Sundre and surrounding area residents who frequently travel down Main Avenue no doubt recently noticed a construction crew doing some surface repairs on a stretch of the road.
Late last week, Alberta Transportation-contracted crews temporarily closed down the outside eastbound lane along two sections of road, coming out of the IGA, the post office as well as the Parkwood Motor Inn parking lots.
The lane’s state of disrepair had long passed the point of further patching the already disastrous vehicle-destroying potholes, so its surface was removed by one crew on Thursday, followed the next day by another crew that resurfaced the road.
While far from being a brand spanking new road that almost gives RVs and industrial traffic a smooth ride that practically evokes feelings of flying, the work will no doubt be a welcome sight to local as well as visiting motorists.
Some residents had recently actually shared on social media arguably legitimate doubts about how the trial miniature traffic circles could possibly be deployed considering the condition of those drastically deteriorated sections of road.
So perhaps those who cringed as they slowed down to 20 kilometres per hour while hoping not to get rear-ended on those parts of Main Avenue will find some respite.
That is of course until they’re reminded about the impending pilot project to reduce traffic to two lanes and maintain a flow by deploying miniature roundabouts at the three four-way intersections between the traffic lights, which will remain as is but with lane adjustments, and the west-side bridge. And yes, a westbound right-hand passing lane is planned for the grocery store.
Traffic circles do not have to be a disaster. Regular-sized vehicles should ó provided the operator has a basic understanding of rights-of-way ó with great comfort easily circumnavigate the calming measures. Larger vehicles such as trailers should also fit, but the durable and flexible guiding posts that will be installed will last a long time, and they’re expected to occasionally get bounced.
As for the massive industrial vehicles that lumber down Main Avenue, engineers and planners did consult with stakeholders and local as well as regional trucking businesses, none of which during the consultation period expressed serious reservations.
Even if the trial redesign does not become remotely successful, the option to default back to the design that’s been in place since 2008 remains available. But ever since then, pedestrian safety and downtown appeal have become concerns raised regularly by the community.
So let’s try not to knock the traffic circles until we’ve at least tried them.
Who knows, a year from when they’re installed ó the newest guesstimate for that now seems to be before the winter ó we might all find ourselves stunned to see foot traffic actually return to Main Avenue while motorists and industrial rigs proceed with a far safer buffer space. Stranger things have happened!
ó Ducatel is the Round Up’s editor