Traffic and Pedestrian Safety report revealed

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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.

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4 Comments

  1. I’m curious as to how people can whine, cry and complain about getting a ticket from a hidden photo-radar vehicle. The question is not why is the vehicle there. Rather, one should ask why were you speeding when you knew the speed limit and that a photo-radar or police vehicle could be there? By removing the location, people are going to continue blowing into and through town at 100 km/h or more with no means of stopping them. What if an RCMP cruiser “hides” there? Will the complaining continue?

    I got a photo radar ticket in St. Albert about nine years ago. As a result, I don’t speed through St Albert.

    Shelburne, Ontario was famous for many years for having OPP cruisers hiding behind the “Welcome to Shelburne” sign. They nailed people all the time. Some complained, but no one ever sped into or out of Shelburne twice.

    I recommend that instead of the “hidden van” we set-up a remote photo-radar camera system, complete with lots of warning signs, not unlike the ones that St Albert and Edmonton have at important intersections. Let it snap away and it would likely pay for itself in a year or so.

    Complaining about being caught speeding by “hidden” enforcement vehicles is asinine. Take some ownership for breaking the law, pay the fine and drive slower. People should be feeling remorse at getting caught speeding, not complaining loudly about the manner in which they were caught. I wonder if any of the councillors who voted to change the location had received tickets from that vehicle in that location?? I hope not, as some people may consider that a conflict of interest…

    To paraphase Baretta from the 1970s – “If you can’t pay the fine, don’t do the crime.” If you never speed, you’ll never get a ticket.

    My two cents.

    Brent

  2. Brent, photo radar does nothing to create safer streets! As the picture accompanying this acticle shows, if the young fellow walking down the street were to enter that crosswalk and get mowed down by a speeding vehicle, would you be the one to knock on his parents door and tell them that their child was injured (or worse) and reassure them that within 6 – 8 weeks, this driver would get a ticket in the mail from a photo radar vehicle hidden just before the crosswalk? That would teach that driver eh? If that same driver had seen either the photo radar vehicle or a law enforcement vehicle, the odds are that he would slow down. What will benefit the town more, $80 (or more) going into the town coffers or our children and citizens of Morinville walking safely throughout town? Safety is not the prime consideration behind Morinvilles use of photo radar, plain and simple! I would also like to know where this 147 KPH speeder was detected? Most likely a vehicle leaving the east end of Morinville in the transition zone (funny how all of a sudden there IS “transition zones” as defined in the traffic guidelines!!!!) Apparently Mr. Patterson has done an about face, his statement that if the town does not have a “measure of enforcement” at that location, we are missing the boat” I read that as “missing the cash cow opportunity” to reap funds for the town where there is NO safety concerns to justify monitoring this site!. Seriously, common sense must prevail! Monitor the school zones, and the downtown core where the potential for death or serious injury is real, instead of pretending that vehicles exiting town are a potential hazard to pedestrians. At least the other Councillors realize where the priority safety locations are. My nickel, as the penny is no more!

  3. To the Editor:

    You, and members of Council, will shortly be receiving a very detailed, point-by-point critique of this “draft report”.

    Suffice it to say: that which was presented last Tuesday evening is nothing more than a lovely pile of excrement, definitely not worthy of being called a “report”. And to think we waited a whole YEAR for this outrageous document to be made public. The rationale for the horrendous delay in producing this incredible piece of work borders, in my estimation, on incompetence.

    That’s right folks – hire yet ANOTHER consultant to actually do job(s) which members of Administration should be doing.

    One can only hope that the upcoming election will give us a Council with considerably more intestinal fortitude to “drive the bus”, rather than continue to be driven by the bus. According to all reports, only TWO of this present crop demonstrated even a smidgen of leadership and/or gumption at last Tuesday’s meeting…

    Go figure!

  4. Can someone please explain why our bylaw officers deem it necessary to race up and down at breakneck speed down the walking trail on the north side of town? Aside from being unnecessary, it is disruptive to those who live right next to the trail. Until I saw it for myself, I was unaware that we were allowed to operate off road all terrain vehicles on the trails.

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