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Parkland County residents discuss solutions for 'intersection problem' at Highway 16A with province


While Parkland County residents haven't reached a consensus on what to do about the Highway 16A-Range Road 20 intersection, they do seem to agree something should be done sooner rather than later. 

That was the sentiment expressed most frequently at a town hall hosted by Alberta Transportation Tuesday evening at Carvel Hall, minutes away from the intersection being debated. 

"Why not just put traffic lights on the existing intersection?" asked one attendee. "As someone who is a resident there, especially someone who's had to trailer equipment across that intersection, having a set of lights there would relieve a lot of stress." 

"If we wait another week and we don't at least slow the speed limit down, if we don't take something away and be proactive from this meeting, then why are we even here?" asked another. 

The department of transportation and economic corridors has said it is "actively reviewing options" for long-term changes to the intersection west of Edmonton. The town hall was called to gather public feedback. 

Area residents say the frequency of serious and fatal crashes at the intersection has grown in recent decades alongside population and traffic volume. 

Bryan Kwasnycia, whose 22-year-old daughter was killed in a crash at the intersection last year, and who has lived in the area for more than 40 years, told CTV News Edmonton, "Throughout those years, we've seen basically a major accident every single month. And usually a death or two every year." 

He says he taught his daughter Jade and his other children how important it was to drive through the intersection carefully. Drivers have a poor line of sight because of rolling hills and road curves, and those familiar with the area report highway commuters regularly speeding 10 to 20 kilometres above the limit. 

He believes straightening out the intersection and reducing the speed limit would make it safer, but also recognizes neither of those changes would inform commuters unfamiliar with the area of its danger. 

"You can educate everybody in the county and Stony Plain and Spruce Grove but it's not going to fix the intersection problem," he commented during the town hall, receiving a round of applause in response. 

A retired paramedic and Range Road 20 resident of 20 years also stood up to suggest building a roundabout. 

"When I hear traffic lights, I think of all the different things that I've seen as a result of traffic lights. That's not, to me, right now, a solution," he said. "I would present a solution that would keep traffic flowing."

The government's leading idea – which has not yet been studied fully – is to move the intersection to a "safer" location between Range Roads 20 and 15 so that it can meet the highway in a perpendicular way. But the government is also weighing the benefits and disadvantages of installing traffic lights, speed reductions and other measures, a spokesperson told the town hall audience on Tuesday. 

Lac Ste. Anne-Parkland MLA Shane Getson called the relocation option the "most elegant" in the long term. 

"There may be short term measures that take place to try to mitigate some of the issues that we're seeing right now, but there's also a long term solution as well," he told the crowd. 

"So these guys have to run the calcs, they have to look at the numbers, have to look at line of sights, then come up with something. But we'll take that as a takeaway… for potential interim solution."

Between questions, Getson assured the community safety was the government's top priority: "It's not a matter of cost. We're simply talking about engineering solutions for the outcome. So don't worry about cost, that's not in the conversation here." 

At one point he and the other transportation department officials were booed by the crowd, but it wasn't anything they didn't expect going in. 

"Let's not sugar coat this: There's incidents taking place there and we're losing community members and general passersby on the highway, as well. So this is something we take very serious. We have to make sure that everyone has an opportunity to talk about what their concerns are," he told CTV News Edmonton. 

"At the end of the day," Kwasnycia commented, "I think everyone can agree it just needs to be made safer, regardless of what they do." 

The government has not provided a timeline for its public consultation work. However, it has confirmed it will not close the intersection until a decision is made. 

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Galen McDougall, Adam Lachacz and Jessica Robb Top Stories

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