In preparation for ripping up failed chip-seal road, the County of Stettler lowered a speed limit on a popular route used to access Buffalo Lake and campgrounds.
The decision was made at the July 8 regular meeting of council.
An agenda memo was presented to councillors by Lee Hardman, manager of Protective Services, and Yvette Cassidy, chief administrative officer, describing a speed limit reduction for Range Road 21-2 for two miles or 3.2 km.
The road is a popular access used by motorists travelling from Sec. Hwy. #601 north to Twp. Rd. #402 to access the lake’s south shore and the Old MacDonald’s campground.
Staff noted they were requesting council approve a drop in the speed limit on that stretch of road from the current 80 km/hr to 50 km/hr.
“On June 11, 2020 council instructed administration to bring back information in regards to appropriate speed limits for two miles of Range Road 21-2 once it’s returned to gravel,” stated the staff memo.
“Currently the speed limit along the roadway defaults to 80 km/h by provincial standards.
“Concerns have been brought up in regards to dust, large truck traffic along with significant trailer traffic travelling along the roadway.
“Administration took all these concerns into consideration with making the recommendation to lower the speed limit to 50 km/h for only the gravel portion of the roadway.
“This would reduce dust by residential areas while also slowing down larger vehicular traffic to make the roadway safer.”
Staff stated they were requesting the speed limit change before the old chip seal is ripped up so motorists would have more time to adapt to the change.
During discussion, staff noted most motorists on that stretch of road are already driving at a reduced speed anyway because of potholes in the chip seal.
Coun. James Nibourg stated he would vote against the request because the county recently turned down a similar request that came from a resident.
Coun. Cheri Neitz stated she was on the stretch of road in question recently and witnessed the heavy traffic it gets. She stated if the county lowered the speed limit to 50 km/hr, then it follows that it would have to be enforced.
Neitz also stated she felt the road shouldn’t simply be gravel because of the dust issue and should have some kind of dust abatement. Plus, Neitz stated she wanted to point out that stretch of road isn’t solely used by vacationers.
Coun. Ernie Gendre stated he understood why staff wanted the speed change early, as the lower speed will require a transition period for motorists.
Coun. Wayne Nixon agreed with Gendre, noting safety issues exist on that stretch of road.
The memo noted the only financial implications of the decision included speed limit signs and labour.
Neitz asked Director of Operations Rick Green how signage would be handled. Green stated construction zone signs would be erected while the road is being worked on.
Reeve Larry Clarke noted that motorists need to remember that driving on a gravel road is not the same as driving on a surfaced road, and they need to slow down.
Councillors voted 6 to 1, with Nibourg against, to lower the speed limit to 50 km/hr on the stretch of road in question, and to look at the issue in 12 months to see how it worked.
Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative reporter