Officials present highway options at open house

Among the improvements: accommodating increased traffic, balancing mobility and access and maintaining the 70 km/h speed limit

highway 7
Councillor Dean Galbraith (left) discusses options for Highway 7 safety improvements with Dan and Carol Gerle of Kindersley on Oct. 23 at an open house information session. Three sets of options were presented to the public and people could visit www.saskatchewan.ca to see the options.

Kenneth Brown
of The Clarion

Safety improvements will be made along the Highway 7 corridor through Kindersley and options have been presented to people during an information session.

The options were presented to the public on Oct. 23 at the Elks Hall in Kindersley. Representatives with the ministry of highways and infrastructure, Town of Kindersley and Associated Engineering, the firm responsible for the drawings, attended the information session.

People attending the Elks Hall were presented with six information boards and eight picture boards. The picture boards included two boards to show existing conditions along the highway corridor through Kindersley, and two boards showing various changes for three different options for improvements along the highway and its service roads.

The information and picture boards are available on the ministry of highways and infrastructure website under the heading for Highway Planning Studies. There is also a link on the Town of Kindersley’s Facebook page to take people to the information.

The main considerations for improvements include accommodating an increase in traffic volumes as a result of town and highway growth, balancing mobility and access, maintaining the 70 km/h speed limit, and the spacing between the highway and service roads among others.

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Information boards also included common responses from a survey in the spring, cost estimates for the three sets of options and the next steps in the planning process. Officials would still like people to provide feedback.

The cost estimates for the first two options are both between $5 million to $6 million, and the estimate for the third option is between $18 million to $21 million. Next steps include reviewing the open house feedback, selecting a preferred option, developing a staged implementation plan, and drafting the various reports.

Options include changes such as improved traffic signal timing, concrete bulb-outs to guide large trucks when turning, fewer access points to service roads at select intersections, an addition of concrete meridians to prevent turns at select intersections, and also make the highway wider.

One of the options removes access from Highway 7 to the north service road at the Main Street intersection, and the third option includes a roundabout at the intersection of highways 7 and 21 instead of traffic lights. The options are interchangeable.

Monique Beaudry, the senior member of the Associated Engineering team at the open house, said the conceptual drawings only help to express the ideas for options, so they are not actual designs in their present form.

She noted that the firm did an assessment of existing conditions and they discovered several things that are consistently happening along the Highway 7 corridor. Beaudry highlighted a range of existing situations that present challenges to motorists.

There are several large trucks parking along service roads to access restaurants and hotels. The service roads are only about 15 metres away from the highway, and large trucks have to make sharp turns to access the highway. The hairpin turns present challenges with trucks hitting roadside items such as signs and traffic signals.

The traffic signals at the Main Street and Highway 21 intersections are old and need to be replaced, so Beaudry said it presents an opportunity to make physical changes to both of the intersections. The changes might not include new traffic signals.

“Fairly soon those signals either have to get replaced, or this is the time to change how the intersection operates,” she explained, referring to the option to install a roundabout at the busy Highway 21 intersection.

Beaudry said the most effective time to install an option such as a roundabout is when traffic signals need to be replaced. Among the improvements is an option to remove traffic lights and add install four-way stops. The expert said certain improvements are going to be needed sooner than others.

There are 32 points in a traditional intersection for how collisions could occur, she said. Each option presents a different solution to a particular problem, and Beaudry said although the idea of a roundabout is tougher to sell to the public, they are safer.

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