Cypress County candidate pushing for improvements at deadly intersection

By Scott Roblin
October 10, 2017 - 4:26pm Updated: October 10, 2017 - 9:53pm

 

DUNMORE, AB – It’s been just over two months since a young girl was killed in a horrific crash on the Trans-Canada Highway near Dunmore.

The intersection at Highway 41 North has been the site of numerous collisions over the years, with only a stop sign to warn motorists.

Now, a candidate for Cypress County council is pushing for safety changes in the hopes of protecting lives.

The intersection has been a major campaign issue for Robin Kurpjuweit, who is running against Garry Lentz in Ward 4.

Door-knocking over the last few weeks, he said he’s been speaking with local families that have either been involved in accidents or near-misses at the intersection.

On August 7, a nine-year-old girl from Chestermere was killed after a semi struck a Pontiac Sunfire while making a left-hand turn.

Three others in the car, including a pair of 12-year-old girls, suffered serious injuries in the crash as well.

According to Kurpjuweit, something needs to be done and it would be irresponsible to rule out any potential solutions.

“You have to look at taking the next step,” said Kurpjuweit. “Whether that's putting in merging lanes, whether it's putting in lights, we have to be open-minded enough to consider all of the options. If we don't consider these options, right then it's neglect.”

Kurpjuweit added public discussion is needed for this stretch of road, and is wanting Transportation Minister Brian Mason to start the conversation.

“We need the Minister of Transportation to acknowledge the fact that we have a safety issue here,” he said. “I don't think that it's going to be hard to get that acknowledgement, but we need it.”

We reached out to councillor Garry Lentz, Kurpjuweit’s opponent in Ward 4 on Tuesday morning but he declined an on-camera interview and said he thinks the intersection shouldn’t be an election issue.

However, he did state that Cypress County and the province have been working for a number of years to improve safety at the intersection.

He also confirmed there have been talks between the County and NDP government regarding a Highway 1 bypass, though that remains only a proposal at this time.

As for the province, we reached out to Minister Brian Mason on Tuesday morning as well but was unavailable for comment.

Kurpjuweit said not enough is being done at the municipal level to justify leaving the intersection alone.

“It's not the most important issue for the next four years, but it's important,” he said. “It affects families today, it's going to affect families down the road. We've had too many tragedies there to have had nothing done to this point.”

Alberta Transportation estimates between 6,400 and 7,400 use the intersection daily, and there are no current plans for work or improvements for the stretch of highway.

While upgrades would likely come at a major cost for taxpayers, Kurpjuweit added it’s worth the price tag if it means safer roads.

“There's going to be some form of investment on it,” he said. “But really, you got to look at it from a standpoint of what is the value of human life here?”

Cypress County residents head to the polls to elect councillors on Monday.

School division election forums tonight