A local resident is demanding action be taken to improve safety of an intersection on the outskirts of Cranbrook after numerous accidents over the years.
Paul Sawatsky, who works at a business near the intersection of Theatre Rd. and Highway 95A, says he has personally attended a few collision scenes and witnessed many near misses and incidents of dangerous driving.
The latest incident occurred Wednesday, June 15, when a vehicle on Theatre Rd. attempted to cross the highway and was struck by another vehicle travelling at highway speeds.
No further information on the condition of any of the parties involved was available as of press time.
Sawatsky wrote letters outlining his concerns to the City of Cranbrook and the Ministry of Transportation, but says not much has been done other than reviews and evaluations of the intersection.
“Why is nothing being done by the City of Cranbrook nor the provincial transportation ministry to address the dangers posed by this intersection?” wrote Sawatsky, following the incident on Wednesday. “Nothing has changed since I first made my concerns known to your departments two years ago. Why not?
“The problem is not complicated. People are crossing the highway when it is unsafe to do so and causing serious accidents. Your departments need to immediately enact measures to increase the safety of this intersection.”
Sawatsky first broached the issue in letters back in May 2015 after witnessing another collision from Steeples Veterinary Clinic and was one of the first bystanders to respond.
“On a daily basis I observe motorists speeding through this intersection,” Sawatsky wrote in another letter at the time, “failing to stop at the stop signs on Theatre Road and Mission Road, crossing Highway 95A when it is unsafe to do so, and pulling out onto the highway in front of oncoming traffic.
“On more than one occasion I have had to initiate emergency braking procedures in my own vehicle at this intersection to avoid collision with another vehicle which has failed to observe traffic laws.”
Todd Stone, the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure at the time, responded to Sawatsky in September 2016, noting that local provincial government staff had completed a safety review of the intersection in 2015.
“The review found this intersection is operating relatively safely compared with other similar locations, with a collision rate and crash severity below the provincial average,” Stone wrote. “It also found traffic volumes on the cross-streets at this intersection are not sufficient to warrant traffic signals or a roundabout on Highway 95A at this time.”
Sawatsky says the issues could be resolved by taking steps such as dropping the speed limit to 60 kilometres per hour as Highway 95A approaches Cranbrook. Other options could include installing warning signs or flashing lights signalling a high-collision area at the intersection, adding rumble strips or speed bumps on Theatre Rd on approach to the intersection and increasing RCMP enforcement in that area.
A traffic light or a roundabout at the intersection should also be considered, Sawatsky added.