A pair of Alberta municipalities are asking the province to immediately improve a deadly intersection 44 kilometres south of Calgary.
Highway 2 at 338 Avenue has long been identified as a trouble spot for residents of Okotoks, Alta., and area.
Last year, there were two fatal intersections at the intersection.
“We certainly don’t want to see any more. One is one too many,” Reeve Delilah Miller said. “If you sit and watch people trying to navigate their way across there and go north, it’s really frightening at times.
“So we’re hopeful that the province has included this in their budget this year.”
In its submission to the province for this year’s budget, the town asked that the Alberta government prioritize construction of that interchange.
“We’ve asked them to perhaps look at widening the deceleration and acceleration lanes, to make those a bit more safe. And ultimately, we would like an overpass,” Miller said.
Part of the ask includes closing the medians at 306, 338 and 370 avenues.
A traffic study published in 2019 showed right-angle collisions were the most common type at Highway 2 and 338 Avenue, at an even split between northbound and southbound highway traffic.
“The collision information suggests that most drivers are stopping before crossing the highway but are proceeding when it is unsafe,“ the report reads.
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The report studied collisions between 2012 and 2016, and showed a majority of the collisions were in daylight with clear, dry conditions.
“I’ve seen as many as six cars stacked in the (median), and no one knows which way to go,” Miller said. “People take a lot of really silly chances there.”
One popular attraction on 338 Avenue to the east of Highway 2 is the Saskatoon Farm, where people can go and pick their own fruit and purchase produce.
When the Town of Okotoks and Foothills County were discussing closing the medians to traffic, folks on the east side of the highway shared their opinions on the possibility of closing at-grade east-west access across the highway.
“Basically every acreage on this side of the highway probably complained,” Seann Haner of the Saskatoon Farm said. “There’s been lots of talk about doing an overpass there.
“If they wanted to close it, just like they said, it would be a huge throttle to our business.”
Haner said it could nearly double the existing 10-minute drive to nearby Okotoks and could impact emergency response.
But the growth in the area means more traffic is using the high-speed intersection.
“There’s more businesses, more acreages, more everything. I think it’s the same story for Calgary, Okotoks: everything’s growing and getting busier everywhere,” Haner said.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Transportation and Economic Corridors said functional planning has been done for the problematic intersection.
“We appreciate the significance of a new interchange at this location. This and many other projects are currently under consideration as part of the Alberta government’s budget planning cycle,” the statement reads.
Like the rest of area residents, Haner will have to wait until Feb. 29 to find out if Finance Minister Nate Horner includes the intersection in the province’s budget.
“They’re obviously doing a cost-benefit analysis,” Haner said. “I think ultimately an overpass is the best.”
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