Four highway intersections to feature roundabouts
Alberta Transportation is working on plans to transform four major highway intersections in Rocky View County into roundabouts.
The interchanges at the junctions of highways 2 and 72 north of Airdrie and highways 22 and 567 north of Cochrane are expected to each be changed from their current “partial cloverleaf” (parclo) configuration. The intersections of Highway 22 at both White Ave. (Highway 758) and Balsam Ave. in Bragg Creek will be changed from having stop signs on either side of the highway.
Council was informed the Bragg Creek upgrades will increase safety at the confusing intersections, while the remaining roundabouts will serve to accommodate increasing commuter traffic volumes.
Susan Biddle of Eagle Engineering told council the proposed widening of Highway 2 from four lanes to six will include the construction of two traffic circles at the interchange with Highway 72, which provides access to Crossfield to the west and Beiseker to the east.
Biddle said the radius of the current exit ramp loops is too small and would be further reduced by the highway widening. She said installing roundabouts would allow for easier movement of the high volume of traffic at the interchange on a daily basis.
“There are a lot of conflict points with the current configuration. You have people passing under the bridge to get onto the loop and people coming off the other loop behind those people at the same time, with accelerating, decelerating and weaving. That creates problems,” said Biddle. “A roundabout would be more efficient and more effective for moving traffic.”
Biddle noted the interchange of highways 22 and 8 west of Calgary features a similar roundabout, which is operating well. Deputy Reeve Margaret Bahcheli recognized the intersection does work well, but doubted if it makes sense for Highway 2 and 72.
“A traffic circle is not intuitively accommodating to pointing your car in one direction and getting to where you want to go. It can’t be easy to deal with when you first drive up to it,” said Bahcheli. “For the human brain, I’m not sure it’s going to mesh well. It’s guaranteed to keep the elderly off the roads.”
Councillor Lois Habberfield said roundabouts are a safer alternative, allowing drivers to watch for oncoming traffic from one direction instead of three.
“I think it will work really well in this location because these are regular users who know what they’re doing,” said Habberfield.
Biddle said the project is not slated within the next three years, but may be included in Alberta Transportation’s next three-year budget.
Biddle told Council the existing intersections of Highway 22 with White Ave. and Balsam Ave. have poor visibility, causing inefficient traffic flow for the high number of motorists who use them.
“It is a very confusing intersection for determining who has the right-of-way,” said Biddle. “Compounding the problem is the fact that it’s a high-use trucking area, highly used by cyclists, and a popular commercial area with a coffee shop and other businesses. It is literally an accident waiting to happen.”
She said design solutions are challenging and limited as the east side of Highway 22 is at the edge of Tsuu T’ina Nation lands, the west side is comprised of tight parking areas, and there is only 30 metres of road between the two intersections.
“Therefore, we have come up with five alternative solutions to improve the flow of traffic for Highway 22, safety for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers, and access into the community,” she said. “Any of them will work well and will be better than what is there now.”
The first alternative would see a large oval-shaped roundabout installed across the two intersections, while the remaining options feature either one or two traffic circles with stop signs and restricted turning lanes.
Biddle said Eagle Engineering will gather feedback from stakeholders and the public before choosing the best option and presenting a final report to Alberta Transportation this fall.
“This is brilliant, because the situation is complete chaos,” said Councillor Liz Breakey. “There are going to be significant collisions if this is not addressed.”
Darryl Schalk of Associated Engineering told council a review of the intersection of highways 22 and 567 north of Cochrane indicated a two-lane roundabout would be preferable to the existing two-way stop control, as traffic volumes continue to increase.
“This will provide a better level of service and handle traffic for an extended period of time,” said Schalk.
He said although a feasibility study has been completed, the project is still in its initial phases and there has yet to be public consultation.
“If Alberta Transportation were to take this to the next step, then certainly there would be landowner consultation,” he said. “The public can be involved more as the project develops.”
Councillor Paul McLean said he would like to see the project move forward.
“We’ve seen quite a few accidents in this area, so I would encourage it to be done when it’s feasible,” he said.