Sunday July 13, 2014

Council weighs decision

Queen Street

Safety concerns to the rail crossing at Queen Street, which is located close to Highway 39, will be discussed by City Council at their Jan. 13 meeting.

Initial information on the rail crossing was addressed during the Dec. 23 city council meeting, but since there were only three city councillors and Mayor Debra Button in attendance, it was decided to table further discussion until the first January meeting of 2014.

Mayor Button detailed background information on the Queen Street rail crossing. Initially the city had AECOM Engineering student the area and provide city council with redesign drawings to have Queen Street intersect with the highway and the rail crossing at a 90 degree angle.

The design would have allowed for better sightlines. However, the issue of longer trucks getting caught between the tracks and the highway would still be an issue at the crossing.

Engineers, along with CP Rail representatives reviewed some options with traffic controls using signalled lighting at the rail crossing, but it was determined that if this were to be implemented that traffic signals would also have to be installed on Highway 39 and synced with the rail crossing.

However, the cost of installing rail crossing lights and a new set of traffic lights would be in excess of $2 million. It would also require authorization from both the Department of Highways and CP Rail.

Three alternatives were also being explored by the city. First, that Queen Street is designated as one-way traffic only. Vehicles could still use the street accessing from Highway 39 going north, but traffic would be restricted going south.

Second, a truck turnaround would be placed at the end of Queen Street on the north side of the railway crossing, which would eliminate access to Highway 39 completely.

Third, that the city place restrictions on the length of vehicle allowed to use the Queen Street crossing, which would eliminate the problem of a truck stopped at the highway and still having a portion of the trailer over the crossing.

However with restricting the length of vehicles that could access Queen Street, it was noted that this might have a significant impact on Highway 39 and 13 intersections, as the longer loads would cross that intersection much more frequently.

Coun. Winston Bailey noted that the business owners in the area, who use Queen Street, were contacted by the city. The majority of trucks using that rail crossing include gravel or concrete haulers. There were no significant option that they favored, just that anything else than the status quo would be better.

It was noted that an alternative solution that was recommended by some in the community is to eliminate the row of trees that are on the west side of Queen Street, running along the railway right of way.

Some in the trucking industry feel that cutting those trees would give the driver an opportunity to see farther down the rail so they would have a better judgement as to whether there is time to access the highway.

Button noted that she spoke to the grandfather of the driver of the second truck involved in the collision who said his grandson’s vision was not obstructed by the trees, but was having trouble gaining traction due to the semi’s heavy load.

However, those trees are on private property. Martino Verhaeghe, director of planning and development for the city, also noted that they provide screening of the industrial area from sightlines on the highway itself.

It was noted that the City of Weyburn has been in contact with CP Rail in regards to the Queen Street crossing, to find the best possible solution.


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