There are no plans to build a roundabout at what nearby residents say is a dangerous intersection near Eckville, said a Transportation and Economic Corridors official Thursday.
Eckville Mayor Colleen Ebden and Lacombe County Coun. Dana Kreil have called on Alberta Transportation to put a roundabout back into the Highway 11 twinning plans at the Highway 766 turnoff to Eckville.
They say it’s dangerous, particularly around weekends as Highway 11 is busy with vehicles, many pulling fifth wheels, heading to the West Country for recreation.
Alberta Transportation Infrastructure Manager Stuart Richardson said they have taken a close look at the intersection and undertaken traffic counts and come to the conclusion a roundabout is not needed for now.
“There’s just not enough traffic to warrant an upgrade from a two-way stop control,” Richardson told Lacombe County council. “There’s no need for anything more than that just now.”
Richardson and other transportation officials were at council to respond to local concerns and provide updates.
Kreil asked if traffic counts took into account the spikes in vehicles during peak times, such as summer weekends.
“On Friday evening in the summer there’s pretty hefty traffic there and they’re moving fast with large units,” she said.
For drivers who want to head east towards Sylvan Lake, finding a gap in the westbound traffic on the busiest days is “scary,” she said.
Richardson said traffic counts are designed to take into account peaks and lulls so an inaccurate picture is not created as engineers go about their design work.
“We try to make sure we’re getting that average annual traffic count and that’s what we’re doing the designs on.”
Once completed, the twinning will improve safety at the intersection because there will be a much larger area between the eastbound and westbound lanes for vehicles to pause before making a turn. Drivers will only have to focus on one direction at a time, he added.
Richardson did not rule out a roundabout entirely. As design work progresses in 2025, a roundabout would be looked at again if the traffic volumes suggest the planned two-way stop intersection will be insufficient.
“We don’t want to build a brand new highway that’s going to fail right away.”
As it stands now, the planned intersection is expected to be adequate for the next 20 years.
Construction is well underway in the project to twin 66 kilometres of highway from Sylvan Lake to Rocky Mountain House.
The $15 million first phase has been completed which saw a four-km stretch of highway twinned west of Highway 20 and the construction of roundabouts at Highway 781 (50th Street) and Range Road 15 (60th Street). Work is now underway between Benalto and Leslieville intersections.