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Installing traffic lights on Highway 1 could solve safety issues, city says

Council discussed the issue of safety on Highway 1 during its Sept. 26 regular meeting.
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A warning sign reminds motorists to stop before they reach the intersection of Highway 1 and Ninth Avenue Northwest. Photo by Jason G. Antonio

City hall and some business owners believe 50 years of safety concerns with two intersections on Highway 1 could be resolved if the province installs traffic lights at those locations.

During its Sept. 26 regular meeting, council unanimously voted to notify the minister of Highways and Infrastructure that it supports interim “vehicle-actuated traffic lights” at the intersections of Ninth Avenue Northwest and Highway 1 and Thatcher Drive East and Highway 1.

City hall has spoken regularly with the Ministry of Highways about traffic safety enhancements of those two intersections, a council report explained. The municipality will participate in a joint committee into 2023 to study the Highway 1 corridor since these intersections have been flagged for safety for years.

However, a corridor study will take time to complete, while building an interchange could take three to five years, noted the document. Therefore, vehicle-actuated lights would be a temporary safety measure to address this concern.

“It is believed that an interchange is required for a permanent solution. However, that can be a lengthy process and immediate action is required to enhance safety at these locations,” the report continued.

The North Service Road Business Community (NSRBC) — accompanied by Mayor Clive Tolley, councillors Doug Blanc and Crystal Froese, and both MLAs — met with the highways minister and his team on Sept. 9 to discuss the situation, the report added. The group presented a 23-page business case report for traffic lights at the intersection of Ninth and Highway 1. 

Council discussion

“This has been an outstanding issue for many years,” city manager Jim Puffalt told council. 

Since the ministry has a new minister and deputy minister, it’s important that they know the city’s position on this issue — temporary traffic lights — when they come for discussions, he remarked. This would provide some measure of safety for motorists from Moose Jaw and those passing through. 

The province would pay for installing traffic lights at these intersections because the Ministry of Highways fully funds the Urban Highway Connector Program, Puffalt added.

“The city’s wanted lights there for 50 years … . I think this is an opportunity to formally get it on the record that we are asking for lights on the highway, and not just Ninth Avenue Northwest but the intersection of Thatcher and Highway 1,” said Mayor Clive Tolley.

With Brand Industries expanding its manufacturing plant in northeast Moose Jaw, more truck traffic will likely use Thatcher and Highway 1 to access the building, he continued. Therefore, making that intersection safer for people entering and leaving the city is imperative.

Coun. Heather Eby commended the North Service Road business group for its work on this issue, pointing out they put plenty of thought into their 23-page report that should influence the province on installing traffic lights.

“And maybe get a little more action than we’ve been able to get,” she added.

The business group strongly conveyed their concerns about the intersection to the ministry and the need to address it quickly since they don’t want any more delays, said Froese.

“They did this study themselves, which is completely comprehensive and based on facts and research they found out themselves about other communities with similar situations along Highway 1 … ,” she continued. “I know people who work on the North Service Road and they completely avoid that intersection to get to and from work.

“The danger is real there.”

While the ministry said it wanted to study the entire highway corridor, the business owners said it was important to install lights before more people were injured or killed, said Blanc. That could be an easy, immediate fix and a good measure with which to start. 

The next regular council meeting is Monday, Oct. 11.

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