In November 2011, Danielle Smith, Kerry Towle, and I met with hundreds of constituents concerned about the safety of the intersection at Highway 11 and Secondary Highway 781. Sylvan Lake Mayor Susan Samson attended this public meeting too, and it was at this meeting Mayor Samson told the crowd in attendance she trusted the experts.
Since that meeting, MLA Kerry Towle held a second public meeting in August. Many, if not all in attendance, registered their dissatisfaction with the provincial government’s decision to close the intersection and route traffic as “one-way-in and one-way-out” of Sylvan Lake.
The provincial government changed the Hwy 11/781 intersection because of the obvious deadly consequences resulting from a safety hazard. The current design is a “one-way-in and one-way-out” intersection, which is a temporary stop gap measure to address a known safety hazard. The long-term solution is to twin Highway 11 with on-ramps and off-ramps.
It is my view that this temporary solution is unacceptable, and only creates an alternate safety hazard! The best temporary solution, which is also proven to be the most effective, is to reopen the intersection with a set of new temporary traffic lights.
I met with Transportation Minister Ric McIver on Oct. 10 to discuss this matter, and the minister told me he would not change the intersection because he trusts his experts. He also told me that the mayor of Sylvan Lake and Sylvan Lake council do not support reopening the intersection with a set of new traffic lights at the intersection.
I may not be an expert in traffic flow, but I did serve a few years as a police officer, and every police officer knows stupidity is not against the law.
Since the intersection has been altered I have personally witnessed three vehicles making illegal U-turns on Highway 11 because the operator of the vehicle found himself or herself, going in a direction they did not intend. Having witnessed three illegal U-turns at this intersection since the intersection was changed it tells me based on my experience, that this is a recurring event.
Illegal U-turns on Highway 11 are acts of stupidity. It endangers the lives of the offender as much as it endangers the lives of the innocent. Minister McIver pointed out to me there have been no accidents since the intersection was changed. I told him that statistic doesn’t make the intersection any less dangerous.
I trust experts to be knowledgeable about a particular subject matter. I do not always trust experts to be correct. They are human beings just like the rest of us, and experts are just as prone to making mistakes as any other human being. The Titanic was designed and built by some of the most renowned shipbuilding experts of that era and look how that turned out!
In my opinion, the current Hwy. 11/781 intersection design is a poor and unsafe design. All intersections are potentially dangerous and all do carry a safety risk factor for accidents.
The current design of Hwy. 11/781 creates an opportunity for stupid and dangerous illegal turns, and some motorists have taken advantage of that opportunity. I think the minister and the experts are wrong not to realize this is a dangerous intersection by any other definition.
MLA Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre