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Ashmont intersection raises red flags for SPERD staff

Jun 03, 2014 12:30 pm | By Ryan McCracken | St. Paul Journal

A letter from the Ashmont Schools to the St. Paul Education Regional Division #1 board of trustees has prompted concern regarding the intersection at 3 Ave. and Highway 28.

“There is an email that we received from the principals of Ashmont Schools with regard to an incident that occurred on April 15, where a semi truck carrying a heavy load had to take the ditch and flip on its side to avoid what could have been a dangerous situation,” said SPERD Chair Heather Starosielski. “I know from even just being a resident of the area, besides being a trustee of the area, the impact of the traffic has definitely increased over the past five years.”

SPERD Director of Facilities Doug Fedoruk said the board has forwarded a letter to Alberta Transportation on the need for a traffic review at the intersection, as previous measures to address the concern do not seem to be working effectively.

There has been an increase in traffic on Highway 28 over the past three to five years, which is when the last review was conducted, said Fedoruk. “At that point they did make a change. They put a lower speed limit and moved it down to 80 in that zone, but with Alberta’s ever-increasing - especially heavy truck - traffic, we’d like them to review it again.”

Ashmont Secondary School Principal Darrell Kachmarchyk takes the turn at the intersection every day, and pointed out that at times it can be a scary experience crossing the busy highway.

“Some of the concern is that some people are slowing down and some are not,” said Kachmarchyk. “Has it been reviewed? Yes it has, and they feel it’s safe, but if you’re turning that corner every day, you may think otherwise.”

With the construction of a new fire hall, the Ashmont Fire Department has been relocated from 3 Ave, near the school, to 1 St. West, and Fire Chief James Preston says the new location, which allows fire trucks to use the intersection at Highway 28 and 36 rather than at the school, is “10 times” safer than the previous one.

“When we would come from the intersection by the school, if you were going west, it wasn’t so bad but if you had to go east or straight across it was horrible to see if anybody was coming and to try and time it. Especially with emergency vehicles, nobody can really get that advance warning to see you coming,” said Preston. “It’s a real miracle that there hasn’t been any major life-threatening incidents there . . . There’s a huge risk especially with the number of buses coming out of there. And not only the buses, but the parents for school activities or after sports, and you get a large volume of traffic.”

Preston said with the increased traffic volume, issues are expanding past the intersection at the school and that more space for vehicles on Highway 28 overall would help to ease the risk.

“I drive that highway every day going to work and there are always lots of close calls. Even right at the main Highway 28 and 36 intersection, it’s a much clearer intersection which you think would be a lot safer, but there are just as many close calls,” he said. “An extra turning lane would probably help, especially on the south side of the highway for traffic heading eastbound. More space is going to help at that intersection, at least if there is something done there will be room to avoid a collision instead of someone having to, say, take the ditch, or actually being involved in a collision.”

SPERD Superintendent Glen Broadziak said with concern surrounding the intersection on the rise, the board feels it is best to take an active approach in addressing the issue.

“Before something else happens, it’s time to get some other eyes on this and some experts in,” he said.

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