Highway 304 rumble strips may be installed

by Phil Ambroziak

A recent road mishap – the latest of several involving transport trucks to occur at the junction of Highways 304 and 26 near Loon Lake – has both police and government officials reconsidering how safe the intersection truly is.

The driver of a westbound truck was hauling heavy equipment during the afternoon of Sept. 21 when, according to Sgt. Shawn Carter of the Loon Lake RCMP, he failed to stop before pulling into the intersection resulting in a loss of control and the truck tipping onto its side. The matter remained under investigation as of last week, but Carter said similar crashes in recent years have always resulted in charges being laid against the drivers.

“I’ve been here for a little more than four years and, in that time, there have been three such crashes I’m aware of including this one,” Carter explained. “From what I understand, however, there have also been a number of occasions where drivers have gone through the intersection and into a nearby field owned by farmer Donald Setrakov. They’re able to pull back out and speed away without any damage to themselves or their vehicles, but I’m sure there’s been damage done to whatever crop Donald plants in that field.”

Setrakov confirmed this, stating a portion of his grain crop has been damaged from time-to-time, adding it’s happened at least a half-dozen times this year alone.

Carter went on to say the RCMP has been in contact with the Ministry of Highways regarding these incidents, but noted the province has already taken steps to ensure the junction is clearly visible.

“They have a big stop sign there and a flashing light warning people to stop,” he said. “My gut feeling is some of these drivers may be falling asleep and that’s why they’re not seeing the red light or the stop sign. Based on their experience when it comes to driving this route constantly, they should know when they’re approaching a stop sign.”

Conrad Read, district operations manager with the Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure, thinks a big reason for these incidents is a failure on the part of drivers to pay attention.

“There is a stop sign and a flashing red light there, but I’ve suggested something more,” Read said.

When a reconstruction project on Highway 26 south of the junction proceeds some time in the next year, Read said he is going to suggest 300 metres of Highway 304 east of the junction also be repaved. This will allow for the addition of rumble strips to the highway as another means of warning drivers to stop.

“Currently, Highway 304 has a granular surface that does not allow for the milling of rumble strips,” Read said. “That’s the plan once it’s been repaved. We’ve looked at various things through our safety improvement program and this seems like the best option for us.”

Meanwhile, Carter said the fortunate thing to remember is no other vehicle has been hit crossing the intersection.

“But, if this isn’t stopped, eventually someone will be hurt,” he said.

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