Bragg Creek's busy four-way intersection may soon get traffic lights
Traffic volume on summer weekends 'completely absurd by any standard,' says business owner
On a summer weekend, the four-way stop in Bragg Creek can be frustrating to navigate, with cars backed up in both directions for several kilometres and wait times of 20 minutes or more to get through the intersection.
The infamous four-way stop is slated to have a roundabout in 2025.
But before that, the province has promised to install a set of traffic lights in the community west of Calgary — welcome news for an area that has seen rising levels of recreational traffic and mounting frustration.
"The amount of traffic on this road has risen dramatically in the last 10 to 15 years," said Michael Woertman, who owns the local coffee shop Cinnamon Spoon.
"You know we're here with a four-way stop and it functioned well probably 10 years ago, when the traffic wasn't quite as high."
These days, recreational users headed to Bragg Creek Provincial Park or Kananaskis Country have to make their way through the busy intersection at Highway 22, Burnside Drive and Highway 758.
Local residents who also have to make their way through the area to reach the grocery store or return to their homes worry about the rising impatience of drivers along that stretch.
Banff-Kananaskis MLA Miranda Rosin announced Friday there's an interim solution on the way — a set of traffic lights.
"I've heard loud and clear how critical immediate traffic flow mitigation is to the safety, sustainability, and attractiveness of our recreational tourism industry and the businesses that operate within the hamlet," Rosin wrote on her Facebook page. "2025 is just too far away."
Resident and business owner Murray Eason called the announcement a great first step.
"We're hopeful that these lights will be here in short order," Eason said outside his business.
"When you're waiting 10, 15 or 20 minutes to get into the hamlet, that's very frustrating."
According to the Transportation Minister's office, temporary traffic lights should be installed this fall at the four-way stop.
Eason added that most of the business owners would like a firm date for the lights, seeing that this year has been worse than usual with COVID-19 bringing out even more people to the great outdoors.
He said over the years, "solutions have been as diverse as the people who have them," but that he's open to any solutions — the sooner the better.
Bob Cook, who owns photography gallery Branded Visuals, agrees.
"On the good side, we get a lot of people coming to this area, which as a business I love to see … because of the amazing trails we have, and businesses and restaurants and so forth," he said.
"The bad side is, at certain times, particularly in summer and on weekends, we get a congestion of traffic that is completely absurd by any standard."
Cook said the business owners have been concerned that it's taking away from the visitor experience.
"You get lots of people coming to this area, but by the time they get through this intersection, they're completely exhausted and frustrated, and many of them are saying, 'I'm never going to that town again, I'm never going to that area again,'" Cook said.
And then there's the potential problem of road rage, not to mention locals trying to get through to their homes.
There's a lot of "human to human conflict" during those peak times, Cook said, adding it's usually due to confusion as far as whose turn it is to go.
"One vehicle at a time is just because people are extra cautious and hesitant," he said. "Even though there are vehicles backed up in both directions."
Cook is pleased to see the progress.
"I think it's excellent, because this is a case where political leaders have listened to the grassroots, because here was a concerted effort on the part of businesses … to see a solution in the immediate future, not five years from how," he said.
"Five years is way too long to have what we have here."
With files from Helen Pike