DUNMORE, AB – Thousands of vehicles pass through Dunmore every day, which can be problematic for those needing to cut across the Trans-Canada Highway.
That’s included customers at the South Country Co-Op Gas Bar next door, as CEO Mike Clement said it’s been a problem since moving to the corner of the Trans-Canada Highway and Eagle Butte Road.
“A lot of customers that are leaving our site to go back west are finding it very difficult to turn out against the traffic,” said Clement. “So, it's causing some safety concerns for us.”
On Tuesday, Cypress County council voted 4-3 to ask the provincial government for assistance in building a set of traffic lights at the intersection.
Councillor Michelle McKenzie drove through the intersection countless times as a local bus driver and said it’s long overdue.
“All of us drivers were scared to come out of that intersection,” said McKenzie. “So, all of us started rerouting ourselves around back behind [Township Road] 120 just to avoid that intersection.”
This comes after a study commissioned by the county in December to look at all the intersections in Dunmore to see if they need improvement.
The county had asked the province to help fund the 2nd Avenue North intersection next to the Harley-Davidson dealership for lights as well, but that has since been put on the back burner.
According to reeve Richard Oster, the risky intersection at Eagle Butte Road is hampering Dunmore’s future growth.
“It's very tough to tell people to come and build, and make things happen when you have an intersection that is so challenging to get across,” said Oster.
As for Clement, he said a set of lights would actually mean more customers coming through the door at the gas bar.
“We'd see more business coming in, making it that much easier to turn in and out of that site,” said Clement.
It’s estimated the lights would cost roughly $740,000, with the county proposing a 50-50 split of the cost with the province.
That’s despite the original recommendation made to council of a 70-30 split with the province footing most of the bill, but Oster said the 50-50 option is the best chance for the project being accepted.
“If you want to make things happen, you need to step up to the plate,” he said. “And, that's why council has decided, ‘No, we really want this.’”
Councillors did have concerns with the functionality of the proposed design and included a clause in their accepted motion to leave room for a redesign if necessary.
Oster has heard from some people upset that a set of lights would slow down traffic on the Trans-Canada Highway, but said it’s worth the annoyance.
“We're talking about lives here,” he said. “And yes, we know we're going to slow somebody down for a few minutes in their day, but the trade off... I mean the safety part is something that can't be ignored.”
The project will still need provincial approval before going ahead, while the county is hoping to start construction in the fall with a completion date sometime next spring.
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