members whom share Pelletier’s opinion that something should be done about the intersection.
“A lot of people say an overpass and stuff and that’s ultimately probably the best,” he said, adding a set of traffic lights might also serve to mitigate the problem at the corner as a short term solution. “Even just a turning lane coming in from St. Albert that turns into the field, maybe a quarter of a mile before the corner so that any northbound traffic is off the highway.”
Pelletier also recommends making the corner a no-right-turn corner once an exit lane is built.
SOLUTION ON ITS WAY, MLA SAYS
Pelletier may soon get his wish for something to be done about Cardiff Corner. Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock MLA Ken Kowalski said two things are currently in the works – a short term and long term solution.
“In the short term there will be some improvements made at Cardiff Corner,” Kowalski said, adding that a few improvements put in place a few years ago were not as satisfactory as they should have been. The MLA said the province’s transportation department is currently looking at a design that would create an exit route for northbound Highway 2 traffic well before the existing right-angle turn off the highway. “This is going to be a shorter term thing,” he said. “This may last for several years, but it’ll improve the flow from a safety point of view, which is a primary concern.”
Kowalski said provincial engineers are looking at how much land would be required to have the exit veer off on an angle from Highway 2, and that negotiations with the land owner would have to happen because the province does not own the land that would be needed for the exit.
The MLA said the longer term solution will be tied in to the extension of the Anthony Henday coming north to the west side of St. Albert along Highway 2. Kowalski said the question remains as to whether the connection for the Henday extension will be at Highway 37 or whether it will come all the way to Morinville. Whatever the location, the MLA said the long-term project is some ten years down the line.
“The key thing to this is to try and find a solution to the safety problem now that would not see the wastage of taxpayer’s money later if we went to a major overpass,” Kowalski said. “But the key thing is safety. And that’s fundamental. So I applaud what the citizens are saying.”
The MLA said he is disappointed that the project couldn’t get started this fall, but he is certain that by fall of 2011 a safety improvement will be in place for Cardiff Corner.
While the final design has yet to be confirmed, Kowalski said it is unlikely that a set of traffic lights will be installed at the corner.
“The purpose of highways is to flow traffic,” Kowalski said. “When you put up lights on a major highway, then you defeat the whole purpose for having the highway in the first place. So this is something you’ve got to work all the way around.”
Pelletier’s page currently has 459 members, including Morinville Mayor Lloyd Bertschi and Councillor Lisa Holmes.
Editor’s note: Pelletier’s facebook page can be found by clicking here.