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CTrains now moving slower at troubled Memorial/Deerfoot level crossing

A fatal collision at the level crossing at the Memorial Drive and Deerfoot Trail interchange prompted Calgary Transit to drop the speed limit for CTrains from 80 to 45 km/h. (Helen Pike/CBC - image credit)
A fatal collision at the level crossing at the Memorial Drive and Deerfoot Trail interchange prompted Calgary Transit to drop the speed limit for CTrains from 80 to 45 km/h. (Helen Pike/CBC - image credit)

CTrains are now moving a bit slower through the busy level crossing at the Memorial Drive and Deerfoot Trail interchange.

On Feb. 21, a 48-year-old man was killed when the car he was driving entered the path of an eastbound CTrain. The Calgary Police Service (CPS) is investigating the incident.

In the days following the collision, Calgary Transit issued a directive to its train operators spelling out that the speed limit approaching the level crossing was being dropped from 80 to 45 km/h.

Jenn Boyer, who speaks for Calgary Transit, said the change was made as a precaution.

"I think just going slower makes things safer overall for all people using the road," she said.

It has not yet been determined how long the new limit will be in place or if it will be permanent.

A screenshot from Google Earth shows a view of the Deerfoot/Memorial crossing and southbound lanes.
A screenshot from Google Earth shows a view of the Deerfoot/Memorial crossing and southbound lanes.

A screenshot from Google Earth shows a view of the Memorial Drive and Deerfoot Trail interchange of the southbound lanes. (Scott Dippel/CBC)

"At this point in time, it's a temporary change. We're going to work with CPS and we're going to look at trends and from there on we'll be able to make a decision. But for now, it's temporary," said Boyer.

It's also possible there could be more changes.

Boyer said transit is looking into whether another set of flashing lights is needed at the LRT crossing.

Right now, crossing arms and flashing lights in front of one track are activated for southbound road traffic as a train approaches. But drivers can find themselves stopped between the westbound and eastbound train tracks.

Safety improvements to come

Transit isn't the only organization looking at changes at the level crossing.

The senior leader of mobility safety with the City of Calgary, Tony Churchill, told CBC News that other safety improvements will be coming in the next few weeks.

"Some of those may include some slight timing changes or how the traffic signals interact with the transit signals and potentially some changes to signage, some enhancements," said Churchill.

He said there may be a need to add more paint to the roadway to help drivers navigate the area.

Churchill described the Memorial/Deerfoot interchange as being different than most signalized intersections, so it may be challenging for drivers who are unfamiliar with it.

As a result, he said it's worth looking at the design and safety measures.

"We're always looking at these types of situations. People make mistakes even at very simple intersections."

WATCH | LRT operator slows down as train approaches interchange:

Churchill said the city, Calgary Transit and CPS are going to work on a safety review of the level crossing to see if more measures can be taken to reduce the chances of collisions between CTrains and road traffic.

He said that work will be done internally rather than hiring an outside consultant.

As for what drivers can do to safely navigate the area, Churchill suggested they be mindful of conditions.

"Focus on the driving task. And [for] anybody moving around the city, it's very easy for people to make mistakes and sometimes those mistakes can have severe consequences."