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Residents warn city that red light timing at south LRT intersection needs changes

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Residents living near the new south Valley Line LRT want the city to change the way signal lights work to improve safety for pedestrians and motorists.

Mill Woods resident Les Deaveu calls the intersection of 28 Avenue and 66 Street "dangerous" near the new LRT station and transit centre, as the two sets of tracks and multiple lanes of arterial traffic combine.

"At least daily, when I go through here, there's been somebody stopped on the tracks," Deaveu said.

In his view, the way the intersection is designed and the timing of red lights leaves drivers with no choice but to stop on the train tracks or run a red light.

"I've even basically had to run a red light once myself," Deaveu added. "I had to do something.

"I wasn't stopping on the tracks because the LRT's going back and forth, and once you're past the first one, you have to finish."

As CTV News Edmonton was on-scene at the intersection Monday, two different drivers rolled down their windows, saying if video crews stayed there all day, they'd likely catch a crash with an LRT and vehicle.

The company responsible for building the newest leg of the LRT, TransEd, says that intersection and every other one along the Valley Line have been designed to "provide sufficient time" for vehicles to pass through.

"Typically, the all-red condition at intersections in Edmonton is two to three seconds long," a TransEd statement read. "At 28 Avenue, when more time is needed for a vehicle to clear the LRT tracks, the all-red time is about six seconds."

The long-delayed line is still undergoing train testing. Adam Laughlin, deputy city manager, says work to optimize the red light timing is "ongoing."

"While we anticipate this will improve intersection performance, traditional travel patterns motorists are accustomed to may change," Laughlin added.

"It's important for all road users to follow traffic signs and signals, and not enter intersections to turn once the light has changed to yellow," he said. "Drivers are not forced to stop on the tracks.

"Drivers need to treat the track area as part of the intersection, and once they have passed the stop line, then they need to clear the intersection."

"I've lived in other places, and when they don't have proper gates coming down, accidents happen," explained Matthias Lindemann, who lives in the area. "I've seen too many of them."

"It is a dangerous intersection, and I do think it is an easy problem to fix," he added. "The problem is, will the city spend the money to do it."

According to the city, to date, there have been five reported "minor" crashes between southeast testing trains and vehicles "not obeying traffic signs."

The city was unable to provide collision data for intersections along the Capital and Metro lines by deadline for comparison.

Laughlin says the city will soon launch the second phase of its information safety campaign, reminding motorists about the redesigned intersections along the Valley Line.

"We take the safety of pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists very seriously," he explained. "Valley Line Southeast LRT is a new low-floor transit system for Edmonton designed to be more integrated into neighbourhoods. This style of LRT system is common in many other cities, and purposefully designed with smaller-scale infrastructure." 

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