The deathtrap highway
For the past four months, I’ve had the “pleasure” of having to make my morning commute out to White City in order to get to Emerald Ridge Elementary School, where I was a grounds crew supervisor. While the drive out is never particularly bad, the problem is always coming home. While I could complain about the long drive home after driving for the entire day, or the construction on Victoria St., what I am going to do is talk about the appalling lack of safety on the number one highway – a literal death trap for the people who try to make their way into the city every day.
In the span of these four months, I have seen, and nearly been a part of, numerous accidents when trying to merge onto the busiest highway in the province, with nothing but a stop sign and a short merge lane. And it’s not just me who has had troubles on this road. Working for Prairie Valley School Division, I’ve spent my fair share of time in Greenall High School in Balgonie, and I’ve seen the plaques dedicated to the young students who have lost their lives on this road over the past two decades. It is incredible to think that despite all these tragic accidents, almost nothing has been done to fix the safety issues. An overpass, set of lights, or more speed cameras on the highways would dissuade people from ripping down the highway at insane speeds.
To be fair, one change has been made to the road, but it is rather miniscule, and has major flaws. What they did was change the speed limit from 100 down to 90 from the turnoff onto range road 184, to the end of White City, and placed two speed cameras inside the White City area. While the intentions behind it are obviously good, it really has not worked. Once people are aware of where these speeding cameras are (I figured it out on the second day out to work), they know when to slow down, and when they can speed up again. So, while people might be going through the cameras at 90, they speed back up to 100 or 110 immediately afterwards.
So, what exactly do you do to fix this? While I’ll never claim to be an expert when it comes to maintaining highways, I feel like it’s a no brainer that an overpass be put in at all three of these deadly intersections. At the very least, put in some lights. While I will admit that I’m the kind of person who will do everything possible to avoid lights, even if it adds time on to my drive, I would be ecstatic to see lights put in at these dangerous intersections if it meant a decrease in accidents. However, the best choice is an overpass, which might take a while and a lot of money, but in the end, it would save lives. Saskatchewan drivers simply deserve better driving and safety conditions than this.
When I go back to work next summer, I am hoping that some progress has been made on this issue. Never again do I want to see a brutal car wreck like what happened July 15 on the turnoff to Pilot Butte, something that I was barely a minute behind. And when I go back into Greenall High School for the first time, I just hope that there will not be another addition to the memorial plaque.