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'Driving like idiots': West-end intersection bane of Highway 16A commuters

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An intersection in west Edmonton has some drivers clutching at the wheel as they commute in and out of the city.

Katie Sharp is one of them. She lives in Spruce Grove but works in Edmonton.

When she is heading home to Spruce Grove, she drives west on Highway 16A. Sharp said during rush hour, she has seen multiple vehicles on the left shoulder of the highway waiting to take a left turn at 231 Street.

“People are lined up on that left shoulder, impeding that left, and there’s nowhere for us to go,” said Sharp.

“We’re either slamming on our brakes or trying to swerve into the right lane.”

A video shared with CTV News Edmonton shows nearly 90 vehicles lined up on the shoulder of Highway 16A waiting to turn south on 231 Street into the Secord neighbourhood.

Vehicles lined on Highway 16A to turn left onto 231 Street.

Sharp said there is a left turning lane, but it is not long enough for traffic during rush hour.

“Everybody is driving like idiots in that area,” said Sharp.

“Whoever developed this area wasn’t thinking about it. They weren’t thinking about the flow. They weren’t thinking about the repercussions of people trying to turn off of the highway.”

Ryan Lemont, the general manager of Tuber Towing, said his company has responded to multiple collisions at that intersection.

“Even in this past year, in the last six months, it’s been quite a bit of volume out there as collisions go,” said Lemont.

“Our biggest one we responded to, back in February when we had that fog, there was a seven-car pileup.”

Lemont said the intersection is especially dangerous because it is at the bottom of a slight slope, so it can be difficult to see oncoming traffic.

“That intersection is in a bit of a dip, or concave in the road, so once you start seeing that, the difficulty becomes visibility over the hill,” said Lemont.

“If you are trying to make that left-hand turn, you can’t anticipate any breaks in the traffic to make a safe left-hand turn.”

The speed near the intersection was recently reduced from 100 km/h to 80 km/h. Lemont believes that won’t make much of a difference.

“I don’t think the reduction in speed is going to help,” said Lemont.

“Eliminating any left-hand turns, I think, would be the best at that intersection.”

Councillor for the area, Andrew Knack, said Parkland County has plans to install traffic lights at an intersection west of 231 Street. He said the plan originally was to wait until that work was completed before reducing the speed, but the process was expedited after he heard concerns from his constituents.

“This is an intersection that is still, in my view, a work in progress,” said Knack.

Knack is looking to see if the traffic lights installed by Parkland County, west of 231 Street, will help break up traffic. He said there is more residential development expected in the area, so the city is looking at all its options to improve safety at that intersection.

“There was fairly unanimous agreement that slower speeds was an important step. As to whether a traffic light there is needed right now, or whether that would come as part of future development, that’s still to be determined, and we’re going to use good data to help inform that,” said Knack.

“Highway 16A still moves a lot of traffic, and we need to make sure we are allowing efficient goods and people movement, and at the same time, ensuring the safety of residents who are trying to get to their homes.”