by Tristan Turner
Morinville – Work will begin soon on a series of traffic lights at the intersection of Highway 2 and Cardiff Road. The new light-controlled intersection is being designed by Al-Terra Engineering, the company hired by the province to implement the lights promised last fall by former Minister of Transportation Ric McIver.
Al-Terra held an open house Thursday evening at the Morinville Community Cultural Centre to outline the project. The two-hour event provided residents with an overview of the project, including a simulation on how the lights would function based on projected traffic patterns at peak commuter times. Residents also had an opportunity to ask questions of project managers currently working on the project.
As planned, the project calls for six light posts throughout the intersection for the purpose of greater traffic safety. In addition to the new traffic lights, the intersection will also see a speed limit decrease from 100 kilometres per hour to 80 kph and new lighting, as well as two flashing amber warning lights in the northbound and southbound lanes on Highway 2. Al-Terra says the use of traffic lights allows the province to add a second turning lane for those turning south from Cardiff Road onto the highway, something that is included in the current project plan.
Al-Terra Project Engineer Wes Kennedy said the project is ready to get started and that Morinvillians can expect wait times of approximately one minute when turning onto Highway 2 from Cardiff Road after the lights are installed.
The project will cost the province approximately $1 Million and will begin sometime this spring with completion estimated by the end of September this year, according to information provided by the province and Al-Terra.
Mayor Lisa Holmes was present at the open house, and said she was pleased that the province was doing something to address the safety issues at the intersection. The mayor said she sees the installation as a short-term solution until an overpass or interchange is constructed: “I will always view this plan [to build traffic lights] as interim. I believe that with the amount of growth that we have and the safety concerns at the intersection that we still require an interchange in the next three to five years,” she said. “So, this is a great interim solution… I do think the intersection will be safer than it is today when this is built, but I look forward to step two, which is the interchange.”
Current Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock MLA Maureen Kubinec says she doesn’t know when the promised interchange will be constructed, but that it remains one of her top-priorities. “I really wouldn’t want to guess [when the interchange will be built], the sooner the better in my opinion,” the MLA said. “It’s my hope that it will happen within the next five years or something, but I don’t really want to put a number on it.”
Bryant Ralph, Operations Manager for Makloc Buildings in Morinville’s Industrial Park, is concerned the new lights will make it more difficult for him to move his company’s large modular buildings through the intersection. “The concern is that the light posts rotate in the direction that’s supposed to allow these long/wide loads,” he said, adding the 23-foot by 130-foot buildings leave on trailers with 200 tires hauling 750,000 pound. “The turn radius required by the trailers may not be accommodated by the lights.” Ralph also believes getting permits to turn the lights willbog down the process for his company. “I would like an overpass that is done and accommodates the needs of the businesses in the park,” he said.
The decision to install traffic lights at the dangerous intersection was made Nov. 19 of last year, eight months after the province announced the interchange promised by former MLA Ken Kowalski in 2011 was off the province’s three-year plan as a result of the 2013 budget.
Above: Attendees at Thursday night’s traffic light open house discussed their concerns with a representative from Al-Terra Engineering.