New lighting won't make Highway 16A intersection safer, says woman fighting for change

·4 min read
Spruce Grove resident Keshia Korall is leading a campaign to improve the safety of the intersection of Highway 16A and Range Road 20. (Travis McEwan/CBC - image credit)
Spruce Grove resident Keshia Korall is leading a campaign to improve the safety of the intersection of Highway 16A and Range Road 20. (Travis McEwan/CBC - image credit)

Planned upgrades to lighting at a notorious intersection in Parkland County will not prevent future collisions, says a woman who watched a young man die at the location three weeks ago.

Spruce Grove resident Keshia Korall is leading a campaign to improve the safety of the intersection of Highway 16A and Range Road 20, 11 kilometres northwest of Stony Plain.

"The lights aren't going to do anything at all," Korall said Tuesday. "I feel like it's a Band-Aid to make us shut up and if anything, it just made us madder.

"That was such a slap in the face."

23 crashes in 5 years

After a fatal daytime crash on Aug. 2, RCMP said the intersection has seen 23 collisions in the last five years.

On Monday, Spruce Grove-Stony Plain MLA Searle Turton said new lighting will be installed at the intersection.

"A horrific and fatal crash earlier this month at the intersection of Highway 16A and Range Road 20 has increased safety concerns from residents," Turton wrote in his post. "Alberta Transportation will continue to monitor the intersection."

Turton's post was inundated with negative comments from drivers who felt the planned upgrades are inadequate. Many were from drivers who had been involved in collisions in the area.

Rob Williams, press secretary to Transportation Minister Rajan Sawhney, said Tuesday that the intersection already has full lighting but the poles are nearing the end of their service life.

Twelve street light poles will be replaced and the bulbs will be converted to LED lighting, Williams said in an emailed statement.

The work started earlier this month and is expected to be complete in October. The design process started in 2018 and a construction tender was advertised in 2020, Williams said.

"Alberta Transportation is reviewing the findings from the investigation into the recent fatal crash to determine if there are other improvement options that could be considered for this intersection," he said.

Speed limit should be 80, says MLA Mark Smith

Drayton Valley-Devon MLA Mark Smith said he considers replacing the lights a first step in addressing the safety issues at the intersection.

He is calling for the speed limit in the area to be reduced to 80 km/h from the current 100 km/h. Smith said he will meet with ministry officials to advocate for the changes in the coming weeks.

Reducing speed is something that can be done quickly to deal with the safety issues, Smith said.

He said he welcomes additional safety measures but will defer to Alberta Transportation engineers to determine what is needed.

"There are some issues and there is absolutely no doubt about it ... and I think we will need to continue to have the conversation, he said.

"I think the lights are a step, a first step."

Angles at intersection an issue

Korall said installing better lighting will do little to prevent future accidents. Many collisions happen in daylight hours, she said.

She said the intersection needs to be fully redesigned. The highway and range road do not intersect at right angles, which creates dangerous blind spots for drivers, she said.

Google Maps
Google Maps

Korall began her campaign this month, after witnessing the aftermath of an Aug. 2 collision that left one man dead and a woman injured. RCMP later said the collision occurred around 6:45 p.m. and that alcohol may have been a factor.

She and her sister were among the first to arrive at the scene and found a young man pinned inside one of the vehicles, surrounded by fallen power lines.

Korall created a Facebook page to highlight the issue and quickly saw membership jump to more than 1,000 people.

She also started a petition and has reached out to the Alberta government. This week, she requested a meeting with Sawhney.

"I want to sit down and show her every single vehicle that has been in an accident there," Korall said. "I also want to show her the accident that I saw and what I had to go through when I had to sit there and watch this kid die."

'Many are not as lucky as us'

Jordi Weidman said better lighting would not have stopped his vehicle from being T-boned.

He was travelling on the highway on July 30 with his 10-year-old son when a car sent his vehicle and his boat careening into the ditch.

Jordi Weidman/Facebook
Jordi Weidman/Facebook

Sight lines are poor and a lack of signage is dangerous for drivers as they cross two major highways, Weidman said.

"I have driven past many accidents at that same intersection other than our own. And lighting will help at nighttime, but it's not going to help kind of solve the problem that needs to be solved."

He said the intersection needs rumble strips, flashing amber lights and a speed-limit sign posted nearby.

"Both myself and my son were able to walk away from that accident," he said. "But many are not as lucky as us."

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