Work continues on generating Ponoka’s transportation master plan as council heard an update on the process Jan. 8. File photo

Ponoka developing long-term guide on transportation issues

Safety is the top concern that residents want addressed as master plan is generated

An issue that planners didn’t think would be the focus has monopolized public input on Ponoka’s transportation master plan.

Safety, be it at a few intersections or along the town’s two major highway corridors, has been the over-riding theme among the more than 180 comments received regarding the plan since the interactive map was put online.

“I think we are heading a positive direction. There is a lot more work to come over the next couple of months,” explained Ryan Betker with McElhanney Consulting that has been working on the developing the plan since last August.

“We have completed the technical analysis and are still collecting comments through the online interactive map.

He added the public input has assisted in generating the plan’s objectives — addressing safety and operational concerns; encouraging the use of active roads (pedestrian friendly connections): defining truck routes; and, improving/maintaining infrastructure.

“Generally with master plans, it’s about congestion and how to get places quicker,” he stated. “This is a really unique situation, where most of the comments were really focused on traffic safety — like speeding and dangerous locations.”

Several locations have been flagged in the plan — meaning issues are likely to get worse in time with potential growth of traffic flows. Intersections including 50 Street and 50 Avenue (CIBC corner) plus 51 Street and 48 Avenue (ATB corner) downtown have been noted as high collision areas as well as the turn into the IGA parking lot.

There are many more along both highways in town, with Betker pointing out two are in serious need of upgrades.

“The intersections on Highway 53 at 46 Street (Redi-Mart) plus at 50 Street (downtown) show issues with traffic movement and may actually fail. That means long delays to get through the intersection and frustrating drivers,” he said.

“Generally right now, it’s the left turns at peak times. If we take that project out two to three per cent growth along with future development, it makes some of the situations even worse.”

Betker added that, given those future projections, there are several other intersections that will enter the cautionary area regarding traffic delays — 50 Street and 48 Avenue, 67 Street and Highway 53, 44 Avenue and Highway 2A, plus 50 Avenue and 60 Street.

“Overall, the transportation network functions very well with traffic capacity and performance not being a major concern. That’s a positive and gives us the ability to focus on those other areas,” he said.

The next step is to meet with Alberta Transportation to discuss options, conducting an in depth safety review of several intersections, and then come up with recommendations to improve those situations.

An open house to show the proposed master plan is in the process of being scheduled with council to see the final draft in March.

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