Hello Chestermere! As we get our children ready to start a new school year I want to speak to you about traffic safety. In particular, the intersection of Highway 1 East and Highway 791 (aka “The Indus Road” or “The High School Road”).
In June of 2015 Jaydon Sommerfeld, 17, tragically lost his life at the intersection of Highway 1 and 791 just east of Chestermere. This is a very busy intersection, particularly when students at Chestermere High School are returning home at the end of the school day. Many of them and other users of the road are turning left across eastbound traffic on Highway 1 on their way to Chestermere, Calgary, and homes in Rocky View County north and west of the intersection. I recently received a letter from Brian Mason, Minister Of Transportation, stating he has decided to reduce speed limits on Highway 1 in the vicinity of the intersection.
Since Jaydon’s death his parents Sherri and Kenton, many other citizens of Chestermere and Rocky View, and myself as your MLA have been looking for measures to improve safety. In fact I have been pressing the Government on this since my maiden speech in the Legislature. Alberta Transportation has installed an acceleration lane in the westbound lanes of Highway 1 but this does nothing to address the issue of vehicles turning left in front of high speed eastbound traffic. We have a large number of new drivers using this intersection but it is unsafe for everyone. With ever increasing traffic volumes it becomes more dangerous by the day.
Alberta Transportation held an Open House in April of 2017 to present options for improving safety. An overwhelming majority of those in attendance opted for traffic lights as an interim measure pending the installation of a proper interchange. Cost for this was estimated at $800,000. At this meeting, the option of simply reducing speed limits was presented. Alberta Transportation said in their presentation that this option: “doesn’t actually do anything to address the root cause of the June 2015 collision.” (emphasis added). I ask you, why propose something that does not address the problem?
This “solution” is unacceptable. School buses no longer turn left at this intersection. If it is too dangerous for school buses surely it is too dangerous for our children who are new drivers. In fact, new driver or not, anyone can have a momentary lapse of attention or judgement.
The installation of lights (cost $800,000) would provide a safe left turn onto Highway 1. There is sensor technology available to keep Highway 1 traffic “on green” when no vehicles are looking to cross the highway.
I am asking for your support to get traffic lights installed. Please write a letter to Brian Mason, Minister Of Transportation, at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask him to reconsider and install lights. Copy it to my office at email@example.com. You may email my office or call my assistant Pete Tindall at 403-207-9889 or cell 403-700-5437 and he will be happy to supply you with a template letter and answer any of your questions.
It is time to do the right thing and spend a very modest amount of money to prevent another tragedy at this intersection.