City council has decided that Lacombe is not quite ready for roundabouts as traffic controls.
At a regular meeting of council on April 14, council instructed administration to look into installing a roundabout at the intersection of 54th Ave. and 50th St. (instead of installing signal lights as previously outlined in the Transportation Master Plan) after hearing a presentation from local resident Carolyn Cave about the benefits of roundabouts as opposed to stop lights.
On April 28th at a subsequent council meeting, administration presented a report to council which stated that, while school buses and emergency vehicles would be able to navigate such a roundabout installed at that location, large trucks would not.
Such vehicles would be able to travel straight through the roundabout (north-south, east-west or vice-versa) but would not be able to turn in the roundabout.
Councillor Grant Harder agreed that there was not sufficient space for a roundabout at this location.
“It’s just, in my thinking, too tight – too tight a space,” said Harder.
Councillor Reuben Konnik agreed.
“I agree that we should stay the course,” said Konnik. “It’s just too small.”
With this knowledge and the fact that this intersection is located on the City’s trucking route, administration recommended that council not make a resolution to install such a roundabout at the intersection.
Instead, council voted to accept the report as information only.
“While the residents’ assertions about the benefits are very valid and there are a lot of benefits, we don’t think that this location at this time is viable,” said Director of Infrastructure Matthew Goudy.
While council decided not to make changes to the original plan and install Lacombe’s first roundabout at this location, both administration and council expressed their desire to try using roundabouts at some point in Lacombe’s future. Both parties also noted that they recognized the benefits of roundabouts as well.
“I certainly think it’s something we should consider in the future,” said Harder.
One benefit that Cave had pointed out in her earlier presentation is that stop lights are only practical during times of high traffic. If high traffic is not consistent at an intersection, the lights are only a hindrance.
Councillor Wayne Armishaw wanted to know if there were ways to program the lights so that they accounted for the lulls in traffic at the intersection. Goudy said that the light systems used by the City currently use motion sensors to help adjust to changes in traffic flow.
“It’s not that it’s set at specific phasing for 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 3 to 4 p.m., but it automatically adjusts,” said Goudy.