With Ponoka Stampede week fast approaching and only one way to get to the Riverside area of Ponoka — Highway 53 — town planners are looking at a short term solution to deal with the traffic.
Some town councillors want to see a way to deal with that heavy traffic expected during Ponoka Stampede while the north bridge access to Riverside is closed off. They voiced questions about options for the 50 Street intersection near IGA Tuesday, June 14 during the regular meeting.
Whatever the plan, it is going to cost money, stated Dave McPhee, director of operations and property services. “Are you willing to make the change?” he asked.
Reopening the North Bridge access will create delays in the project and the eventual cost for those delays will fall to the town, he said.
The concern is for the safety of motorists, expressed one councillor. “It’s the near misses that I see,” said Coun. Teri Underhill.
With paving of the new bridge starting early July and the removal of the old bridge in August, access won’t be possible but Alberta Transportation is willing to work with the town during the busy Stampede week, explained Tim Schmidt, director of planning and development. “They’re willing to assist and support us.”
One thought by Coun. Loanna Gulka was that most of the eastbound traffic on Highway 53 is to the Riverside area as many those who take part in the Ponoka Stampede will stay at the grounds.
“We are going to have to be patient,” she advised.
She asked about the idea of using police or the town’s Community Peace Officer Sgt. Kyle Koller to run traffic control during peak times at the Highway 53 and 50 Street main intersection.
That would be cheaper than the estimated $60,000 needed to run temporary traffic lights for one week, subject to Alberta Transportation approval, offered McPhee.
Despite the costs, Coun. Carla Prediger suggested safety is paramount. “One way or another it’s going to cost us money for the safety of the community.”
CAO Albert Flootman suggested the cheapest way appears to be with traffic control and he said he would be in contact with Ponoka RCMP and the town’s peace officer about manpower. More information is expected to come to council Thursday, June 23 at the next committee of the whole meeting.