Sat. Aug 13th, 2022

A Parkland County intersection known as the “death trap” or the “devil’s intersection” for how many fatal crashes it causes claimed another person’s life this week, with residents continuing to push for a redesign.

A line of memorials and crosses line the median and ditches surrounding where Range Road 20 and Highway 16A meet west of Edmonton.

On Wednesday, a 22-year-old woman was killed in a two-vehicle crash around 1:35 pm — one year and a day after the last fatal collision in the same area.

Bryan Kwasnycia’s daughter Jade, a fourth-year education student who regularly volunteered in the community, died as she tried to cross Highway 16A.

“It’s been really hard for us,” Kwasnycia said. “It basically brought our world to a halt. We are just learning to deal.”

Jade Kwasnycia in a photo supplied to CTV News Edmonton.

“We knew that intersection,” he said. “My uncle was in an accident there. My wife was actually in an accident there. There’s been school buses hit in that intersection.”

“I was just about in an accident there,” he added. “A very near miss.”

In fact, school buses are no longer permitted to use that intersection, with drivers having to go half a kilometer to use Range Road 15 instead, Kwasnycia says.

Keshia Korrall, an area resident, was the first person at the scene on Aug. 2 last year where another fatal accident occurred.

“A lot of the first responders were showing a lot of anger, and they said they had just been there the week before, and that they got at least one to two accidents there a month,” Korral said.

“It made me really upset,” she said.

That crash killed 25-year-old TJ, a construction worker and cabinet maker. Tim Holmes, his father, described him as a loving and uplifting man with a big personality.

“It was very difficult,” Holmes said. “To know that’s the incident that now the rest of your life will never be the same.”

“With TJ’s passing, at the time, I didn’t have regrets,” he added. “But I’ll tell you when I found out about this accident that happened (this week), God bless the family, I was angry.

“I was angry with the situation, that it happened (again)… to another family.”

TJ holds his one-year-old son Braxton (Supplied).

NO SIGHTLINES

Korrall became an advocate pushing to get that intersection redesigned to prevent further families from being upended, starting a petition with more than 2,800 signatures and a Facebook group of 1,300 members.

“I just got a hold of the minister of transportation and just kept pushing and pushing,” Korrall said. “They have done some changes, but obviously not enough that it’s going to help anything.”

Kwasnycia, who has lived in the area since he was six years old, says the intersection is deadly because of limited visibility.

Highway 16A eastbound arrives at the top of a hill to meet Range Road 20, he added, offering motorists of either roadway no time to react.

“It’s so dangerous,” Kwasnycia said. “Everyone around here knows.”

“Because of the angle of it, as soon as you move you are there. Neither driver has a chance of reacting.

“When I go, and my family goes, we try to square up to the intersection to get a double look.”

Korrall agreed, saying some people just outright avoid it.

‘OF SIGNIFICANT CONCERN’

Allan Gamble, Parkland County mayor, told CTV News that the intersection had been a “high collision area” for years.

“It is of significant concern to Parkland County,” he said. “We continue to be concerned about the safety of this highway and intersection, and we call for the provincial government to address these safety issues.”

At every meeting with the province, Gamble said he reiterates the need for changes to the intersection.

“There are a number of range roads that tie to the highway for access, and with the increasing population and the increasing traffic along Highway 16A, it’s more important now more than ever that we advocate to the provincial government,” Gamble said.

“To provide the infrastructure necessary, so our residents do not have to cross that highway,” he added.

A sign along Highway 16A marks the intersection with Range Road 20, which locals call the “devil’s intersection.”

Gamble believes adding merge lanes or changing the speed limit could help address safety concerns in the short term but would want to have actual service roads collect area traffic towards overpasses to prevent crossing several lanes of Highway 16A.

“We work alongside the province, but the ultimate responsibility lies with the province and the minister of transportation.”

‘WE HAVE TO DO SOMETHING’

Haydn Place, acting chief of staff to Transportation Minister Prasad Panda, told CTV News in a statement that the ministry is “currently reviewing options” for the intersection, including complete relocation.

“Near-term safety improvements, including an ‘Important Intersection Ahead’ sign with flashing lights, an oversized ‘checkerboard sign,’ and improved lighting have been undertaken at this intersection,” Place said.

“Preliminary data shows the number of collisions has decreased after installing the ‘Important Intersection Ahead’ sign in 2018,” Place added.

Between 2014 and 2018, there were 48 crashes occurring at or within 300 meters of the intersection, excluding off-road and collisions with animals, Place says.

Of those, 28 involved injuries and 21 were damage-only crashes with no fatalities. No data was provided for collisions from 2019 to now.

For Korrall, those extra signs do “nothing,” since collisions with injuries and fatalities continue to happen.

“We have to do something,” Korrall said. “This is enough.”

“The frustrating thing is the province knows about it, the county knows about it, transportation knows about it,” Kwasnycia said. “How many more crosses are we going to put up at that intersection before they do something?”

Holmes wants the province to take action sooner rather than later, no matter the cost.

“Whoever is making these decisions, (they need) to really put it in perspective of putting themselves at risk and what this (intersection) is taking,” Holmes said. “You’ve got to do something.”

“I don’t want any more people to have this feeling,” he added. “If you can do something to make change, whoever is making these decisions, please make them.”

“You can’t put an amount of money on a person and a family’s life.”

With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Alex Antoneshyn and Jessica Robb

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