It’s not too late for mayor, council to reverse position on 781-11 intersection

After attending the Aug. 21 town hall meeting and then reading the recent article about cancellation

Dear Editor,

After attending the Aug. 21 town hall meeting and then reading the recent article about cancellation of the proposed police training college in Fort Macleod, I began to wonder!

If our provincial government can, at the last minute, reverse its decision on construction of the $122 million police training college slated for Fort Macleod, why can they not reverse their decision regarding lights at the intersection of Highways 11 and 781. It seems that our minister of transportation and his advisors are on a power trip.

Rather than considering the safety and convenience of Sylvan Lake and area residents, this issue has turned into a test of wills, and unfortunately our town council lacks the political will to support its electorate.

Based upon the response of those attending the recent town hall meeting, the highway 11/781 issue is far from dead. Should our town council have the temerity to put this issue to a plebiscite, I’m sure the outcome would be overwhelmingly in favour of traffic lights at 781/11.

I’ve read all the arguments in favour of the $6 million Memorial Trail and closure/rerouting of the 781/11 intersection and I still remain unconvinced. Red is the universal language for STOP, therefore install a set of traffic signals at 781/11 and people will comply. It works at other highway intersections, so why can’t it work at 781/11? Furthermore, this obvious solution to the 781/11 intersection problem can be solved for a lot less than $6 million.

In spite of the argument that the right-in, right-out configuration for 781/11 has resulted in no accidents, and I question that, it’s just a matter of time before the fatalities begin. As a result of the line of posts and cables on the centre line, westbound vehicles turning south onto 781 can’t see oncoming traffic until they partially pull out into the eastbound lane, an extremely dangerous situation to say the least!

Also, emergency vehicles and the RCMP exiting via 781 and responding to incidents on Highway 11 east or Highway 781 south are forced to ignore the right-in, right-out rule and hook around the horrendous array of posts and cables along the centre line, putting themselves and other motorists at risk.

Brilliant, we build a new RCMP detachment close to Highway 11 and then deny the members speedy and safe access!

And, yes, I know the police and fire department pay lip service to the idea that the revised traffic flow at the 781/11 intersection is an acceptable solution to the safety problem, but I also know when it’s wise to support the party line.

If our detachment commander wants to stay on good terms with town council and hence remain in Sylvan Lake, he has no alternative but to support council’s decision. As for our volunteer fire department’s leadership, the situation is the same. Wise people don’t bite the hand that feeds them!

It’s not too late for our mayor and town council to reverse their position regarding lights at the 781/11 intersection. Never say never! All it takes is political will.

If you are concerned about this issue, take a page from Dale Mannix’s book. Keep the pressure on, write a letter, talk to town councillors, phone our minister of transportation or do whatever it takes to get the powers that be to listen.

Bob Swabey,

Long time Sylvan Lake resident