Students and other residents in a community east of Regina are calling for traffic signals on a stretch of Highway 1 they say is dangerous, but Highways Minister Don McMorris suggests lights are not the solution.
The Greenall High School Community Council held a rally at the Saskatchewan legislature Tuesday to urge the province to put traffic lights between Regina and Balgonie and to lower speed limits on that stretch of highway. The group says residents in four towns along the route have no safe way to get on or off the Trans-Canada without crossing multiple lanes of traffic that's going 110 kilometres an hour.
The group notes there were 680 collisions between 2005 and 2013 that left 240 people hurt and eight dead.
Susan Fedyck, whose nephew Lane Campbell Antosh was killed on the highway in August 2013, wants changes.
"This highway is unsafe. There's too much traffic on it and we need to get something done now," Fedyck said Tuesday.
"We can't bring Lane back. Our family's broken, devastated, but we can hopefully try and prevent this from happening to another family."
The statistics don't include four students whose vehicle was broad sided by a semi last December. All four of them survived with mostly minor injuries and they say it's because the semi driver was going 80 kilometres an hour instead of the posted speed limit.
Stuart Hall survived that crash and described it as "unreal."
"Most people are in accidents there with smaller vehicles, like getting hit by a car, and they don't walk away," said the 15-year-old.
McMorris said the ultimate solution is to put overpasses in the area — something the province plans to do over the next four to five years when it builds a bypass around Regina.
The minister added that photo radar might help keep drivers in check in the meantime and that could be considered.
McMorris said there are concerns with traffic lights.
"Some issues around the traffic lights — and I've said it before and I'll say it again — is that traffic lights tell people to stop, but they don't stop people," said McMorris.
"You just have to see on any given day at an intersection in Regina where it's very black and white — it's green or it's red, maybe an amber — and people are going through and getting into collisions."
The minister also said a safety issue could arise because drivers don't expect traffic lights on a stretch of highway that is not in an urban setting.
"You can imagine if somebody blows a red light at highway speeds, because it is a highway and people are expecting every vehicle to stop, what the results would be," he said.
The community council said traffic volumes at intersections have been high enough to warrant signals since 2009. It questioned why signals can't be installed now if they're going to be put in anyway during bypass construction.
Fedyck said the overpass is a great idea, but she's also concerned about the wait.
"Again, it's too late for us, but there's going to be more people killed on that highway if something isn't done."