After a lengthy discussion at the council table at a meeting where the county heard from community peace officers and residents, Wheatland County has voted to direct county administration to come back with an amended speed limit for Twp Road 232 in order to lower the speed limit on Twp Road 232 to 80 km/h.
Administration will return before council with an amendment to the Traffic Control Bylaw for Twp Road 232 for reading at the next Council Meeting.
Twp 232 is a two-lane undivided roadway that is approximately 23 km from Highway 817 to Highway 1.
The road was previously paved from Highway 817 to Range Road 242 and gravel from Range Road 242 to Highway 1. In 2014-15 the gravel section was paved.
Between August and October 2021, Protective Services conducted targeted patrols on Twp 232 in the 80 km zone and gave out 23 violation tickets for exceeding the posted speed limit. The average speed was 107 km/h.
Council was given a number of options, on to leave the current speed limit at 100 km/h with an 80 km/h speed zone between Range Road 244 and Range Road 241. or adjust the speed limit to 100, 90, or 80 km for the entire length of the road.
The issue of the roadway being used for transport trucks as a shortcut rather than using Highway 901 or Highway 1 was raised.
Ian Fields, a local resident, spoke of the changes made to the roadway, changing it from a gravel roadway to a paved roadway and with it an increase in traffic.
"There's been a step-change in the use of this road. We've seen two-step changes. We've seen a step-change since the portion of the Twp 232 was changed from gravel to tarmac,” he said.
“We've seen an increase in heavy goods, and we've also seen a lack of control of that speed. My wife...has almost been rear-ended by truck drivers who are using their phones and not paying attention to what they're doing. And it's quite a scary prospect,” he said.
“We have two main issues here. We have big trucking companies like 353 and Bison and Lightspeed who are using it as a shortcut. But we also have seasonal trucking with the stock yards and they’ve always been there, but the gravel road was a deterrent to use it and it also speed control because they never used to speed like they do right now,” he explained.
At the meeting residents also spoke of the danger of collisions on the road with inattentive drivers, and the sound of ‘jake breaks’ being used by large trucks.
Reeve Amber Link suggested that the road be 90 km/h entirely as a compromise for some residents who supported an 80km/h zone, and others who wanted to maintain a 100 km/h speed zone. She said she could also see the merits of an 80 km/h zone.
“It is very difficult for me to support the 80 km/h speed limit, recognizing that the entire road is designed and built to a 90 kilometer an hour posted speed limit with the exception of Hammer Hill. But if we were to consider a lower speed limit. I would advocate for Council to consider a 90 kilometer an hour speed limit throughout the entire road,” she said.
“My rationale being it would reduce the risk of those interface collisions where you have speed limits being increased and reduced throughout the road,” said Link.