‘Extremely urgent’: Countless U-turns on Calgary highway prompt demands for change

Residents of a southwest Calgary neighbourhood say the number of U-turns happening at the intersection of Highway 8 and 101 Street S.W. is “an extremely urgent” traffic matter and are demanding action.

Vehicles from semi-trucks to gravel trucks to cyclists have been seen doing U-turns, ignoring traffic signals and barriers, at all times of day since 101 Street was partially closed in June.

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“It’s an extremely urgent matter,” Joe Holland said.

“It will only be a matter of time as holiday traffic increases and with the construction on the Trans-Canada Highway forcing more traffic onto Highway 8. It literally is playing Russian Roulette with people’s lives.”

The drivers can’t turn left, a traffic measure Alberta Transportation said was put in place as the left-hand turns were dangerous.

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“We understand it takes time to adjust to new traffic patterns,” the department said.

“But we hope drivers don’t resort to breaking the law.”

The residents have been calling and emailing government officials, demanding more be done to control the traffic in the area and improve safety, such as installing a temporary traffic light, more barriers or more enforcement in the area.

“It’s daily. Driving in or coming home you see U-turns,” Laura Darichuk said.

“It seems like this happened so quick — there was no real thought given to the ramifications and nobody is really ready to address it yet.”

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“I’ve witnessed people who have made numerous U-turns around the barriers. We see people panic and stop right in the middle of Highway 8,” Holland said.

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“We’ve watched heavy transport trucks become confused and do U-turns. A number of significant close calls.”

According to Calgary police, there hasn’t been an increase in collisions in the area over the same time last year, with no crashes reported in June 2021 and two reported in July.

On top of the traffic concerns from the U-turns, residents also say the road closure is impacting emergency response times for firefighters and EMS.

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In an emailed statement, Rocky View County said fire response times “will be impacted by the road closure, but will remain within the normal range for the county.”

“Rocky View County continues to press the province for an emergency access solution at this intersection to maintain the best possible response times,” the statement read.

“We have no information from the province on the matter at this time.”

When asked about the impact to emergency services, Alberta Transportation said it “requires project contractors to advise local emergency services about any change in traffic patterns so they can adjust their routes to provide the fastest possible emergency responses to community residents.”

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— With files from Tomasia DaSilva and Matthew Conrod, Global News

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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