Saturday November 22, 2014

EDITORIAL: City council made the right decision

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Weyburn’s city council made the most reasonable decision they could when deciding on the issue of the railway crossing on Queen Street adjacent to Highway 39, the scene of a couple of recent accidents involving semis hauling trailers.

Before making their decision, they had a report from police Chief Marlo Pritchard, who told council that the conclusion of both the CP Rail Police and the Weyburn Police Service is that both accidents were due to driver error.

For council, this removes the aspect of the crossing’s location being a cause of the accidents by virtue of its proximity to Highway 39 and the sight-lines in the area.

However, as a number of councillors pointed out, the city had obligation to do something due to the proximity of the CP Rail track to Highway 39.

While driver error was the cause, the simple fact is the trailer in the second accident, which was wrapped around the front of the locomotive, could have been a tanker carrying fuel, which would have resulted in a large explosion and possibly even derailment. As that rail line is adjacent to the major north-south highway going through Weyburn, this would be a dangerous situation to have, and memories of last summer’s disastrous rail accident in Lac-Megantic, Que., would be weighing on everybody’s mind. Nobody in Canada, and certainly not in Weyburn, ever wants to see a repeat of such a horrible tragedy.

With this in mind, the council directed to have a new bylaw drawn up to restrict any vehicle hauling a trailer from driving south over the tracks on Queen Street. Chief Pritchard assured this would be policed, and hopefully this restriction will help make that crossing a safe one again.

This won’t prevent someone else from trying to make that trip, particularly with the proximity of the businesses and hotels on Sims Avenue, connected just off Queen Street on the west side of Highway 39.

This is a large reason why there is increased traffic on Queen Street; it’s simply convenient to cut across there and avoid the intersection at Highways 13 and 39.

Before anyone does get killed on that crossing, all drivers need to be more aware of their surroundings and of the train traffic on the Soo Line, and this will go a long ways to preventing another accident on that crossing.

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