By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – A year after a public open house and six months after the review process ended, the community got its first glimpse of a draft Traffic and Pedestrian Safety Review Report during the June 25 Council meeting.
The 22-page report focuses on five key areas: safety and awareness projects, speeding, signage, crosswalks, and parking. It is the result of feedback the Morinville Traffic Advisory Committee (TAC) received from the community during an open house and through an online survey. David Schaefer, Morinville’s Director of Corporate Operations, said the draft document, which has been published on the Town’s website, provides Council and the public an opportunity to provide additional feedback on the document before being brought back to Council when meetings resume in late August. The document will then be used as a guide for action or budget implementation as needed.
Speeding seen as a top issue
The report indicates 20 per cent of traffic through Morinville is doing so at rates higher than the posted limit. Of the tickets issued within the community, 40 per cent are to residents. Although school zones were of concern to participants in the process, Highway 642, 100 Street, Cardiff Road, and the Town’s collector roads, including Grandin Drive, Sunnydale Road, and 95 Avenue, were also of concern to residents. The top speed registered through a 50 km/h zone was 147 km/h.
Morinville’s automated traffic enforcement program generated some discussion among Council, particularly the report’s assertion the current practice of photo radar hiding is within provincial guidelines. The controversial practice is defended in the report on four points: Alberta Solicitor General audits have demonstrated the photo enforcement program in Morinville meets provincial guidelines, and RCMP have found no issue with the program since their monitoring began last October. Additionally, the report argues several participants in the process requested additional enforcement, and achieving compliance solely through visible vehicles is undesirable as there is insufficient funding to provide enforcement vehicles at all locations.
Schaefer said no recorded comments during the public consultation process were critical of enforcement vehicles hiding.
Councillor David Pattison said he commended the photo enforcement program and said hiding is commonplace. “The bottom line is if you are speeding, you will get caught,” he said.
Controversial location could be removed
Councillor Sheldon Fingler brought back his concerns about photo radar vehicles hiding behind the pump house at the east entrance to town. Fingler made a motion to ask Administration to ask the RCMP to remove the monitoring spot from the 18 locations currently being monitored, and assign photo radar to an additional spot in town, preferably a playground area.
Councillor David Pattison expressed his opinion the location should stay. “I want those guys caught,” Pattison said of speeders. “I think that location is one where we don’t have a measure of enforcement, we are missing the boat. That location has traffic volume. I cannot support that at all.”
The vote passed with a 5-1 vote of Council, Councillor David Pattison the only opposing vote to removing the location.
Transition zones and other measures
On the list of recommendations in the report is an effort to ask Alberta Transportation to create a gradual acceleration and deceleration zone east of East Boundary Road like the one at the west end of Highway 642. It is believed the transition zone would reduce speeds heading into and out of Morinville by shifting the limit from 50 kilometres per hour to 80 km/h before capping at 100 km/h.
Additionally, the report calls for extending the 50 km/h zone at South Glens 100 metres east of the current zone.
Signage, crosswalk and parking concerns
The report identifies a number of signage concerns revealed during the open house and ongoing review. One of the recommendations is to add end of school zone signs throughout town. Though not required, it is felt the addition of end zone signs could assist with compliance.
Zebra markings, horizontal lines between the two vertical lines, at some of the community’s crosswalks are identified in the report to improve visibility to motorists. Additionally, it is recommended to install trail control gates to thwart people driving on trails as a short cut.
The report is set to return to Council this fall after more input on the draft report has been received.